25th Jan2021

‘Best Leftovers Ever’ Review (Netflix)

by Rhys Payne

Hosted by: David So, Jackie Thon, Rosemary Schrager

Right, let me paint a picture that many people would be familiar with… Let’s imagine that last night you hosted one of the best parties ever or you had a group of friends over to watch your favourite sporting event. I for one think that no gathering is complete with some good food, whether that is homemade or takeaway but the problem is that whenever I order food my eyes are ALWAYS bigger than my stomach and I always ended up with leftovers that oftentimes are just thrown into the bin! Not only is that a total waste of money but is also so incredibly bad for the environment! However shows like Best Leftovers Ever are here to offer helpful tips and tricks to reduce food waste and help reduce any damage caused to the environment.

Best Leftovers Ever is built on a pretty simple premise – three contestants are pitted against one another to see who can transform leftovers into a completely different and unique meal. They compete across two rounds in a bid to win to $10,000 cash prize at the end of each episode. The first round has the contests transform a range of dishes in the fridge (as well as general items available in the pantry) to make unique dishes, with ‘bonus points’ being awarded for the number of leftovers they are able to incorporate into their new creations. For example, one round saw the contestants transform comfort food into a healthy meal alternative. I would be terrible at this challenge as I consider Macaroni and Cheese as one of my favourite comfort foods but have no idea how to turn this into a healthy dish! In the second, the competitors are all given individual dishes – usually a takeaway – and have to create their dishes based on the different meals they have been given. As a concept, I think this programme is fantastic; it not only educates viewers of the potential leftover food can have it also helps save the environment and can help everyone save money over time. However, I was disappointed in one episode where the contestants have to transform leftover food into a fancy sandwich as this did not fit the creativity and innovation showcased in other episodes. Even I could come up with putting leftovers in a sandwich… and I have … many times! The show has three judges who are David So, Jackie Thon and most excitingly for me Rosemary Schrager. Rosemary is a TV chief who captures the heart of the nation during her run on “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” and I have missed having her on the TV, as she never fails to make me laugh.

One of the most spectacular things about Best Leftovers Ever is the clever use of staging that perfectly fits with the nature of the show. There massive food-related items such as a milk carton and, most noticeable, a tipped over noodle box in which the contestants wait while the judges are deliberating. The judge’s desk has also been designed to look like a collection of Tupperware boxes stacked on top of each other, which added a lot of energy and colour to the show as well as fitting the leftovers theme throughout! The graphics used within the various episodes were amazing – incredible graphics of the leftovers available and a clear diagram of how the cooks will be using them in the new dishes. Additionally, the food available to the cooks was (I hope) manipulated to look as of it was leftover from the night before which was very entertaining to see. I don’t quite understand the reason that a fridge was brought out in the second challenge and it was full of a certain food such as prawns and rose wine, which had nothing to do with the actual challenge! The contestants were given a takeaway meal that seemed unrelated to the rest of the items in the fridge which seemed like it was supposed to be a comedy gag that I did not get.

Like I stated earlier, the judges are sat on a table made up of Tupperware boxes which were very clever. Although it did feel as if the judges and the contestants were almost on two different shows. Usually during cooking shows the judges walk over to the contestants to chat about what they are doing etc., but in Best Leftovers Ever the judges did this dialogue from their table, which was a substantial distance from the kitchen equipment! Also, while the takeaway tips were very interesting, they were delivered by the judges – with the judge the sole focus of the camera which did make it feel like the judges were being positioned as main focus of the show rather than the contestants  and their creations. Tips constantly appear on the screen in the form of text boxes but some were delivered by the judges which I found somewhat distracting. No matter how hard I try, I can’t understand why Jackie played the guitar and sang a little song at the end of each episode. While they were very entertaining and helped build a “structure” to the episodes, it did not fit the vibe or atmosphere of the show!

Overall, the premise of Best Leftovers Ever is very exciting, with an important focus on benefiting the environment and saving viewers money. There were some super-exciting and innovative ideas and transformations that I am likely to try the next time I order more food than I can handle! On the other hand, the separation of judges to contestants did create the feel of two conflicting shows in one – which was a bit distracting at times! I still hope they produce a second season, which will allow them to better develop a sense of cohesion within the show!

*** 3/5


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