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Masterchef Australia vs Masterchef US

I'm late and a bit backwards in discovering Masterchef, so I just finished the first US season and have now taken up watching the Australian season 3. What my question stems from, is that in the Australian version it's clear that there are clear challenges with recipes and challenges without. Now in the realm of "I've only made pasta once" or "I'm really not a baker" - this makes lots of sense to me for amateur cooks.

However in the American version - there is no mention of recipes, and particularly for the pasta/baking challenges (especially the souffle) - I find it a bit baffling. It ends up feeling a bit like contestants have had to commit the Joy of Cooking to memory. So the question is - does the American version provide the contestants recipes for some challenges and not others but just not tell the viewers?

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  1. The editing on the American version is crap
    .IMO the overseas versions of the show are so much better. At least in the Australian version in the Immunity challenges and some of the others it is made known they are working of recipes like you said.

    Also I am sure you have noticed how both the contestants and judges treat each other it's so night and day.

    I am sure they are provided with recipes ...like for the soufflie challenge.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chris2269

      Sigh - I think you are right but what I find so disappointing is that the viable assumption regarding the 'generic' American viewer - is that there is just clearly such a disconnect with any kind of cooking that it's a quick acceptance of what any 'awesome' home cook can be expected to achieve.

      1. re: cresyd

        I think a lot has to do with the production. I have every edition of MC Australia on my hard drive and its like 80 episodes V.S. ...I don't know 12 for the American series. The Australian series also does "Master classes" where they address the challenges and hurdles the contestants faced and give them pointers. Usually two get to go and spend time with a Chef and get personal training. I think the Australian, NZ, and UK versions work more to increase the skill of the contestants and educate the viewer in tern.. IMO our media bows to the lowest denominator as sad as that is.

        1. re: chris2269

          this is why I've been binge watching MC A. It's still a game show, but what a difference from the US one. I love the fact that they bring in great chefs (Heston Blumenthal!) for master classes. I love that I don't see the backbiting and 'strategy'. It's still too weepy for me, but I can fast forward that. Way more interesting food, although I can't get over the Aussie obsession with beets. :)
          Here's the link I've been using: http://www.tubeplus.me/player/2146384...

    2. Until reading this post I wasn't aware of other Masterchef versions. While I'll *try* to ignore what this difference says about the typical American viewer, I'll be heading over to the Oz version now.

      http://www.masterchef.com.au/home.htm

      eta: Unfortunately, the videos don't play in my area. However, the shows recipe file is very interesting.

      11 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        There was another thread with a link on how you could watch it. I watch it via torrents from
        http://theempire.bz
        I will try to dig up a link to the other option

        1. re: chris2269

          thanks chris2269, if you could dig up the other option I would be grateful.

          1. re: HillJ

            http://www.watchseries-online.com/cat...
            Can't believe I found it...the link was in a thread called "Masterchef tonight"
            I have not used this site but if your not comfortable using Torrents this looks like a good way to watch the show.

            I just tried it and you will get some pop-ups and the buffering was kinda slow but I'm downloading something else at the same time so that may be the reason.

            1. re: chris2269

              Looks like I have a couple of options to view the series now. Thanks, chris!

              1. re: HillJ

                The other option, if you know how to use them, is the newsgroups. You need a newsgroup reader and a subscription to a news provider like Giganews. The group alt.binaries.multimedia has every single episode without commercials and they were usually posted 1 hour after the show aired, which in North America was about 8am. There is no spam like you get with the torrents, and because you download them as a complete avi file, you can watch at your leisure. Retention on Giganews is almost 2 years, so you can just do a search for them and they should still be there.

                1. re: mramage

                  I appreciate it, mramage. I have enjoyed watching the first season.

              2. re: chris2269

                if you are on firefox and have adblock plus pop ups wont be an issue (i get now on the site and I see no ads on CH either )
                I find links to ovfile work best at the moment

          2. re: HillJ

            I love Masterchef. Watched the only two seasons I'm aware of and didn't know there were other countries doing it too.

            1. re: iL Divo

              actually that may be incorrect, is there a UK version? I think there is an Asian lady that won Masterchef or was that Top Chef? hummm, not remembering

              1. re: iL Divo

                There are around 20 countries - but a minority in english :p The UK version was the original.

                1. re: cacruden

                  The UK goes back to 1990 but back then a very different format. I think the BBC sold or licensed the rights to Shine TV which is Elizabeth Murdoch's production company. From memory they then licensed this to Fremantle Media another Australian company that is most famous for Neigbours. The rights are now back with Shine and the show is niw licensed and produced in 30 plus countries including a French version which is really popular.

            2. I gotta say I love the Austrialian version! I like how everyone is nice to each other. And it's pretty much the only cooking show that I actually get good ideas from. I basically write something down every episode - things to try, techniques, ect. I also really like the Masterclass.

              The american version isn't really about cooking - it's about being the 'cutthroat competiors' that apparently we all want to watch - I want to watch good, informational cooking shows not Big Brother, with cooking.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cierah

                I like the Aussie version -- except the Masterclass. For some reason, I just can't get into them. Although I like that they acknowlege the training they give contestants.

              2. I didn't enjoy MC Aus as much this season as the first two seasons - the quality of the cooking was higher, but the personalities were a little bland. What blew me away is the quality of the guest chefs this year (not counting the local Australia talent) - Heston Blumenthal, David Chang, Thomas Keller, René Redzepi, Anthony Bourdain - just to name a few. They even had the Dalai Lama. What did MC US have - 3 judges from minor versions of other MC shows. Matt Preston turned them down. What is sad that the Australian champion only got $100,000 whereas the US champion got $250,000 for alot less work and time away from family.

                3 Replies
                1. re: mramage

                  "I didn't enjoy MC Aus as much this season as the first two seasons - the quality of the cooking was higher, but the personalities were a little bland. What blew me away is the quality of the guest chefs this year "
                  Agree once Hayden and Dani (sp) left I kinda lost interest. The UK version earlier this year was good and won by a talented American Tim Anderson.

                  Like you said the judge line up was top notch.

                  1. re: chris2269

                    I wouldnt say the judge line up was top notch just the guest star/chef line up.

                    I agree about Dani and Hayden...Kate was plain (personality and appearance) and Micheal's story about his dad just got damn annoying after the millionth time.

                  2. re: mramage

                    In Australia, winnings from lotteries, game shows, etc are tax free, so that reduces the gap a bit.

                  3. If you want to see an amazing Masterchef series, try and catch Junior Masterchef Australia. These kids are mind-boggling. We are talking children here - aged 8-12 years, not older teenagers.

                    Addendum: oops, I've just seen the thread for Junior Masterchef Aussie from last year. Sorry for the double-up.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Billy33

                      Where have I been, so late to the party...JUNIOR masterchefs? Fantastic!

                      eta: just found, http://video.perthnow.com.au/15533168...

                      okay I'm officially jealous as an American viewer.

                      1. re: Billy33

                        Yeah; The two sisters from last series rocked. Rolling their own gnocchi and cooking recipes passed down through generations

                      2. Compare the USA and UK versions of Kitchen Nightmares. Pretty much the same thing going on there, USA seems to prefer drama to substance.

                        1. I too love Masterchef Australia. For foodies it is so educational with the master classes and the web site's recipes. Its a shame that if you are not in AU you cannot use their web site to view the episodes. I love the commradrie of the Aussies without all the fighting and bickering of the US shows of the same type. I really didn't think I'd make it through Hell's Kitchen this past season.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Atochabsh

                            You can watch them on realitytvfan.org

                          2. When does the next season start? Anyone know?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Atochabsh

                              May 6th. Masterchef NZ is also currently running.

                              1. Masterchef Australia Season 4 is just starting on May 6th (televising it). They made some mistakes in season 3 in some of the challenges (IMHO) and reverting back to some things that worked better in season 1 & 2. The very first season during the initial phases the one of the judges slapped (verbally) down one of the contestants for being catty - it is quite obvious that the producers will not accept poor behaviour. The US series is pretty pathetic in comparison.

                                1. Additional series I found I liked from down under were:
                                  - Poh's Kitchen - one of the contestants from season 1 has a cooking show I like.
                                  - Luke Nguyen's Vietnam - a chef from one of the premier vietnamese restaurant who appeared on the show a few times - did a two series set of touring south to north in vietnam which is a combination culinary tour and cooking show.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: cacruden

                                    I got to say I actually like My Kitchen Rules over MCA just for the challenges being more realistic for a home cook. Now if MCA goes back to its original ways as they have indicated, perhaps I will change my mind.

                                    1. re: cacruden

                                      Cacruden - also check out the series "Food Safari" especially the one focussed on France. I find it one of the best Aus shows for really good insights.

                                      At first I thought MC Aus was an improvement on MC UK (I gave up on MC US very early). But I now find the UK series does a better job of selecting on talent rather than personality. I feel the tests in the UK are more realistic to test true cooking ability and creativity. The MC Aus ones tend to be too structured.

                                      1. re: PhilD

                                        I will look at food safari thanks. I have looked around for MC UK on torrents and most of them are not being actively seeded - I prefer downloading the epos ides since I find online watching to be a little halting at times due to being half-way around the world from the server that hosts them. I found MC AUS second season to be the strongest talent (feeling - not sure), I enjoyed the first season contestants, 3rd season I think they had too much money and too many gimmicks. Wish they would not ever use taste tests for eliminations - just don't think it is a fitting way to know someone out of the competition - so hopefully that will not be used in Season 4. I enjoyed the masterclasses that MC AUS has. Personally I really don't like any show where the producers or the people are poorly showcased or act poor. I prefer the contestants fight to win, not to push others down.

                                        1. re: PhilD

                                          I much preferred the UK series this year to what they have had in the past, they have tended to follow more of the Aus/NZ format than in the past few years, with better and more varied challenges, and being less reliant on being proficient in classical French cookery and more open to ethnic influences. Greg Wallace is still a bit of a knob though.

                                          Although overall, I think the Aus and NZ formats are better for the viewer to 'learn' from with regard to cooking techniques etc. The editing on the UK sometimes just focuses on the outcome or the drama to get there.

                                          1. re: pj26

                                            It is funny watching the 4th year of Masterchef and hearing one of the prospective 50 contestants say "I have never filleted a fish, don't know how to cook a fish". I have to ask myself - what the heck!!! You should have watched the first 3 years and figured on several weaknesses that come up over and over again -- and actually practiced doing it.... They do NOT deserve to go into the top 24 :o

                                            1. re: cacruden

                                              Remember for MC Aus selection is not on cooking ability but on making "good" TV drama.....it wouldn't appeal to most of the demographic unless the audience coud relate.

                                            2. re: pj26

                                              Just started watching season 8 (current year) Masterchef UK after finding it on thebox.bz and I have to say - it is not that bad but I still prefer Masterchef Australia. I find less of the personality of the contestants being allowed to be seen, of course it might just be the way the English are. The judges for the post part are not offensive as they can be on some American shows :p The selection process seems to be better (already pushed in a restaurant environment before being selected to the final list), but they narrow the list down too quickly for an amateur competition. You have to give the contestants a chance to grow in their abilities before putting increasing the odds of being knocked off. The Aus starts with 24, knocking 1 off per ilimination challenge... which means that early they have a much greater percentage challenge of surviving and it gives them the ability to excel. It allows the contestants time to develop (not to mention it allows viewers more time to become attached/invested in their favourites).

                                              1. re: cacruden

                                                I have only just seen S6 (2010) as BBC World is so bad (and no doubt they will repeat this for 12 months) and I thought the opposite. With MC Aus I felt I saw very little cooking skill through all the rounds a d the early rounds were quite simple and/or do structured it is tricky to assess ability to cook or ability to copy and follow instructions. In MC UK the skills demonstrated seem higher especially towards the end when they need to deliver multiple courses of their choice.

                                                I do understand later series eliminated faster i.e before they always chose one of the three even if none could cook, in the new format if they are all bad they all go. Please correct me if wrong. It used to frustrate me when they put forward useless cooks to simply make up numbers.

                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                  The first two or three episodes were to reduce the shortlisted contestants down to 12, first day there were 5 that where given aprons. The next day they selected 3 - after eliminating more (second day not as good competitively). I am not sure if that meant more shortlisted competitors were given chances on day 3 or not. You then had 12, and the first day the competition was to eliminate 2 people.... so you went from 12 to 10 people. Yes, I believe the competitors were superior - the narrowing down to the starting list of 12 was a better test..... that part I thought they did better. IMHO, this is an amateur competition though - you want promising people - but you also have to understand that they are amateurs -- without training - which means part of the journey should be the chance to develop those promising skills ... and that is where I think the competition lacks. If they were all professionals, then not being forgiving is understandable since they should already be skilled professionals. 3 months with the first week eliminating 1 out of 24 means there is a 4ish% percentage chance of being eliminated at the starting line. 2 out of 12 on the first real day - is close to 20%. An average competitor in the Aus competition has a chance to excel, in the UK one - sorry - forget it .... you might excel but we are going to give you no chance :p

                                                  I would not say the bottom people on the 24 is useless cooks, I mean if they were useless cooks then your telling me that pretty well any non-professional is useless. They are amateurs, home cooks - not people use to cooking under pressure and not use to cooking in large volumes.... So if the Aus show adapted the selection process from the UK -- it would be better.

                                                  1. re: cacruden

                                                    I think you underestimate the standard of lots of amateur cooks, I won't argue they are as strong as professional as they aren't but there are some pretty stellar cooks around.

                                                    Also wise to remember the different production values of both shows. I think the UK is a simpler format focussed on the cooking, but the Aus series is a "big brother" type drama with the journey being part of the set-up to hook the audience....will Kylie from Tooowoomba conquer her fear of potatoes to conquer the French fry challenge, or will Jason (with the cocky smirk) ace it again. In the Aus version the contestants are chosen as much for their personality and their faults as they are for their strengths. Without the faults there Wouk be nothing to cry about, there woul be no drama, Kylie would not be able to triumph over adversity by cooking chips.

                                                    Both shows are entertainment not really true competitions but I think the UK one still has cooking at its heart whilst the Aus one is more of a dram with a cooking theme.

                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                      I don't underestimate amateur cooks - there are amateur cooks that produce superior food than many chefs. But it is completely different when going into a professional situation. A professional will be more likely to be able to handle the pressure of the competition. A professional will likely have a better gage of the limitations of time, and the ability to pull on a reservoir of experience to be able to use whatever is available to make a "special" meal out of it. And a professional will definitely be able to serve large numbers of people in a pressure situation than an amateur. So when an amateur will be less likely to be able to handle the immediate pressure and deliver the quality they would normally be able to do at home or small party. If your late, you open a bottle of wine and have a few glasses - you can't do that in a professional situation unless you want to go bankrupt. (Although I do remember being in a French restaurant in San Francisco where the French chef came out with his bottle of wine and started sharing it with us .... he was already completely toasted... but the food was still excellent....). A longer competition should allow those that may be great, but are unable to immediately handle the pressure to survive.

                                                      The UK is only about the race - food good - stay - food not as good - leave.... no teaching moments (the difference between 80 episodes and a small run). Yes quality of the contestants is higher, but in the end what do you learn.... both are entertainment .... that is what TV is.

                                                      Of course they could all adapt the standards and rules of the international culinary olympics - but a lot of amateurs would be out in no time (not only taste, but plating and lose of points for smudging your chef whites).

                                                      1. re: cacruden

                                                        But the UK one doesn't eliminate on the "catering" challenges it eliminates on the individual cooking. The Aus one eliminates on the back of the catering ones i.e the losing team from a challenge faces the elimination, and often that can be a non-cooking elimination.

                                                        Agree amateurs won't perform like professionals and TV environment is not a perfect way to judge. But remember they are all amateurs so all the in the same boat. Aus does allow more time for them to develop and the cynic in me woud say more time to place products in the cooking demos.

                                                        Have you read the SMH commentary - it I very good (spoiler alert it is the latest series): http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/m...

                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                          Aus only eliminate on elimination challenge, which at the very end is cooking. They might narrow the list of those that have to cook to survive (if the whole team is sent for elimination) - for example.... Name that, make that, cook that (12, 6, 2 - and one goes out). They stopped eliminating on taste tests after season 2, the same time they stopped bringing people back that were "unlucky".

                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                            I am warming up to the UK version after episode 11 in the latest season -- but they hit me in the soft spot... They went to northern Thailand for that episode :p They also started treating the contestants as humans (more personality shown through).... but maybe it is just that they are here in Thailand and treating the cuisine with the respect it deserves.

                                          2. Masterchef Australia just broadcast the first episode of season 4 last night. I believe they run 6 days a week for a few months.

                                            1. I watched the first season of Masterchef US. I didn't enjoy all of the negativity that seems to be the norm for anything with Gordon Ramsey. However, decided to give it another chance and made it through half of the second season. I haven't seen a single episode since. Masterchef AU was into the second season when my son found it. We starting downloading and watching the first season together, and we LOVED it!! I have seen every episode of every season, and I am ahead of him now on watching. lol He has yet to finish season 4 or watch the All-Stars. Workus interferus. lol The difference in the quality of the show is remarkable. On the Aussie version, you actually LEARN along with the contestants. The Master classes are super! The respect that is shown to the contestants from the judges, and between the contestants themselves is what I enjoy, and respect the most. It's such a pleasure to see, and makes the show more enjoyable. Night and day in comparison to the US version. We love you down under!! *grin* You keep cookin, and we'll keep watchin! Peace!

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: KristiBee

                                                Agree. If you haven't already track down Masterchef AU where are they now special. Really cool.

                                                1. re: KristiBee

                                                  Why I like the Australian version so much is that the trajectory of the chefs feels really natural. Most of the contestants come in with a strength, and then become more rounded out. There are too many challenges in the American season that either seem too difficult too soon - or completely unlikely that they were conducted without any recipe.

                                                  However, while I am a complete fan of MC Australia vs MC US - I recently heard Becky, a contestant from this summer's MasterChef US, on a fairly "not too serious" food podcast (Dining with Doug and Karen) - and she came off sounding like a cook that has a lot more to offer than is portrayed on the show.

                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                    I will have to check that out that's Doug Benson's pod cast on nerdist right? I liked Becky from the US version...and there are a few other contestants I enjoy its more of the production that turns me off.

                                                    1. re: chris2269

                                                      I haven't liked Becky at all on MasterChef - but then I don't really like any of the contestants. Something I blame entirely on production. That being said hearing her on the podcast (and yes, it's the Doug Benson food podcast on Nerdist) - she had some interesting food ideas and came off as really pleasant. On that podcast, a chef/cook makes a bunch of food that the comedians eat - and while none of them are going to become Top Chef judges - they clearly enjoyed her food.

                                                      I also think because Doug spent time on "career reality TV" (Last Comic Standing), he comes from a pretty symapthetic place on what reality TV is like. His basic thoughts on it are that seeing yourself on reality TV is like seeing yourself drunk - it's all "you" but it's a fairly over animated version of yourself.

                                                2. I've watched both the USA and Australia masterchef (all the seasons). I much much prefer the Aussie one. It feels more honest and more about the cooking. With the USA one, the contestants kinda cook in fear of being blasted by Ramsay or Joe.
                                                  Gary and Greg (aussie judges) are mentors + judges. They do not scream and shout or ridicule the contestants ( which I feel happens on the USA version). Plus, there are the masterclasses episodes, where the judges and accomplished chefs teach the contestants and home viewers new recipes and techniques. I actually learn quite abit from the master classes.

                                                  Also, I see much more growth in cooking abilities of contestants in the Aussie one. And it's cool to see contestants apply stuff taught during masterclasses. Aside from the experience, I wonder if the USA contestants saw improvements in their cooking. Take Whitney from the 1st season, from beginning to end, its pretty one note. I don't see evolvement for improments to take cooking above a brilliant homecook level...

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: keepquiet

                                                    I always skip the masterclasses -- I don't particularly like learn-to-cook shows -- but I like that they're transparent about how the contestants acquire all these new skills. Otherwise, some of the challenges would be all but impossible and the show would basically just humiliate, rather than educate, the participants.

                                                    1. re: keepquiet

                                                      I totally agree with you, I just have been watching us and aus version, I love the aus version, the production of the show is so good and you can see how they became a better cooking in every challenges every week it is more reasonable I found from USA version kinda fake some stage I also enjoy watching their master class all the judges and contestants I prefer to watch masterchef australia

                                                    2. From what I remember of Masterchef US Season 1, Gordon mentioned the contestants were given standard recipes to work with on some challenges. Also, is some of the shots you can see the recipes semi-hidden at the contestant's stations. However, with subsequent seasons, no mention of recipes and no recipes are seen at the stations. I'm guessing the producers want to give the impression that the contestants are truly knowledgeable cooks, which I call BS on them.

                                                      However, I can make pasta and a souffle without looking at a recipe... I still call BS. :-)

                                                      1. I didn't see the end of masterchef last season so no clue who won. how can I watch masterchef Australia.?

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                          Two methods - !) using BitTorrents - just google 'masterchef australia S05E01' and you will see a list. 2) If you are familiar with newsgroups which is my preferred method, all episodes are available under alt.multimedia.teevee. I am not aware of any video services in the US or Canada that will show it.

                                                          1. re: mramage

                                                            no idea what that means but I'll have to check it out

                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                              You download each episode. Here's the link: http://www.bittorrent.com/ once you are a registered member you get access to the shows listed.

                                                            2. re: mramage

                                                              FWIW, I watch it here:
                                                              http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/se...

                                                              Without d/ling the entire season, I just stream the show. This video crowd is from all over the world contributing to the database of shows and Couch Tuner http://www.couchtuner.eu/tv-streaming/ is another one with a similar database and no registration is required to view from either of these sites.

                                                          2. Sigh, the truth is any Masterchef is better than the US version and I live in Florida. First, Thank God for the Internet as I never would have seen many Masterchefs. America I'm sad to say and GR you know who I mean, I guess are lost in the idea of 'Drama' makes good TV. Funny because I like watching people cook, gook cooking and whoever is the best wins. It's about the food, plating and taste. They think we, in America just want to see people fight! I am not one of those people and have written Fox for whatever, they won't listen. I love MC UK, NZ, AU any country other than my own sadly. Love this year of AU and what a great show!

                                                            26 Replies
                                                            1. re: xetaprime

                                                              MC Aus is pretty bad this year in my opinion. Just started the finals week and it feels so staged. Laura seems to be coached and the head to head challenges seem to play to her one strength - rustic Italian food. Last night she was messing up cous cous but she was told she should measure the water....and so she did it again.

                                                              I find there is not enough individual cooking. Earlier in the finals week it had a "shock horror" cook your best dish with no rules challenge. It was really built up so obviously a first, yet the UK version used this a the main elimination challenge week after week. I also recall on the UK they cook one or two courses and need to produce four plates of each dish for the critic judges and the show judges - in the Australian version the do one plate of one dish and seem to struggle to do that....!

                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                even with that, it's still better than the US version. :) I haven't watched the UK version (except for the Professionals) so I'll add it to the list.

                                                                1. re: joycebre

                                                                  ...the other thing about last nights Laura triumph was the way one of the judges George sabotaged Brett's dish by saying the fish he was cooking was badly filleted and looked ragged so he better start again. His food tasted good but lost because his plating was messy.

                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                    I think his dish turned out better as a result... it def wasnt sabotage..he had a choice

                                                                    1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                      Not certain about that.

                                                                      Just because his filleting wasn't great doesn't affect the taste, and he may have simply trimmed it up prior to service. Judges shouldn't judge a technique they don't like, they should wait judge the impact on the dish - after all the diner doesn't see into the kitchen.

                                                                      A similar thing happened with another challenge, again I think it was George who kept telling the contestant to tidy up and then stood behind her workbench tutting like an old maid. Definitely off-putting defiantly distracting and doesn't seem to present a level playing field.

                                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                                        George also said in his mind he thought one of the dishes would be better than the other when they were making the kangaroo but that after tasting he changed his mind.

                                                                        1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                          But that's simply part of building the drama and is said to camera not to the contestant. That's very different to either coaching or damming a dish to the competitor before tasting.m

                                                                      2. re: kpaxonite

                                                                        I also wonder if Laura is doing so well because she is a simple home cook who cooks nice familiar food - no foams, soils, gels or other fine dining artefacts.

                                                                        I understand MC Aus suffered in the ratings last year, I have not seen it for a few years and wonder if the better cooks had alienated the audience. The BTL comments in local papers definitely have the great Australian public behind Laura's simple home cooked food, and that at only 19 she is very good for her age. So I wonder if the makers slanting the show to the audience rather than searching to find the best cook in the competition?

                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                          The powers-that-be at MC-AUS abandoned any subtlety about wanting Miss Laura in the finals way back during Marco Pierre White week. Italian theme invention test, Donovan Cooke defaulting the immunity pin challenge, risotto pressure test (ooh, guess what, Laura makes risotto every week at home), etc.

                                                                          You could just about see steam coming out of Emelia's ears after the judges gave the win to Laura in the last cook-off.

                                                                          The 2013 season was a crisis for the MC-AUS producers. They panicked about declining ratings trend and saw how well MKR was doing, so they decided to cast mostly on 'personality' and tried to inject conflict into the proceedings. The core problem was that the entire cast were rubbish (except for Rishi Desai) -- couldn't cook a lick (even Gary Mehigan in interviews conceded that). The result was the producers basically painted themselves into a corner and so most of the challenges were gimmicks that didn't require individual cooking. Major uproar on social media and the press, and there was talk about canceling the show.

                                                                          The 2014 season was an attempt to get back to focusing on a core theme: ordinary people / extraordinary cooks.

                                                                           
                                                                          1. re: jimonyc

                                                                            I know that not everyone loved the MC-NZ 'pairs', and perhaps in the Australian context it would be seen as too close to MKR - but I thought that was a really interesting way to inject "drama" without it being unnatural.

                                                                            In a parallel world where I seriously contemplate doing a reality cooking show - if I were to join with a 'partner', it would be one of my close friends who's also really into cooking. No matter how close we are, and how much we wouldn't want to appear nasty on television - there's no way we'd make it through 2-3 challenges without having SOME kind of something with one another. It wouldn't come from a place of playing to the cameras or performing a character - it would just be the reality of being under pressure.

                                                                            I've found the dynamic between the judges and Laura particularly irksome this year after watching MC-NZ.

                                                                            1. re: jimonyc

                                                                              Interesting insight.

                                                                              And last night it became clear why Laura needed to skip the next test. I think this was the first service in a professional kitchen (the UK does this weekly) and they went to Vue du a Monde to cook a lunch service.

                                                                              It was high pressure and complex and seemed to give good insights into each competitor with Brett doing well and Emelia struggling. I can't help but think Laura would have struggled really badly in this test and the weakness in her cooking would have been obvious.

                                                                              Tonight it looks like a fairly complex elimination, so Laura avoids two very stiff tests by getting direct entry into the finals. Social media commentators are already speculating her cookbook deal from winning will be "Food from Nona's Table".

                                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                                agreed. She would have been trampled in that kitchen. I found the service very interesting, and enjoyed watching it. It would have been hard to take all her hand wringing if she'd been there.

                                                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                                                  Laura struggled in the upscale pub food service challenge during Heston week, so it's really fair to assume that she would have struggled.

                                                                                  Going down the 'grassy knoll' hole even further - I wonder if the type of food that Laura cooks is as appealing to have her as a winner as her age. "Rustic Italian" is a pretty straight forward winner in terms of mass appeal. All of the other contestants from finals week haven't had a very specific style aside from Emelia as a dessert queen - and her desserts have been far more restaurant style than homey cakes/cookies/pies. If part of the MC-AU goal for this season is to give an overall 'umph' to the series, having an easy to sell cookbook would be helpful.

                                                                                  I've long come to terms with the fact that for all of these shows - I like the beginning and middle, and then once the end/winner part creeps up - I like it less and less. And I only watch the finale if someone I like wins. I still enjoyed this season of MC-AU, but as things are winding down - I'm checking out.

                                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                                    Heh, it would never occur to me to buy that cookbook. But I'm not their target demographic, I don't think. I'm more interested in complicated 'don't try this at home' cookbooks.

                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                      While I agree that the show seems to really want a Laura success - I also suspect that part of what's made her do well in the competition is that overall she listens to the judges/mentors a lot more and is a bit less hung up on trying to show growth.

                                                                                      It really felt like Emelia in the service challenge cut off her nose to spite her face. Something she's done before where she either thinks she knows how to do something (and doesn't actually) or wants to show skill/technique beyond what she can actually do.

                                                                                      While I like the ambition, it's a riskier attitude. Where I think Laura as a contestant (possible favoritism aside) is highly competitive is that she's very good at hitting the sweet spot of doing something skillful but something she can achieve in the window.

                                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                                        I think the flaw in the show us that they have to have a "prize" for the winner of each challenge and obviously an elimination for the loser (in the UK version they don't have the prize). The consequence is that the prize winning contestants skip things that truly test their skills. So the route through the tests can be far less challenging for some.

                                                                                        This week us a case in point. Laura wins a challenge that played to her (few) strengths. As a result she goes straight to the finals, the others battle through two stiff challenges that really tested them all. Laura missed both these and so we will never know if she could make the grade. In the same way Brett scraped through but he had the advantage of practicing, if it had been a level playing field I suspect the result would have been different.

                                                                                        It would be better if at the latter stages of the contestants all did the same tests with no advantage. Then at least we will see who has the talent.

                                                                                        Interesting observation about Laura, OK she may listen, but equally it seems she gets far more coaching than the others. Again it maybe better to offer no coaching, and no advice or criticism during the elimination tests. We would then see who has the skills and knowledge.

                                                                                        I keep seeing that Laura is really superb because she is only 19, but what had age got to do with it? Isn't this a search for the best amateur chef and so she shouldn't get any preferential help due to her age. It's interesting to contrast her skills to the UK's youngest finalist who was 18 - Emily Ludolf cooked food that really astounded the judges and pushed boundaries.

                                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                                          I agree that having anyone skip a challenge during finals week is a bad idea. Full stop.

                                                                                          The winner of the first US Masterchef was really young - but that version of the show is so heavily manipulated it's hard not to see all of the marionette wires. That being said, I'm not really sure why the fascination with a young winner. Not to mention, let's say the show decided that Laura would be the best winner and that the judges were going to help nudge her to get there. Why show so much of it??

                                                                                          I think the editing has been very heavy handed in showing them coaching her, and I can't imagine why anyone would think that's a good idea if she wins. Maybe the show knew that Emelia was the run away talent and so they tried to put their thumbs on the scales to level things up? I just don't get how the editing figures that showing Laura getting such a handhold is the way to gain an audience. Because it does make her look young and unimpressive as opposed to wow.

                                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                                            Agree on the editing - it seems heavy handed (rather like the product placement). That said I wonder if the demographic of the audience is going to be different, mainstream not food fanatic. It's broadcast four days a week for up-to two hours a night, with sixty episodes over something like fifteen weeks so very mainstream.

                                                                                            So the obvious coaching of "Nona's baby" probably plays well to the moms and grandparents who are watching because it shows the judges as nice and caring looking after the poor young thing.

                                                                                            And the products are similarity aimed at this demographic i.e. lots of packaged stocks, generally used to start sauces etc. I loved the pub food challenge where all the beer bottles on the tables faced directly to camera. And the Indian challenge where the camera lingered on all the Pataks products (despite none of the contestants using them).

                                                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                                                              I think packaged stocks are aimed at every demographic...the vast majority of people dont make their own.

                                                                                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                                                Although a bit odd to add them to the stock pot when also making the stock from scratch with all the ingredients.

                                                                                              2. re: PhilD

                                                                                                Well, given how the finale played out....I'm still confused with why Laura got the edit she did. Even if they wanted to help, save, and coach her along - I honestly don't understand the demographic who would find that appealing.

                                                                                                That being said, from a competition standpoint, never ending up in a pressure test, I don't think helps a contestant in the long run. Being able to handle a complicated recipe as well as the pressure of that moment I think is a really critical skill for winning. Not to mention, it really helps push people outside of their comfort zone. Particularly in terms of mastering complex desserts.

                                                                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                  There were too many desserts this season. Brent deserved it more than Laura

                                                                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                    The answer to the demographic is probably illustrated by the advertisers. Coles is obviously very strong so appeals to the mass marker shopper; the tour company that takes the oldies on boat trips to Europe; and good old Julie flogging her dishwasher powder (there is life after MasterChef). So I suspect most of the audience is homey, rustic home cooks rather than those that want fireworks.

                                                                                                    For me Laura will play better for the demographic....arghh isn't she lovely....!

                                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                      Haha - fair enough, I've never lived in Australia so am definitely not an authority on what kind of tv does/doesn't play. But I guess personally it just doesn't connect to something that makes sense to me.

                                                                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                        I'm watching online in the US, so I haven't seen any of the ads. It's really nice not to be distracted by them.

                                                                                  2. re: joycebre

                                                                                    MC-UK, definitely worth watching. The 2014 season which recently aired had some really impressive talent. The show demonstrates that MC can be dramatic and compelling without scripting and personality-driven casting.

                                                                                     
                                                                              2. thinking about it, if I were Laura, I'd be a little put out about not being able to do these challenges. She's just standing there, not cooking, and the more you do, the better you are.

                                                                                1. I'm disappointed. I was betting on Emelia.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: joycebre

                                                                                    I thought the semi-final was another skewed decision. Laura seemed to be all over the place and only a bit of coaching got her through. Emelia seemed stronger than Laura on the mains, and both seemed to have a similar issue with their desserts. The difference was the help Laura got vs. Emelia who was left to her own devices to fix the issues.

                                                                                    I was also a little suspicious about the final, given the amount of rework Laura needed to do after she made errors I was surprised that she caught up so much and even managed one more "element" than Brent. I also thought the scoring was also odd. Her nougat log didn't seem to lose her many marks, at one point I thought Gary was going to score her higher because he liked the log better that Gilmore's original dish. I got the impression that Gilmore would have liked to score her a lot lower.

                                                                                    But at least Laura was able to keep to her strengths and was even able to cook a dish (Chefs Table) that seemed to be a rehash of previous dishes she tried. Overall I felt we saw a pretty one sided final, but structured for broadcast to make it more even. If the earlier rounds had been better at identifying the stronger cooks we made have had a more balanced competition.

                                                                                    Brent won which was clearly justified on the day. If Emelia had got to the final I expect her dessert and organizational skills would have made it a bit one sided. That said her "third prize" of a job in pastry at The Press Club is possibly the most useful prize of the lot.

                                                                                    I see Adam Liaw (winner season 2) is back on TV with his Destination Flavour Down Under series which starts on Thursday - maybe good. Shane Delia also has another series if his Spice Journey starting the same day.

                                                                                  2. Genuinely surprised that Emelia didn't take the whole thing -- I guess it's the nature of the show's format.

                                                                                    Emelia: "My tip for acing [mystery boxes] . . . What I used to do after every mystery box is I’d go home, I’d write down every single ingredient we’d got, and I’d write down everything you could do with that ingredient. You’d have lists and lists of what you can do with a carrot. It makes you think about food in a different way, and it makes you into the next mystery box and you’ll see some sort of vegetable, and you’ll think, ‘I can do these 10 things off the top of my head with them.’"

                                                                                    http://www.popsugar.com.au/celebrity/...