I love Masterchef. Love it. I love the regular Masterchef, I love the Professionals, I love Junior. I don't love Celebrity Masterchef - too much pandering and career saving. But the rest of them - AMAZING.
And this article pinpoints just why I love it so much (other than the lingering shots on amazing food and my guilty pleasure/weird crush Jay Rayner).
The food is the star. Each triumph and each abject failure is judged in the here and now, and the person who cooked it is pretty much afforded the same courtesy. They could be a DJ, a sound engineer, a Yurt maker, a surgeon or the Queen. They could be anyone or no one, as they are all equal in the eyes of John and Greg.
The complete focus of the show is on excellence, effort and success. It is not based on back story and adversity and - shudder - the journey. Who CARES if the person walked 120 miles to get to their first audition; in bare feet; with a fearsome temperature and only a passing interest in Japanese anime if their food is execrable? Their story certainly isn't going to make their food more palatable.
In fact, it is not until the final three cooks reach the pinnacle of culinary brilliance that we get any insight into into who they really are. A glorious glimpse, after the fact, into what has made them who they are. A chance for viewers to nod sagely and say, "ahh - no WONDER they are so superb."
We could all afford to learn a little from Masterchef. We too often praise the journey over the result (or lack thereof), when it is the work itself that needs to shine. Living, and dying, by what we produce and how well we produce it should be core to our success. It drives us to do better, produce better, and eventually come out on top.
Let's focus more on perfecting our craft, and less on reminding people of the effort it took to get there. And then let's go and sous-vide some scallops and star anise (and you will indulge me if I invite Jay to dine with me).
I have a theory that you can split most people who watch TV involving some element of competition into two types: those who prefer the early audition stages, where enthusiastic amateurs either shine or spectacularly fluff it, and those who prefer it towards the end, when the spotlight is on talent and graft. But MasterChef exists just outside of that divide – and it’s because of the way it treats “the journey”.