Monday by the Magazine Rack.

magazine20rack

“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…

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63 Responses

  1. We’ve been captivated by it too. And I reckon your characterisation of it, whilst amusing, is a long way off the mark. It’s almost like you’re trolling πŸ˜‰

    The judges certainly don’t hold back when a dish doesn”t meet their high standards. It doesn’t seem to me to be malicious – just very honest feedback. But they are certainly complimentary when they think something’s good. The Oscar Wilde figure is apparently a leading food critic, and had visible shivers of pleasure when he tasted one dish a few nights back and made sure the contestant knew how amazingly good it was. Other times they’ve been told their dish would make the menu at a fine restaurant, or “I’d pay good money for that” and so on.

    And the judges handle the emotional moments in a very straightforward way too – acknowledge, empathise, move on.

    What’s a bit lacking, IMHO, is that they aren’t teaching them a lot about how to improve their skills or repertoire. There has been one “Master Class” so far where they went through how to do one dish and a couple of attendant skills. These people are largely on their own with their existing skills and whatever they can pick up by osmosis and trial and error as far as I can tell.

    New depths? I beg to differ. These people can apparently produce really good food – just not at industrial speeds, or with high enough reliability or on-the-spot creativity. And I really don’t know what gives you the impression that the judges are “people who can’t taste”.

    Yes, they do draw out the decisions and artificially heighten the drama and the tension experienced by the contestants (so a PVR helps), but so far at least it hasn’t been overtly manipulative of people and situations like (for example) The Biggest Loser, which (despite its laudable aims) I stopped watching long ago for that very reason.

  2. Fair enough Lotharsson.

    Bear in mind, that this is the first time I’ve seen the show, and right at the very beginning it had one middle-aged guy blabbing away in tears, because he was leaving the show because he loved his wife too much (or some such nonsense).

    And then for the next ten minutes, practically everyone was in tears, eventually ending with the teary-eyed winner of the show “dedicating” his winning rabbit stew to the guy who left, because “he would’ve liked it” or something like that.

    πŸ™„

    And then the poor devastated woman at the end wimpering “thank you for giving us another chance to cook for you” while holding back bucket loads of tears.

    I did feel sorry for her. Not because she’s on the brink of losing, but more like feeling sorry that she’s put herself in such a position where you looks so sad and pathetic.

    Maybe what the show’s missing is a bit of biffo..?

    A friend of mine who happens to be a top Australian chef reckons most of these judges haven’t got a clue what they’re doing and after watching the car thief and Oscar last night, I’m inclined to agree.

    Anyway, guess I’ll be watching again tomorrow!

  3. You nearly convinced me to watch reb.

    I’ve got a feeling that if I were to go into my lounge at “that” time of night it’d probably be on anyways so I might heap some scorn on it on the way past if it happens to invade my eyeballs. Just don’t tell anyone that I saw it please.

    I do like watching cocky young people embracing devastation though, does that mean I’m a socialist? or something worse perhaps.

  4. Hiya blogocrats… just trying to get settled in the office. What chaos at the airport last night and this morning on the roads.

  5. Nobody’s interested in your inconsequential problems joni..

    Now what were you saying again Toiletboss, before we were rudely interrupted…?

  6. Given that Sunday Top 5 seems to have gone missing in action..what about top 5 worst meals. I think that I would have to own up to 4:5 of these.

  7. FRO reb.

    :wink;

  8. Ummm, it was something about how I really hate airports & roads.

    Oh yeah, &…maybe the losers of each ep could play a more brutal version of “Uncle” with available kitchen weapons to decide who has to leave (in an ambulance).
    A viable strategy may be to make alliances early on so that, if faced with an elimination Unclefest, you could target the hands, fingers & other appendages vital to efficient cheffing(sic)so that if the victim stays in the game, at least they are crippled & disadvantaged in future bake-offs.

    Just an idea.

  9. Joni..here let me give you a lesson a wink must end in a colon rather than a semi-colon. Thus πŸ˜‰

  10. Semi-colons are so half-arsed, ain’t they?

  11. “Just an idea”

    Sounds like it has potential Toilet Boss.

    Maybe the contestants could all get to just kick the shit out of the judges at the end of each episode, and then we have a new round of judges each week rather than a new round of contestants??

    “Tell me you don’t like my blancmange”

    “Go on! TELL ME! I DARE YOU…!!!!!!!!”

  12. Quite right Ross and you can’t achieve a ‘wink’ if you use one.

  13. The winner cooks the loser?

  14. Then they’d have to change the name of the show to “So Who Wants To Be A Judge?” reb.

  15. “The winner cooks the loser?”

    lol, every dish would taste like pork

  16. “So Who Wants To Be A Judge?”

    LOL!!

    Actually, my dream job was always to be a High Court Judge.

    I’d just sit there in my wig, whacking the hammer…

    ” The defendant is found GUILTY AS CHARGED!”

    “The sentence is DEATH!”

    “NEXT!!”

  17. Just like the python judges I bet, reb, banging you gavel.

  18. Re reb banging his gavel (presumably on the sound block)..there is an answer to this one, but I’ll leave it to the blokes.

  19. “Just like the python judges I bet, reb, banging you gavel.”

    reb like banging judges, you Just gavel the python, I bet.

  20. “He branged his gavel”

  21. Ahem…back on topic….;)

    The ‘Oscar Wilde’ character is Matt Preston the food critic of ‘The Age’

    He has written an article about his experience on the program which I found quite interesting (or at least more interesting than the program itself).

    Here it is:

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/epicure/a-taste-for-judging/2009/04/27/1240684398672.html

    While looking for it I came across his Wikipedia entry and I was shocked that he was born the same year I was (1961) he looks at least in his mid-fifties to me. That’s what a lifetime of yummy and care-free eating does for you I guess.

  22. Thanks for that link Guido (sorry it took a while to get up – it got caught in the spaminator).

    So does Matt Preston look like Oscar Wilde or what…???

    πŸ™‚

  23. Well, reb, last night was certainly a particularly teary episode for your first exposure to the series…

    Some of the contestants currently don’t seem to have what it takes to work in a commercial kitchen under real pressure, but sometimes people surprise themselves and rise to the challenge.

    …and thanks for that link, Guido.

  24. I’m on the new computer! (The Minister’s arrives tomorrow) just testing!

    I will be glad when all this crap is over (computers, carpet, oh! and Energex put in our new digital electricity meter so the solar things done!)

  25. Those judges should try eating something served up at my local golf club. The windows, the curtains, the floor, the waiters and the walls will be dripping with spat out half-eaten food.

    I could have put bootlaces on the last steak I ate there.

    The club makes $30m profit a year and they can’t even pay someone who nows how to at least cook a potato.

    And don’t get me started on their wine list.

  26. MIgs,

    I thought the only thing you did at the local golf club was drink wine and smoke cigars.

    I had visions of you reclining in the winged back chesterfield having a Van Hartog moment.

    Are you now telling me that you frequent an establishment where the culinary standards are not quite up to scratch?

    Do I need to re-evaluate our relationship based on this revelation??

  27. Reb,

    In days gone by I liked to sit on a couch by the window next to the lake (and watch the ducks) while puffing on a Cuban and polishing off a bottle of red.

    Now one cannot smoke in the clubs and I am required to puff away outside on the specailly built deck, with, gulp, the peasants.

  28. Miglo,

    It’s just not right is it…?

    I was just saying to a couple of lesbian friends of mine (the nice lipstick wearing Judith Lucy types). Not that Judith Lucy’s a lesbian mind you, but I think you know what I mean..

    That we really ought to plan ahead and invest in our own “retirement village”.

    I mean, fu*ked if I want to see out my remaining years in one of these sterile joints surrounded by pink and grey walls and school kids coming in to sing charols and all that shite.

    I was thinking of something where we could play “dodgems” in our motor scooters, have cocktail hours (every day at 4.00pm), fancy dress parties, dementia competitions, all that sort of thing.

    I think there’s money in their somewhere.

    We could even have heavy thrash metal parties for Toilet Boss.

  29. Reb, you’re out of line. Many Blogocrtas resent the fact that some babyboomers have money (not that you’re a babyboomer).

    Our money is not meant to be spent on luxuries for ourselves. We are expected to give it to the poor (our kids).

    Our kids don’t want to do the hard yards like we did.

  30. By the way,

    As part of my erstwhile career as a “I’m a patron of the arts” which is how I now respond whenever somebody asks at some party that I hate to be at at asks “so what
    do you do?”

    (Let’s face it – it sounds far more impressive than saying “I’m this” for “such and such” company).

    I have comissioned yet another tintin painting by this very small art studio in Hanoi.

    http://www.gallerylehuong.com

    The first painting they did for me was of course this one – a copy of the Herge original:

    The next one will be of my new gravatar.

    The two guys that run the gallery are very young and both very talented artists.

    I like to show my support for struggling artists..

  31. Jedda flies in in 90 minutes so I have 60 minutes to make the place look half presentable.

    I know in my bones that it won’t pass inspection. Especially if one of her dogs drops another turd inside while I’m at the airport.

    Some things are always my fault, no matter what.

  32. Miglo,

    Have you got some flowers in the garden that you could quickly run out and cut and chuck in a vase?

    I know it’s dark, but if you do – a vase full of flowers is the perfect distraction from the destruction that surrounds them.

    It’s also your way of saying “I love you” even if you have to steal them from the neighbour’s back yard.

  33. Reb, I’m not a bad artist myself. Here’s something from school:

  34. Of course I have a bloody flower garden. What do you think this is?

  35. Not bad Miglo.

    The guys always seem to have tiny willys (if you can see them at all).

    And notice that main figure – pointing towards Jesus.

    It’s like he’s saying “Aye, that’s the c**t, goes aboot tellin everybody whit tae dae..fu*k ‘im!”

  36. Yes reb, I captured the expression perfectly. Those beady eyes, that sly sideways look.

    The teacher gave me a B+.

  37. the trouble is Miglo,

    whenever I commission a new painting, I can never find the hanging space…

  38. Reb, maybe you should restrict yourself to producing only one masterpiece a year.

    BTW my accountant is working through my tax-deductable receipts.

    http://thejuicywoman.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83453976769e2010535cbbfc0970b-800wi

  39. Reb, I’ve got 15 minutes to clean up this weekend mess before I race off to the airport.

  40. Miglo,

    If you just spray paint them all pink, you could tell Jedda it’s an “art installation” in recognition of womens’ breast cancer issues..

  41. Hmmm, another episode a bit heavy on the wrenching emotional displays and drawn out verdict deliveries. Glad I have a PVR so I can fast forward through all of the banal comments (to paraphrase: “Then it really hit me that one of us is going home today…”) until something actually happens.

  42. I was told last night that there was nothing to worry about with the Taliban gaining access to the nukes, as they will not be able to read the instructions…. cause they are wriiten in Chinese.

    hehe

  43. I see the government will keep the Alcopop excise that was collected without the legislation being passed.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25467880-601,00.html

    I believe that if the government approached the issue on tax equalisation it could have been successful getting through the Upper House.

    Instead we get these emotional nanny statements from Roxon like “cocktails on training wheels.”

  44. But, but but. No one has a problem with increased taxes on alcohol and cigarettes as these increases in taxes are a ‘proven’ deterant.

    And so why is a tax on alcopops somehow different…that a tax on lolly pops is not a deterant?

    Me thinks mega lobbying by the aohohol industry who most definitely do not want teenage girls being ‘penalised’ from drinking this sweet lolly water in small bottles easily concealed in a shoulder bag.

  45. And apologies for typos etc..a computer crash this morning, but I have managed to get old bessie working..only took me 6 hours. So therefore as per the other thread I don’t have emails sent today.

  46. What about the older women?

    http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25466317-662,00.html

    I don’t believe that an increase in alcohol excise will solve the problem of over drinking, it is a generational culture issue that will remain regardless.

  47. Scaper very obviously if one subscribes to the theory that increases in prices works (and the powers that be say that it does, the evidence being cigarettes) then increases in taxes re alcopops will work equally as well with teenages as per middle age women.

    [Hey…I’m begining to sound like Legion].

  48. Min, tobacco is addictive but not mind altering.

    Alcohol is mind altering and can become addictive and consumption is socially acceptable, there is a distinct difference.

    Brisbane is awash with bootleg alcohol, I can buy a bottle of scotch that tastes exactly the same as the real thing for a third of the price!

    I would compare alcohol with drugs as far as success to discourage use is concerned.

  49. Scaps, anything that is addictive is mind altering. If you don’t think that tobacco is mind altering trying working with smokers who become stressed when they aren’t able to go out for a smoke-o.

  50. Whoops ‘trying’ read try working with…

  51. Scaps, you might be able to buy bootleg for 1/3 of the price but most teenage girls wouldn’t.

    I was lucky in that none of my crew went to schoolies on the Gold Coast, eldest went camping down south, son was doing basic training (Army at that time), and youngest was too young Yr 12. I honestly cannot understand Senator Fielding when he says that alcopops aren’t a problem.

  52. One question…why won’t the government entertain Fielding’s request to ban alcohol advertising as he has specified?

    It sounds like the government is in bed with the alcohol industry!

    Got to go, going out to dinner to avoid Swan on TV…might have a glass of Mateus with my Thai.

  53. Scaper, the government agreed to Fielding’s request to ban alcohol advertising, but given the extent of this..imagine all the alcohol, beer adverts around every sporting ground in Australia and how many sporting teams are Sponsored by the Alcohol industry..eg the Toohey’s Cup, the Fosters Sports Foundation sponsoring olympians, the government suggested that this should be phased in. Fielding refused. I want it, and I want it NOW.

    This was clearly an unreasonable request as it would give clubs no time to find other sponsors…. and so Fielding cut off his nose to spite his face.

  54. Hello

    Is anyone here tonight?

  55. I am – but you don’t like me as I disturb the “flow”….. πŸ˜€

    I read in the paper today (The Times of India) about a guy in China who was bitten on the penis by a snake that was lurking in his toilet. And we thought redbacks under the toliet seat were a worry!

  56. Hi Joni,

    You’d better not tell Miglo about that!

    I’m going to put up a LIVE BUDGET thread shortly.

    Howabout that? Almost like a proper blog.

    Although I must say, I’m absa-bloody-lutely exhausted today.

    Is Mumbai worth a visit for a holiday?

  57. *Hello, Is anyone here tonight?*

    “Here, I am, Eccles…nnnn!

  58. Hi TB.

    I’m having a Tuesday night sem sav blanc.

    Just to calm my nerves from a verrry stressful day..

  59. Just clocked in – back from a few days away.

    Liveblogging, Reb? Whatever will you think of next (to boost the hit count)? πŸ˜‰

    Won’t it actually be grogblogging, though, given the likely participants?

  60. Hi Tony,

    Grogblogging? Now there’s a thought.

    The Budget post is now up!

    It’s so exciting!

  61. Mumbai worth a visit? I would not know – all I have done is travelled from the hotel (near the airport) to work (in the burbs) and back…. the hotel is surrounded by slums and it is not advised for me to walk around. This weekend I hope to be a tourist and visit some of the sights.

    And I bought a new toy on the weekend in Singapore – a Vado HD (do a web search). It is a mini-camcorder the size of a mobile that records in HD onto 8gb of solid state memory – a fantastic gadget. I will try and edit a short clip tonight to get something up on youtube.

    And apologies for the lack of posts from me lately, internet connection in the hotel is expensive (and the boss won’t pay during the week).

    And I will be watching the live-thread to see what is happening.

  62. That Vado HD sounds awesome. How much did it set you back? I might need to get one!!

  63. Oftenbark (if you happen to be reading),

    Another gallant second for Discorsi today. The owners must be frustrated, although he invariably earns a cheque.

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