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Masterchef Australia – Changing The Way We Eat?

Helen Greenwood in the Sydney Morning Herald today wrote a very interesting article about the Masterchef Australia and how it is changing the way we eat.

Clearly she wrote the article before last night’s Masterclass episode, where the adult eggs benedict really needed to come with a health warning.

Her point is that Masterchef is getting us to become more culinary adventurous.

She writes:

MasterChef starts by getting shoppers to grate cheese, any cheese, instead of buying the pre-grated plastic bits. It encourages them to make their own soup. From packet stock at first but then maybe they’ll graduate to making their own stock.

In the masterclasses and celebrity challenges, lardo, quail, pecorino, kidneys, vine leaves, wildflowers, lavender, lamb brains, balmain bugs and pigeon hearts appear. Most viewers wouldn’t have tasted them let alone bought them. You have to know how and where to find these foods, which are usually only available to order or from specialist suppliers.

Yes, the show is sponsored by a supermarket. And, yes, for many people that’s a good place to start if you want to begin cooking for yourself. But the take-home message is clear: think beyond the trolleys and the aisles when you shop.

She also touches on the sponsorship issue, which I personally don’t have an issue with. I’ll take the higher production values and better challenges that goes with it.

She said:

This is where the commercial deals come in. Calombaris copped flak for taking on a role as a supermarket consultant and appearing in the company’s televisions spots. He has stopped doing that in the second series. You could hear the howls when Preston, who spruiks a kitchen-paper brand, ostentatiously used the product to clean up a spill on camera.

The product placement has reached new heights in the second series. How awkward was that scenario of the judges and a key sponsor eating food in an airport hangar in front of plane? It’s a double-edged sword. You’ve got to pay for those tickets to London somehow but you risk looking gauche.

MasterChef is clear about the importance of good food. It’s more ambiguous about what a master chef is. The show speaks the language of professional cooks yet last year handed the laurels to Julie Goodwin, whose repertoire is a replay of Margaret Fulton recipes. This year, my bet is the crown will go to a winner aiming for professional status in the hospitality industry.

Several chefs have commented to me privately that they dislike the show because it purports to demonstrate what it’s like to be a trained restaurant chef. “They’ll never know,” one high-ranking Sydney chef told me.

Anyway regardless of whether you agree with all she writes it is a good read.

And for fans of Gary Mehigan you will be pleased to know he is a fan of “spank and fluff”!


1 seepi { 07.03.10 at 1:41 pm }


I didn’t mind the aircraft hanger episode. It bugs me more when they give a crisp focus close up to a packet of cheese or whatever. It is jarring, and like an ad right in the middle of the action.

I was going to say masatserchef has not changed my food habits – I will not be out shopping for pigeon hearts any time soon. but I just might make mixed fried mushrooms – that did look really good.

2 skye { 07.03.10 at 4:02 pm }

The Gruen Transfer had a nice little discussion about the product placement situation with Masterchef this week too.

3 Wurstsemmel { 07.03.10 at 5:40 pm }

Excuse my ignorance but what is ‘spank and fluff’? I have many images of Gary going through my head, none of them good!

4 Sourkraut { 07.03.10 at 6:56 pm }

Did you say spank off?

5 Sourkraut { 07.03.10 at 7:01 pm }

Funny… I still buy pre grated cheese, to exclusively cook only french and italian food in the kraut haus. Cant stand anfink else, but its gotta be fresh and have textya and be bewdifool an awesum an get wiped up wid handeeswipe at the end. YES its changed my life HALLELUJAH amen

6 Wurstsemmel { 07.03.10 at 7:40 pm }

Aha, SK. Hence the presence of the Handywipe!

7 Sourkraut { 07.04.10 at 1:24 am }

I’m told its better than Kleenex

8 AnnyB { 07.04.10 at 8:43 am }

‘Spank and fluff’ – you deliver the bad news first then give them the nice news afterwards.

9 Reality Raver { 07.04.10 at 8:52 am }

Thanks AnnyB -really Sourkraut WHAT did you think I meant??

10 Wurstsemmel { 07.04.10 at 12:17 pm }

Thanks, AnnyB. I thought it was something to eat!

11 Sourkraut { 07.04.10 at 4:13 pm }

I think you’d better ask Wurstsemmel that question

12 Inner West LIVE { 07.07.10 at 9:20 am }

Has everyone got a cookbook in them?…

We found your entry interesting so have added a Trackback to it on the Inner West Live weblog :)…

13 Inner West LIVE { 07.07.10 at 12:57 pm }

Changes at Vogue Entertaining + Travel…

We found your entry interesting so have added a Trackback to it on the Inner West Live weblog :)…

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