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Neil Perry Puts The Knife Into Masterchef Australia

I will be very surprised if Neil Perry is on Masterchef Australia next season, as in the Sunday Telegraph today he takes a huge swipe at the juggernaut program calling it a “game show”.

The article by Jonathan Moran said:

Neil Perry says MasterChef contestants, hailed as the best amateur chefs in the nation, would struggle to survive in a real restaurant kitchen.

“If you leave MasterChef and think that you are now one of the great chefs of Australia, I think you are probably up for a pretty rough ride,” Perry told The Sunday Telegraph.

“These people are just nobodies with very little experience, and [aided by the show] are able to be exposed and have opportunities. That’s why people go on the show.

“Most of them don’t go on the show thinking they will be opening a restaurant … most go on there to get enough media fame to be able to go on and do more media things.”

He also took a swipe at Saint Marion (gasp) saying:

“I haven’t seen anything to suggest that any of [them] would warrant their own television show on a commercial network,” he said.

Perry was unimpressed with the plan by eliminated favourite Marion Grasby’s to develop a range of sauces, and Aaron Harvie’s idea to open a wine bar, saying they’d need more than marketing to succeed.

“You’ve got to have a really good palate and you’ve got to understand the process if you want to put your own spin on it rather than just put your name on it,” he said.

“And writing a cookbook is a really difficult thing to do.”

Asked if he was surprised to see Grasby eliminated from the show, Perry said: “I’m not disappointed to see any of them go. There are quite a few life shattering things going on in the world, and I think someone being voted off MasterChef isn’t one of the big disasters. It’s a game show.”

But he did say there was a positive side of the show:

“The good thing is MasterChef gives cooking more notoriety, it gives people more of an insight into cooking fresh food at home and it gets their kids inspired,” he said.

“That’s the really great spin-off of Masterchef, not necessarily the talent that it might unearth because there are already many good chefs in Australia.

I love the way both Neil Perry and Gary Mehigan this year have reminded viewers there are much more important social issues in the world than Masterchef. Gary when he was under pressure about the Callum re-plating saga, and Neil Perry now.

I note he doesn’t suggest that it would be better to donate $50 to World Vision, rather then spend it on a steak at his restaurant. Anyway other then that I think he makes some salient points.

21 comments

1 CG { 07.18.10 at 8:34 am }

Interesting. A few random comments:

– there was another article in the weekend papers with Neil Perry (ie not just speculating) saying Rockpool is losing some $200,000+ per year and has been operating at a loss for years

– agree RR, that can’t see NP invited back on MC next year

– NP has appeared at least once – if not more – on Poh’s ABC show – wonder what he thinks of her – is/was she really any better than Marion or Jono or ??

Bit hypocritical of NP to come out with this stuff – even though I am in full agreement with his sentiments. NP is known to be quite volatile. Maybe he is just pissed off he didn’t get in on the MC gravytrain outside of a couple of guest chef roles??

I haven’t been to his restaurant at the Crown in Melbourne but sponsoring a big restaurant at a casino and putting your name to Qantas Business/First Class (where meals are crap compared to most other biz and first class services) would seem to indicate NP is willing to sell out on culinary excellence and integrity when it is a good deal for him.

How many other chefs – including those that have appeared on MC like Matt Moran, etc. – would likely be thinking the exact same things – but don’t have the nerve to come out and say it because they are on the MC gravy train? Most I reckon.

2 dmc { 07.18.10 at 9:12 am }

Having owned a restaurant I can absolutely agree with him about the Masterchef guys opening one. None of them are ready for it – they all have the pipe dream idea of a stress-free haven of food wonderment.

3 Fides { 07.18.10 at 9:53 am }

CG : NP appears as one of the regular chefs on Poh’s show. I’ve watched from time to time, and when NP is there, Poh is at her giggly and flirtatious worst that I cringe watching it. No idea what he thinks of her cooking, but she really dumbs it down when he is there…actually now when I know he is on, I make a note not to switch to the show before the 7pm news.

Agree I think these contestants see food, and the show, as pure escapism from their dreary lives. Especially Claire and Courtney. I remember she said something about how when she was eliminated from the show, it meant she’d missed her chance at life. I found that statement really sad in that she thought MC was her only opportunity.

NP must have been really underwhelmed by their food on that Qantas challenge – from memory only Adam’s teriyaki quail and Matthew’s choc pudding were any good but of course it still got Matthew eliminated. Hasn’t Matthew done work experience with NP? Maybe NP thinks either the show is rubbish b/c Matthew has talent and got kicked out, or Matthew is rubbish and there is no future for any of these wannabes. Or Matthew talks about his big dreams of a three hat restaurant and thinks it will be easy… I do like Neil’s point about them launching the sauce ranges – wonder if any of the contestants are listening?

4 Muru { 07.18.10 at 10:11 am }

Well, Neil Perry has summed up what I’ve been feeling ever since Season 1. Truer words could not be spoken.

5 KC { 07.18.10 at 12:39 pm }

Its fun to watch though regardless of what happens at the end 😀 But then what NP has said about the Masterchef contestant is really the same with a lot of the reality shows out there. It kinda makes this point really clear; it takes more than talent and opportunity, you also need to put the hard yards in. I guess that Masterchef provides a stage for regular Australians to have that dream and then afterwards, its really up to the people who get through to really work towards their dream.

6 Wurstsemmel { 07.18.10 at 1:53 pm }

Overall, he’s not saying anything people haven’t been saying here for ages and he’s right in that none of the Masterchef contestants are really in a place to open a restaurant etc etc. If they were that motivated, why haven’t they been out doing an apprenticeship?

However, his comments leave a bad taste in my mouth because of his dismissal of the contestants as ‘nobodies’ and the hypocrisy of the man who took part in the Masterchef exercise and presumably got paid well for it and probably gets similarly well paid for his appearances on Poh’s show.

Personally, I think that ponytail of his might be placing too much pressure on his brain.

7 Jen { 07.18.10 at 2:33 pm }

Hey Neil, Masterchef is a frigging tv show developed purely for entertainment purposes so don’t blow your top dude. No one is going to think they are “top chefs” and kick you off your mantle. Of course some of the contestants are going to say they are opening up a restaurant or developing a range of sauces. The PR department needs something nice for them to say. They aren’t going to say “well I’m going back to XYZ to do computing”. If the contestants want to open a restaurant etc well good on them for being positive avout it. Of course they might fail or gasp might even succeed. But who cares? Good on them for having a dream.

8 Pinto { 07.18.10 at 3:42 pm }

Matt Preston has just tweeted:

Matt Preston Just to let you know Neil has contacted me personally about this story saying he was taken totally out of context. Watch the video and make up your own mind, but also bear in mind the video was edited as well. Neil is a great supporter of MC.

9 brain dead dave { 07.18.10 at 3:51 pm }

I wonder how many bone marrow risottos that ‘ll cost NP?

10 kingfisher { 07.18.10 at 5:09 pm }

perry’s not sorry deep down this is how he feels and i guess he wanted the world to know how hard it is to be chef and a wanker . i heard a very good rumour 2 people are coming back on tuesday . hee hee hee can’t wait !!!

11 Chunks { 07.18.10 at 6:17 pm }

The reality is that the people who are going to queue up at food fairs to get a glimpse of Marion or Callum or buy Aaron’s hot tamale sauce are unlikely to ever go to Rockpool or Spice Temple. Having said that, I booked into a truffle cooking class later this month that’s hosted by Poh and it sold out in a flash. Wondering how many people want to learn to use truffles and how many just want to see a real live “celebrity” – we don’t have many in the West apart from newsreaders and AFL players.

Rumours of two people coming back kingfisher? Well if it were true it would be Marion and Jonno under that handy old standby, the judges’ wildcard. At this stage of the comp though, the survivors would have every right and reason to go on a suburban car burning rampage if it’s true.

12 CG { 07.18.10 at 6:40 pm }

Interesting how Matt P. is always the one that comes out for damage control (Callum last week, Neil Perry comments this week)?

I suppose of all the judges he is the one that is most “at risk” when MC gets ridiculed in the media. George and Gary will continue to run their restaurants and I would imagine that the sheer popularity of MC will lead to all kinds of persons visiting their restaurants for the novelty value. But Matt has to maintain his credibility not just with the public within and across his profession. Matt also has to maintain relationships with top chefs and restauranteurs in order to get access, be in demand by publications, etc.

The integrity of MC would seem to be more important to Matt’s career than that of the others.

13 pinto { 07.18.10 at 8:09 pm }

CG: Matt is the only judge with a Twitter account and he uses it a lot to interact with the Masterchef hashtag (it is strangely exciting when he replies to you). I think this is the predominant reason for his comments although agree he has more to lose in terms of credibility.

14 Reality Raver { 07.18.10 at 9:04 pm }

Pinto and CG – It is interesting that Matt Preston does tweet as it means he is talking outside the guard dogs that protect the “talent” . I suppose they think that because Matt works in the media that he is savvy enough not to put the brand at risk.

Chunks – would love to here how the truffle class goes.

Kingfisher – I hope you are right about the two re-entering, but I doubt it very much.

Jen – you are right. A lot of people fast track their careers by appearing on a reality shows. Some will use it as platform like Poh, and others will resume their normal lives, like all the contestants on My Kitchen Rules.

Wurstsemmel – maybe he thinks he is like Samson and his culinary mojo will go if the ponytail is lopped?

KC – It is an opportunity to be utilised, for some luck is involved as well as talent.

Muru – It is a game show/ competition, but do you think half of them are bullshitting about their culinary dream. I kind of got the feeling Jono made the french brasserie dream on the hop.

Brain Dead Dave – he would have to fight Matt P for them

15 sourkraut { 07.19.10 at 2:06 pm }

agree with everything he said. first bit of common sense one of these guest judges has displayed

16 Anonymous { 07.19.10 at 2:11 pm }
17 CG { 07.19.10 at 2:29 pm }

Neil Perry is in the news.com papers today back pedalling as fast as he can. I reckon he is only digging a bigger hole for himself. Perry is known to be volatile: recall recent incident where he fired a pregnant “hostess” at Rockpool and other outbursts over the years. But the funniest bit is everything he said is exactly what everyone has been thinking this season: the contest has degenerated into a “game show” , the “best amateur cooks” are “nobodies”, and it is unlikely if not foolish to think any of them will go on to long-term success in the industry unless they step back and are willing to put in the hard yards. If Perry had said something truly outrageous that would be one thing – but what he has said puts in writing what most top chefs and a majority of viewers have been thinking and saying on blogs like RR for many weeks.

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