Watching people slice bread is officially the best thing since sliced bread.
According to the Daily Telegraph this week, MasterChef is “the most powerful television show in Australia”. With $100 million worth of industry around it and almost two million viewers, it has even out bigged Big Brother.
But as we mark the show’s halfway point with an oyster terrine and a joyful high-five, there’s no escaping the sad fact that our MasterChef pales in comparison to the UK version. And not just because Australian contestants are hell bent on crying their way to the title.
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Did anyone else find Masterchef last night incredibly patronising towards blue-collar workers?
In case you missed it, the troupe of budding young chefs were given the challenge to cook a goat’s cheese-based vegetarian dish for “six of Australia’s biggest meat lovers”.
And who were these esteemed judges? True blue Aussies: tradies, truck drivers, a fireman and a farmer. Seems blue-collar types don’t have refined enough tastes to appreciate a good vegetarian dish… or even know what goat’s cheese is.
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Watching Matt Preston last night pull ridiculous faces like he was going to vomit when he got a bit of grit in his shell fish it crossed my mind his behaviour during Sunday night’s invention test might just have ruined Masterchef for me.
His delicate sensibilities never bothered me so much before. Everyone knows reality shows, even much loved ones such as Masterchef, are manipulated in the editing. But the scene in the video above just takes the piss, out of the contestants and the audience.
All the tension, all the skill and all the emotion that made last year’s series such a hit is under threat from this kind of histrionics and it’s such a shame.
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Sure, he might have a quirky sense of personal style, last seen on Keith Floyd, circa 1970. And you’d be hard pressed to find anyone fussier in the kitchen, but would you really call Matt Preston a wanker?
Ralph magazine certainly seems to think so. They’ve put Preston at the top of their annual list of 100 wankers - beating Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Brian McFadden and even Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano.
“The guy needs to chill out and eat some cheese on toast once in a while,” Raph editor Pintado Santi told News.com.au.
“He’s pompous. And he’s everywhere, is there anything he’s not selling at the moment, he’s got CDs, cookbook.”
But to be fair, the guy’s also done a lot for the way Australians look at food. Not since Gabriel Gate has a bloke been more willing to go on national television and stick up for high standards in the kitchen.
He may like colourful scarves, but he’s making a convincing case for why it’s important to put some effort into what we eat and how we cook it. What’s so bad about that?
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While television has many examples of extreme stupidity – need I remind you of the TV executives who felt that Neighbours and MasterChef had no future on their commercial network – seldom is silliness really embraced with the level of glee suitable for an industry that’s basically just designed to fill in the gaps between the ads.
If today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s chip wrapping then today TV is – poufff – gone as soon as it’s transmitted. Well, unless you set the IQ correctly, and have managed to stop the rest of your family erasing your recording to make space on the hard drive for all of that “Come Dine With Me” marathon.
Thank heavens then for this year’s Logies. Usually TV’s night of nights is an august occasion but this year the organizers have rather let themselves down by allowing a 48 year old man whose sole claims to fame are that he a) wears a rag round his neck; and b) like to eat food and doesn’t mind if people watch, to be nominated for the Logie for best new talent.
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With My Kitchen Rules coming to an end, news of the return of MasterChef couldn’t have been timelier.
For quality cooking shows, within a few short months, we’ll have gone from a smorgasbord to a piddling entrée. Let’s face it – five minutes of Fast Ed each week is not gonna cut it.
And if, like me, you’re a regular viewer of Man vs Wild, starring wilderness survival expert, Edward ‘Bear’ Grylls, you’ll have an extra reason to celebrate: you can toast the return of your appetite.
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