Cooking up a storm

Reality TV shows started to become a staple part of TV in Australia from around the early 2000s and they remain popular. Many reality TV shows in Australia rely on racy and controversial content to gain an audience. Take for example reality TV shows that involve strangers getting married to each other, or good-looking people choosing from a group of 'hopefuls' to start a romantic relationship with. While the drama of such shows can be very enticing to many, I am personally not interested in this line of reality TV. Thankfully, there are also many types of far more wholesome and feel-good reality TV shows.
My favourite reality TV show by far is Masterchef Australia. Masterchef is a cooking competition in which thousands of hopeful amateur cooks apply. After a difficult audition process, ultimately 24 contestants are selected to participate in the competition. So far there have been 11 seasons of Masterchef Australia (season 11 is screening currently) and each season is a little different. However, to give you a general overview of how the show is structured, in general there are 5 episodes per week, each featuring a particular theme or type of challenge. For example, there is the weekly 'mystery box challenge' in which contestants must make a delicious meal using one or more ingredients from a box of ingredients that is revealed to them shortly before they have to start cooking, and a selection of 'under the bench staples' such as flour and sugar. This is often followed in the same episode by an 'invention test' in which contestants can choose ingredients from the pantry to quickly come up with an interesting and inventive dish. Thinking on the spot is definitely an essential skill to be successful in this competition! Team challenge episodes are often the most interesting episodes of the week as contestants head out of the Masterchef kitchen to work in teams to do some amazing things. So far, team challenges have ranged from running a kid's birthday party to cooking a thank-you feast for a farmer to catering for a United Nations event in the US! Other episodes are generally comprised of an immunity challenge, in which contestants who have performed well have a chance to cook against a professional chef in order to win an 'immunity pin'. This pin enables them to sit out of an 'elimination challenge' of their choice. Elimination challenges happen once or twice a week and the loser of these challenges has to leave the competition. Like any competition the aim is to win, and the winner receives the Masterchef trophy, a bunch of money and their very own cookbook.
Now, why do I like this show so much? Well, there are many reasons. Surprising enough, I am not actually interested in cooking, however, it is nevertheless fascinating to see the different creations that the contestants come up with to meet the brief of each challenge. Watching them cook doesn't inspire me to cook but it sure does make me feel hungry sometimes! Another reason I like Masterchef Australia is the opportunity it gives you to get to know the contestants and also see them build really strong friendships with each other. One season of the show can go for over 60 episodes so you really do spend a lot of time with the contestants and become somewhat attached to them. Even though it is a competition, in the case of Masterchef Australia, the show does not have a strong competitive feeling and the contestants don’t come across as being very competitive either. Rather, they are like one big family, and they support each other. Each contestant wants to win, but they also want their fellow contestants to do well and there is a genuine sense of sadness when someone gets eliminated. I think that probably many people have become life-long friends through the show and through their common love of food. The caring and supportive feel of the show makes it a really positive and feel-good show to watch. I can't recommend it highly enough!


staple (noun) – a main or important element of something
wholesome (adjective) – good for you and likely to improve your life either physically, morally, or emotionally
amateur (noun) – a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis
on the spot (idiom) – at that very moment; right away without any prior preparation
feel-good (adjective) – causing happy and positive feelings about life