Guest Post: Strategic Review of Episode One Of Masterchef Australia
Reality Ravings resident strategist, Matt, is back with his strategic review of the first episode of Masterchef Australia and how they should apply his rules of Masterchef survival.
As usual it mixes sound advice with wit. Enjoy.
Strategic review of Masterchef – the first eliminations
Good to see that Masterchef is back with a few traditions:
Idiotic hats – I mean WTF with the red hip hop cap?
- Overblown and unnecessary expository to camera. MC producers could learn a lot by listening to Ritchie Benaud call cricket. He understands that if the action on screen is obvious, you don’t need to explain it.
- Donna Hay jokes – when one of the contestants wondered whether Donna was in the box, many images popped into my head;
- And, of course, strategic muppets.
Some of the contestants could have done a lot better (read “survived”) if they had followed my Eight Strategic Rules for Masterchef contestants. I actually looked at the contestants on the ferry going to Cockatoo Island and remarked “you can already pick who the baby seals are”.
Let’s see who got clubbed and whether they could have avoided it by following some simple rules.
Rule One says “be able to cook” – in other words, know the basics. For Earlobes Adam, just “cooking” would work. The only raw food that works with the MC judges is sushi and salad. Otherwise, if you’re not inhaling the smell of burnt animal flesh, you’re doing it wrong.
Adam also stuffed up the other part of his meal, with a mash. Seriously, if you stuff up doing mash, it shows that (a) You can’t cook, and (b) you have no respect for the show. They had a mash challenge last year for gorrsakes! For that matter, Justin North (bow down to the culinary god, peasants) gave a private masterclass on mash last season. I almost threw my potato ricer (bought after the mash challenge) at the telly when they showed the whole potatoes in the pan.
The elimination challenge also showed a few strategic missteps. I’m assuming you know for a couple of months that you’re going on Masterchef, so practice is important. Based on the past two seasons, there are going to be several dessert challenges, and several chocolate challenges. Umm, maybe try cooking with it once or twice?
Doing things like working out how long to stick puddings in the oven is a basic skill. Even one of the kids on Junior Masterchef could temper chocolate, and we all saw how the judges swooned over that, so you don’t think that’s a skill that could keep you out of the bottom five?
Rule two says “Winning isn’t everything”. Rachel got this – it’s not about winning, it’s about not losing. Sure, she lost the initial round, but once in the bottom 10 realised all she had to do was produce the fifth-worst dish and she was ok.
Sun, however, proved two things, First, that ridiculous names aren’t just a symptom of this generation of mothers, and second, if you’re fighting for your life, it’s a good idea to use a weapon you’re familiar with. As soon as she said she’d never made ice-cream, while stuffing the ice-cream maker with custard, I knew she was a goner. Actually I knew she was a goner before that – anyone who’s crying during the pieces to camera (which I’m assuming are filmed after your exit) is usually a sure bet to have just been eliminated.
Rule three is “Nice judge, niiice judge”. Not fawning, but flattery. No-one in the bottom 10 seemed to grasp this. If Zumbo is a judge, temper your chocolate, or use a technique he has demonstrated (see rules one and two – only if you’ve practiced it!)
Fawning seemed to be a bit more in evidence, although I reckon it worked with Zumbo (and I loved that he referred to himself in the third person). If he doesn’t have a girlfriend, all he’d have to do is walk through the Masterchef house and he’d have menopausal mums peeling off clothes and offering to hand-feed him brioche.
Rule four states: “Remember Philip” – ie, market your dish, don’t talk it down. Massive fails. Standing in front of the judges in tears and explaining that your pudding didn’t cook doesn’t just highlight your culinary ineptness, it highlights the fact that you could never sell a cookbook.
Rule five “don’t let the customers in early and other restaurant blunders” doesn’t apply here. Although I will use a new sub-rule “don’t run in the kitchen”, which would allow me to use the term “cockblock” in cooking show. If I chose. But I won’t, because this is Masterchef, not the Logies.
Rule six: It’s not Nigella Bites, it’s Kitchen Idol. Rachel, again, got this one. Be a personality. We don’t know much about her cooking personality yet, but responding to Gary’s “is it good enough to get you through?” comment with “Adriano Zumbo liked it” was pure gold.
Rule seven – WWERD? And What would Evil Russell do? Applying Survivor theory to last night, Rachel helping Sarah up after she fell – at first I thought “idiot, let her suffer, you can write her off and now you only have to worry about beating four others, not five”.
But like Survivor, the social game is still important. Rachel has set herself up nicely for the endgame here. If she makes it as far as the cookbook interview, she has established herself right from episode one as a sassy-yet-caring mum character.
Rule eight – cut the red wire. Doesn’t apply, as there were no team picks. But let’s see how the curse of the blue team goes this year. We will be keeping score.
So, best strategic move? “Adriano Zumbo liked it”.
Worst? “I’ve never made ice-cream before”.
Dishonourable mention? Whole potatoes in the water.