I'm depressed. The rupee's at an all-time low, corruption is at an all-time high, and worst of all, Masterchef Australia is over. Some of you are doubtless reading this and thinking "Please, you think that's the worst thing possible? How sheltered is your life?" You're right, that was insensitive of me. The end of Masterchef Australia is not the worst thing happening right now. Worse still is the fact that it's been replaced by a travesty called Masterchef USA.
For those of you out there who have lives and don't know what Masterchef is, it's a show where amateur cooks spend weeks competing in all sorts of extravagant cooking challenges and whipping up food that looks so good it gives Anna Hazare nightmares. This is not food made of the three ingredients you found in your fridge. No, on Masterchef the food is always made of 'artichoke hearts or rhubarb pate and soul of Frodo' other things that sound like the stuff people in fantasy novels are always looking for. In the end, one person wins and becomes Masterchef, and you sit there looking forlornly at your chapaati.
Food For Thought: Though they are both variations of the same
franchise, the difference in the underlying philosophies of Masterchef
Australia and Masterchef USA is startling
Given that they're both two variations of the same franchise, the difference in the show's underlying philosophies is a bit startling. Masterchef Australia is sublime television, a show that celebrates culinary art and the joy of cooking. Masterchef USA is Roadies with food. This is what the judges sound like on the average episode of Masterchef Australia: "Kate, I thought the mise-en-place was there, but if you'd flamb �ed your shallots in lamb jus and strained it in fennel reduction, the flavour would have popped more. But, this is a good effort, and you've tried something new."
Now this is what the judges on Masterchef America sound like: "This is the worst thing that has ever entered my mouth. When I was two years old, I ate mud, and it tasted better than this. This sucks. In fact, all your cooking sucks. You suck, your mother sucks, I bet her cooking sucks. Your soul sucks, everything you touch turns to suck. I didn't suck five days ago, and then I met you, and now I suck. And I'm American, so don't feed me rhubarb. I can't even spell rhubarb. Or anything else."
Bear with me, I know it sounds odd to have such strong views on the subject, but as a viewer, it comes down to how each of those shows makes me feel. Masterchef Australia feels like its underlying philosophy is Yes. When I watch Masterchef Australia, I feel like I could march into my kitchen and cook, like it's something anyone can do and enjoy. And given that I'm the sort of person that can burn ice-cream, that's a cool feeling to have.
When I watch Masterchef America, the sentiment I get is No. No, I can't cook, no, nobody but Gordon Ramsay and his cohorts can cook, and anyone who tries should be met with abuse and derision. What makes it worse is that Gordon Ramsay (who has built his career on the sort of abrasive buffoonery that is so in fashion on TV these days) is British, and that country can't even cook. Some people argue that Ramsay is a Michelin-star chef. I don't care if he's the Michelin man himself, there's no excuse for his behaviour.
Masterchef Australia teaches you that if you want to be a good chef, you need culinary skills. Masterchef America teaches you that if you want to be a good chef, you need to be able to take abuse from pompous fools. My favourite lesson comes from Mastchef India, which teaches you that everything is better when you subtract Akshay Kumar from it.