Masterchef Australia, the Australian adaptation of the original British Masterchef, completed 12 seasons in 2020 and has recently teased its new season on Instagram. It is an opportunity for amateur home cooks to participate and potentially win prize money, a chance to publish their own cookbook and be mentored by a professional chef. In a nutshell: they may get to kickstart their cooking career.
I stumbled upon the series during its 6th season and have not failed to miss an episode ever since. In the plethora of cooking shows available, this is the only one I completely fell for, hook line and sinker, and this article is here to tell you why.
Well, obviously. What is a cooking reality show if the food isn’t mouth-wateringly delicious?! The dishes the cooks make seem complex and beautifully plated, and I could never tell that the contestants are home cooks if I wasn’t told about it. As someone whose repertoire of culinary skills includes toast and watery Maggi, I am constantly blown away. Not only does the food sound delectable, but it looks the part too! The plating is meticulously done, with chefs wiping drops of syrup off with a towel and placing garnishes with tweezers in the last ten seconds.
Note: The Masterchef pantry and garden is a sight to behold. The ingredients are fresh, vibrant and it is sometimes hard to believe that the colours (MyGoshTheColours) are all natural.
While the burden of eleven seasons was shouldered by Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris, 2020 ushered in the arrival of the new guard. After the former judges had to step down from the show due to a scandal I will not go into the details of, I was a bit sceptical of how the new trio will fare. Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo did not disappoint! Granted that the atmosphere has drastically changed, I actually prefer it this way. Where the show was formal and stiff sometimes, the conversation, compliments and companionship in the latest season just seemed to flow. Melissa Leong has stolen my heart and that will be a whole other segment later!
From masterclasses, working in food trucks, and cultivating new skills to working under professional chefs, running service in Michelin-star kitchens and travelling in Australia and beyond— the exposure the contestants receive is widespread and diverse. Each activity in the kitchen tests the contestants in new ways and pushes them to their limits. My favourite is the Ferris Wheel challenge in series 8 (look it up!). The chefs get opportunities to meet their idols, get scouted and learn from the best of the best. Be it Heston Blumenthal, Kirsten Tibballs, Gordon Ramsay or Nigella Lawson, every guest brings something new and exciting to the table (literally).
There is an extreme genuineness to everything that happens in the kitchen. While I am not denying that some things aren’t sensationalised because well, reality TV, the overall vibe is as sweet as sugar. You can see that the contestants are authentic, with kind hearts and real stories. The kitchen sees some lifelong friendships, acts of kindness (like when contestant Jess helped her fellow competitor with the recipe during an elimination) and an honest camaraderie. Season 12 highlighted the immigrant struggle in Australia, and several contestants continue to celebrate their culture with food and love in every series.
And *drumroll please* we have reached the point where I wax lyrical about Melissa Leong. Honestly, I just love the way she describes food and gives feedback. I could gush on for hours but instead, I will just leave you with her description of an autumn-inspired dessert.
“In terms of the flavours here… it’s tart, it’s refreshing, but it’s also anchored by richness and smoothness as well. Those fennel flavours really kind of give it a lovely, earthy grounding. I thought the presentation was lovely. Having the different textures and different colours to kind of suggest the idea of Autumn leaves.”
I urge you to give this show a try for all the wholesome reasons listed above. The squid ink pasta, hibachi grills and white chocolate volute disasters are just the cherries on top!
– Tanvi Jain, Delhi Public School, Noida1 Like