Next Level Chef review – Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition is bizarre, banal nonsense
Contestants randomly grab ingredients from a dumbwaiter, then cook in concept kitchens while the celebrity chef breathes down their neck. How bewildering
There’s a moment early on in the first episode of Next Level Chef (ITV1) when Padstow restaurateur Paul Ainsworth, one of the judges on this new cooking competition, turns to Gordon Ramsay and takes the mickey: something about the head judge not having worked in a real kitchen for years. It’s forced banter, but it does point to why Next Level Chef is a breathless, bewildering gabble of a show. This is a cookery contest that is so obsessed with contrived competition that it almost completely forgets about food.
A dozen contestants – a mix of professional chefs, social media influencers and people who just make good scran at home – are split into three teams, each mentored by one of the judges. They cook within a huge metal structure built on three layers. The top-floor kitchen is state-of-the-art, the middle level is a normal working kitchen and the dreaded basement is a greasy mess of outmoded appliances, unseasoned pans and wonky stoves. Create the week’s best dish and your team gets to use the top kitchen next time; cook one of the two worst and you face the “cook-off”. The loser of the cook-off goes home, and what’s left of that contestant’s team is consigned to the basement next time.