entertainment

Thank you, Masterchef, for keeping it real.

Dear Masterchef,

When you first caught my eye seven years ago, you were SO hot. I’d curl up on the couch and spend my nights gazing at your saucy good looks and your enticing panel of judges: Matt Preston with his mesmerising presence and formidable cravat game, George the excitable, bouncy puppy, and that other guy.

But pretty soon I grew tired of all the back stories.  I got bored of all the contestants sobbing into souffles and bleating on about their ‘journey’. The reverse cymbal began to grate on me as I watched recap after agonising recap. There were times, coming back from an ad break that I would cry out “I’ve already SEEN this bit you TWATS” but you couldn’t hear me. Probs because you’re a TV show.

So I haven’t been faithful to you these last few years. It wasn’t me — it was you.

You spun out of control, into celebrity versions, kid versions, male vs female gimmicks, and became less about the cooking part and more about the circus.

Gary, Matt and George in Season 5. (Via Network Ten)

But something has happened this year. Have you changed? Or has the rest of reality TV?  Because suddenly I’m back. And I’m eating you up like a tower of croquembouche for one.

All the original elements are still there (that reverse cymbal, that boom boom of suspense, a violin), but you’ve done away with gimmicks and backstories and just focused on what we’re there to see: ordinary people cooking extraordinary food.

Reynold Poernomo (Via Network Ten)

Sure you had your pressure tests, your themes and challenges. There were moments of delight and agony and cheese toasties. But there is something missing: all the other crap that accompanies reality shows.

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There are no back stories or sob stories. Every contestant has blue bandaids all over their hands but we don’t see the drama of a sliced finger or the pain of an oil burn. There’s no bitchiness between contestants. We love and connect with these cooks because of the way they cook, and the people they are, not because of the story about their ancient grandma at home whose dying wish was that her risotto recipe be immortalised in prime time.

Jessica Arnott (via Network Ten)

And the judges? Step aside Marcia Hines of Australian Idol Season One. These blokes are kind to everyone. Matt Preston, that luscious lunk of hunk, can describe something as “shambolic” and it sounds like the greatest honor one could receive. If someone happened to plate up a turdburger, we’d never know because the judges will still find something generous to say, and in a way that’s never an over the top, Mark Holden ‘Touchdowwwwwwwn’ way.

Gary, George and Matt. All about the encouragement. (Via Network Ten)

Mostly, though, it’s diverse. It’s more than just middle-aged white men or beautiful women in their twenties. It’s people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds, ages, and socio-economic statuses. And they’re challenging stereotypes and reflecting the way Australia actually is; all flavors of multiculturalism.

This year, I’ve felt that more than ever, these are authentic people chasing a love of food, guided ably by a team of judges and experts who want them to chase that dream; not necessarily the five minutes of fame or book deal.

Billie McKay and Georgia Barnes. Teamwork. (via Network Ten)

So thank you, Masterchef.

For being about the food. For being about the people. For encouraging the cooks and ignoring the circus.

Are you loving Masterchef all over again? 

Read more from this season

How to be a Masterchef judge: a helpful (and hilarious) guide.

MasterChef fans are mad because one contestant cooks too damn well.

It’s a Masterchef scandal. Alert the authorities.