I was never a big fan of cooking. I considered cooking nothing more than a painful chore. I did not care about the ingredients that go into the food or about the balance and the texture of the food. My mind was not of a food critic and was rather of a person who would eat good food whether it is vegetarian or non vegetarian. Of course, I was critical of food that was not cooked properly or that did not taste right, but not like a food critic. That was until I began seeing the show – MasterChef Australia from 2010.
MasterChef Australia is a cooking contest to determine Australia’s best amateur chef every season. From thousands of applicants, a few are shortlisted for the contest and the show proceeds with an elimination process at every stage of the competition. By the process of elimination, the number of contestants is whittled down to a competitive few and the grand finale is to cook a hatted dish – a dish that is worthy enough to be served at hatted restaurants. The winner takes away the title of MasterChef Australia, the opportunity to write their own cookbook plus multiple other benefits.
It really is a pleasure to watch these amateur cooks slug it out on the show. Even though these are amateur cooks, they have the burning desire to become professional cooks one day. It is this desire that attracts them to the show. There is joy in knowing that the dish they cooked was the dish of the day and despair in knowing that the dish was not up to the mark and is a ticket to elimination! The contestants for Season 4 which was aired on Star World till last week came from varied backgrounds such as an electrician, school teacher, account manager, hair stylist and so on and so forth. They all share a common passion – food and cooking – and this is what holds them together. The friendship and bond shared by the contestants was endearing, especially the one between Andy Allen and Ben Milbourne.
Unfortunately, I cannot taste the dishes – the honors for that go to the three good judges – Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston. While Gary and George are embellished chefs themselves, Matt is a well known food critic. It really is worthwhile to hear from them about balance, texture and other techniques of food. The food that is cooked on the show is encouraging; it is not junk food, but very healthy food. The contestants sure have a fair idea of what is good for the health when they set out to cook. I’m sure millions over the world watching the show will be as inspired to devour healthy food that is good for their body and mind.
The title of MasterChef Australia 2012 was coveted by an electrician named Andy Allen who cooked his heart out in the grand finale against the dessert queen of the show, Julia Taylor. The final itself was aired in three episodes – one for the entrée, one for the main course and one for the dessert. Andy said post winning that nobody would have bet on him winning the competition, which was true. I had my favorites on the show – Dalvinder, Debra, Beau, Emma (despite her inability to not cry in front of cameras!) and the big Wade and never expected Andy to clinch the deal. Of course, this impression changed first on the Italy week (the contestants flew to Italy to cook Italian food for Italians!) when his presentation skills improved dramatically. From then on, I knew he was a serious contender for the title. Julia surprised with her ability to cook savory dishes in the finals week but honestly, I did not expect her to make the grand finale. Andy was a worthy winner in the end as his main course outscored Julia’s and his dessert was, surprisingly, better than Julia’s as well.
There is so much to tell about this show that one post would hardly be enough. Next week, I’ll talk about my five favorite dishes on the show. For fans of cooking out there, it’s an opportunity to try out some mind blowing dishes! Don’t miss it!