Six Things I Learnt Watching MasterChef Australia
This is an article I wrote for The Punch
Julie Goodwin was crowned the winner of the first series of the highly popular MasterChef Australia. She comprehensively beat SouthAustralian artist Poh Ling Yeow after completing the three challenges they had been set.
It was a slightly controversial win of the “˜home cook’ beating the more inventive Poh who was prepared to take risks to produce some unusual and well plated dishes mainly based on her Malaysian heritage.
However Julie’s cooking would probably appeal more to the masses, as she was renowned for her roast lamb and comfort food style.
MasterChef Australia has been massively successful for Channel Ten, who will be following it with a Celebrity version in October, and applications are already open for series two which will be screened next year.
But did we learn from this popular show –
1. You can be overweight, have buck teeth, and dress like a dandy, and still be considered a sex symbol on TV – Matt Preston one of the judges has taken Australia by storm, in particular the ladies. The evocative and eloquent way he describes food has made many a female swoon, and he has been crowned the thinking women’s sex symbol. When asked if becoming a culinary sex symbol surprised him, Matt Preston said “It shocked me, gave most of my friends a very, very big laugh, and surprised my wife who would like to remind me (and everyone else) that she has seen me in my Bonds underwear and suggests that the title is thus both unlikely and deserved!”
After being asked what next for Matt and his cravats, and if he was going to exploit his new found power over women he said “Naturally there are plans to launch a DVD of footage of me eating all set to an operatic score in time for Christmas, and then I have been discussinga range of scarves and cravats with Leona Edmiston’s people as well.”
“My cravats also have plans to strike out on their own and do their own cravat calendar”¦you know the stuff – Reginald that lean brown paisley cravat, carrying tires, Little Michelle the red polka dot cravat, reclining provocatively on the bonnets of a Monaro, you know the stuff”¦”
2. If you spend money on productions you will reap the rewards – The MasterChef set was slick and well designed. It had all the latest equipment and they were generous with the stainless steel, upmarket glasses, and a bar that I hope did end up getting utilised. The challenges outside the set were also high quality, catering in the Observatory Hotel, going fishing to catch the ingredients for a meal, and also being flown to Hong Kong for a week. This is something other TV production companies should take note of particularly the one which produced the Channel 9 flop Home Made, and last year’s My Kid Is A Star.
3. You can mix a cooking show with reality TV and have a hit – When MasterChef first started there were a lot of MasterChef UK fans who had a “the world is going to end” attitude to the Australian version. However they were wrong. MasterChef Australia cherry picked the best bits of other successful reality shows to ensure it had a formula which would continue to be entertaining six nights a week for three months.
4. You can have an attractive and intelligent female host a TV show – Host Sarah Wilson was risk for the producers as she had not been on TV before, but it turned out to be an inspired choice. She was easy on the eye, and also articulate. The only disappointment was she was not given enough airtime nor was she involved in the judging, except in the wedding challenge, something I hope is considered for Celebrity MasterChef and season two.
5. It is alright to have poor table manners on national TV – Judge George Calombaris licked his knife, and shovelled food into his mouth, and he still gained a cult following. MasterChef Australia has proved a boom to his businesses as fans are visiting his Melbourne restaurants in droves.
6. If you are already seeing two women, it is not a great idea to add in a third- Chris Badenoch, the beer merchant, personal life startedimploding around him last week. He had two long term girlfriends, but by adding in a third, fellow contestant Julia Jenkins, his unusual private life started to unravel as his new affair leaked out to the press. This has also led to further negative stories about him being bankrupt twice.
MasterChef Australian deserved to be successful due to the combination of brilliant casting with enthusiasm for food.