I admit it, I’m a Masterchef fan, I watched the Australian show and I’ve just watched the grand final of our home grown version (can someone tell me the difference between a final and a grand final?) and I have to admit to getting a wee bit emotional for both contestants .
But then I ask myself why…..why I would watch a show like this week after week, I’ve been in this industry for over 25 years, I know how hard it can be, do I really want to see these optimistic innocents being put through horrific tasks in front of the nation, watch their stress levels reach life threatening levels, watch their best efforts, at worst, torn apart (shame on you Peter Thornley) or maybe even harder still, being dismissed as bland or uninspired. And waiting through those hideous pregnant pauses was downright inhumane for all concerned.
Now I consider myself to be quite an empathetic person and every week I’ve felt their pain, their stress, their disappointment, their time pressure and their pure frustration, So WHY did I put myself through it? Am I just a sucker for punishment?
Well many would say that if you choose to go into the hospitality industry, that has to be one of your main personality traits, after all, talk to any Chef and they will happily regale you with a long list of terrible tales about the workplace, which not only seem draconian but absolutely against all civil rights imaginable.
And then I realised, I watched for the Naked Chef effect… all that joyful enthusiasm, all that passion when you start to learn how to really cook. The amazing comradery of a commercial kitchen, the thrill of a great nights service, it all came back to me, but is that what most viewers see?
Glimpsing our world through the TV has become a huge industry, with whole channels being devoted to cooking shows alone, but it’s really only these competitions that give you any insight of what it’s really like starting off in this industry, the sheer terror of your first day in a big kitchen and all the hard things about the job. But then they also capture the moment, the contestants faces, when a judge smiles…you feel the elation, the pride, the pure joy in their achievement, and that’s what keeps them (and us) in the game .
So sitting here tonight, seeing the admiration on my 11 year olds face, as he realised I could make him a Croquembouche, made me remember why I love this maddening difficult and very unglamorous trade so much.
it’s addictive, because, If you do your job right, you can create something , a small piece of magic, that can put a smile on any face, that’s why I watch Masterchef, to see contestants put themselves through great travails for the chance to make people happy every day, what a job description!
P.S The timeframe for the Croquembouche construction is now in negotiation, how much dog walking/chore doing is a choux puff worth? Maybe this could be the next Big Mac index? We will see….