Masterchef Australia

by Ashish

I hate reality shows. I positively loathe them. The hosts of these shows take innate pleasure in being mean-spirited, the contestants are uniformly idiotic and the plotlines impossibly convoluted and contrived. On the other hand, there is a redeeming feature to reality shows: they are not news channels.

I impose a word limit of about eight hundred words or so on these write-ups, and writing about my feelings about news channels would take up well over a million, so let’s not go there today. Staying on the topic of reality shows won’t improve my mood noticeably either, unless it’s one of the only two reality shows that I have ever liked.

The other was a show called The Crystal Maze, but that show used to come on TV in the early nineties, and talking about that will only make me realize how old I’ve become – and that’s a guaranteed mood deteriorater as well, so let’s not go there either.

Let’s go, instead, to a topic that has been warming the cockles of my heart for a long time. Masterchef Australia is a show that I have, quite frankly, become addicted to. On reflection, it’s hard to not be addicted.

It’s got eminently likeable people as contestants, who do not bitch about each other.

It’s got eminently likeable hosts, who genuinely like cooking, and are warm, convivial people.

It’s about food.

Seriously though, there is something comforting about watching these guys go about cooking food while I’m eating mine. Every week, for the past few months, I and the wife settle down with our dinner in front of the telly, and watch random Australians we’ve come to love rustle up different dishes in the space of an hour.

And hey, don’t you go about knocking down Masterchef India. I think it serves an excellent purpose – by making it so fantastically, outrageously, unbelievably horrible, they’ve served a timely reminder about how genuinely good Masterchef Australia is in comparison. Not that such a reminder was needed, of course, but still.

It’s  not very relevant to India, by the way, that level of fine dining. The restaurant scene in India is nowhere close to the level that these guys show day in and day out, of course, and fine dining is still a nascent art. Plus, I’ve got a confession to make – it looks very well and fine and dandy, but there is no way on earth those portions are going to fill my tummy.  No matter how pretty the food, Kulkarni still goes primarily by quantity. Remind me to tell you about this horror in Bangalore called Spiga, and their terrifyingly tiny portions (positively catastrophically tiny portions when you factor in the insanely exorbitant prices). But you’ve got to admit, cooking of that nature does make your mouth water.

The best thing about Masterchef Australia, as far as I’m concerned, is that the contestants and the hosts are genuinely nice to each other. There’s a level of respect between them that is sadly missing from every other reality show. Other shows, from what little I’ve seen of them, try to make it a point to be rude, boorish and uncivilized. Quite which users have provided feedback to these shows that more of this is needed I do not know, but I hope they stay the hell away from Masterchef Australia.

And it’s turned me into quite the connoisseur when it comes to food! I know what a confit is, and I know that such a thing as a blast freezer exists. I know that making bread is a ridiculously complicated process, matched perhaps by the process of making chocolate. There exists such a thing as a hatted restaurant (and the more there are of the hats, the better it is), and Heston Blumenthal is a (if you’ll forgive the pun) blooming genius.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of the vada pav, and will be for life, but I’m more appreciative of the finer things in life. And for that, I’ve got the good folk from Down Under to thank.

Wikipedia, that blasted site, has already told my curiosity who the winner is, so the element of surprise is gone – but Marion was by far the best cook, and it’s a crying shame that she was eliminated as early in the show as she was. It’s a show that I cannot get enough of, and frankly, I’ve no clue what to do between nine and ten every evening once it gets over.

And there are only two days left for it to get over, of course. The grand finale will be worked over in the space of the next two days, and come the new year, Star World has lined up an impeccable replacement – a thoroughly charming reality show called the Bachelor.


And now if you’ll excuse me – it’s almost time, and if you need me, I’ll be glued to the telly.