While I’ve enjoyed a lot of MasterChef Australia this season, there are a few things that have really irked me. This is going to be long.
These are all things that have stood out to me. I’m open to discussion on this, and welcome comments.
Here are some of the things.
Obvious favouritism and subsequent exclusions
In the first episode, Tim was the first contestant to be tasted by the trio of judges and was first to receive an apron.
When Tim first walked in, George said he looked familiar, and then realised it’s because he “looks like Prince Harry”. Gaz didn’t see it, Matt just gave George a small nod.
Since then, NO-ONE has let it go! There have been so many ads with the one photoshop they did of Tim as Prince Harry.
The only thing Tim and Prince Harry have in common is they’re both ginger men.
There are a few contestants who continuously have long monologues, and Tim is one of them.
On the episode where Walleed was eliminated (addressed later), Tim was quite prominent and received the most airtime.
There was a lot of complaints from fans on Twitter about Tim getting back in. Here are some of the examples.
Of course, not everyone was mad, there were a few excited fans.
Since coming back, Tim hasn’t done anything remarkable or of note.
Another MasterChef favourite was Abbey. I was interested in her from the beginning as I thought her history in cooking could be interesting. She provided nonstop monologuing, and it got to the point where I was no longer interested in hearing from her at all. I wasn’t the only one who felt like that.
Someone said to me they wouldn’t be surprised if MasterChef managed to get her back in the contest, just like they did with Tim…
By giving Tim and Abbey a lot of air time and large monologues, the other contestants continue to have less air time. Twitter widely notices Ben’s lack of airtime, while I have noticed those of diverse backgrounds receive significantly less air time.
For me, Walleed is one of the contestants who received very little air time. Contestants have said that Walleed is a wonderful person, yet we rarely got the chance to learn more about him.
Tati is another contestant who is often without airtime. She continues to have a smile on her face and cooks well enough to be in the top ten, and yet, she’s also rarely gets to monologue.
Another person is Anushka. If she, Tati, Walleed, Ben, and several other contestants were characters on a non-reality TV show, they’d be the minor/supporting characters. It’s for this reason, among others, that I tend to focus more on them in my recaps. The specific section on Anushka’s glasses isn’t just because it’s fun to focus on something that isn’t food.
The way Walleed’s elimination was handled made me really upset.
Here’s the standard elimination format for this season:
- Judges reveal who is safe.
- Loser is told why they’re leaving.
- Judges thank them for being in the contest, and talk about their highlights
- Montage of their food journey.
- Loser shakes the judges hands and hugs the other contestants
- Loser leaves the kitchen and gives a final wave to everyone before they go.
- Loser gets their Where Are They Now?
- Judges leave the contestants with one last thing.
Here’s Walleed’s elimination:
- Judges reveal who is safe.
- Walleed is told why he’s leaving.
- Judges tell him that he can win his spot back.
- Other losers come into the kitchen.
- Redemption challenge commences.
- Tim is told he’s back in.
- Walleed is told he’s permanently out.
- Judges say they’ll see everyone tomorrow.
- Current contestants hug the former contestants and hug Tim.
- Walleed gets hugs.
- Walleed is one of the first contestants to walk out the door, gives a wave back as he does.
- Walleed’s Where Are They Now?
- Judges leave the contestants with one last thing.
The main distinction between the two is the lack of Walleed time. He didn’t get the chance (on camera, at least) to have a moment with the judges. Walleed didn’t get a montage of his time, and the judges didn’t say anything about his food while he’s been there. Walleed didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to the contestants as the only one walking out of the kitchen that day.
Regardless of the contestant who would have been eliminated that night, I would have been annoyed that they didn’t get their chance. I’m especially salty about Walleed, as he had such limited air time, and it was an excuse to push him out without acknowledging his achievements, and get back their favourite.
The picnic at Hanging Rock challenge
During this challenge, Anushka was appointed captain. This is the first time that Anushka had a leadership position in the contest.
For a lot of these contestants, if not all, they’ve all done what is expected. Many of the contestants have put off following their passion of cooking, whether by having a career in a path that isn’t creative and/or has nothing to do with cooking, or by raising children.
Without this to sound like shade, they’re generally not very assertive people or show a lot of leadership qualities. When the contestants are put in the leadership position, they’ll often have some difficulties.
Walleed struggled in the Queensland team challenge, and Matt Sinclair gave him a lot of advice and assistance. By the end, he was going really well, and the trio of judges commended him for the result.
Anushka wasn’t given any assistance, as far as we saw, in being a leader. At one point, Simon decided it was his job to take over as the leader.
At the time, I hadn’t really seen what was going on, I often fade out a bit during the montages, but Gaz threw some shade at Anushka, saying something along the lines of, “Finally – a leader.”
The judges started to treat him as though he as the captain, and didn’t offer Anushka any assistance whatsoever in running a team.
At one stage, Tati asks where the bread is.
“The bread is there, in the open your eyes section,” Simon said, pointing at the shelves of pots and pans.
Right at the top, higher than Tati, was the bread. There was no way she would have been able to reach that, and at that height, it’s hard to expect her to have seen it.
Gaz was in the vicinity and laughed and praised the comment.
Something I love about MasterChef is how friendly the contestants are with one another. They form friendships and there’s not drama or backstabbing. They’re just here to pursue their passion.
Hearing this from Simon is disappointing, and hearing Gaz almost encourage it makes it worse. It’s not in the spirit of the other contestants, and doesn’t fit in the feel of the series.
It’s almost as though he as trying to challenge a form of Gordon Ramsey – the one dealing with incompetent “professionals”. But none of these contestants are professionals. Anushka and Tati are 49 year old women who are finally taking a risk and following their food passion.
Simon’s not a professional, and he’s often middle of the pack, so…
Picnic at Hanging Rock Challenge
When the judges were walking around and giving advice, they advise the red team to make sure their frittata’s aren’t bland and is flavourful.
Tati was cooking this one, and she really took this on board, making sure it had a lot of flavours.
The criticism the judges had on the frittata was the amount of flavour. They said there was too much. It would be interesting to hear what they would have said about the frittata if they hadn’t given Tati and Anushka this advice.
During the Sweet Week elimination challenge, in which almost every contestant bar 3 competed, Derek was one of the first to be tasted.
He was asked if he was nervous about the challenge, and he confirmed that he is. Gaz went on to tell him that he doesn’t need to be worried, that he’s a great cook and he deserves the spot he has.
The editing of the pre-tastings conversation between the judges and Anushka and Tati made Gaz out to seem a bit misogynistic. They were asked if they were nervous and they responded similar to Derek. Instead of encouraging them or giving them words of advice, Gaz basically said, “Well, we’ll see how you do.”
Whether or not further discussion took place, the audience was only given this small sample in which they can be seen as incompetent and less deserving of their place in the contest than other contestants.
Coupled with what happened in the Picnic at Hanging Rock challenge, it’s easy to view some of Gaz’ comments as misogynistic.
Of course, I am not calling Gaz misogynistic. I believe it’s a matter of who the favourites are coupled with editing that makes the producer/judge favourites the most palatable for viewers.
Regardless, the show has a certain lack of inequality going on that’s not immediately obvious in most cases.
Indigenous ingredient challenge
This challenge sparked controversy on Twitter, and was something I discussed with family who watch the show.
In a wild choice, MasterChef featured a challenge where Indigenous ingredients were the hero of the dish. The guest chef for this challenge was an expert in the ingredients, however no Indigenous people were involved in the challenge, as far as the viewer is aware. I say this in that the chef was Scottish, and was the only person talking to the contestants about the flavours.
It was hard to speculate on valid reasons why an Indigenous person wasn’t involved, not even to stand with the guest chef and discuss the ingredients with the contestants.
Really, they wouldn’t need to be a chef, even an elder of the local people, or just a local Indigenous person. With the cooking shows on NITV, it’s not as though it would be hard to find an Indigenous Australian chef. A quick google search shows several Indigenous chefs right off the bat.
It was a poor choice to not have an Indigenous voice on a cooking show using Indigenous ingredients. MasterChef is one of the biggest cooking competitions in Australia, and it feels impossible that they were unable to find a single Indigenous person who could have talked about the ingredients.
The major thing regarding Sandeep that irked me was the way he was treated when he had his back injury, and the subsequent treatment before he was eliminated.
Missed the Sandeep rant? Read it here.
The backstory for Kyle was that his partner was at home looking after their toddler son while being pregnant with twins.
This really gave me the shits.
Majority of the women, including those who were at the first episode, had put their passion of cooking on hold so as to raise their kids and look after their families.
For the most part, Kyle is already working in hospitality, working as a “brewery sales manager”. He wants to open a microbrewery where people can get food with their beer.
This just feels like one of those career ventures that doesn’t necessarily require MasterChef, more that requires him going to cooking classes or doing some work experience, or opening his own microbrewery and just doing it anyway, maybe hiring a chef.
What really shit me was leaving his heavily pregnant partner. He decided NOW was the time to apply to MasterChef. He continuously said that he was risking not being there for his twins being born, and acknowledged he could be missing a lot.
If that was my partner, I would be so mad. This is a goal that could be put off a year or two, once the kids are born, and there’s a support network set up in a way that it’s feasible to go away for however long to pursue this passion.
Let’s cast our mind back to the first episode. Gina, a 61 year old woman, said being a mother and grandmother is her greatest achievement. She had put off cooking because her husband wasn’t supportive at all. She’d filled in the paperwork to be a chef, but never submitted it because he didn’t want her to.
It’s funny to see such a stark difference in contestant morals. Gina did what was best for her family. Kyle did whatever he wanted, and left his pregnant partner at home with he chance he wouldn’t be back in time for the birth.
But don’t worry. When he was eliminated, his Where Are They Now? revealed he managed to get home in time for his twin daughter’s birth.