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Junior Masterchef – Not Everyone Is Feeling The Love

Junior Masterchef is rating fabulously well, and it deserves to be as the kids are dishing up some fabulous food, however not everyone is feeling the love for the show.

I stumbled over this very interesting blog post on Cake Cake, who quite rightly points out that as the show progresses the kids from the higher socio economic backgrounds will have the advantage.

Cake Cake writes:

Yes, it is impressive that at their age the Junior Masterchef contestants know about, and can, temper chocolate/make short-crust pastry/whatever. But in order to get those skills, and to get them to that level, there has been a lot of effort, and a lot of money.

Learning to cook salmon/squid/make pasta involves cooking salmon/squid/making pasta. Often over and over again. For many families, where food is simply for sustenance, not entertainment, buying salmon/squid/fresh pasta isn’t even an option, let alone allowing your eight year old child cook with itmultiple times.

In the beginning I’m sure that basic techniques and ingredients, the classics, will be able to get past the judges. As the competition continues, however, contestants will have to pull out increasingly impressive dishes. Leaving the lower-income participants (if there even are any) in the dust.

I think she is correct in what she says and the show is paralleling real life. There has been a plethora of articles about how people from lower socio-economic backgrounds do not eat as much freshly prepared food due the higher cost and the health ramifications of this. But it does explain why there are so many Sophie and Isabella’s running around the Junior Masterchef set.

In the Adelaide Advertiser Rose Matto also talks about why Junior Masterchef is not great for kids.

She said:

Rosa Matto says she has cancelled her regular children’s classes because of the unrealistic expectations of parents, who demand instant results.

“They should enjoy being in the kitchen. Now parents expect them to produce – and not just a muffin. They want a croquembouche, for goodness sake,” she said.

“They just want the spectacular. If I say to them: `I’m sorry, we have to start with knife-handling skills’, they say: `That’s not going to be very exciting’. People don’t want to do the hard yards. Teaching people to cook requires discipline and a great investment of time. What are we doing to these poor kids?”

Ms Matto, a former high school English and drama teacher, said such TV shows as Junior MasterChef had made cooking classes the latest fashion to fit in beside sport, music and other regimented activities in children’s lives.

Also Angela Mollard questions on The Punch whether Junior Masterchef was child abuse or character building. There are some academic saying the former.

Anyway what do you think?


1 Culinary Boner { 09.24.10 at 3:57 pm }

FFS. What a load of hand-wringing nonsense. Of course a super high proportion of these kids are going to be from privileged middle class backgrounds. They’d of course need parents who themselves have an interest in cooking – beyond basic sustenance – and have the time and interest to show their kids how to cook as well. They’d also need parents who have the time, confidence and resources to apply for the kid to go on MCA. What do these critics want done about these realities? Quotas? Scholarships? New nanny-state legislation from Xenophon and that Hobart independent bloke to get the poor kiddies’ parents off their pokie addiction and into the kitchen to whip up the sorta food Matt, George, Gazza and Anne wanta eat – while at the same time giving their kids some pointers so they can apply for MCA Jnr next year. Surely the there are more important aspects of the social disadvantage then fretting about poor kids not being represented on a frigging TV program.

2 librarygirl { 09.24.10 at 4:08 pm }

I love Senior Masterchef but haven’t watched any of Junior. In fact it repels me. All the class analysis is interesting and probably true, but you know what, who cares? I don’t like ANY precocious hot-housed children whether they are cooking, playing sport, doing ballet or playing the violin. It just smacks of parental pushing and desperation for five minutes of fame. As my 12 year old said (who also has no interest in Junior MC – ” so what, are they going to be offered an apprenticeship or write a cookbook aged 8?”
But I see that a few million are watching every week and loving it, so to each their own. Not for me, but others disagree, so glad others are enjoying it so much.

3 Marina Go { 09.24.10 at 4:09 pm }

Surely the point is about what we as consumers can learn from, and how we can be inspired by, a show like this. It’s true that children from lower socio-demographic groups may not know what to do with truffle – hell I have a couple of degrees, publish media, have launched two food magazines and I don’t know what to do with truffle. But the point is that for perhaps the first time, those “poorer” children get the chance to see other children use those ingredients, so they become exposed to them in the way they know how: via the mass market medium of television. And that’s got to be a positive step forward in my book.

4 MolksTVTalk { 09.24.10 at 4:36 pm }

Parents expectations will be what they will be. If you’re stupid enough to expect a croqembouche from your 8yo, you deserve to pay for it. I hope they charge you a motza, too, blackmailing you or else they’ll call the child labour people.

5 louattheend { 09.24.10 at 4:39 pm }

Hello…My 3 1/2 year old cooks with me in the kitchen…we make basic stuff…muffins, cakes, etc. I’m also teaching him how to use a sharp knife…(yes…obviously under very close supervision). He helps me cut vegetables up. I just let him participate in whatever I’m doing in the kitchen. If he doesn’t feel like it…no problem.
Also people from lower socio economic groups tend to eat more processed, convenience foods and takeout which as we all know cost 3 times as much as fresh foods.
I was actually expecting precocious prima-donnas on Jnr MC but most of the kids seem really cute and funny and yes…’normal’. I’m amazed by what they can do…
Its going to be controversial I can see but I’m keeping an open mind for the moment…

6 Culinary Boner { 09.24.10 at 4:41 pm }

Looking beyond socio-economic demographics (and monetary/educational disadvantage) and into ethnicity and cultural background brings up another – more interesting problem with this show. Which now must surely rate as the most damaging/dangerous TV concept ever inflicted on our great society. Well at least since Doug Mulray brought us two dogs rooting.

Why has no one commented how effing unfair this show is for anglo-celtic descendant bogans? Clearly a plain ‘ol meat pie and tomato sauce (not effing ketchup, ming you) , a plate of fish & chips (hold the ketchup, will ya) or a fried lamb chop with three soggy veg (didn’t you hear what I said about the kethchup?) ain’t gonna cut it, what with all them wog kiddies who can make fresh pasta from scratch (with fresh, not bought sauce) and have mastered the art of baklava. Whatever happened to a ‘fair shake of the sauce bottle’?

Will MCA Jnr re-open the wounds caused by jilted Aussie pride that precipitated the Cronulla riots?

F*** me, surely some tosser out there is already banging away at the keyboard writing on this very topic for the next edition of The Monthly.

7 seepi { 09.24.10 at 6:08 pm }

I think they’re drawing a long bow actually.
Shortcrust pastry is made of flour and butter – cheap as chips.

I’m sure you don’t have to be able to cook lobster to win.

8 skye { 09.24.10 at 6:53 pm }

I think once they get past the qualifying rounds then the kids will be set challenges which will be based on their skills and creativity – so a recipe learnt by rote won’t be much use anyway.

As to the hothousing parents, that’s not Masterchef’s fault – that’s just stupid parents. children should be learning to cook from their parents, as they have for time immemorial, if this show makes kids pester their parents into the kitchen to cook, then better for everyone!

9 KC { 09.24.10 at 10:37 pm }

Why do people take things so seriously? Its a show. A cute, adorable show with little kids cooking but a show nonetheless. I don’t know how people can get all these issues and problems out of a 2 hour show with kids and parents. Get over it and just enjoy it.

Maybe its cause I’m not a parent.

10 brain dead dave { 09.25.10 at 5:18 pm }

O f course bogan kids will be under represented or we’d be seeing more fish fingers and 2 minute noodle dishes with a cigarette and a can of beer for sweets.
If it doesn’t turn out right ,the current step father punches holes in the walls.

11 Culinary Boner { 09.26.10 at 1:28 pm }

bdd can picture the step-dads of Australia practising on them walls now

12 rusty { 09.26.10 at 2:11 pm }

Bit of a song and dance about not much, I think.

Yes, disadvantaged kids will be disadvantaged (hell, I can’t afford to play with truffles in the kitchen , either. “Disadvantaged” here, doesn’t just mean low -socio-economic. It means most of us. Surely? we couldn’t all afford to have our kids experiment with truffles in the kitchen, could we?)

But then, all reality Tv shows disadvantage anyone who hasn’t the skin of a rhino and the balls to go with it.

13 Reality Raver { 09.26.10 at 2:15 pm }

For the record I did have truffle oil once making The Boathouses fish pie, and yes it was delicious.

14 Jack { 09.27.10 at 12:28 pm }

Name any other activity for which you could hold a children’s competition at this level and you’d say exactly the same thing.
Sport – these children who do well in sport have their parent spend a heap of time on training and money on equipment and travelling away to competitions. Ask any parent of a state rep kid in any sport.
Music – We all know it costs a heap not only for the instruments but also the lessons. Then how much time goes into practise.
Academia – kids who do well have parents who invest time and energy into their learning. Often there are related costs with this too.
Today’s best musicians, sportspeople, etc generally, all started young so why pick on Masterchef Junior when it is only doing for cooking what parents around the country are doing for their children in so many other ways. If the kids love doing it, fantastic! If the parents can provide opportunities to support and encourage it, even better! Get over it, CakeCake and all you others complaining!