In recent times I have rarely seen a program on television that oozes so much positive energy as Master Chef Australia (MCA) does. It’s an out and out thrilling experience to watch it. An institution such as MCA sends out all the right signals to its viewers and leaves you salivating for much more. I had never imagined myself getting hooked onto it. I realized I am waiting for the grand finale of MCA more than I did for the ODI world cup finals in cricket. And that’s a big statement for me to make.
I want you all to be very clear as you read this further that I am no good in the kitchen myself. I can make a fried egg, make tea and that’s about all. Oh! And yes, I can boil eggs too and heat up and consume all the cooked food kept in the refrigerator by my beloved family members. I don’t even know the names of half the ingredients that go into all the exotic dishes they make on MCA. And when I heard them say for the first time “you have 10 minutes to choose your protein”, I thought they have to choose from several flavours of ‘Whey Protein’ like cookie cream or vanilla. It’s only when they ran to get meat and fish I realized what they were trying to imply. So sorry is my knowledge on food that I did not even know what “ganache” is. I thought they mispronounced “panache” when they said that, “your dish lacks the ganache”. The other day they commented that the dessert lacks ‘acidity’ and I thought, these guys are really psyched. Only to realize that that’s the way top international desserts are balanced. I knew how to balance many things in life, but balancing a dessert had never crossed my mind. Let me also tell you, just like in yours, nobody in my family can cook and present these dishes the way they do on MCA and I don’t even expect them to.
So why do I watch it?
I love it for the sense of ‘Healthy Competition’ they make the participants imbibe. It’s wonderful to watch them being friendly with each other before and after the competition time is over. It seems natural that they have bonded well in the MCA institution. Mind you there is a lot of money at stake and pride to play for, but they teach us that a competition can be won with keeping your dignity intact. You play by raising your standards high and not by putting others down. You play to win, but don’t back bite when you lose. ‘Camaraderie’ is the key word there. The 3 (Hungry) judges in MCA have a lot to do with this. They are never seen infusing negativity in the competition and that makes you love them all. It would be great if we could imbibe this in our profession too. Keep a healthy spirit of competition alive but maintain a certain level of dignity while we converse about each other to each other so that we keep positivity alive around us.
The other thing I loved today was when it came to the overstuffed, judges to announce the exit of one of the contestants they did it so beautifully. They made her feel that she has lost today only because there is lot better awaiting her outside of MCA. They told her in crisp words what she lacked in the dish she made, but they also told her that she has made some really exotic and delicious dishes for them that even their mom’s cannot. Imagine the pride she should feel when all the three of them had moist eyes while hugging her good bye. They also made her feel great about her perceived arrogance as a great strength to have and praised her high spirits. I would love to fail with such high regards from my mentors over and over again. In that failure will lie her greatest humbling moment of life and with that humility she will taste greater success than she imagines. An institution should have mentors like the MCA judges, who know how not to ‘rub it in’ when their student fails. Not to make them feel more miserable than they already are. Not to tell them, ‘see you failed because you are no good and I told you so’. I hope many teachers in all professions see this and learn from it. If you really want to understand what I mean watch one episode of Master Chef Australia and then go watch Master Chef USA and the difference in how to handle people will be crystal clear.
I love it for my 6 and 11 year old girls to watch MCA. They are subconsciously learning a lesson that I would have found hard to teach with real life examples around me. The only thing I hate about it is that I never get to eat all those lovely things they make and those overfed judges (and I call them that only out of jealousy) keep making these orgasmic expressions while they savor the food and make millions of us feel worse.
I only wish I could be a Master Chef Australia judge just for one day in my life!!