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Seriously, he's got like 200 different restaurants running in cities all over the globe, maybe 17 different television shows being broadcast continuously on any station that doesn't consider calling someone a retarded donkey to be a violation of FCC standards, his own product lines, his own books, probably his own secret space station where his own mad scientists are working hard at training atomically-augmented super monkeys to wear white coats and expertly saute veal sweetbreads. He is a hard-working guy. I can't imagine that he could possibly need any more dollars or any more media exposure. And yet, it looks like he's at it again with his new/old show Masterchef (an British import from the BBC), set to premier July 27 on FOX.
And for the very first season, he's got two Seattle locals competing.
Unlike, say, Hell's Kitchen where Herr Gordon takes a bunch of caterers, carpenters, housewives, petsitters, Waffle House short-order cooks and drunks he found at the Burbank Greyhound station, dresses them up in white jackets and pretends that they're real chefs competing for a shot at running one of his myriad fine dining operations, Masterchef drops the pretense of any sort of chef-ly training or knowledge and simply takes a bunch of civilians (described in the press materials as "the best home cooks in America") and makes them cook-off against each other in a series of challenges. Ultimately, one of them will be named "Masterchef" and win... Well, absolutely nothing, near as I can tell from the promotional materials. I could be wrong, but it looks like all the winner gets its a weird looking trophy. So in what has got to be one of the most genius moves in the history of TV gameshows, the prize here appears to simply be getting on television and having Gordon Ramsay tell you you're a pretty good home cook.
Which is just fucking brilliant.
The two locals who made the cut (besting three or four hundred hopefuls who showed up for the audition at Sur La Table in Kirkland) are Linda Nicholson, who works in real estate and likes cooking "Minted Dungeness Crab Cakes with Kaffir Lime and Lemongrass Sake Beurre Blanc" (I'm quoting directly from the contestant list here) and Emme Ribeiro, a server at her parents' restaurant, Tempero do Brasil, on University Way, who has a blog all about eating and cooking Brazilian food in Seattle. Not a bad blog, either. But then again, I really like Brazilian food.
Anyway, the big premier of Masterchef is scheduled for July 27, and it looks as though most of the early competition will simply involve fifty people each cooking their best dish for a panel of judges which includes His Gordon-ness, Joe Bastianich (the restaurant and wine guy), and chef Graham Elliot. Producers promise to have cleared the decks somewhat by August 30, culling the herd down to 30 contestants, then doing it again for August 10 when the field will be down to 14. At that point, it turns into a more traditional cooking competition-slash-reality show, with people we might actually recognize week-to-week trying to prove that they have more than just one good dish in their repertoire.
So while I am understandably curious about what Steve Cannone, the longshoreman from Long Beach, Aundrea Richardson the bomb squad technician from Arlington, Texas or Charmaine Cheung, the Denver assistant to the Attorney General can do when the spotlights are on them, I will still be pulling for our local pair to at least survive the premier.
After that, though? Well, after that I'll probably just stop watching. I spent enough years in the real world having chefs with rage issues scream at me, throw things and call me WAY worse than donkey. I don't need to relive that all again by watching it on TV.