Nine brilliant new ideas for cooking shows (if I say so myself)

No doubt about it, we love cooking shows. MasterChef is still a juggernaut, netting more than two million viewers for its finale earlier this week, and then there’s My Kitchen/Restaurant/Cafe/Sandwich Maker Rules. They’ve been followed immediately by a whole new bunch of food shows, because as any TV programmer will tell you, the best way to make programmes is to simply ape what’s been done before.

That said, Seven and Nine’s new entries – Restaurant Revolution and The Hotplate – have been criticised by some as derivative of MasterChef and MKR, which means we need a few cooking-based reality shows with some slightly more original ideas. I humbly present the following for consideration.

My Reheat Rules

Channel Nine’s new foodie entry, The Hotplate (aka, ‘Almost MKR’). Photo: Supplied

This environmentally-conscious show will use the mountain of leftovers from all the other cooking shows on television. The contestants will be challenged to perform one of the trickiest tasks in modern cooking – reheating frozen leftovers. They get one chance to pick the heat and time settings for the microwave so that the food’s cooked through and not too cold or hot. Points will be deducted for any spillage left on the rotating glass plate. Successfully defrosting a snow egg without melting it will win you immunity from that round’s evictions.


In this very 2015 cooking show, there will be no judging process whatsoever. Instead, the show’s contestants will post photos of all meals on Instagram, using the filter of their choice. Whoever gets the most regrams and likes wins. The food will never be tasted by anybody.

Send It Back!

In this programme, the judges sit at a table, order entirely random and arbitrary dishes and sending them back on the flimsiest of pretexts. The winner is the chef who can accede to their absurd demands without spitting on the plate.


Young, up-and-coming chefs have to prepare complex, creative food with Gordon Ramsay constantly shouting obscenities right in their face. In the more advanced rounds, he will use a megaphone. Finalists will have their families called in so that Ramsay can belittle them in front of the people they treasure most. If they can thrive on the abuse, they’ll be set for a lifetime in the restaurant industry.

Restaurant Refinance

Contestants are challenged to save the restaurants that previous cooking show winners opened when their victories made them overconfident. Prudent financial and ego management will be needed to help these ex-celebrities (who no longer make it to social pages) stave off financial ruin. Competitors are prohibited from using social media to resurrect the public’s dwindling interest.

Cha Cha Challenge

Budding chefs must devise delicious new items that can be served on yum cha trolleys and don’t taste terrible after circulating around a huge room for an hour. As is standard at yum cha, all items must include pork and/or prawns in some way, even when the person pushing the trolley says they don’t. For the final challenge, contestants have to attempt to make chicken’s feet palatable to diners without Chinese heritage.

The Meal High Club

Sure, these trainee chefs can whip up a delicious three-course meal in any cuisine you like, but can they make it not taste terrible when served in economy class? Definitely not, if every airline I’ve ever flown on is any guide. Still, perhaps they’ll be able to come up with something more innovative than bland chicken with anonymous sauce on a bed of bedraggled rice.

Cecil’s Revenge

A food show which involves no actual cooking, this programme gives African lions the chance to showcase their expertise in obtaining, preparing and devouring al fresco meals. In the grand finale, the most ferocious lions will be given a chance to demonstrate their skills on certain American dentists, who won’t have their bow and arrow to protect them this time.


Is there anything you can’t do with tofu, the wonder product that can substitute for any meat you like? Well, yes, actually. But in this show, chefs will be challenged to make tofurkey, tork, tofeef, tossages, and other lame soybean puns in a doomed attempt to seamlessly mimic a carnivorous diet. Any contestant expressing a sentiment like “But why would a vego want to eat fake meat anyway?” will be immediately evicted.