TV’s MasterChef: an Accelerator – whose differences suggest other applications

The return to the screen of TV’s MasterChef looks like just another embodiment of the principles of the Accelerator – a small carefully chosen group of people working intensively together over a short period of time, with the help of iterative feed-back and advice – but its unique differences suggest new applications in which Accelerators as a learning experience might have other valuable applications: in MasterChef the experience is divided into a number of separate sessions; and of course there is only one winner (for that is what TV requires). And these differences suggest other applications for the Accelerator – in a variety of fields eg those making awards or letting contracts; and of course in learning; and for helping people back into work. (See also Related Posts – below.) (


Like the Accelerator, MasterChef brings around a dozen carefully selected people – sometimes amateurs, sometimes professionals – to work together (and to learn from one another), for defined periods of time, to prepare their own versions of various dishes (their own ‘products’), which they then present to experts, sometimes Greg Wallace and Michel Roux, but sometimes to diners, wedding guests, restaurant critics et al; and they get regular feed-back on each of their dishes (and noticeably tough feed-back from the expert chefs and from the restaurant critics!) And in the course of this process, they develop their skills and abilities dramatically. Whereas in business Accelerators, the end-point is either a just-established business or an opportunity to pitch their proposal to investors, for the MasterChef programme there is of course just a single winner, but while those who are sent home earlier may miss some of what is an outstanding development experience, new opportunities have often been opened up to them for their careers.

Where an experience of this kind is divided into a number of sessions, there is the opportunity for it to be integrated into other programmes: it has a place in development programmes in science, in industry (as it does at BT’s R&D), in the arts (as in the National Theatre’s Studio), and in the not-for-profit field (and Nesta often uses something of this sort for its programmes). It has a place in learning (schools, universities and Business Schools – as it does at Imperial with its MBA students) and in training (sports, vocational training and education).

As a programme that has only a single winner, its development process might appeal to those making awards or letting contracts (if you put a selected number of bidders through an Accelerator in this way, you can expect to end up with a better outcome). And as a programme in which everyone learns, it has a place in experiential learning.

And it can readily have a place in helping people back into employment (through programmes of intensive help with CVs and interviews).

 Related posts:

Springboard – a new ‘Accelerator’ programme for early-stage ventures


Pressure Cookers for business – what next (

 Upcoming topics:

Springboard Mobile – the latest UK Accelerator.

HealthXL – IBM’s latest Accelerator.


Help us to find opportunities for turning ideas into innovations!

 Copyright John Whatmore 2012



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