Next Level Chef



Gordon Ramsay


Mentors: Paul Ainsworth and Nyesha Arrington


Studio Ramsay Global for ITV, 11 January to 2 March 2023 (8 episodes in 1 series)


"The toughest cooking competition in the world. Ever."

Gordon Ramsay's bold claims weren't fulfilled by the show.

The basic idea is that each of the professional chefs will take a team of aspiring chefs. Some of them are young professional chefs, some of them are older and more experienced home cooks. All will get advice and training and mentoring from the experienced cooks.

The experienced cooks stand in front of the multi-level set.

Each team will all cook in the same kitchen each week, but Next Level Chef has a big gimmick: not all the kitchens are the same. On the top level is a superb cookery environment, with all the mod cons and latest ideas. In the middle, a standard commercial kitchen with standard tech and commonly-available equipment. Down in the basement, a past-its-best kitchen with battered pans and worn-out knives.

The set is a massive 10 metres tall, and it is the most imposing thing on the show. This construction is even bigger and grander than Gordon Ramsay's reputation!

Next Level Chef has another gimmick, a dumbwaiter that goes up and down to reach all three kitchens. The "elevator", as it's referred to on the show, carries food and ingredients down at the start of the challenge, and takes the finished dishes back up at the end of the time. The team in the top kitchen get first dibs, the team in the middle get what's left, and there's not much selection for the basement team. Whatever a contestant takes from the dumbwaiter they have to use.

What this team don't pick will descend to the next cooks below.

And then it's 45 minutes of frantic cooking, until the moment where the finished food needs to go back on the dumbwaiter for judging. Sometimes, players will miss the lift, and those contestants are at a severe disadvantage.

Once the food's been delivered, there's the inevitable tasting session, where the best dish of the day is named. That player's entire team is safe for the next show, and that player's team will be in the top kitchen next week.

The worst player from each of the other teams will be put forward for the elimination cookoff, a simple head-to-head. The chef behind the worse cookoff dish will leave the contest, and relegate their team to the basement kitchen. The survivor will join the rest of their team in the middle kitchen next time.

Repeat this until the end of the series, or until the last viewer switches off.

There's never enough time!

Why did viewers switch off? This was bad television. Everything is horribly confused and rushed. So many different dishes, so little preparation. Everybody's thinking on the hoof in an unfamiliar high-pressure environment. The action constantly cuts from one level to another, we never get to follow any contestant for more than a moment - there are good reasons why Masterchef only has a few contestants cooking at a time.

Next Level Chef somehow manages to be a cooking contest that isn't about cooking. It's a loud and shouty drama, it's all about beating the clock and avoiding elimination. Even the final elimination robs itself of drama by inviting the rest of the team to cheer for their teammate.

While these production techniques work for Fox in the USA, over here it goes down like a mouldy pizza. Viewing figures were well below the 9pm slot average, often behind daytime's cheap and cheerful Tipping Point.

Gordon Ramsay seeks a second series from a higher power.


Jade Greenhalgh


Format credited to "Studio Ramsay Global", developed by Tom Day, Fernando de Jesus, Bronson Payne, Sam Smaïl.

Title music

Alexander Shenkman is credited for "Composed music".


ITV2 broadcast the American version in July 2023, which featured Nyesha Arrington. Gino D'Acampo was nearly a mentor on that version, until a family commitment meant he couldn't fly over; he was replaced by local gastronome Richard Brais, and had to make do with popping up on our Italian Week. Big Zuu cropped up on Fusion Week and Tilly Ramsay graced Family Week. Speaking of superfluity, the credits included a phenomenal fifteen (15) producers, plus a senior challenge producer.

Viewers figures were low, with the final being watched by barely 1.5 million people. (The final was pushed back to Thursday from its usual Wednesday spot by live men's football.)

See also

Weaver's Week review


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