Masterchef – the good, bad and really ugly

Turn on a TV channel pretty much anytime of the night and day and instead of NCIS you now find Masterchef. (poor Gibbs ousted by Gordon)

Currently we can watch Masterchefs  US (2 seasons), Australian (2 seasons), UK professional and old episodes of the UK normal series. Each one is different in length, frequency, hosts (hmm could have good , bad and ugly just on these) and most of all the focus. And yet we love watching all of them for the following reasons:

The Good 1: The FOOD 

Claire-Hutchings-Masterchef-final-menuFrom impressive homestyle cooking to Michelin star worthy extravaganzas, it’s usually inspiring and impressive- even when it goes wrong.

And when it goes wrong the schadenfreude of seeing the arrogant ones fail is even more delicious.

The Good 2:   Masterchef Australia Contestants

The complete opposite of the US version (see below). These guys may be the best advertisement for Aussies I’ve ever encountered. Wonderfully diverse and multicultural, from all over the country, they genuinely support each other and while they are very competitive they don’t seem to just want to sabotage and bitch about each other. If you haven’t seen it check it out online here.

The Bad:  “B Roll” and product placement

and this is where Australia falls down. The show has about twice as much minutage devoted to Tourist Board promotions and sponsorship as it does to cooking and contestants. The gratuitous shots of sponsors providing essential services for the program are I guess to be expected but Wheetabix  “casually” placed in a shot of the house table just frustrates me.  And the whole house thing makes it more like Australia’s Next Top Model Chef.

Almost as bad are the weeks devoted to the Tasmanian Tourist Board and Barossa Valley complete with endless B roll of the various tourist attractions. Beautiful country I get it but believe me if I wanted to spend hours looking at it I would watch travel shows.

The Ugly Judges and their bias for certain contestants

Each show and every judge seems to have certain preferences and prejudices (apart from Gordon maybe). The  best food will always be a matter of taste and they do get to taste it but when judges profess extreme bias for one style or another surely that gives an advantage to people of that heritage – think Italian Joe and Southern style Graham.

If you cook Asian food especially Indian or Middle eastern they love you on all of the shows (especially Australia), if you’ve got long blonde hair and a neat figure you last longer on the US show. The bias brings out the ugly side of the other contestants (see below) but may just be justified.

The Really Ugly:    US Contestants 

mcnasty chefThis years group are definitely Ugly, not the worst yet  (season 2 wins that one) but there is still time I guess.

They plot and bitch and moan about each other and scowl Masterchef-US-Season-4-Contestantswhen others win, look for every chance to throw each other under the bus and only seem to show joy when others make mistakes or are eliminated. There are so many options for the McNastyChef of the year I can’t select one – Krissi with her shouting, threats and aggression is too easy a choice and may in fact be far from the worst by seasons end.

Take a lesson from Australia and cast people who can show the world how great Americans are, not how ugly they can be.

It might even make for a better show.

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About Sandra F

Sandra Fairclough has more than 20 years international experience as a senior executive & vice president of a major Fortune 100 media company. She is a working mother who balances her life as a management consultant, speaker and coach with her other roles as a wife and mother to 3 amazing and extraordinary children, one of whom Chelsea is a C1/C2 tracheostomy ventilated quadriplegic.
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