Thursday sees the return to French screens of MasterChef - for its third season.
|MasterChef - The contestants (screenshot TF1)|
Yep the self-proclaimed home of gastronomy and the country which has, if not exactly its food then the whole business of preparing, serving and eating it as one of Unesco's intangible world heritages, has succumbed to the invasion of the culinary game show that, quite frankly, seems to put the emphasis as much on it being a contest as it does the obvious talent that some participants have.
It's not enough that there's a whole channel, Cuisine +, dedicated to food and what can be done with it in the kitchen (available without encryption to those who have the very basic Canal + subscription on channel 41)
Both M6 and TF1 have taken concepts which originated in the United Kingdom and adapted them for a French viewing public.
On M6 there's a daily serving of "Un dîner presque parfait" (based on Channel 4's "Come dine with me") which has also morphed into a "very best of" version to find an annual winner among the purely hobby cooks.
And proving there can never be too much of a good thing. the channel also has Top Chef an adaptation of the US show - this time professionals who obviously need the exposure take on each other to be crowned...well you fill in the blanks.
Both the very best of Un dîner presque parfait and Top Chef have more or less the same set of judges.
For the moment TF1 has just the one cooking game show, MasterChef - oh and the inevitable sidekick, Junior MasterChef for the highly precocious.
The original concept is of course British - so a huge round of applause to the BBC - dating from 1990 and revamped into the international monster it has since become in 2005.
Sadly France has also caught the bug
There's little need to explain how it works. Even of you're unfamiliar with the original, it doesn't take a doctorate to work out that the a panel of judges struts and tuts, nods and shakes collective heads and decides the fate of the contestants as they're put through ever more ludicrous kitchen scenarios to find the eventual winner.
|MasterChef - the judges (screenshot TF1)|
Chefs Frédéric Anton and Yves Camdeborde along with journalist and food critic (and thereby living by the maxim perhaps of those who can't, write about it) Sébastien Demorand
will be returning once again as the jury.
The (cough, cough) "excellent" Carole Rousseau will play host (not much to do there apart from call out names and explain to viewers what's happening in her monotonous pitch) and all the contestants of course are going to give the best of themselves - not just 100 per cent worth because that would be undestatement but 200 per cent, 500 - or hey even a 1,000 per cent. Why not?
Something like 24,000 apparently applied to take part, but thankfully the judges have whittled that down to (just) 100 among whom of course will be this year's winner.
Full of hyperbole, the promotional videos says the level of candidates this year is incredibly high (well it's hardly going to say they're a bunch of no-hopers, now is it?) there are going to be more surprises, some really difficult tests and of course exceptional moments including - apparently - serving up a meal from a cave for some pot holers!
Well, because this is not really about cooking is it? Instead it's a game, entertainment in which, we're led to believe, the best cook wins.
To avoid the programme, be sure to be watching another channel or doing something entirely different from 20h50 on Thursday evening.