The recipe for a televised food contest is familiar.
Since the schedules were invaded by the MasterChef virus and its related ailment, Bake Off syndrome, all half-sentient viewers have an instinctive understanding of the way cookery competitions are organised.
You need professionally charismatic judges and agreeably diverse contestants who will battle against the clock to cook implausible food over three rounds, while the voluntary jeopardy of the situation is underscored by a soundtrack of industrial techno or anxious minimalism.
Crazy Delicious is no different. It flickers between voyeuristic cruelty and the nagging question: Have they done enough? But there is a twist. It takes place in a psychedelic heaven, designed like a Lewis Carroll Wonderland, and the judges are called gods, so they dress in white, like Morgan Freeman. The set is edible.
The prize is a golden apple, which is tempting, if theologically confusing. Is the kitchen a kind of purgatory? Or is it paradise fried? There are maple syrup trees, chocolate soil and a Prosecco brook. The tangerine trees and marmalade skies will surely follow.
The gods are “gourmet magician” Heston Blumenthal (who invented triple-cooked chips), “American soul-food guru” Carla Hall (she became famous on the US show Top Chef, with her catch-phrase “hootie-hoo”), and — börk, börk, börk — Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt (who has Michelin stars and a TV career).
As gods go, they’re decent, erring on the side of kindness rather than humiliation. Heston appears to be nominal boss, if only because he can look at a strawberry and see a “beautiful little scarlet studded fruit”. Wait till you taste the “strawberry-esque chips”, mate.
Up to this point, Crazy Delicious is MasterChef reimagined by Tim Burton from an original idea by Aldous Huxley.
The Bake Off bit is delivered by Innuendo Waitress Jayde Adams, who is a deconstructed cooking show host made entirely of visual spectacle and parboiled naughty commentary. Imagine what would happen if Noel Fielding was blended with Mel and Sue in the teleportation machine from David Cronenberg’s The Fly, but instead of a human with insect superpowers it produced a fairy with a fruity sense of humour.
“Adam,” Jayde says to a struggling contestant with a mythical name, “it looks like you need some help with your long sausage.”
What about the food? It’s entirely mad, obviously. There is nothing here that the average viewer is going to be attempting, which is a blessed relief. The contestants operate at a high level. Adam, of the sausage, is a wizard with the digestive biscuit coating on his buffalo wings. Hannah makes trifle with milk infused with hay and marigold. And Hardeep reinvents the hot dog as lamb koftas in coriander chow buns, which is a bold strategy by any measure.
Have they done enough? They surely have. There is deep-fried ice cream, Mexican chilli dog eclairs, and an Eton Mess egg, without the egg.
“In’t this mad?” says the angelic Jayde. “I used to work in Asda.”
Crazy Delicious is on Channel 4, 8pm