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MasterChef (US) or Steak: The Thread Derailer


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#1

ProfCrash

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Posted Jun 22, 2010 @ 10:16 AM

FOX is going to be airing MasterChef US starting July 27th.

Gordon Ramsay announced that restaurateur wine maker Joe Bastianich and four-star chef Graham Elliot Bowles will join him as judges on MASTERCHEF, premiering Tuesday, July 27 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Bastianich is a partner of Mario Batali and has established some of New York's most-celebrated restaurants, including Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, Lupa Osteria Romana and Del Posto. Bowles is the youngest four-star chef in the U.S. and the mastermind behind Chicago's first "bistronomic" restaurant, Graham Elliot. With Ramsay at the helm of the competition, Bastianich and Bowles will coach and judge the contestants along the way.


I am really hoping that Gordon plays the role of the mentor and we get to see his more nurturing side. I know it exists because I have seen it on the F Word and in UK Kitchen Nightmares.

I have never seen MasterChef from the UK or Australia but the format sounds interesting.
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#2

kitty32

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Posted Jun 22, 2010 @ 8:15 PM

I loved the British version of MasterChef (the perks of retirement -- it ran at noon on BBC-America a couple of years ago) because it was so laid back and nurturing. They really talked to the chefs while they were cooking. These were home cooks, not professionals, so there were times when they'd be given ingredients they'd never seen before (in the British version the first half was kind of like Chopped -- a basket of ingredients and they had to all come up with a dish) and the hosts/judges would suggest tasting things and point them away from disasterous pairings and stuff.

One of the interesting things to me was how often figs were used -- they really seem to like figs in Britain. Desserts, sauces, grilled, sauteed, they used them in all kinds of ways.

I just hope they don't turn it into GR as horror show like Kitchen Nightmares because he can be a really good teacher and mentor like he is on The F Word. That whole screaming image is so false. I'm reading Anthony Bourdain's "Cooks Tour" and he points out that when Gordon walked out of Aubergine back in the early 2000s his whole staff, including servers, 45 people in all, went with him and when the book was written in 2003 the Hospital Road restaurant that was his first still had most of the same staff -- practically unheard of in the restaurant industry.

I just don't trust FOX.
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#3

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Posted Jun 22, 2010 @ 9:14 PM

The version that I saw was called Masterchef Goes Large, and I really enjoyed it. I keep hoping that BBCA will air new episodes (if it's still running) or at least re-air old ones. Considering the disaster that was the last season of Last Restaurant Standing, BBCA owes us one.

Considering that Hell's Kitchen has become unwatchable as is the Fox version of Kitchen Nightmares, I'm doubtful this will be anywhere as good (or in the same spirit) as the orginal.

Edited by Quilt Fairy, Jun 22, 2010 @ 9:14 PM.

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#4

ProfCrash

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Posted Jun 23, 2010 @ 2:44 PM

What is the format in the other versions? I have heard it described as American Idol but with Chef's. I saw a commercial for it watching Hell's Kitchen and there was no shouting or tantrums on Gordon's part. I amtaking that as a good sign.
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#5

ratgirlagogo

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Posted Jun 23, 2010 @ 8:59 PM

Considering that Hell's Kitchen has become unwatchable as is the Fox version of Kitchen Nightmares, I'm doubtful this will be anywhere as good (or in the same spirit) as the orginal.


This is my fear as well. I became such a huge fan of GR through watching The F-Word that I keep watching KN and HK even though they're terrible. It's so frustrating watching these bad shows when I know what really good, interesting food television he's capable of doing. I'm praying this might mean that Gordon is as sick of the dumbed-down approach as the rest of us are watching at home, and that he's hoping to re-establish his reputation as a serious chef with this show. *crosses fingers*

At any rate, I guess this is why Fox is burning off the current HK episodes two at a time.
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#6

Freeoh

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Posted Jun 23, 2010 @ 11:49 PM

What is the format in the other versions? I have heard it described as American Idol but with Chef's.

The Australian version is a bit different to the Uk version. There are places you can find all episodes (at least of the currently screening second season) online. And to get a sense of how it works, you could also pop into the Masterchef Australia forum here. This was hugely successful last year, and is doing even better this season. It screens here 6 days a week (yes, really!) with a basic run down as follows:

Sunday - Mystery box (a bit like a Top Chef quickfire, with a dish made from some or all of the ingredients in the box). This is then followed by the Invention Test, where the winner of the Mystery Box chooses the core ingredient around a theme (desserts/Greek/vegetarian etc etc). Bottom three go into the Pressure Test. Winner of the Invention Test goes into the Celebrity Cook-Off.
Monday- Pressure Test. Bottom 3 have to replicate an often complicated dish (sometimes with a recipe, sometimes purely on taste). Worst dish boots the cook.
Tuesday - Celebrity Challenge. Winner of the Invention Test cooks against a well known chef in replicating one of their signature dishes. Blind tasting by the judges. If the amateur's dish is chosen (and it's happened a couple of times) they win an immunity pin they can use to get them out of an elimination.
Wednesday - Team Challenge. A bit like Top Chef - contestants are placed into teams to produce a meal for a certain audience/purpose (cruise ship/child's birthday party etc etc). Winners get to meet chefs and eat at a good restaurant. Losers go to elimination.
Thursday - Elimination. Sometimes the worst performers are chosen (like in Top Chef), sometimes the whole team goes up. Elimination often focuses on core basics - taste tests to ascertain contestants palates, or making the best pesto/mayo or a mise en place challenge. Loser booted.
Friday - Masterclass. No competition. Judges review the challenges of the week and cook for the contestants demonstrating their own approach to the dishes. Essentially a cooking class for the amateurs (and us).

The success of Masterchef Australia has been predicated on the absence of bitchery and nastiness that characterises much of reality tv. It is not without its cheftestant fools, but the focus is very much on a positive learning experience, watching the amateurs improve week to week (and, of course, sometimes crashing and burning). This season they didn't even bother with auditions; just straight to the Top 50, and then spent a week whittling them down to the starting line of 24 amateur chefs. The judges act very much as mentors, and the vibe between contestants is very supportive and positive, cheering each other on etc etc. Very very little on personality clashes, and rarely are there spats and fights over things. Just amateur chefs trying not to screw up and cook good food. It will be interesting to see how Ramsey goes. With his abrasive personality, I wonder if the same feel-good uplifting, supportive tone will be something this version will aim for.

Edited by Freeoh, Jun 23, 2010 @ 11:52 PM.

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#7

Silmarien

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Posted Jun 24, 2010 @ 12:07 AM

If there's one episode of the Australian Masterchef to watch, I'd pick Episode 37 or Season 1 - the Pressure Test where they had to make a croquembouche.

Here's the link from the official site, although I'm not sure people outside Australia can view it.
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#8

Freeoh

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Posted Jun 24, 2010 @ 3:47 AM

Yep, that was a great, great episode. The whole idea is to take people who are good cooks, and push them to do complex things performed by experienced chefs. The croquembouche was so extreme, there was a real joy in watching amateurs kind of succeed in such a hard task. Unfortunately, whilst the majority of season 2 can be found on dailymotion, the damn croquembouche challenge from last year isn't there.

I think the success of the US version will hinge on what they choose to do with the format (I personally love the break from the competition element with the Celebrity Challenge and the Masterclass) and the ability for the judges to wind back the drama and the caustic Cowell-ness that drives these talent type shows, and focus really on nurturing them, educating them, developing their skills.
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#9

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Posted Jun 24, 2010 @ 4:09 AM

This was hugely successful last year, and is doing even better this season.

Massively successful. In a country with a population of 22 million most nights it is topping 1.5 million viewers, the Sunday night episode is getting up to 2 million and last year's finale had an average of 3,745,000 viewers, and peaked at 4.11 million viewers (giving its network a 41.3% for the night) and was the most watched show of the year and the third highest ratings since 2001.

We had a US relative stay for a month during the start of season 2 and got her firmly hooked. I hope the US format is as enjoyable. Thus far I would say the Australian producers have resisted casting people for personalities that will create drama. We definitely have people cast for their appeal rather than their cooking, but so far the less likeable contestants have been annoying rather than completely loathsome.
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#10

Quilt Fairy

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Posted Jun 24, 2010 @ 7:42 AM

Well, the Australian version doesn't sound anything like the British version I watched on BBCA. All I remember is that they brought in 4 amateur chefs every week, and there was a knowlege test and a cooking test. The knowledge test might be to identify different oils or herbs or types of fish. I don't remember the details of the cooking test, but the 2 judges were very supportive and helpful when the contestants were cooking. See, judges and mentors - take that, Tom Colichio!

I think a distinction of the 'goes large' part of Masterchef Goes Large was that one chef each week advanced to the quarterfinals, and eventually the finals. The finals were set up totally differently, they were a little bit more like Top Chef challenges. I remember they had to cook for a military unit out in the field, cater the pre-show food for a rock group, and cook and serve dinner to some rich, snobbish royalty.
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#11

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Posted Jun 24, 2010 @ 11:25 AM

MasterChef Goes Large was the one I saw,too, and if I remember correctly the three or four finalists were sent to work at a big name restaurant in London for one shift and then rated by the chef.

Hopefully, Gordon has enough control now to have some influence over how this new show is set up and the degree of angst created for the contestants. According to his autobiography when FOX offered him Hell's Kitchen the money was so overwhelming that he just signed up and let them get on with it. And although it's been very successful I would think he's not to happy with his American image. I'd really like to see F-Word Gordon return and I think eventually the viewers would accept that persona and not want the jacked up FOX version.
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#12

ProfCrash

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Posted Jun 24, 2010 @ 1:38 PM

The commercial I saw had a decent number of people standing behind individual tables with food on them. It looked like they were getting ready to present food. Gordon was walking with a woman in casual clothes. I did not see any Chef's whites in the commercial.

ETA:

I found a few sites discussing the format. It looks like a modified Australian format but in a lot less time.

Eat Me Daily report

The Masterchef format comes from England, having originally aired on the BBC way back in 1990, and since then permutations have included Junior Masterchef for kids, Masterchef: The Professionals for working chefs, and Celebrity Masterchef for B- and C-list celebrities. The US version will stick more closely to the Australian edition that premiered this year and turned out to be a ratings blockbuster. (It was such a hit that fans even made a World of Warcraft machinima homage.) The American version is expected to be 12-15 hour-long episodes, in contrast to the Australian version which aired six nights a week, for two and half months(!), for a total of 66 episodes and 10 final episodes.


Serious Eats About the auditions

Edited by ProfCrash, Jun 24, 2010 @ 1:52 PM.

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#13

raceguy120390

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Posted Jun 25, 2010 @ 12:50 AM

Never mind.

Edited by raceguy120390, Sep 8, 2010 @ 1:25 AM.

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#14

ProfCrash

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Posted Jun 25, 2010 @ 9:01 AM

Well, they are not going to have 66 hours of television. My guess is that there will be multiple challenges but they will be merged into one episode like they do with Top Chef.
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#15

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Posted Jun 25, 2010 @ 3:27 PM

I loved "Masterchef Goes Large" on BBCA and am in the process of watching the Australian version of the show. Other than the chef hosts being a little overly dramatic, I love it - every aspect. With Gordon Ramsey in charge of the US version, I'm really not sure how it's going to go. If it starts being a screaming match with the swearing, smashing food, and the rest of the antics we see on "Hell's Kitchen", I'm out. Sadly, I have every confidence that a fine show will be ruined in it's US incarnation.
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#16

Melbourneside

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Posted Jun 25, 2010 @ 8:42 PM

If there's one episode of the Australian Masterchef to watch, I'd pick Episode 37 or Season 1 - the Pressure Test where they had to make a croquembouche.


I still tremble at the knees every time I hear or read the word "croquembouche".
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#17

ProfCrash

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Posted Jun 28, 2010 @ 9:02 AM

I loved "Masterchef Goes Large" on BBCA and am in the process of watching the Australian version of the show. Other than the chef hosts being a little overly dramatic, I love it - every aspect. With Gordon Ramsey in charge of the US version, I'm really not sure how it's going to go. If it starts being a screaming match with the swearing, smashing food, and the rest of the antics we see on "Hell's Kitchen", I'm out. Sadly, I have every confidence that a fine show will be ruined in it's US incarnation.


I am hoping that we get the Gordon Ramsay from the F Word. He screams a bit, but only when really pushed. For the most part he is pretty calm in the kitchen, jokes with the brigade when the cooking is done, and plays more of a mentoring role. I am hoping that the format of Master Chef decreases the food slamming, swearing at contestants, and general drama filled silliness.
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#18

Melbourneside

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Posted Jul 2, 2010 @ 3:18 PM

I am hoping that the format of Master Chef decreases the food slamming, swearing at contestants, and general drama filled silliness.


We'd all like that, but I'm not too hopeful. I just don't think it's possible to reproduce MasterChef (Australia) in the USA. The Australian MasterChef is half cooking show, and half reality show. Every reality-cooking show I've seen from the US has the "reality" aspect dominating over the "cooking" aspect by a wide margin.

While the drama is a major attraction for the Australian show, it still attracts viewers who want to cook the dishes to the degree that it strongly influences supermarket ingredient sales.
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#19

ProfCrash

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Posted Jul 15, 2010 @ 9:07 AM

There are clips up on Fox's website.

So far no yelling, screaming, or swearing from any of the Judges. Some attempted flirting directed at Gordon but I don't think it helped the female contestant at all.
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#20

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Posted Jul 15, 2010 @ 5:04 PM

Thanks for the link ProfCrash. I'm not a big competitive reality show fan, but I'm so devoted to MasterChef AU, which is such a great departure from the typical American reality shows, that I'll give MasterChef US a chance. However, based on the clips, it seems like they are following an American Idol style judging format. Gordon Ramsey is the Simon-like meanie, Graham Elliot Bowles is the kind, Paula-like judge, and Joseph Bastianich... I don't know, he's not like Randy, but who knows. Maybe he'll end up having a dawg pound, too. Yo! Yo! Yo!
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#21

ProfCrash

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Posted Jul 16, 2010 @ 8:30 AM

I don't know. I don't see SImon ever taking a contestant, walking into the room with the other contestants and praising him to high heavans. Simon could be complimentary when judging but he rarely seemed so pleased with a contestant as Gordon did with the guy who made the duck dish.

The same website that had those clips had a live Cooking with Gordon show from 2009. I had never heard of it before. It was fun to watch no screaming, swearing, or throwing of food. Plenty of good humor and fun. It was nice to see. I guess there was a similar special in the UK that went better then they thought and they ended up doing a 6 episode season. I am hoping it makes its way to BBC America soon.
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#22

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Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 11:39 AM

Tonight's the night! Here's hoping it's good and worth the time.
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#23

The Mad Maple

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Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 5:53 PM

Well, I'm actually looking forward to this show. I'm a bit of a fan of Gordon Ramsey, and I've seen enough of the U.K. version of Kitchen Nightmares (as well as a few interviews he's done) to know that he's not always the ticking time bomb he comes across as on Hell's Kitchen and the American KN. And he was relatively laid-back on that live cooking show he did a few months back, and was still entertaining.

I haven't seen any of the other versions of Masterchef, but based on the descriptions, it should be pretty good.

Edited by The Mad Maple, Jul 27, 2010 @ 5:54 PM.

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#24

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Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 8:45 PM

Yikes. Bastianich is unpleasant to say the least.

Wanted to reach thru the tv and smack the crying, hyper guy.
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#25

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Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 9:05 PM

Bastianich is kinda scary. Scarier than I've seen GR. And I love this side of Ramsey. He's so nice and happy for the ones that make it.
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#26

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Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 9:09 PM

I can't believe that sourpuss Joe Bastianich came from Lidia's womb.

And I would eat Funeral Potatoes. Possibly die happy too.
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#27

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Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 9:16 PM

Joe acts like an unnecessary ass, seems very miserable. Geez!

I like the big guy. The guy with the beer soup was funny and I liked him but beer cheese soup sounds very disgusting. Yuck.

I also liked the doctor, not too much of them stood out yet.

Edited by NTLurker, Jul 27, 2010 @ 9:24 PM.

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#28

MyEyesSee

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Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 9:17 PM

Bastianich was kind of a dick, although once it looked as if he was going to smile or laugh but the camera cut away quickly. I guess he's our resident bad guy /small voice/ who I find sexy in an odd sort of way. /small voice/

It's too soon to tell if this show is going to be good but, I'm in.

Edited by MyEyesSee, Jul 27, 2010 @ 9:18 PM.

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#29

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Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 9:19 PM

This show seems promising despite the obvious reality show tricks of keeping the contestants in suspense and bringing out their families, etc.

Joe Bastardianich is well known in New York City, thanks to being on a lot of the news shows and elsewhere -- he's an arrogant jerk on everything he's on. Nice to see it's business as usual for him.
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#30

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Posted Jul 27, 2010 @ 9:24 PM

Was I the only one who was crying for nearly half of the episode? There seemed to be some true and honest passion going on here.

I would pay some serious, SERIOUS money to get my hands on the doctor's (Tracey?) cookbook that her mom made for her. That homemade southern food is what I crave, and I'm from the midwest! :)
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