MasterChef Australia V MasterChef NZ: Which reality TV show is better?


James Croot is the editor of Things to watch.

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OPINION: As if the signs of the apocalypse weren’t already all around us, the unthinkable – or perhaps inevitable – has finally happened.

Our two main free-to-air rivals will currently go head-to-head with the same reality TV franchise. Same format, different channels – three nights a week.

A clash of trans-Tasman sensibilities, with clearly different budgets and production values ​​(the Ockers tease Curtis Stone, Maggie Beer and Marco Pierre White among their line-up of guest judges, New Zealand has Monique Fiso and uh… )


MasterChef NZ is back in 2022 after a seven year absence.

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In the blue corner is the very experienced MasterChef Australia from TVNZ2. Now, it’s the 14th season, he’s taken the loss of his beloved original host trio (and trips abroad) in his stride, turning to more of a celebration of his former contestants, local champions and ingredients.

While the challenges have started to get a little woolier (there’s a preponderance of “cook what you want” now), it’s still a show that definitely shouldn’t be watched on an empty stomach, aims to elevate and to embolden participants to its opportunity and promotes a philosophy that is quite the opposite of Seinfeld’s infamous edition: “no hugging, no learning.” You can’t spend five minutes on MasterChef Australia without a hug or a teachable moment.


Old contestants return to compete against newcomers in MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favorites.

In the red corner is Three’s MasterChef NZ, back after a seven-year absence with a brand new judging panel and set in a very different location.

While Central Otago’s Walter Peak station and Nadia Lim are smart and savvy picks, there’s no doubt that it looks like a slickly-operated country cousin that’s been one of the highest-rated reality shows. in this country over the past decade.

The makeshift MasterChef Kitchen looks decidedly cramped compared to the sprawling brick warehouse in Melbourne’s interior that Australians call home and although Italian-American restaurateur Michael P. Dearth certainly looks the part (his hairstyle striking is a combination of Gordon Ramsay and Jay from America’s Next Top Model). Manuel), when I first saw Chief Vaughan Mabee, I thought they had discovered Hurley from Lost abandoned on the “island” in Lake Wakatipu.

Truth be told, at this point, he’s actually the show’s secret weapon and part of the reason why, to my immense surprise, I’m liking our local version more.

The once addictive groove of MasterChef Australia has become a succession of familiar rhythms (let’s just say a drinking game around the use of lemon myrtle and Davidson plums as ingredients, or the invocation of a Nonna as a source of inspiration, would quickly become messy).

Since the departure of Matt, George and Gary at the end of 2019, they have smartly relied on some of the most charismatic former contestants to make audiences “always feel at home”. But this latest iteration, which brings back 12 previous entrants (including a trio of series champions) feels like too much of a gimmick.

The once thrilling and emotional opening audition episodes have been reduced to a five-second montage as the producers decided to throw us in the thick of the action from the get-go.

Cue the relentless, apparently Inspired by Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worldsa pulse-pounding soundtrack and plenty of angst from newbies and veterans alike as to whether they’ll be able to “cut” and come up with a signature dish good enough to earn them one of three pins of immunity.

If the presentation, both in the plate and in the production, isn't quite up to par with its West Island stable mate, which MasterChef NZ has going for it, c is his endearing rambling and his chutzpah.


If the presentation, both in the plate and in the production, isn’t quite up to par with its West Island stable mate, which MasterChef NZ has going for it, c is his endearing rambling and his chutzpah.

“I’m bricking it,” Season 1 champ Julie Goodwin frankly and understandably admits (before adding, a little more ominously, “my guts are doing weird things”).

It’s been 13 years since she beat Poh Ling Yeow in the first final and the show has come a long way from roast lamb and mash dishes and onion chopping challenges. The judges, however, are there to back her up – like everyone else – with the somewhat polarizing Jock Zonfrillo giving a sly speech about “being a classic” to allay her clearly visible apprehensions.

Season 10 winner Sashi Cheliah also admits to worrying about going home a little early, while season 7’s John Carasig promises there won’t be a repeat of his infamous chocolate velouté. white – even though we know he will constantly remind him.

Yes, for all its endorphin-boosting charm, sights, words and fizz, something about this final season of MasterChef Australia feels as funky as the return of Tommy Pham’s debut fish and pork belly dish.

It became like Survivor USA. Trading on past glories and writhing trying to find new ways to bring back its greatest personalities – and audiences –. We don’t even have competitors anymore – they are “favorites” or “fans”.

Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen are the current hosts of MasterChef Australia.


Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen are the current hosts of MasterChef Australia.

Flamboyant season 10 fighter Aldo might offer his thoughts on how skinny the ‘new’ judges are, but newbies are more concerned about their rivals: ‘Sarah [Todd, from season 6] so beautiful, it’s a crime to be so pretty, ”we observe.

Not that the Kiwi attendees aren’t above such comments, they’re just reserved for Lim.

“You can tell she eats really good food,” the whispered a little too audibly when the 27 MasterChef NZ hopefuls first laid eyes on the trio of judges.

For her part, Lim wants to assure everyone that “experience is one thing, attitude is everything”, and it’s clear from the start that she, Dearth and Mabee want candidates “to show up on a plate”. In 2022, that means far more variety in food than in 2015, ranging from Egyptian street food to Thai barbecue and Vietnamese staples.

Picking and using local ingredients also abounds, with Kawakawa and horopito threatening to quickly become our version of lemon myrtle and Davidson plum. And while no Nonnas were credited during the making of the first two episodes, clear credit was given to a Filipino grandmother who owns a bakery — and rightfully so.

Perhaps a little sickening and schmaltzily, no contestant received a “no” from the judges, just “maybe”. Eventually, that pushed the trio into a corner, with just three aprons for 14 prospects, but at least they could do it in the relative safety of the outdoors, where the chances of a tantrum were greatly reduced.

MasterChef NZ judges Michael Dearth, Nadia Lim and Vaughan Mabee


MasterChef NZ judges Michael Dearth, Nadia Lim and Vaughan Mabee

Likewise, while the producers of Kiwi have managed to cleverly reduce the impact of the smorgasbord of often shrill MasterChef soundtracks, anyone familiar with the franchise will be able to determine a contestant’s relative success in a particular challenge by depending on its position in the assembly. . Present first or last – and you’re almost guaranteed to sail with the highest praise.

Then there was the constant buzz of “how much do you want this?”, from the trio of judges, one that will hopefully fade away just as quickly.

If the presentation, both in the plate and in the production, isn’t quite up to par with its West Island stable mate, which MasterChef NZ has going for it, c is his endearing rambling and his chutzpah. They may not be cuddly like Australians, but Mabee and Lim seem to be having a good old time.

In the opening episodes alone, there was an attempted wink to beckon a contestant that was completely ignored, a sweet dig from Mabee that Lim would post a contestant’s recipe “in a heartbeat.” ‘eye’, an exclamation that a dish was ‘blimmin’ exceptional’ and a cheer to another nervous attendee that ‘this to me smacks of capacity’.

Then there was the awkward and extremely Kiwi moment when Mabee recognized one of the leaders, but couldn’t place him. “I fixed a leak in your kitchen five years ago,” he was reminded then.

Sensing perhaps more stories could be revealed, Mabee wrapped it up with a “maybe”, suggesting her dish was “a bit lacking in texture”.

Which perhaps best sums up the difference between the two shows. MasterChef Australia has become too smooth an operation for its own good. surprised them

On the other hand, we know that not everything will go perfectly on MasterChef NZ. Fennel can be rendered inedible, a dish can have too much acid, and as one hopeful once warned, they might not be able to keep “a clean white apron”. But it’s exactly this sense of danger and identifiability that will keep us coming back for more.


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