Masterchef Australia Changes Our Lives
Masterchef Australia has changed the culinary landscape in Australia and beyond. The high rating TV show has lost none of its mojo with series four being arguably the best ever after a slow start.
Masterchef Australia should take credit for making Australians more culinary aware and for raising culinary expectation and appreciation. We are now familiar with terms like croquembouche and techniques like sous-vide.
The revamped finale format was a great success with three fine cooks put to the sword - with a riveting final two rounds between andy and Julia. This was TV at its best. My own website suffered a decline in hits the night of the Mastechef final - and I put it down to the fact just about everyone was watching the Masterchef finale and not on the net.
Now we have the Masterchef All Stars to look forward to so that we don't suffer post Masterchef depression. In a way the all stars format is a testimony to the longstanding success of the show.
Masterchef Australia unearths some fine culinary talent (think of past contestants like Adam, Marion, Hayden, Poh-Ling, Julie, Callum, Kate) but also some great entertaining and endearing people we just love to watch. Andy Allen will be remembered not just for his mercurial cooking but for his infectious laconic personality along the journey. Far for arrogant Andy was dangerously disarming. So Aussie. Andy's comment about not being able to cook prior to his appearance on Masterchef was an astonishing admission. Dangerously disarming. What we came to know was Andy "the rook" but fierce competitor, who had been known to turn around basketball games in the last stanza.
Andy came through the competition like a tour de force. If he didn't know much about cooking before the show, by the finals series he was a serious chef of note. His ability to redefine the classic Australian Fisherman's Basket in the finale was genius. Where can I get one of those? His ability to cook a great dessert never having cooked anything like that previously, was totally inspiring. It was an Aussie lad giving it a crack. The winner of $100,000 and a cookbook deal should give him further impetus. (Now I will look at my local electrician in a new light as a possible culinary genius).
Julia was also endearing and her cooking was possibly better than Andy's. But Masterchef is not just about great cooking but great cooking under pressure. Andy was simply better under pressure. Julia's undercooked lamb will haunt her at every future BBQ.
Masterchef Australia should be celebrated. It's had a huge impact on the culinary scene - just by weight of sheer numbers who watch the show. We are talking well over 2 million people to watch an episode. That's a fair slice of the country. The talk around the water cooler is Masterchef, especially come the business or pointy end of the competition.
Masterchef Australia exposes us to some of the best chefs and restaurants in this country. Adriano Zumbo inspires everyone with his masterful creations that inflict so much pain. Others like Jaques Reymond and Shannon Bennett bring class and many hats to the table. It's a who's who of the culinary world. Stephanie Alexander, Mark Best, Daniel Wilson, Maggie Beer, Peter Gilmore, Donna Hay. It's endless. And it puts the viewer in touch with the culinary scene and a variety of approaches and techniques.
At times it seems these top chefs are light years ahead in the immunity challenges - for mine the Masterchef hopefuls are given a little leniency (especially when they actually help the contestants they're competing against).
Chefs are the new rock stars. They enter the Masterchef kitchen to shouts and applause. Chefs are prominent on social media. We can't get enough.
Then we have the international heavyweights like Heston and Hiroyaki Sakai and Rick Stein. Even bigger rock stars. It's a culinary global village. Not to mention trips to New York and Tuscany. The extraordinary panoramic vistas of Tuscany look pretty darn attractive to viewers from wintery Melbourne.
Popular as ever are the judges themselves - Matt, George and Gary. With Matt Moran also a prominent figure. In a way they are the stars of the show. With consumate professionalism they encourage, coach, mentor, critique, and motivate all contestants. They are able to keep the high standards of the Masterchef kitchen. Rock stars themselves and a great team.
Then there's the Masterchef Australia website and the recipes. Hugely popular. The "Show" is just one menu item on the Masterchef Australia website - there's also the Recipes, Exclusives, Videos and Photos etc. Not to mention the development of a whole Masterchef culture which includes past winners and popular contestants who have gone on to to their own thing in the culinary world.
My own young kids (aged 7 and 6) are glued to Masterchef Australia. When we cook meals at home the kids will remark after an excellent meal, "Mum, you're still in the competition." I wonder if this is the new language in Aussie homes. When we go out to restaurants as a family my children expect some sophisticated food and have developed sophisticated tastes. Recently my kids enjoyed top Melbourne restaurants Chin Chin and Movida - the best of Asian and the best of tapas. They love it and we've set the bar high. Thanks to Masterchef.
What is more amazing that year 2 and 3 school classes have "Masterchef" cooking activities and my kids cook some awesome stuff. In fact they often cook the family dinner. That's because of Masterchef.
And then there's the food bloggers. We are everywhere. Just about everyone in Melbourne seems to be a food blogger. This breed of foodie isn't always celebrated by culinary illuminaries and for some good reason. In any case I can say Masterchef has had a huge impact on me. And I will continue to celebrate the Masterchef phenomenon.