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Monday 23 August 2010

Guest blog for Food Wine Sleep

My first guest blog is up, for Food Wine Sleep. Here it is reproduced for you:

Come Dine With Me Australia – reality with a side of spite

There is something about cooking shows which brings out the one-upmanship in many of us.

“Pfft, I can do better than that,” you mutter as you sit down to your (gourmet) cheese toastie.

That’s the attraction of Come Dine With Me Australia, the cooking series set to screen from Monday August 23 on The LifeStyle Channel on Foxtel and Austar. The ‘contestants’ – there is $2000 up for grabs – are all down-home, fun-loving normal people. Or are they? They seem handpicked to cause a stir. Or perhaps the heat generated in kitchens brings out the worst in all of us, whatever our culinary aptitude.

In series two we meet Helen, Ray, Joan, Paula, and Taylor. And just minutes into episode one, you are hooked. Their arrogance is strangely endearing, and when things go (pork) belly-up… well, it makes for fabulous viewing.

The objective of Come Dine With Me Australia is to have everyday Australians battle it out for the title of the ultimate dinner party host. The unscripted show follows amateur chefs – and some really do look like beginners, but that’s what makes it so fun – competing against each other in hosting a dinner party for the other contestants. Each night five total strangers take it in turns to cook up their idea of the perfect evening for the other four. The entertaining part is watching as each believes they can cook up the perfect evening and oust the others as the best possible dinner party host.

Oh, and when the rivals snoop around each other’s homes you can’t help but wonder: is this what my dinner party guests do? In the end, the host is judged by their guests and scored out of ten. The host with the most points at the end of the week wins the cash prize. I found myself cheering when the cattiest contestant didn’t end up winning. You’ll know what I mean when you watch. I promise you: every night you’ll settle in and look forward to hanging out with your new batch of crazy, virtual dining buddies, and you’ll be keen to see the ultimate outcome.

But make no mistake – the real star here is narrator James Valentine. The radio host’s quirky quips really are quiet hysterical. He’s kinda like the nasty judge – without the ‘tood – who says the stuff you’re really thinking.

Says James: “Series two shows that dinner parties could be a national sport. Sure there are no high marks and no one hits a six, but there is naked ambition, vicious competition, shameless backstabbing, down and out cheating, and a drive to win that wouldn’t look out of place on an Olympic podium. You also get oddballs cooking bizarre stuff in strange homes. How could you miss it?”

The show is a brand new local production of the successful international format.

“Come Dine With Me Australia is such a winning format. It is not only exciting for foodies, it’s exciting for all Australians. It is a show that gives people recipes and takes them into everyday Aussie homes,” said Nicole Sheffield, General Manager, LifeStyle Channels.

Tune in from tonight and have a culinary cack.

COME DINE WITH ME AUSTRALIA screens weeknights at 8.30pm from Monday August 23 on The LifeStyle Channel, FOXTEL and AUSTAR.

And check out the fabulous site that is Food Wine Sleep: 'Australia's ultimate guide to restaurants, bars, and hotels': www.foodwinesleep.com.au

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