Masterchef 2011 (why I will be watching)

I will be watching Masterchef this year, I don't always watch the celeb or professionals but always the amateur series

Why ?

... as a fan of the program I've always enjoyed the honesty of the judges, John and Gregg, the aspirations of the contestants, the ones who flourish and the ones who's pomposity is burst with a truly awful dish. John and Gregg are not your friends who, at every dinner party, praise you for your 'wonderful cooking', they're direct and honest and more than a little painful at times. The 'journey' is a much copied format now but its always great to watch the huge leaps the semi-finalists take as they progress and get opportunities to learn.

... as a previous contestant and winner I have a huge debt and can share the highs and lows from a privileged perspective. I know a lot of the team behind the cameras, the directors and the brilliant and committed Series Editors Karen and David. I know the program is honest to its core, John and Gregg, the production and the contestants are kept at arms length from each other. I'm sure the production would have preferred a female finalist in the last couple of years but the judges are kept separate from influence and, I believe, only ever judge on the food placed in front of them. I know now Gregg and I are friends that I wasn't his favourite to win my series until the final day although I had no inkling when I was contestant which way either of them felt.

... finally as a restaurateur there are some wonderful new ideas and dishes, its great to see other kitchens (we cooks lead pretty insular lives)

The format changes this year, I don't know how similar to the Aussie or NZ Masterchef it will be but I do know the production team is basically the same as the previous series. I know they're a bit nervous of the new, more glamorous perhaps, format and studio losing the audience who like the grittiness of the original series but am confident there will be the underlying honesty kept which will ensure the series will continue as a success.

So good luck to the program, more importantly I wish the last few luck as they are now committed to cooking for the next few years, I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I have. I look forward to hopefully meeting you soon.

Series 7 Masterchef starts on BBC1 at 9pm this Wednesday 16 February
(I might be making a brief appearance on the 24th February)


  1. thats a grand write up youve made there mat,i love the series and i know more men have taken an interest in the kitchen since the program began, im privaleged to have eaten at the wild garlic and taste for myself what good food is all about, and also the first taste of venison ever for me you whipped up at the food fest up here,keep fighting the good fight and hopefully ill get a holiday this year again in dorset, :)

  2. With professional, celebrity, junior and the main amateur Masterchef, the program format gets a lot of airtime - and for that reason I do think it needed a little bit of freshening up. I just hope that the baby hasn't been thrown out with the bath water. One of the great things about the show is the fact that the cooking isn't marginalised for the ample human drama (unlike some other food programmes - eg. Hell's Kitchen in which the cooking has become incidental).

    The 'audition' thing makes me very nervous - from the trailers I've seen I think it's all gone a bit too Simon Cowell for me - but I won't judge it till I've seen it!

    All that said, I can't wait for the new series. I still harbour an ambition to go on - but I won't do that unless I think I can do well... the trouble is that every year the standard seems to go up and up and I feel further and further away!!

  3. Mat, I read Grace Dent's TV OD on Masterchef, and sounds to me that they have taken a lot of elements from the Indian version too. Now that makes me nervous.

    That said, I am going to be watching [illegally, so don't ask me for too many details :-)]

  4. PS - But part of me does wish that they would stop tinkering with a pretty classy show. In fact, when I auditioned for the first time, I remember thinking I was going to be on the 6.30 - 7.00 PM show. Now that was a real hunger inducing slot.

  5. Lovely writeup Mat. We won't get to see series 7 here in NZ for a few months yet. I do so very much hope that the format hasn't been revamped too drastically - the Aussie and NZ versions are terrible and to me unwatchable. The food and cooking takes a second place to the artificially inflated drama and competition. The reason I love the UK version is that it's all about the food and the cooking.

  6. I hope it doesn't go the way of the Australian show. I heard and read so much about how they picked the first contestants for the first series, I was disappointed from the start. I watched the first two episodes and had to turn it off. I know my fellow Aussies love the Australian version, but they probably never saw the UK version.

  7. Well I wasn't going to watch it. but now I am!

  8. Thanks for sharing your perspective; it made for a most interesting read. I live in a country where we don't have our own MasterChef show (Canada) so I have to make do with those episodes I can catch online from UK, Australia, and last year's USA launch. The UK version is hands down the best. As always, I'm keen to see if there will be any Thermomix spotted this season... can hardly wait! Cheers,