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The clash of the knives

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The clash of the knives

When I see Sam making oysters with champagne jelly, I immediately think, “That’s awesome, that’s going to be a good dish for him.” Which is really ridiculous, because being vegetarian, I have never eaten oysters, I don’t particularly like champagne and also, this is Masterchef Australia on TV, so I have no idea what it’s going to taste likes.

My earliest memory of food shows on TV was Tarla Dalal making custard flavoured coffee or something. Then the point of a food show was to teach you. With ingredients and perfect instructions, you could whip up a little somethin- somethin and give yourself a good pat on the head for being a great home maker.

While we still have an entire channel, called Food Food dedicated to ‘how-to’ shows, shows like Masterchef and Top Chef have become so popular on prime time television, that I’m amazed.

My dad doesn’t understand why my mother and I watch these shows, when we never actually cook any of it and we are tired of explaining that that isn’t the point.

How many people watch it and actually attempt to make any of it? (I always get inspired and go chop potatoes with purpose, like chefs do. Then I get tired and just cook them with butter and eat it. Which is still something honestly, because after 10 seasons of Project Runway I have never attempted to sew a fierce and fabulous dress)

Like this New York Times article points out, while these shows don’t really teach you to cook at least they teach you to be more confident in a restaurant (the article also discuss why Julia Child revolutionized food shows on TV, so read that). Gone are the days when ‘foie gras’ was the fanciest food term we knew.

Here’s my opinion (hey, enough with the groaning) on what’s cooking on TV these days.

Top Chef vs Masterchef Australia

On Masterchef Australia, the contestants are all amateur cooks who’ve left their day jobs to cook and their passion is so apparent, it’s endearing and you get invested in their journey.

Top Chef has trained chefs vying for big prizes. They already know they are good and can get pretty pompous about it. And yet, it’s an extremely entertaining hour of TV.

The judges on Masterchef Australia, Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan have amazing chemistry and are very funny.

Top Chef has Tom Colicchio, who is very good and Padma Lakshmi, whose comments I cannot bring myself to believe. I think Tom Colicchio just humours her critique, which is almost always about smooth and crunchy texture or some such.

Masterchef Australia is dramatic, yes, but the calm, clean setting and the incredible niceness of the contestants makes this a reality show like no other.

Top Chef on the other hand is dramatic and fancy and has huge egos being hurt every other second.

Spin offs

Top Chef Masters has famous chefs of Michelin-starred restaurants making mac and cheese fine dining and tailgating with  Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizzas to win money for their charity. You’d think watching great chefs do what they do best would be boring, but instead it’s actually fun to watch them squirm, navigate a supermarket and talk about their culinary journey.

Top Chef: Just desserts is hosted by Gail Simmons (who is a judge on Top Chef) and the contestants are bakers and pastry chefs. They make edible chocolate clothes and live-sized cakes and for some reason, are majorly dramatic and full of break downs and ‘my cupcake philosophy is’… type insights. I guess it’s all the glitter and fondant or something.

Masterchef Juniors will make you hate yourself. For real. There are 8-year olds who whip up Moroccan Lamb with Couscous while you cry over your overcooked instant pasta. You know, what I was doing when I was a kid? I don’t even remember, probably watching TV or something. Anyway, these kids are crazy talented and super cute. They talk about their careers in molecular gastronomy…and they are freaking eight!

Masterchef USA with Gordon Ramsay of Hell’s kitchen, restaurateur Joe Bastianich and chef Graham Elliot  (who we’ve seen on Top Chef Masters as a contestant) take away all of the nice, calm and loving warmth of the Australian version and replace it with quick eliminations, cattiness and some major negative energy.

There’s going to be a Masterchef All stars as well. See the preview here.

Masterchef India

Star Plus had their own version of Masterchef India at prime time. Yup. The first season came under much criticism because of Akshay Kumar’s ridiculous antics and then Season two had Chef Vikas Khanna, a major improvement on the khiladi. Where Masterchef India loses the plot is that it is treated like every other reality show. There are too many tears and sad stories, and while I’m not saying they’re untrue, it also takes away from the main focus of the show; the food.  Also, because of the sad stories, the passion for cooking diminishes and I wonder if they are all there for the monetary prize.

Both the Indian and US version are so far removed from the Australian version that nothing but the M motif is similar.

All this talk of food has made me hungry. Mashed potatoes. Cheese. Okay bye guys.

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