It’s also cheap and cheerful telly, but gets away with it because it’s ultimate agenda is pretty feelgood: to find someone with a great home recipe and put it on shelves so we can buy it.
I’m not sure it will be enough to give TEN a ratings renaissance, but at least it feels different enough to other food shows so prevalent on our screens.
Things get underway in a kind of food-pitching round as aspiring entrepreneurs present their original dishes to three judges: Carman’s Fine Foods owner Carolyn Creswell, advertising guru David ‘Nobby’ Nobay and chef Darren Robertson. They’re looking for a new brand of snack attack foods (the category changes every week).
There’s a jolly bloke with a colourful mohawk who has made some spicy boneless wings, a woman with a potato bake topped with pumpkin soup, an Italian-Aussie with croquettes, and another with hazelnut biscuits. They all speak from the heart about their recipes but not all of them will make it to the next round. In the background are (presumably) more hopefuls, but only 4 make it on camera and 3 are selected to proceed with a “Golden Ticket” (possibly Willy Wonka-inspired).
The next stage is a Batch-Up where chef Darren Robertson oversees a commercial kitchen cook-off where the three contestants are required to cook multiple servings of their product, assisted by three cooks each. One rises to the challenge. Another can barely add up the sums needed for the right ingredient proportions, but we’re getting to know more of their personalities. By the end of the session three will become two -oddly, Robertson just walks out of the kitchen to a corridor to give them the bad news. Very underplayed….
The next stage sees ad man David ‘Nobby’ Nobay define the brands for the 2 competing contestants. Their story helps give some authenticity to the product name and box design, aided by some field testing. A public tasting, staged not unlike an Apprenticechallenge, helps wrinkle out brand identity and taste issues, overseen by Carolyn Creswell.
The final stage is a judge assessment joined by the GM of Customer Loyalty for (sponsor) Woolworths Supermarkets, Lizzy Ryley who has had her people go over the products with a fine tooth comb. She’s worried about the unhealthy ingredients of one of the dishes. I was worried the show might be one big ad for her company, but so far that’s not the case.
One of the defining features of the show is that the winning product will be on supermarket shelves the day after airing. Having watched the episode, I’d be curious to taste it (TEN, you know where to send these!). This gives Recipe to Riches a unique, tangible touch that other shows don’t bear.
But I also had a few concerns about the structure. Firstly, there were a lot of storytellers. Three judges plus one narrator shared the storytelling like they were passing on a baton. Having one might have been less confusing. I also didn’t understand why just 4 candidates were profiled -what about everybody else? Without sustaining characters across the series it may be harder to get invested. I guess we can drop-in / drop-out but that’s not the answer to TEN’s ongoing audience issues. And as TV judges’ these 3 personalities are pretty low-key, but hopefully they will be appreciated for the experience in their fields.
On the whole, Recipe to Riches is brightly filmed and gives food a bit of a marketing twist. All it needs to do now is to bring the riches to TEN.
Recipe to Riches airs 8:30pm Tuesday on TEN.