Macho-man chefs are now stuffed and skewered
My name is Yvette and I am a Masterchef addict. Not since Charlene married Scott on Neighbours have I looked forward so eagerly to my nightly fix of commercial TV.
Masterchef has been a revelation. With gripping culinary challenges, genuine emotion and insightful tips on cooking techniques it has become must watch TV. The prospect of its conclusion on Sunday night fills me with despair.
The show has also changed my mind about the culinary industry which up ‘til now I believed was full of offensive, egotistical, sexist chefs who thought it was OK for women to cook as long as they weren’t paid for it.
Although trail-blazing female chefs have taken on the blokes of the culinary world for many years, the old adage remains: men are chefs, women are cooks. To quote serial sexist, Gordon Ramsay, “women are better off mixing a gin and tonic than meddling with modern cuisine.”
In fact, a rash of revolting celebrity chefs in recent years prompted their inclusion in the Annual ‘Ernie’ Awards for male chauvinist piggery. The ‘Fred’ (named after Rev Fred Nile) for Clerical nominees became the Clerical/Culinary award. Fortuitously, the ‘Fred’ trophy was a fish on a plinth which meant the unlikely categories married well.
So what have these misogynists of mastication been saying? The usual stupid sexist stuff that is all rigorously documented in The Ernies Book: A Thousand Terrible Things Australian Men Have Said About Women.
Their sexist stuff-ups include gems like Neil Perry’s comment about Nigella Lawson’s TV Show (referring to her breasts, of course): “Why doesn’t she just get ’em out; that’s what they’re watching for!”; or Luke Mangan about Princess Mary: “She’s got some natural class about her. She’s not one of those Aussie bimbos”; or wine marketing manager, Trevor Corker (yes!): “For women, wine is not an intellectual pursuit.”
And how could we forget Gordon Ramsay who said about his ex-girlfriend: “Going to bed with her was like having a rottweiler strapped to your chest” (which might appeal to some but I’m sure wasn’t meant as a compliment).
However Masterchef has gone some way to repairing the bad reputation of celebrity chefs. On Wednesday night, as the boof-heads of league battled it out in State of Origin, the three not-so-tough-guy Masterchef judges cried on TV as Justine, one of the stars of the competition crashed out over a chocolate mousse cake. They all rushed to offer her a job because of her superior culinary ability but celebrated Sydney chef, Matt Moran beat them, literally, to her front door.
Masterchef has taken everyone by surprise. It is far and away the most popular show on TV. Boys across Australia are now demanding to cook marinated squid and fresh walnut gnocchi proving you don’t have to be a foul-mouthed misogynist to have a hit reality TV cooking show.
So what is the secret of the Masterchef success? Simple - it’s about real Aussies who love to cook - like Julie, a mother in her late thirties who loves cooking for her family (that’s me); Poh, a stylish artist from a Malaysian background; the gracious and mellifluent Torres Strait Islander, Tom; Sam, a twenty-four year old call centre manager who grinned his way through to the second last week; and tattooed Melbournite, Chris, who needs a hair cut and should get rid of the hat but I would absolutely queue up at his beer inspired eatery to feast on roasted pig’s head and beeramisu.
The show celebrates diversity. Each of the contestants has been encouraged by the judges to value their personal culinary experiences. No differentiation has been made on the basis of age, sex or cultural background. A whole episode was dedicated to Masterchef judge, George Calombaris’ mother’s moussaka – a first for prime-time TV. Chefs from all around the world have generously shared their passion for food. The trip to Hong Kong was a fabulous cultural adventure that should be a lesson to the ugly Aussie tourist.
And remarkably, in a very blokey industry, not one sexist comment on the show to date! Even Luke Mangan who appeared on the show this week behaved himself.
It’s pretty clear that the front runners for this year’s Gold ‘Ernie’ are Gordon Ramsay for implying that Tracy Grimshaw was an ugly six-nippled pig and former Cronulla Sharks CEO, Tony Zappia for asking the woman employee he accidentally punched in the eye if she would like to spank him.
But more importantly, who would I put money on to win this week’s final of Masterchef? It’s down to three: Poh, Julie and Chris and I’m putting my money on a woman being crowned the first Masterchef Australia.
As emergency rooms full of men and boys with cooking related injuries attest to, Masterchef has made cooking cool, and it has helped reversed that old fashioned view that women can’t make it as chefs.
Let’s just hope that after each family member has licked their plate clean of beetroot jus from their braised duck with baby vegetables that the fellas don’t forget about the washing-up.
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