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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this cooking competition series hosted by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay -- in which novice chefs vie for a cash prize and a chance to publish a cookbook -- doesn't stray too far from Ramsay's other shows when it comes to hot tempers and strong language. He and the other judges swear frequently (“s--t” and "f--k” are bleeped) and deliver and harsh criticism when critiquing the contestants’ food. There's also some strong sexual innuendo (suggestive flirting, references to food being “sexy”).
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What's the story?
MASTERCHEF is a culinary competition designed to find and reward the best home cook in America. Hosted by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, the series brings together 100 passionate amateur cooks from across the country. After presenting their dishes to a panel of judges -- including Ramsay, restaurateur Joe Bastianich, and four-star chef Graham Elliot -- 30 make the cut to compete in future rounds. After each challenge -- which includes preparation contests, taste tests, and catering events -- another cook is eliminated. The last one cooking wins $250,000 and a chance to publish their own cookbook.
Is it any good?
The series, which is already popular in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Hungary, features lots of the high-intensity food preparation excitement that's part of the fun in shows like Top Chef and Ultimate Cake Off. But unlike those shows, MasterChef features people who are doctors, software designers, and stay-at-home parents first and chefs second. While it’s inspiring to watch, many of these cooks lack the finesse usually showcased in food preparation shows. They're also unprepared for the kind of harsh criticism that the judges, especially Ramsay, have to offer, which leads to a lot of crying and other unprofessional reactions.
People who like cooking competitions will be drawn to the show, and foodies will be enjoy the chance to see how novice cooks can learn some tricks of the trade. But the salty language and Ramsey’s unique motivation style aren't particularly constructive. The series serves up some good entertainment, but it's a dish best left for older kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ramsay's personality. How have his temper and tendency to swear contributed to his fame? What do you think he's like in real life?
Would the show be as entertaining if the judges were nicer to the contestants? Why or why not?
What inspires people to cook creatively, even if it isn’t their profession? If you were to compete on this show, what dish would you prepare?