Saturday, 30 April 2016

Happy Masterchef Eve

Happy Masterchef Eve Y'all!

Now I am not one to spout lyrical about a television program, particularly a reality style tv program but seriously, Australian Masterchef is worth getting excited over. For serious cooks this is the Super Bowl, the tv event of the year not to be missed. The show has been stripped back and rid of all the gimmicks and bullshit that so many reality style cooking shows get bogged down in, this is not a game show this is the cooking Olympics.

The show has always been good but since moving the show to Melbourne a few seasons ago and with a renewed focus on beautiful produce, strong cooking technique and fostering the education of passionate home cooks the show is now great. As if that isn't enough to float any foodies boat there is the added entertainment provided by the hosts, what colourful cravat or crazy pants will the enormous Matt Preston be wearing each night. How many spicy dishes will it take to turn George Calombaris's head into a fountain that needs regular mopping and how many slabs of butter will one plate of food require to get Gary Mehigan rubbing his portly belly and licking his lips like a five year old about to receive a lollypop.

I have pondered of late that maybe one day I would like to compete on Masterchef. I was recently pursued by the Great Australian Bake Off but with work commitments and the lack of any prize as a drawcard it was just not going to happen this year. After reading the contract for the Great Australian Bake Off I also realised that once you have been on a show like that your arse is theirs for ten years. You cannot appear on other shows or pursue any media opportunities without the channels permission for a whole decade. That is a big commitment and at the end of the day although I was once a cake decorator I am interested in expanding my horizons to envelop all culinary fields.

This years masterchef has touted itself as the most intense apprenticeship program in the world. I know it is media spiel but as you watch the contestants progress from good cooks to outstanding cooks over a 6 month period it is clear that there is a strong focus on learning and growing and that is what I am interested in. It would be a life experience that few people get to have and for many past contestants, like my cooking hero Poh Ling Yeow who went on to host her own SBS food program, it opens many doors.

There are a few issues with auditioning for a show like Masterchef. The first is that the calibre of contestants they get these days is high. It isn't unusual to see audition dishes that I would be happy to pay for at a high end restaurant, delicate parcels of ravioli floating in crystal clear consomme's and rich desserts with complex techniques. Although I am an adventurous cook a lot of the techniques are out of my current league but that is not to say if I practiced and developed my skills further I couldn't get to that level. The next issue is that the style of cooking on Masterchef is very "cheffy". I use to be ashamed that I thought "cheffy" food with it's artistic plate smears a little wanky. But then I heard Rick Stein commenting that he finds "cheffy" food pretentious as well and I suddenly felt vindicated. Rick is a chef and cookbook author of the highest standard and if he doesn't see the need for food to look like a pretty little garden on the plate complete with edible flowers and chocolate dirt then that really is a valid point of view from a lover of cooking. Rick is a man of my heart with his love for hearty peasant style food that is packed full of flavour but I just don't think that type of cooking will pass muster on Masterchef where trends are set and world class chefs pop in for a cuppa. It becomes a little like an ice skating competition where artistic expression is as important as technique.

For me the be all and end all is taste. I want food that makes your eyes roll back in your head in ecstasy but when presented on a visual format like television that isn't going to be enough. The famous saying repeated time and again on Masterchef is that you eat with your eyes. Quite frankly I eat with my mouth so that could be an issue.

I now await the first episode to air with anticipation as I will be coming at this season of Masterchef with a new perspective. One of eager observation and critical analysis with the overarching idea...could I do that?

Originally posted on Saturday, 30 April 2016 by


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