Monday by the Magazine Rack.

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“Thank you for giving us another chance to cook for you.”

These were the last words uttered by one of the beleaguered “bottom three” contestants on a show I was watching last night on Channel Ten called “Master Chef”.

In a rare trangression over to the realms of commercial TV, I found myself captivated by this show that features approximately a dozen or so wannabe chefs cooking up spur-of-the-moment meals for a panel of three judges.

One of the judges looks like a David Jones fashion model, the second a young lebanese guy that you’d accuse of stealing your hub caps, and a rather large wind-swept Oscar Wilde looking figure camply clad in a green velvet smoking jacket and a cravat.

Borrowing heavily from “The Iron Chef,” the contestants have just a few minutes to whip up some culinary delights to be served before the sanctimonious panel of judges – who in turn, reluctantly nibble on tiny morsels of each dish before offering up their demoralising judgement.

The chasm between judges and contestants couldn’t be greater. It’s like Neil Perry meets Parklea Markets.

However, the whimpering nervousness of the contestants and the dismissive demeanour of the callous judges makes for compelling viewing. In a few moments I was hooked.

One poor girl offered up something that resembled a bowl of orange ice-cream with a mint leaf on top. “Very clever” remarked Oscar Wilde.

“Making a savoury dish (it was rabbit) look like a dessert is quite popular in Europe at the moment, as long as one can carry it off.”

“Hmmm.. we didn’t quite get there, did we..” remarked Oscar as he spat out the few remaining morsels from between his teeth.

The car thief was less diplomatic.

“That was HORRIBLE” he said.

And so, the creator of the rabbit ice-cream, and another two contestants who served up some other muck, will have the opportunity to battle it out again tomorrow night.

Why these people put themselves through this misery and public humiliation is beyond me.

A number of them were clearly distressed, some collapsing with exhaustion – their eyes red with tears, others just wailing hysterically…

It was hilarious!

At the beginning of the show, I couldn’t care less whether anyone lived or died, but by the end, I had forged alliances with who “I” wanted to see win. Not the cocky youngster, not the blond thing who didn’t have a clue, but “yes” to the middle-aged man who’s wife and kids had left him. He deserved to win with his hearty rabbit stew. “Yes too,” to the scruffy guy who made some mushy looking egg dish with some pieces of toast on the side. What’s more the car thief agreed.

The cat-walk model didn’t hold back either…

“That’s the worst thing I’ve ever eaten in my life” she said to the good-looking, but subsequently devastated twenty year-old student.

“Yes, serves you right for being so cocky!” I thought, relishing the moment that he hadn’t quite received the praise he expected for his bit of over-cooked rabbit served on a bit of fried onion. (Too bad that he was practically reduced to tears in the process).

So it seems reality TV has reached new depths.

A group of people who can’t cook, serving up food to people who can’t taste, while everyone involved despises the entire humiliating experience.

But I guess I might just have to watch it again tomorrow night…

It was the night before Budget Night..

And Nick Minchin and Helen Coonan are saying that they’re going to hold the Labor Government to account to make sure that “no election promises are broken!”

Oh, the irony of it all….

Let this be our open Budget discussion thread…..