You probably haven't noticed, but there's a show on TV at the moment called MasterChef. It's on Channel 10, a few times a week actually. I know, I only just found out about it too – they've kept it really quiet.
Anyway I've started watching this show, and it's rather good. From what I've seen so far, it appears to be a documentary series about a support group for people who are frightened of food – in every episode at least one person tastes a dish and bursts into tears. In one episode last week about 25 people cried over pavlova – they had to call a counsellor in and everything.
OK, so I'm not fooling anyone. I love MasterChef. I'm addicted. I watch every episode, every night, and if my social life happens to get in the way and I miss one, I get on the MasterChef website and watch it there. (As I'm sure you've already guessed, my social life doesn't "get in the way" all that often).
I love the spills (red wine on floor!), the disasters (250 grams of mustard instead of two tablespoons in the beef wellington!), and the triumphs (anything that makes Matt Preston do THAT look).
Er, not quite this look but... well, this'll do.
However it's clear the producers have learned a lot from the first season, and have made some changes to the show. For starters, they ditched the dreary Australian Idol style cooking auditions (good move – it was dreadful first time round) and they've got a whole pantry full of super celebrity chefs lined up ready to grill the contestants over the coming weeks. Both are definite improvements on the format.
But what's seriously annoying me about the show this year is its increased focus on the contestants' "stories" - their families, their jobs, their struggles, their history. I just want to watch them cook, I don't want to know about their blind, one-legged, dyslexic uncle who encouraged them to "follow their passion". I want to see them stuff up a chocolate fondant, not wax on about how they want to "make their kids proud".
Not a segment goes by without someone breaking down over their blender, crying about their dear departed dad's salsa recipe, or wailing about how they want to "follow their dream". More tears have been shed in the first few weeks of MasterChef than at my local cinema's recent "Chick Flick Marathon" - and that included two screenings of Beaches.
So in order to make the cheesy moments of MasterChef more bearable, I have devised a fun drinking game you can play while it's on. While I don't condone excessive alcohol consumption I can say with some authority that the more you drink, the less ridiculous Matt Preston's cravats look.
WARNING: Excessive alcohol consumption will make this photograph look seductive.
DRINK A SHOT EVERY TIME...
- A contestant cries.
- A contestant tells a sob story about their family.
- Anyone uses the word “hero” in reference to an ingredient.
- Someone says "journey" in any context. Double shot when referring to the taste of a dish.
- Someone says “cooking is my passion/life/heart”.
- George says “X is cooked perfectly”.
- George says “yeah?”.
- George addresses the group, gesticulating wildly. Drink a double if he stands on his tiptoes.
- Someone pushes something through a sieve.
- Someone makes something in a “stack”.
- Someone describes a dish as “twice cooked”.
- Matt Preston wears odd coloured pants. Drink a double if they're paired with ludicrous shoes.
This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's TV Guide on May 2, 2010.