And so, it returns.
On Sunday night, those of us who don’t mind sacrificing nearly every evening for the next three months tuned into the new series of Masterchef to watch 50 green home chefs try to achieve their dream. Before the sure to be massive finale in August, they will dice, roast, fry, and plate up countless dishes, and all but one will be sent home.
Thousands of words have and will be written about Masterchef. The tweets alone would fill hundred of books (admittedly, most of them quite unexciting ones, except for maybe Ben Pobjie’s). And, to be honest, I probably can’t add much to the conversation. But I will add my ranting to the pile nonetheless.
For those who are looking for a comical rundown of what has happened so far, it’s not going to happen. Instead, this is going to be me simply explaining why I love this show.
I am a huge Masterchef fan, to the extent that I chose to watch last year’s finale instead of going to a function with the PM (and I stand by that choice). It is a little over the top, a little cheesy, and certainly overstated. But it is also unashamedly fun.
To me, there is one basic reason for this; everyone on the show is intensely passionate about what they are doing. Contestants, judges, guest chefs, they all care about their food, even when they aren’t necessarily brilliant at it (and, let’s face it, lots of them aren’t, especially at this stage). That is the secret of this show, what has made it a success. That’s why the gimmicky aspects of it have gradually been removed through the years – it doesn’t need them.
At some point during this season, as has happened during the previous two, people will start coming up with conspiracy theories about the choices the judges make. “Oh, they’re only keeping them in to appease this demographic” and the like. Well, call my naïve if you like (though, after the hundreds of hours of reality television that I have watched, I don’t really think that’s the case), but I believe the decisions are made fairly, and made on the food.
This is a show that, later in the season, regularly rates over 2 million people a week, successful with nearly every demographic. Do people really think that, say, under 25s would have stopped watching last year if Callum had gone out? Or that “housewives” would have given the show up if Julie hadn’t been in it?
People always accuse reality shows of rigging results. The thing they don’t realise is that any result can be made to be entertaining. You don’t need to rig results to create drama, especially here where the food is, in itself, dramatic.
Anyway, what is in stall this year? Who amongst the ragtag collection of lifesavers, opera coaches, fighter pilots and machinists will be crowned Masterchef? So far it’s hard to pick, as there has been so little cooking. Not to mention, I don’t think we had seen Adam at all by this stage last year.
The one who has stood out is Alana, the 30 year old journalist who used the basic ingredients in the opening challenge to create a stuffed tomato. One of the four best dishes of the night, she was the only one who proved that her presentation skills are already pretty close. That looked like a current restaurant dish, even in its simplicity. The others in the top cooked some dishes that looked interesting, but hers was the one that looked professional.
It’s too early to know who is good, or to see who the entertaining characters will be. But history shows that at least a few will be really very impressive, and hopefully go on to be successful. Adam’s cookbook is exceptional, and he’s about to open an izakaya in Surry Hills. From season one, Poh is doing really well on the ABC, Andre has his polenta bar in Adelaide, and Chris and Julia have the well-regarded Josie Bones. In fact, most of the top 10 each year has ended up in food.
As I said, these are just random thoughts from my head. I may do more Masterchef posts through the season, and I am sure to do one on the winner at the end. But in the meantime, sit back nearly every night and watch people enjoying making food.
I know I will be.