TV Review: MasterChef


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Someone wins something.

Favourite wins MasterChef
A yoga-practising IT consultant from Raglan has been crowned winner of MasterChef New Zealand 2013 when Aaron Brunet outcooked runner up Paula Saengthian-Ngam by just one point in last night’s grand final.

Brunet, 45, had been the favourite throughout the show’s 17-episode schedule, beating hundreds of hopefuls and 15 other finalists.

His culinary prowess secured him more than $100,000 of prizes, including a Skoda Superb luxury car, $15,000 of designer kitchen appliances, $5000 in kitchenware, a year’s supply of wine, $20,000 of groceries and an exclusive cookbook deal.

In the two-hour finale aired last night on TV One, Brunet and Saengthian-Ngam, 35, faced a taste test before cooking three complex dishes comprising a three-course meal.

I don’t watch MasterChef. I don’t watch much food porn to be honest. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the skill that goes into making exquisite dishes, it’s just that I don’t give a flying shit about it.

No matter how it goes in, all food tends to come out the same way. Let’s remember that before we get too precious about it shall we? This isn’t a review about the minutiae of cooking techniques and heating requirements for the perfect melding of this ingredient with that because I didn’t watch the series or much of the final as I channel surfed, it’s more about the societal context this TV show plays in.

What astounds me is the dichotomy of so many NZers who watch this kind of food porn and the 270 000 NZ children living in poverty.

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I think of those cold homes when MasterChef screens. I think of those children who will never taste any of the food that is so desperately and frenetically worked on with all the middle class angst of getting your kid into the best private school.

I wonder what those hungry children and those damp, freezing households think about as our TV Networks increasingly cut back on current affairs in favour of this kind of food porn?

Do they in spastic jealous frustration ever lick the TV screen?

I wonder what competitive kitchen challenges championed by neurotic leafy suburban chefs juxtaposed with the hatred vomited out by racist cartoons attacking those who can never afford to eat those dishes says about us as a society?


  1. I guess I’m one of the minority people talk about – I’ve never watched these so called reality shows. They all make me sick to my stomach – the only one I used to enjoy was Top Town for the first couple of years back in the day.

  2. u sound like a middle clASS guy also sitting in middle class ville speculating on what poor people are up to. should you go and ask them? the point is good but don’t objectify the people you are discussing in the same way the cartoon did last week.

    the diet of crap served on tv just normalizes the values of the rich, if i believed whist i was presented by our tv, poor people steal paua and make their grotty homes more grotty, while driving too fast on the motorway, while english white men get a space set aside for them on EVERY reality show to be a rude or patronising judge, often to non white people, just like they are in real life

  3. Yesterday, I made 15 litres of high protein soup with dried and fresh vegetables and bacon bones, for $13 (retail and farmers garden prices), and a little electricity. It was delicious. It would feed a lot of kids. Why don’t we have this option on prime time?

  4. Yesterday, I made 15 litres of high protein soup with dried and fresh vegetables and bacon bones, for $13 (retail and farmers garden prices), and a little electricity. It was delicious. It would feed a lot of kids. Why don’t we have this option on prime time? (Forgot to add-the price would have been lower if it did not have to meet gluten free dietary restrictions).

  5. Agreed. Too many cooking programmes – probably the cheapest programmes to produce. Quite dull viewing, not much point if you can’t afford the fancy ingredients, what’s it to me? Rather tormenting.

    Never watch MasterChef, there’s one cooking programme on Choice TV; three contestants who compete to reproduce the cuisine of indigenous peoples around the world – a more refreshing format I suppose – they hunt/forage the ingredients then are judged by a panel of indigenous judges. All-right I guess. That River Cottage guy is all-right to watch if you’re into producing your own food.

    While I respect all those hungry kids, there are many more people out there with inadequate diets. The way things are going maybe one day there will be a place for a cooking show instructing people how to make meals from grass, weeds and garbage scraps.

  6. Slightly off topic but I’ve noticed that the general population of New Zealand seems to be losing its cooking mojo. In my parent’s generation everyone seemed to be at okay at baking but now I find a surprisingly large number of people who attempt to bake don’t seem to be able to produce something tasty. The cakes etc at fairs and markets often look nice, but generally speaking they don’t rate much above a five out of ten. For the most part, commercial baked products taste better, unless the baker is genuinely talented.

    • Yeah imo the meteoric rise in the popularity of cooking shows is inversely proportional to amount of time spent by the avergae Joe doing actual cooking. Every middle-classer seems to have (or want) high-price kitchens, with 6-burner stoves and granite benchtops etc, but none of them actually do much genuine cooking these days, opting instead to watch others do it.

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