I haven’t said anything about it here but, after last night’s excitement, I have to mention that I really like Master Chef. Yes, it is apparent that much excitement is manufactured by camera work, scattering the timings, and a pretence of disagreement between the two judges, Gregg Wallace and John Torode.
When judging six contestants of which three must go, it’s always the case that two are in two are out almost immediately, then Torode and Wallace often pretend disagreement about the good and bad points of the remaining two, and we don’t find out who’s going until they do the line up and dismiss them. Also, it’s noticeable how the cooking scenes are spliced together to generate tension with either of the two judges declaiming, “Two minutes left!” amidst mad frantic cooking which, though it might be true in some cases, certainly isn’t true all the time with all the contestants. Then there’s the part of the show when the remaining three have to work in a professional kitchen in which it seems they always screw up at the start and always manage to sort themselves out by their last dishes (again, this might be true in many cases, but not all).
However, this is television, and I don’t expect the camera to remain in place as a cook stands by his oven cleaning his fingernails whilst waiting for a joint to roast. And there is real tension, real emotion and hunger to succeed. Torode and Wallace, whilst playing to the camera, tell it like it really is when they try the food, being either harshly critical or full of praise. Both of these guys are likable, brash and appear to be utterly honest in their opinions about what they’re eating. You only have to see a grown man nearly in tears because Torode has said of some dish, “That’s really beautiful” or Wallace has been grunting with pleasure upon munching a mouthful of the puddings he so relishes, to realise that the contestants think so too.
Now the program is into its final stages with the three finalists being really put through the mill, cooking for critics, the high and mighty, large numbers of people (in one recent case those being 600+ steel workers) or out in the field rustling up dishes for hungry soldiers. I’ve been enjoying it immensely and will sad when it’s all over.