Monday, August 1, 2011

Masterchef Australia Season 3

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT: Masterchef Australia Season 3 is about to culminate soon (sob sob). It's finals week already! But they start airing it in India tomorrow, so those of you who are really into MC Aus, like me, and don't want to ruin the suspense please stop reading right now.

I love Masterchef Australia. I guess I can't say it enough. I've done quite a few posts on it already, and I try my best not to miss an episode.

I don't like to cook but there are a number of reasons I love the show. One, I've realized that looking at food on television comforts and de-stresses me. I love the vibrant colours of the dishes being cooked, I can imagine the flavours and the aroma, and that has a very calming effect on me.

Second, MC Aus is probably the best reality show I've watched in terms of its spirit. It's all about constructive feedback, not about criticizing and demotivating people or sensationalism. Of course it has a fair bit of drama but none of it irritates. The judges genuinely try to mentor the contestants - they aren't just sitting on high horses and passing judgement on the efforts of amateur home cooks who are aspiring to become chefs. They want the contestants to learn and realize what they're capable of.

On an aside, my favorite is Gary. Who's yours?

Third, the format is really engaging. It keeps you hooked. The challenges this season are much more difficult than the previous two seasons and that made me realize just how good the contestants this year are. My all-time favourite was Marion from Season 2 - she was so amazingly talented. She was supposed to work on a series of Asian sauces and marinades after Masterchef, and I kept hoping that her line of products would make their way to grocery stores in India that stock imported products. And now that I'm here I see her on TV, I see her sauces and meals on supermarket shelves. The other day I saw Jimmy's products at Coles, with his smiling face - which I know quite a few of my friends are a fan of - on the packaging! It made me so happy to see real-life people who were on a TV show and who I adored doing well for themselves.

Coming back to this year's Masterchef, there has been such a variety in the challenges. There are a few challenges that I really enjoyed and remember off the top of my head.

There was a team relay challenge where the first member of each team had 25 minutes in the kitchen with the recipes for 6 dishes. The recipes were then taken away, and the person had only 60 seconds to bring the next team member up to speed on what had to be cooked, what was already done and still needed to be done, and the next member then had 20 minutes cooking time before he/she had to brief the next member on the processes and hand the kitchen over to them. No prompting allowed, so if you didn't brief the person well enough the first time around, you would have to silently watch them making disastrous mistakes and send the entire team into elimination. Once the challenge was over, the contestants were surprised to learn that the recipes belonged to Nigella, who would be judging them!

There was another episode where the contestants had to make burger, fries and a milkshake. Except the challenge was set by the mind blowing Heston Blumenthal, which meant that the contestants had to prepare their own bun, cheese, tomato ketchup, fries and an incredibly complex burger patty. The other two episodes I really enjoyed took place in NYC. In one of them, each contestant was sent to a different part of NYC - such as Harlem which is predominantly African-American and Bronx which is a tough Italian neighbourhood - to spend a day there and create a dish that was inspired by that neighbourhood. The person who created the worst dish would spend the rest of the week in lock down (inside their NYC hotel) and would emerge only at the end of the week for an elimination challenge. This episode gave me my first favourite of the season - Billy. He was sent to the Bronx, which is supposed to be a hot bed of Italian mafia in the US, and he represented that in the way he plated up his dish - he spattered red sauce very artistically all over his plate to represent blood!

The other NYC episode I really enjoyed was when the judges appeared to the contestants on the electronic displays at Times Square and told them that they would be cooking for a dinner party for chefs. The contestants were broken off into pairs. Each team had to find a clue directing them to a restaurant where the head chef would show them how to cook the recipe, and then cook it themselves. This challenge involved running across NYC and had to be completed in a very short time frame.

This season of MC has had its share of controversies as well. One of the contestants was thrown out of the competition b/c he sneaked in a smartphone into the house while the others had no means of communicating with the outside world and/or looking up recipes. Then there were allegations that the contestants are allowed to plate up their dishes even after their time is up, so the dishes can look good on camera. And then there's this online hate wave going on against one of the contestants, Dani, who has made it to the top 4 but I would have to agree with people who say she doesn't belong there.

Most people don't like her b/c they find her very annoying - she's loud and in-your-face and doesn't have the talent to make up for it. She makes the stupidest of mistakes, is the most inconsistent of all contestants - she is brilliant on some days but such days are few and far between, and mostly she has bad days when she cries to gain sympathy from the judges. Unfortunately, she's the only contestant in MC Aus to have won 2 immunity pins. One of them was won genuinely cooking off against a professional chef while the other was a joke - she beat the winner of 'Celebrity Masterchef'. She used that immunity pin to get to the top 4, and that turned people off her even more b/c other more talented people had to go home.

I can't wait to get my friends' reactions once MC Aus starts in India. It's a good'll enjoy it. And don't forget to tell me who your favourite contestant is. Only, I'll know their fate before you do! :D


Moonshine said...

I skimmed through this post!!Wherever the names the appeared!!!! :)

I love Geroge and Matt too.

The relay one has been there on Top chef too.. I dont know which one came first. Hell's Kitchen as well actually!!

I cant wait for MC to start.. it starts tom BTW!!!!! :)

The knife said...

Used to catch MC while at the gym and sometime Nigella after that. Now they have got her into the show and I look forward to hitting the treadmill

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - How was the first episode of MC?? :)

@Knife - Didn't mean to get your hopes up...Nigella was a guest judge on one of the episodes. Here's another tease...your idol Tony Bourdain will make an appearance too :D

Moonshine said...

It was awesome!!! :)

But some people were very mediocre. Or maybe that was the case even in the previous MC.

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - It's only the 50..that's why. The mediocre ones will fall out and you'll be left with 7-8 great cooks :)

Moonshine said...

@Scarlett Havent missed a single episode till now!!!! :)

bemoneyaware said...

We in India are also hooked on the serial so much that my daughter's birthday party theme is MasterChef(hence I landed here). Now can empathize with you-its in finale week now.
Nice post captured the MC very well!