I have never been even marginally interested by the idiotic reality television programs dished out by the networks over the years.
You know the programs: the sexually pedestrian Big Brother; the incompetent and loathsome yuppies in The Apprentice; the anal and racist Customs officers in Border Control and the pop-deluded maniacal wannabes in Australian Idol.
Most of these ‘real-life’ programs are cheap in style and in substance meaningless, even by the low standards of commercial television.
Yet, MasterChef was a pleasing experience. I grew to admire all the contestants and developed a healthy respect for the chefs and food critics.
I salivated at the array of foods, from the congee with squid ink noodles and century egg, the roast pig’s head, to Calombaris’ complex kakavia (Greek fish soup) and Mehigan’s rich and dark beef Bordeaux.
All the contestants from the sharp and tantalising Poh, the genteel Geni, Chris with his mutton chop sideburns, the angelic Justine, to the final winner, the wholesome and flustered Julie impressed me with their passion and love for food.
Even Andre, with his passive-aggressive demeanour, understood the deeper nature of gnocchi.
Why? Because one cannot hide with food!
Personality, looks, behaviour and attitude, has little to do with food.
Food must taste good and, where possible, look good, in order to make it. Food is what connects us all.
I admired the multiculturalism of the participants and warmed to the fact that many of the contestants had a deep appreciation, love and understanding of diverse foods.
Most of all, I loved the politically incorrect use of all ingredients.
The great range of meats and poultry, the seafood, (some of it still live), the double folded cream, the sugar, the spices and abundant use of butter and oil.
I also warmed to the four regular hosts. The gastronome and The Age food critic Matt Preston; the ascetic food master Gary Mehigan; the earthy and strangely cute, George Calombaris and the divine Sarah Wilson.
I sat glued each night waiting to see Matt Preston’s eyes close in his faux post-coital visage as he forked something in his mouth that he liked.
I yearned to hear the direct but carrying Gary Mehigan as he advised participants.
And our own, George Calombaris who, regardless of his mauling of the English language, (like many of us dyslexic Greek Aussies), has been able to lift Greek food to the status of haute cuisine.
Television has not been the same without MasterChef. Things have not been as dark for me in TV land since the end of The Sopranos.