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What makes a good reality cooking show?

What makes one cooking series more addictive than another?

by: Tessa Purdon | 17 Jul 2014
watching tv

On Tuesday this week I attended the launch of the new reality cooking show that is about to hit our screens, Chopped South Africa. Many of you are probably familiar with the international series and from 23 July, we will get to watch the South African version of this popular show.

We had a discussion here at Food24 this morning and asked ourselves - what is it that makes reality cooking shows so addictive? We came up with these explanations:

The editing

Have you ever felt that immense tension when you catch a glimpse of sweat dripping off a contestant’s brow? Or the moment before the judges announce that someone is about to be kicked out of the competition? It’s excruciating and the suspense is just too much to bear. Throw in the fast, beating, pressure-filled music and you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen even if a giant cockroach ran across the floor. MasterChef Australia does a great job of editing and is one of the reasons why it’s one of the most watched reality shows ever.


Contestants create the drama. They accidently cut themselves, they fight, they cry and we secretly revel in it all. Remember in MasterChef SA

when we found out that Khaya was pregnant? Or when, in season 2, the final three contestants included sisters Seline and Leandri. Don’t even get me started on the dishwasher, Luxolo who was eliminated early in season 1. I don’t think there was a dry eye in South Africa that night. The emotions!

The judges

The judges in any reality show competition are going to be contentious, and they begin to generate a certain persona as the show progresses. We even asked our readers who their favourite MasterChef judge was. Have a look at the response here


Many reality cooking shows are shot on a professional film set but there are others that take on a strong travel angle where the filming is done outdoors. Think Hayden Quinn South Africa
or Justin Bonello's Ultimate Briaamaster. UBM is one of my favourites because it showcases so many different, amazing, wonderful areas of Southern Africa and creates that feeling that you’re off on an adventure!

Season 3 is set to start in September and this time, the crew will be travelling through Africa. I cannot wait! If you’re not already following the show on Twitter, you should be! @UltimateBraai

I’m really looking forward to Chopped South Africa because we’re going to get to see our own South African chefs, using ingredients that we can all relate to in the simple ‘Chopped’ format – 4 chefs, a mystery basket and a VERY tight time schedule, with a new winner being announced at the end of each episode. If you are still not convinced, read our article on why you’re going to love it.

Set your PVRs and make sure you're following all the build-up action on social media. It's time to get square eyes!

Tell us what your favourite reality cooking show is and WHY you like it.


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