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.