Thursday, 16 July 2009


“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.” - Joe Paterno

I suppose it would be remiss of me not to mention on this “Food Friday”, the finals of the Australian MasterChef TV program. Although I do not watch the show, it is very hard to escape the publicity it generates. Last night saw the elimination of a Melbourne contender and it is now a battle between the last two remaining contestants, NSW mother-of-three, Julie Godwin against Po Ling Yeow, an Adelaide artist. Apparently 2.36 million viewers tuned into the show last night, giving Channel 10 a ratings buzz. This is the fourth consecutive episode where MasterChef has won the ratings battle with competing channels.

The moral of the story is that food-related content sells. It sells on TV, in bookshops, on radio, in newspapers and magazines, on the internet. Food is such an integral part of our culture and of our life that it is an inescapable component of our existence. People apparently not only enjoy eating food, they also like to read about it, watch it being prepared, listen to people talking about it. We are all willing to experiment, try out new recipes, taste new dishes and tempt our jaded palates with new and thrilling combinations of ingredients.

The plethora of cooking programs on TV is matched by the countless cookbooks that are published every day, it seems. It is not by chance then, that the Australian MasterChef challenge centres around the contestants cooking recipes they would love to include in the first cookbook they will have published after their victory… Do you detect a marketing spin-off, here? Could this lead perhaps to a future TV cooking program where the winning contestant will continue the success generated by the publicity around the program?

I occasionally watch as a podcast the cooking program “The Cook and the Chef”, with Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant respectively. This program for the most part makes me cringe. I find the chef revolting as he must touch everything with his fingers, even when he doesn’t need to. His palpatory adventures apparently give him a high. The absolute revulsion is to see him eat the cooked food with his fingers (often getting burnt in the process, or having goo running down his wrists as he gulps down the food he tastes). I was expecting him to eat soup with his fingers in one of the episodes. I find most of the recipes he gives uninspiring and his manner is annoying, his mannerisms irritating. I guess you can say I am not a Simon Bryant fan.

Maggie Beer, as the cook, is much more sensible, although her association with the chef is contaminating her gentility! She used not to touch ingredients and food, but lately she is getting as bad as Simon. Maggie’s recipes tend to be more appealing and they do not depend so much on the effect a chef strives for. Lately I have gone off the program in a major way and will not watch it in the future, I think (for the reasons stated above, but mainly the disgusting handling of everything and the non-washing of hands – I haven’t seen them wash their hands once!).

I have blogged before about TV chefs, so I’ll stop myself promptly here. My palate has become quite jaded and I will not stomach many more of these programs or swallow any more of these unpalatable celebrity chefs. I like good food (increasingly of late, the simpler the food the better; the fresher it is of course, the more appealing I find it), but my life doesn’t revolve around it and gastronomic indulgences are not my style. In terms of your own taste, bon appétit to you if TV cooking is your thing!


  1. I enjoy cooking shows Nicholas. They always give me ideas for something to cook.