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The Hotplate

Scott Pickett and Tom Parker Bowles

Scott Pickett and Tom Parker Bowles

Nine turns up the heat in a new culinary contest.

Does Australia need another TV cooking competition? Channel Nine hopes the answer is yes as it launches its own late entrant into the hotly contested field of primetime food TV. The Hotplate, produced by international entertainment behemoth Endemol, is an expensive gamble on the hope that the nation hasn't yet slaked its thirst with ratings-busters MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules.

Hosted by Melbourne-based chef Scott Pickett - the restaurateur behind Estelle Bistro, Saint Crispin and the forthcoming ESP - and English food writer Tom Parker Bowles (yes, son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall), The Hotplate boasts a format that might sound slightly familiar: a state-versus-state competition that involves contestants judging other contestants.

Parker Bowles, however, insists it has more credibility than its amateur-based competition. "This is about family restaurants that have already operated successfully for anywhere from two to 25 years," he says. "It's about the whole restaurant - front of house as well as the food - and they're not rank amateurs who think being on a TV show will somehow miraculously change their lives."

Pickett says the pair opted for a more "warm and fuzzy'' approach to the job of mentoring six restaurants through the competition, where $100,000 is at stake. "I think the world has seen enough of the Gordon Ramsays who storm in and yell at everyone," says Pickett. "It's all about the industry, so for me it's about respect."

The Hotplate launches in late July on Channel Nine.

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