Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars

Bold food products are pitched in Nine's own Shark Tank meets The Apprentice -and even Madonna is on the phone.

Nine has tried for some time to land on a hit food reality series.

The Chopping Block, The Hot Plate, Family Food Fight, SnackMasters and their kind have come and gone. For the latest they bagged arguably the biggest name in TV food shows: Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars, a format from his own Studio Ramsay, first screened as two seasons of Gordon Ramsay’s Future Food Stars in the UK before a retitled season in the US on FOX.

Australia is the first market to see Ramsay compete for bragging rights alongside a rival mentor, in Janine Allis (Shark Tank, The Apprentice Australia), although a second season in the US will take the same competitive approach… you know how it goes, my team is better than yours, nyah!

Allis is an ideal counterpart to Ramsay, given she is a highly successful Boost Juice entrepreneur, but also because Food Stars is totally Shark Tank meets The Apprentice.

Episode one was a pleasant surprise as food and drink innovators fronted up to the two bosses, pitching their ideas.

Of the 30 business ideas pitched in a blinged air hangar at Essendon Fields, just 7 will be selected for Team Gordon and Team Janine. Each has $250,000 to invest in a winning business idea, along with 12 months of mentoring. But first contestants have to survive the rigors of competition reality TV.

As ideas are pitched it’s a smorgasboard of food and drink concepts, from the brilliantly creative to the truly bizarre.

There are edible coffee cups, croc burgers, First Nations-inspired tea, hangover beverages, redesigned airline trolleys, and even a best-selling hot sauce called Shit the Bed.

If both Ramsay and Allis fight for an entrepreneur on their team then the power moves Voice-like back to the contestant to choose whom they prefer.

The creativity and spontaneity of this first episode was engaging and lively, even if Gordon Ramsay ate a vegan donut using a knife and fork. There was MasterChef-like camaraderie from everybody in the foodie holding pen …and an unexpected phone call to Madonna. Whoa!

Episode two however morphed into a food-version of The Apprentice as teams were charged with reconstructing a Chiko Roll at a football match. This involved creating a forward-thinking 2024 poster for a Chiko Roll marketing exec and feeding hordes of sports fans with their own take on a classic, if tired, product.

As these strangers clashed over benches it was clearly a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. I suppose that makes for conflict TV, but I really felt I’d seen it all before, and aside from teammwork challenges it bore little relevance to the imaginative concepts I’d heard an episode earlier. At least make the poster challenge about their own product?

By episode’s end a losing team was hauled into a boardroom to explain themselves where someone was sent packing -because food reality shows don’t yet know how to exist without eliminating someone before the credits roll. And did I mention the obligatory running and yelling, which are also tropes of this genre?

The other question for the show surrounds our expectations of brand Ramsay.

Is it a real Ramsay show if he doesn’t berate and swear at someone, cutting them down to size? Yes there is some censored swearing, but well short of his personal best, and some huffing and puffing in his stock frustration. Maybe it will increase as the season progresses, but I sorta feel Nine wants a show with family appeal, and it wants Gordon Ramsay. Can you have both?

Overall this lands as highly derivative despite some genuinely enticing product ideas. Would it work better as a food pitch contest rather than team challenges which look like every other TV team challenge? Yes, but then where would Ramsay be losing his temper?

Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars airs 7:30pm Tuesday & Wednesday on Nine.

7 Responses

  1. So what I’m hearing is : Watch the engaging first episode which celebrates the diverse ideas, then skip every episode until the finale when hopefully the winning idea/s are awarded their dues and hopefully a new Aussie food icon will be born.

  2. Will be interesting to see how this plays in Australia, the American version is typical American competitive trash (USA MasterChef is trash TV dog eat dog not about cooking at all) the UK version is a little softer but still not great TV, yet. Ramsey knows the Australian audience especially after his involvement with the ‘best’ Masterchef version in the world.

  3. I don’t know why they’d even bother working on a show with that man after the way he treated their star performer Tracy Grimshaw. It’s a bit insulting to her that Nine have got him fronting his own show now. Why do powerful men always get away with it?

  4. I don’t think Nine are that confident with this, hence mid-week, post Married and around Easter. Would surely be down the list on their prime time entertainment shows in terms of 2024 success. But could be totally wrong, just a feeling. At least you’ve got two popular and known names there, interesting to see the dynamics and chemistry. I think Shark Tank (US) does solid at least in reach for 7Bravo/7Plus. But yeah, for Nine, easily the top network and biggest long-running hits (regardless of what Seven claim) certainly younger viewers, I’m not sure they’re clutching their arm rests in eager anticipation of knockout ratings for this.

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