With its fifth season just underway, this food competition show fanatic finally – finally! – has clued in and started watching Fox’s “Master Chef.”
Why I ignored this show for so long, I can’t really say. It likely flew under my radar because one viewing long ago of “Hell’s Kitchen” put me off Gordon Ramsay, who’s the lead judge/host of “Master Chef.”
But the Ramsay ever so briefly seen on “Hell’s Kitchen” isn’t really the Ramsay on “Master Chef.” I prepped for Season 5 of the food competition show – which pits home cooks against one another for $250,000, a cookbook deal and the titular honor – by watching Season 4 on ye olde tablet. It turns out that Ramsay, while a particularly biting (ha! biting) critic, isn’t the toughest or the most irritating judge/host on the show.
Oh, no, that guy would be Joe Bastianich, a chef and restaurant owner who comes across as so incredibly pompous and rude, it’s almost funny. He has to be playing a role, because if he truly is like this in real life – and, granted, he sadly might be – then he’s a real piece of pretentious work.
The third judge/host is celebrity chef Graham Elliot, who is the voice of kindness and reason. I like Elliot. I liked him when he competed on “Top Chef Masters.” And I was bowled over by the amount of weight he lost between Seasons 4 and 5 of “Master Chef.”
Elliot is the glue that holds the egos of Ramsay and Bastianich to the floor so they don’t float up and completely overshadow an otherwise solid cooking competition show.
It’s no “Top Chef,” mind you. And it’s woefully overwrought with dramatic pause. The worst offense, however, is how Ramsay keeps calling “Master Chef” the biggest cooking competition “in the world.”
I take umbrage with that. Like all similar cooking competitions that have come after Bravo’s “Top Chef,” “Master Chef” is a second-tier copy. And, dear Mr. Ramsay, “Top Chef” remains the biggest cooking competition in the world.
Season 5 of “Master Chef” began in late May, just one of many summer premières that keep TV-aholics happy during the once-dead season. Several favorite and lauded summer series have just started or are about to begin. Actually, more than several. A lot.
I don’t watch all of them – can’t in some cases, since I lack the premium channels – but I can pick out several that viewers will be happy to see return. There also are some new shows debuting this season that, at least on paper, look intriguing. Others are noteworthy for their ridiculousness.
Here’s a rundown of a few new and returning summer shows (some descriptions are from wire reports):“Derek” “Crossbones” “The Next Food Network Star”
A final note: One of my favorite competition/reality shows, “Project Runway,” is set to return for its 13th season sometime in July, according to the show’s Facebook page. When in July? You tell me. What I can tell you is that a designer booted from a previous season will return thanks to fan-vote contest Runway Redemption. July, TBA, on Lifetime.