Best TV Food Shows
Last night one of the best TV food shows ever, returned to our screens. If you haven’t seen Masterchef since the days of Lloyd Grossman and the brilliant Vic and Bob parody then you need to tune in again.
Speaking of the Vic and Bob parody, surely the best TV food show spoof of all time…
John Torode and the new slimline Gregg Wallace were back, to prove that “cooking doesn’t get any tougher than this!”
Gregg’s conversion to Weightwatchers is possibly more surprising than if “Greggs” the bakery started offering a Weightwatchers range of pasties. What would this mean for our beloved TV show? Would Gregg refuse to eat anything that took him over his allotted points for the day? Would he trade in his signature massive spoonful for a tiny weeny teaspoon? This was edge of your seat stuff.
As it turned out, we saw a slightly new format. In the first round, the contestants were in a smaller group, and got to cook more than one dish in an attempt to impress the judges. When it got down to the last three, Sarah served up possibly the most basic two course menu in the history of TV chef-ery. A piece of pan fried fish and a dome of plain rice, with what looked like a scoop of mango chutney out of a jar. She was duly eliminated.
Emily was a little fortunate to survive, having served up what it would be overly kind to call a dogs dinner of lime and vanilla soup with raw scallops in it. However, her piece de resistance of pork chops “a la spice rack” with a greenish looking mash and a treacly date syrup had John drooling. Gregg did his trademark “this tastes like washing up liquid” face, but it was too late, John was smitten.
The star performer from episode one though, was Dale. From the outset his presentation was excellent, and there was no way he was going home. Anyway, I can’t wait for episode two. What is slightly annoying, is that as usual the BBC keep messing about with the time slots. Yesterday it was 9pm, tonight its 8.30 pm and episode three is on next Wednesday at 8pm. I love the BBC, but they really need to sort out the scheduling.
Given my obvious and genuine excitement about the return of “‘Chef”, I thought it might be time therefore to write about the best TV food shows…
I wasn’t going to include personality driven food shows, but I had to include Nigella. Nigella Lawson is a woman who polarises opinion. Some people think she isn’t a real chef, and basically just pouts and licks spoons suggestively. However, this is a 50 year old woman who is seen as a sex symbol. that in itself is hugely unusual in our youth obsessed culture.
Moreover, Nigella makes delicious food. She isn’t po-faced about it like many TV chefs and if there is a shortcut to be taken, she’ll take it. This makes her food not only watchable, but cookable. Her recipes are genrally simple enough that you can do them at home without
a) turning your kitchen into a bombsite
b) scouring obscure ethnic delis and websites for ingredients and
c) spending 18 hours cooking your tea.
4. Masterchef Australia
Australian Masterchef features possibly the strangest ensemble of presenters ever witnessed on arguably any TV show! Despite this or perhaps because of it, the show definitely ranks as one of the best TV food shows. Its a completely different format from the UK version, and the contestants are all piled in together boot camp style from the off. They are then gradually eliminated through the course of the series, following various cooking challenges. These challenges take place both inside and outside the studio, and are often team based.
They certainly have some interesting guests. Check out this clip where the Dalai Lama turns up for lunch!
One of the best things about Masterchef Australia is that you follow the contestants progress. They actually teach them skills via “Masterclass” sessions, as they go through the competition, so you do actually learn something. The forced camaraderie and whooping probably wouldn’t cut it in the UK though!
3. Great British Bake Off
This series seems to have sparked off a massive home baking revival. I’m not complaining. I like eating cake!
Mel and Sue are the perfect presenters for this gentle and very British series. Contestants progress “Masterchef Australia” style through the competition, where the best is voted “baker of the week”, and the weakest is eliminated in each show. Everyone’s favourite old lady, Mary Berry and the faintly Cowell-esque Paul Hollywood do the judging. Mary plays the encouraging role, whereas Paul nit picks and generally tells them how it should be done.
The nice thing about Bake Off, is that you get to know the contestants as characters as the series goes on, and you find yourself cheering on your favourite.
2. Man versus Food
If you haven’t seen this TV show then I pity you! Adam Richman (the presenter) basically travels around the US visiting the best fast food and barbecue joints. When I talk about the best fast food I don’t mean McD*nalds and B*rger King. I mean real home cooked food. These are the kind of people who spend 24 hours marinading a whole pig, and then roasting that same pig on an open spit for another 24 hours.
I have never watched this programme and not felt insanely hungry.
The “Man vs food” element comes in where Adam (and in later series the people he mentors) take on various food challenges. These challenges are not for the faint hearted. We’re talking about 30 inch pizzas and huge sandwiches with about 4 pounds of meat in them, slathered in cheese and sauces, and accompanied by numerous side orders. In one the best memorable episodes, Adam attempts to eat 180 oysters in one sitting!
The on screen chemistry between John and Gregg is perfect for this show. John’s cooking mastery, aligned with Gregg’s expert face pulling and cockney charm, is a joy to behold. India Fisher’s narration is unmistakable and a key element of the show.
Early rounds usually see invention tests, palate test and of course the competitors cooking their own creations. These range from the sublime to the downright weird. When the contestants get sent to the professional kitchens, it really sorts out the men from the boys. Not only that, but it gives a great insight into the pressure and intensity of a restaurant kitchen. The food critics rounds are particularly watch-able.
All lovers of Masterchef will be connoisseurs of both samphire and the ubiquitous fondant poato, which turn up on pretty much every other episode. By your third of fourth episode, you will also be an expert in the art of sous-vide (cooked vaccum packed stuff in a water bath).
Above all Masterchef is hugely entertaining , highly quotable and great viewing. Without doubt the best TV food show around. Spin-offs “Masterchef: The Professionals” and “Celebrity Masterchef” are also great to watch.
Definitely not deserving of a place in the best TV Food shows
Avoid like the plague the terrible new Cowell cash in on Britain’s renewed love affair with cooking, “Food Glorious Food”. This seems to involve Carol Vorderman adding up Simon Cowell’s fortune, whilst poor Lloyd Grossman is joined by a random sour faced woman and a random younger lady with an annoying voice. They then eat food in tents.
That was what I took away from it anyway. I managed to last about 10 minutes. Why ITV dedicate an hour of prime time scheduling to this, when they presumably could have bought the rights to one of the best TV shows ever made, for a fraction of the cost – i.e. “Man Vs Food” – I will never know.
Need more food inspiration check out our Best Food Blogs article…