Redemption Kitchen

Very rarely do we see television that has the capacity to be something very, very special. Conviction Kitchen looks to be one of those times.

Chef & ex-con Ian Curley, along with his Restaurant Manager Lisa Parker and Sous Chef Jean-Vital Syverin, is taking 12 convicted criminals and training them up to give them a chance at a new start. A new start as a chef or restaurant wait staff for the Brisbane-based restaurant Conviction, and ultimately two of them will get full time jobs with Curley in his Melbourne restaurant The European. If all the staff knuckle down, I really can’t see any losers here though.

The show, originally scheduled to follow the first Monday night of My Kitchen Rules, was shelved by Ch7 when Ch9 announced it would air the new Underbelly Files in the same timeslot, has found at home at 9:30pm following Packed to the Rafters (giving it the best possible lead in available on Australian TV today). And it’s a keeper.

Even though the first ep was to cull the group of potential staff from 16 to 11, we started to see stories develop. Characters emereged like Josh & Aaron. All of them with equally hard stories to recount of how they ended up in prison and how it affected their life. It’s not standard reality TV fare – the promos refer to it as “docu-drama” – so there’s not the common elements of a host to progress the plot or an overriding narration other than through interviews with Curley or Parker. What is heartening to see is the genuine concern Curley has for them. He knows their pain. He wants to see them succeed. But he’s not going to take any crap.

Andrew Mercado confessed to having seen this premiere episode immediately after a preview episode of MKR, and stated how pretentious it made the MKR contestants look. He’s right. If this was to air off the back of MKR the ratings for it would alter significantly. None of the CK cast shy away from their mistakes – they may be highly embarrassed about them, but they committed the crime and now they want to move on. Conviction Kitchen will offer them that chance (and the drama will write itself). The show offers hope; belief that people can turn their lives around; and it offers the reality of just how much a kind word and some faith in them can achieve.

Conviction Kitchen is a must watch, no matter what timeslot it is shunted to.


Conviction Kitchen – Tue 9:30pm, Ch7
Image/Video sources – Ch7.

Author: SteveMolk

I like TV. Have done since I was plonked down in front of Sesame Street & Play School as a kid in the 70's when we only had two channels. Now we have over 20 free to air channels so imagine how much time I spend on my fat arse. Keep up, people. You can contact me here or tweet me at: @MolksTVTalk

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  1. Didn’t see it, but my wife watched it. She liked it but felt the tell us your story/sorry you’re out was exploitative. She said she felt almost uncomfortable watching it, though she admitted she’d be happy to watch next week.

    Any thoughts on this?

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    • I didn’t think it was exploitative – given the subject matter if the show it needed to be revealed and I thought it was done pretty gently. The she is intentionally uncomfortable and that’s part of what I liked about it. The cast aren’t people middle Australia would necessary associate with and so that rawness and directness was a very positive attribute of the show.

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  2. There was no problem with their stories, compelling and sympathetic for most. More the idea presented that some felt it was their last chance and what was it, 5 dumped in the first episode.

    Not like your fame whores normal on reality tv that you can’t feel sorry for getting dumped from their quest for infamy, it may have been the people were too real, albeit ones who’ve made mistakes that have cost them time. No fun in seeing them dumped from a show.

    As I said, didn’t even see, so I’m basing my thoughts completely on the interpretation of another. Couldn’t be worse then that show where the girl had to pick which guys were straight or gay. Single worst tv I’ve ever seen.

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  3. While I liked the basic idea of the show – giving these guys a 2nd chance – what I don’t like is the fact that the very same restaurant that was supposed to be their lifeline only existed for the purposes of filming the “docu-drama” and no longer exists.

    If those with promise, who show they really do want the 2nd chance and rehabilitation, are then placed in jobs which give them a chance to use the skills they’ve been taught, then that’s wonderful. If they are then left to fend for themselves and go look for work in the real world, then I’m not so sure it will have been of much use other than to showcase to the viewer their stories and the choices they made which landed them in jail…

    I like the concept, if it indeed has some real impact on real people’s lives post-filming. If it’s just another voyeuristic attempt at reality TV that’s not really “reality” then I’m not so sure…

    I will however tune in a few more times to see how it develops…and really hope I’m pleasantly surprised with real outcomes for real futures.

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  4. In the words of the “dad” on Dirty Dancing…”When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong”.

    I judged too quickly, and I didn’t have all the fact re what happens to these guys when the show wraps. I stand corrected. I watched again last night (after Brothers & Sisters which I am addicted to!) and I really liked what I saw.

    As I mentioned in my first comment above, I WAS pleasantly surprised – and this illustrates to me again (what I talk about to my clients) – the power of the first impression.

    Without all the facts, a judgment based only on first impressions is never final. We’ve really got to give things a chance…or in this case, a “Second Chance”!

    GO Redemption Kitchen! Well done!

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  5. jean vital rocks!! What a hottie

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  6. I love this show. It’s raw TV. Pity it’s not on earlier so younger ones can watch it. I was saddened to see some contestants eliminated before they started which wouldn’t have helped their self esteem at all. The 1st episode when they went into the goal would have been an eye opener for kids. How everything had to be counted. It doesn’t glorify the fact that people have done the wrong thing and have to pay the price by going to goal like in “Underbelly” which glorifies crime and now we have kids who want to be the “Carl Williams” of today. So wrong.
    Getting back to CK, I love Lisa’s compassion for these people. I hope Curley get’s all of them work after it is finished. Having worked with ex prisioners and people who have had a tough life, I know some will only go so far and then they will hit a brick wall, it’s getting them to break through that wall so I hope Curley can get them to do this.

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