Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Now we all know what goulash is

Another year of MasterChef is upon us (WOO!). Another year where pretty people cook pretty things pretty badly. A chance for three unattractive blokes with aprons but without personalities to become, by definition, personalities themselves. MasterChef lets people get all “oooh that sounds very nice!” about some bloke’s eggplant and baby octopus flavoured biscuits, simply because he speaks with a French accent, wears a stupid hat and is selling said biccies at $8 a pop.

Despite the Channel Ten execs promoting this season of MasterChef as ‘entirely different’ to previous years, it appears that it’s going to be more of the same rubbish, with the focus on the tension and drama between the contestants who break down in tears at the first sign of their cucumber and mountain-goat soufflĂ© sticking to the baking tin, instead of concentrating on showing them cooking, learning how to cook or talking to each other about cooking. The promos released by the network show the contestants doing boot camps, living without power and climbing a fucking mountain – none of which is entirely helpful when you’re trying to win a cooking contest. Athletes trying out for the 100m sprint event at the Olympics aren’t asked to roast a pheasant before they’re allowed on the track. An accountant doesn’t have to balance an egg on its point while singing the Home and Away theme song before his firm gives him a job. Why the fuck would anyone care how useless some fucking idiot is at putting up a tent while they’re camping in the bush when the basis of the show is about putting crap in a pan and heating it up properly? If they get a job as a chef, I don’t care if they can juggle chainsaws or whittle wood – as long as they can cook my fucking steak, I’m happy.

The 2011 season of MasterChef continues its proudly annoying tradition of appealing to the 6% of Australians who are blind – not counting me on Saturday nights through to Monday mornings – by getting the contestants to recap exactly what is being shown on the screen as it happens.

Big fat Matt Preston is standing in a room holding a box. Contestants walk into the room and stand in front of big fat Matt Preston.

Contestant #1: “So we walked into, you know, this room and there was Matt holding a box. I couldn’t help but wonder what was in that box, you know?”
Contestant #2: “I just want to know what’s in that box.”
Contestant #8: “Oooh. A box.”

Close up of big fat Matt Preston as he speaks to the contestants, his jowls moving hypnotically in slow motion.

Big fat Matt Preston: “I bet you’re all wondering what’s in this box.”
Contestant #3: “And he says, ‘I bet you’re all wondering what’s in this box,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, I am wondering what’s in that box.’”
Contestant #4: “I mean, anything could have been in that box. I just wanted to know what it was.”
Contestant #9: “What’s in that box? I think we were all wondering it.”
Contestant #10: “I was definitely wondering what was in the box.”

Big fat Matt Preston opens the lid of the box, but the contents are obscured to the viewers and contestants.

Contestant #1: “Then Matt opens the box. I couldn’t see what was in it; no one really could see. I just knew that it was, you know, a mystery.”
Contestant #7: “I really want to know what’s in that box. I was really nervous not knowing the contents of the box. And then Matt tells us what’s in the box.”
Contestant #8: “So Matt tells us what’s in the box. After so much anticipation, it was a great relief to hear what was in the box.”

Fat Matt Preston talking (and sweating slightly).

Fatt Matt Preston: “Asparagus!”
Contestant #7,320: “Asparagus!”
Contestant #54: “Asparagus?”
Contestant #92: “I would not have guessed asparagus. I was thinking it might be fish. Or mangoes. But not asparagus.”
Contestant #8: “Ha, asparagus. You have to hand it to Matt Preston. I mean, no one would have expected that box to have asparagus in it. Wow. Asparagus.”

The next scene will have the contestants doing some kind of test where they have to walk through a room with saucepans on their feet while making the least amount of sound to win the opportunity to have first pick of the asparagus. No one will learn anything about cooking with asparagus, asparagus recipes or nutritional asparagus information, but a running commentary of a bunch of dickheads walking across a room with saucepans on their feet will be provided (“And I was walking across the room with saucepans on my feet and then I fell over.”)

The next thing we’ll see (and hear about) is one of the contestants making some kind of asparagus and white rhino goulash. We don’t know how they made it, what they're putting into it, why they opted for the subtle flavour of white rhino over the stronger taste of an African elephant, or even what the fuck a goulash is. We just see them goulashing away in various states of crying, while saying, “I turned the heat up to a million because I was running out of time,” while showing us a close-up of the stove and a shot of the clock, instead of hearing “a goulash is a European stew with meat and vegetables, and is usually seasoned with paprika and other spices. I think the rhino meat will add a nice consistency to the goulash but not overpower the taste of asparagus, which will make our pee smell funny tomorrow.”

While it’s nice for MasterChef producers to cater (see what I did there?) to our vision-impaired friends, I’m going out on a limb and saying that there probably aren’t a whole lot of blind people with massive ambitions to become chefs. There's something about a lack of sight combined with sharp knives, boiling pots of water and hot pans of oil that kind of turns people away. It would be mildly entertaining to watch for a while though.

This year’s series has already given us a local hero – John Hughes (sadly, not the bloke who wrote and directed The Breakfast Club, because he's dead [although that's a whole new reality show in the making: "Weekend at Bernie's MasterChef auditions"]) – has been awarded some kind of bravery medal for not serving up any food at all. I know quality is everything, but if I was in a restaurant and the waiter brought me a nice white plate with a napkin on it, I don’t think I’d be too happy. I wouldn’t run up to him and start licking his hand while dry-humping his leg while praising him for not cooking me food. If I was going to do that, I'd just stay home and go nuts on my ironing board (hello Thursday).

However, good luck to everyone involved in the show. I look forward to ordering a Big Mac from you when the contest is over, and you'd better not fuck with the sauce.

Last year’s winner Adam has gone onto great things including playing Funzo in an episode of The Simpsons

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