Time for my annual confession that the only reality TV competition cooking show I watch is My Kitchen Rules, and each year I learn something about current culinary fashion. (Saves me going to expensive restaurants to find out.)
In previous years, it was that putting a shambles of dish components on the plate and calling it "deconstructed" was a thing. That silly idea seems to have well and truly gone. I get the impression it is now viewed with cringing embarrassment that it ever was a fashion.
In other years, using the sous-vide method to cook virtually any protein seemed to be very in fashion. Or maybe it was just one team that was obsessed with it - I'm not sure.
I get the feeling, from this year's show, that confit is also perhaps not as "in" as it was recently. Sure, there was some confit going on this year, but nothing at all like the ridiculous number of times it was used only a season or two ago.
As for what's "in" this year: there is (apparently) a huge revival in the use of the pressure cooker - which is something I'm very pleased to see, because some of my nicest meals come out of one, yet I had the impression that many people are scared to use them.
The only novel thing I've noticed is the use of smoking gun by the somewhat creepy brother/sister team. Didn't know they existed.
As for the show's format - its patent and obvious manipulation [in terms of editing, and (what one might call) the character arcs that are built into a season*] are so familiar but I think still work almost because of the predictability. My theory is that it makes the audience feel smarter, this understanding of how they are being manipulated.** However, I do feel that this year they went too far into the "relationship crisis" storylines, and the gormless "seafood king" and his long suffering wife felt just rather too mean and manipulative of the couple.
The show still rates well, I see, and I'll still watch it next year. (Not that every single episode is worth viewing - I have to miss a few "home restaurant" instalments each year, otherwise it is too much.)
* surely everyone's noticed that one of the initial baddies turns out to more or less a sympathetic girl or guy by the end?
** or is it like TV wrestling, where it's not clear how much of the audience realises that it is a willing participant in a pantomime?