In Melbourne, a city full of food and obsessed by coffee, I cook, I eat, I share the good news and the bad. essjay eats

More Masterchef Musings

I swear, this is not going to become a blog about Masterchef, but my recent post about contestants posting on Facebook has sparked many comments and a few conversations that have gotten me thinking.

I been thinking about the structure of the show, particularly in light of some comments that have been made about the contestants being in “lock down”.

Contestant Adam left the show voluntarily. In speaking to the media he commented that isolation from his girlfriend had basically brought about the end of the relationship, and that he felt like his confidence was eroded by the actions of the shows producers.

The contestants who are left on the show have been living in the Sydney house since early January, with one 10min phone call home a week, apart from a few production breaks.

Why lock them in?

Why can’t they be in contact with others? The big brother aspects are the least appealing parts of this program. It’s not necessary on UK Masterchef, not was it necessary for Junior Masterchef. We still watched if. If someone can think of any other reason for contestants to be sequestered, except to assist the producers to emotionally manipulate them then I’d be interested to hear it.

Why recognise that Kate shouldn’t undergo the rigours of complete separation from her loved ones (Kate is allowed extra time with her young family), but not apply the same rules to other contestants? Why is being a “young mother” grounds for special treatment?

If you need to bend “the rules” to give yourselves less chance of bad PR then the rules are bad – change them for everyone, not just Kate.

When people are eliminated they go home to a party, they go do their shopping, they go back to work … If you’re really serious about keeping results a secret you’d handle it like Amazing Race does, by keeping all the contestants sequestered for the entire production time. All go home together – they know who’s won, but obviously they keep to their confidentiality contracts and the show continues to rate very highly and win Emmys.

Personally – I think the producers learned absolutely nothing from the junior Masterchef experience, and they certainly haven’t lived up to the much hyped “this year – it’s all about the food”. Because plainly, it isn’t.

Lock em in, break down their protection mechanisms, make ’em cry, make ’em cry, make ’em cry!

I really think that playing with people’s mental health like this is cruel, and unnecessary.

You haven’t got the top 24 amateur chefs in Australia (that haven’t already been on Masterchef) – you’ve got the folks who can give up their jobs for 6 months, are so desperate to change their lives they’ll put up with these conditions, and can cook a bit as well.

There have also been comments about how this year’s crop if contestants aren’t as good at cooking as last years.

I’m not sure how you can compare them as the producers seem to think that every challenge has to be harder, trickier or more unnerving than last year. Switching baskets, stupid Chinese whisper challenge elements that are nothing about food, reduced time limits … It’s quite plainly an approach that is unsustainable.

Next year … Cook your favourite dish that reminds you of a dead relative, with this aardvark fillet in 10 seconds! WAIT! You have to semaphore instructions from the balcony to your rival to cook it for you! GO!

These contestants didn’t do last year’s challenges, they don’t have to be harder or different.

Plenty has already been said about the uneven challenges for immunity.

Oh – and if you want to belong to the “go and do an apprentice you silly things” group…have you seen what apprentices earn?

According to Apprentice Power

  • First Year Apprentice Chef: $6.51 per hour
  • Second Year Apprentice Chef: $7.64 per hour
  • Third Year Apprentice Chef: $9.49 per hour
  • Fourth Year Apprentice Chef: $11.31 per hour

’nuff said!

Are you tempted to sign up to the Masterchef bandwagon?


4 thoughts on “More Masterchef Musings

  • I got over MC – refuse to watch it anymore. Good cooking has nothing to do with depravation therapy and manipulating people’s emotions, particularly when the judges results were totally subjective. I have often wondered if the producer/judges picked the winner on day one and then set the scene to obtain the results they desired.
    Never again

    Comment from: JenJen

  • The producers of MasterChef Australia have crossed a line. It’s gone from being all about the journey of people learning to cook better and caring about what happens to them, to the forced drama of people’s emotions with cookery coming in second.

    I note that Gary doesn’t want to ‘buy in’ to what is going on, a very poor response, equivalent to suck it up princess. Does middle Australia want to watch another program of pavlov reactions to artificially manufactured stress situations? Time will tell.

    Comment from: neil

  • @injera Oh that poorly constructed piece of PR spin was awful. And did NOTHING to address Adam’s concerns.

    Comment from: essjayeats

  • Oh, YES to all of that! The Masterchef prods seem to have missed that isolation was the only plot point in Big Brother – the whole point of BB was that isolating people with strangers resulted in an entertaining spectacle of interpersonal drama. Masterchef is supposed to be about the cooking.

    Gary Mehigan, in a piece in today’s Hun, missed the point entirely. It’s a badly structured piece, clearly cobbled together to respond to the kind of criticism raised here, but the end is particularly weird. About Adam:

    “The fact he said he wants to leave is about realising he was in his dream job already and that’s a great thing. But I always think, though, leave with dignity.”

    Oh dear.

    Comment from: Injera

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