Masterchef SA to audition in December
Arnold Tanzer, the man who will devise the cooking challenges for aspiring chefs in the forthcoming South African version of Masterchef, is using his mother's cooking as a yardstick.
The former SA Chefs' Association vice-president and Sunday Times's 2008 Chef of the Year has been appointed culinary producer for the show and has already begun acquiring the ingredients and equipment for the programme, which will start airing on M-Net in March.
"In all my travels . the common ingredient is always flavour," said Tanzer. "Some of my favourite dishes are those cooked by my mum - simple, everyday food but always with great flavour."
M-Net and producers Curious Pictures and Lucky Bean Media, who beat 14 other South African production companies to land the programme, have invited amateur cooks in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town to audition in December.
The franchised reality TV cooking show goes as far back as 1990, when it began airing on the BBC.
It has now been developed for millions of viewers in many other countries.
In July, when local viewers were gripped by the Australian version of the show, The Times asked M-Net about a local spin-off.
Spokesman Lani Lombard said at the time: "Masterchef has been a phenomenal success globally. In terms of reality show formats, it's the next 'big thing'. When we revamped our schedules in April we decided to introduce an international reality show slot for our DStv viewers at 6.30pm, Mondays to Thursdays. It was the obvious choice to kick off the slot with Masterchef Australia."
Lombard said reality food programmes were "an international trend that has blown over to South Africa".
This year alone, countries such as Portugal, Sweden, Ukraine, Romania, Peru, Malaysia, Indonesia, Denmark, Croatia, Finland, Ireland and the Philippines have developed local versions of the show.
M-Net said auditions would be held in Johannesburg on December3, in Cape Town on December10 and in Durban on December17.
Short-listed candidates will be called for another round of auditions the following day.
Said Tanzer: "We have a vast cultural and demographical cuisine base from which chefs can draw inspiration.
"We've spent the last couple of months researching and developing challenges and tasks from across the broad spectrum of local cuisine . It really does not matter if you grill, poach, braise, roast, steam or bake food - everyone wants his food to taste great."
Masterchef SA is another addition to reality TV cook-off shows.
BBC Lifestyle's Come Dine With Me, in which four amateurs host each other to a dinner party and rate each other's cooking.
For Masterchef SA, contestants have to be at least 18 years of age by the beginning of next year and must not have professional cooking experience.
Prizes and the judging panel are to be announced.