Like a home-cooked meal, there’s always something a little familiar and predictable with the format of cooking competitions. Showcasing a unique premise, The Big Family Cooking Showdown is ultimately let down by its execution. Borrowing heavily from The Great British Bake-Off, this 12 part cooking competition fails to really inspire enough originality to make it feel like anything but another formulaic competition.
Having said that, The Big Family Cooking Showdown does well with what it has to work with. 16 families from across Britain compete against one another head-to-head to be crowned the best family. Cooking to impress judges Rosemary Shrager and Giorgio Locatelli, the hour-long episodes are split into 3 different segments. The first sees competitors cooking a meal for under £10 in the judge’s kitchen before taking things back home for a home-cooked two dish meal.
This then culminates in one final competition back in the judge’s kitchen for a final two dish showstopper. After the dishes have been presented, the judges make their decision and send home one family, with the other progressing to the semi-finals. With any competition, things are shaken up in the later rounds and subsequent final but not quite enough to give it an original flavour.
For the most part, The Big Family Cooking Showdown does what it sets out to do with little fuss or stylistic showmanship. It’s simply a very familiar show with light drama and plenty of cooking. Before each dish there’s a conscious effort to illustrate the composition of each, including the different ingredients used via a block of text and narration. This is very similiar to that seen in The Great British Bake Off and along with the harp-dominated score that fills up much of the background audio, there’s no denying the familiarity here.
The judges comments do feel a little light in criticism at times though but given the families aren’t culinary trained, it’s not surprising the show goes for a more simplistic style here. The judges do comment on certain dishes and why ingredients work or don’t work along with plenty of lavish praise for the best dishes. At times, it does feel a little overbearing and perhaps a more stern, harsh assessment of the food may have served the show better in the long run.
The Big Family Cooking Showdown doesn’t do anything particularly outstanding nor is it particularly bad. It’s simply a very familiar cooking competition with more than a few similarities to The Great British Bake-Off. The dishes are pretty good and the family relationships are realistically depicted but ultimately it comes down to the cooking that keeps you coming back for more. In that respect, The Big Family Cooking Showdown does well and should be enough to tide you over to the next series of Bake-Off.