I have to confess, much as it surprises me, I haveÂ an addiction. Other than drinkingÂ daily copious amounts ofÂ tea, that is. It’s one that I really don’t want to give up, and I need my regular fix of it, like any addict. It doesn’t keep me awake at night, but it does become part of my day, particularly the latter part, after dark, when the curtains are closed, the lights go on, and I can enjoy my predilection for my particular addiction. That’s when I can sit down, and in a semi-dark room, I lean forward, expectantly, and watch avidly as the brightÂ images come into view, and the announcement is made…. “Tonight on Masterchef….” and I sit back, mug of hotÂ tea in hand, and probably a block of my favourite chocolate too (Galaxy, if you’re askin!) and I watch with an enormous amount of interest as the various professional chefs concoct, mix, chop, sear, roast, simmer, stir and arrange delicately the most exquisite of ingredients on a pure white plate, ready to serve to the judges Greg Wallace and Michael Roux junior. I don’t have a desire for the obvious. I love the see the food, but I don’t salivate at the thought of eating much of it – I’ve had some fabulous meals around the world, and enjoy the pleasure of eating lovely food, but this is far more, for me. Its about the presentation, of taking base products – if you can count the most succulent cuts of meat, the most tender of fish, and flavoursome of shellfish, the sweetest fruit and firmest vegetables as “base products” – taking those simple items and mixing them with other more exotic flavours of alcohol, spices, herbs,Â sublime bottledÂ flavours and exquisite flowers to decorate to create, well, a masterpiece. Not just of food, but of art. Its exquisite, its beautiful, its gorgeous and delightful, a revelation of what can be produced in a master kitchen. And I’m totally hooked on it, a most ardent fan! I’ve watched the last few weeks, as the programme unfolds over four nights a week, as the chefs compete against each other, preparing classic dishes, their own interpretations, cooking for the judges, restaurant critics, and Michellin Star chefs in top restaurants. And in virtually all ofÂ the cases I’ve seen the shining chef in each group, the one that has “THE TALENT”, the one who’s presentation is the better, the food is more subtle, more interesting, more, well, tasty. No obviously I can’t taste it for myself, all I can do is judge it for myself via the vicarious medium of television. But, I can appreciate where the main talent is, that’s for sure.
So that was why, when I sat down to watch it last night with my fella, that I said to him “They shouldn’t be putting these two chefs against each other, they’re the best two, neither should go”. He nodded in agreement,Â and we sat watchingÂ as the programme progressed. Me making more comments as the programme went on. At the end of the hour, when the judges make their decision, I could see that both were virtually as good as the other – it was going to be such a close run thing, how could they decide?! and how unfair, at this point, for one of them to go! NOOOOOooooo! That’s not right, they’re both worked their socks off! They’ve both created stunning food! They both can cookÂ exquisitely!
But, I know the rules.
One of them HAS to go.
That’s the way it is. And it’s never any different.
But, oh, what a huge, hugeÂ shame!
I sat there, with tears in my eyes, understanding the way each of them had slogged their guts out, had put their heart and soul into it, their passion, insight, their love, their calling, their ALL, into their dishes. And for one of them to leave at this point was grossly unfair. Grossly.
They were called back into the room, looking expectantly at the gimlet eyed judges stony faced and giving nothing away. Both young chefs were dry mouthed and nervously expectant. Then after a lengthly pause, the announcement came.
“We’ve made a decision”
“…….. We’ve decided that BOTH of you will go through to the final. We’ve changed the rules of Masterchef, because you BOTH deserve to go through!”
Their faces were a picture, as they realised these young chefs that they both were being given an amazing chance to win the prize, the ultimate Master Chef prize. YES! And I nodded in total agreement, YES! That’s the way it should be, the right answer indeed! Tears filled my eyes, and I turned to my fella, and said “YES! Right decision! Absolutely the right decision!!!” And over the course of the night, I kept reiterating the point, much to his slightly bemused amusement at my passion for it.
And do you know why I’m so pleased that the changed the rules? Well, partly, because it gave them both the chance to go forward to the final. But, mostly because what they areÂ are basically artists. They don’t mix paint, they don’t use brushes, but they do create art on a plate, in exactly the same way I start with a blank piece of paper or canvas, they start with a pristine plate, and dress it with their best ability and creative talent as they mix the food and flavours together to create the most divine pieces of art, to be viewed briefly, theÂ scents mingling in the nose, and Â then after they have been devoured by the eyes, they are devoured by the mouth as the flavours hit the back of the tongue, and each exquisite item adds to the sensual enjoyment of the participant. Â As art in the same way adds to the viewers enjoyment, makes their life just a bit better, more exquisite, more in tune with the world. And artÂ HAS changed the rules. The enjoyment of it, shouldn’t be regimented. It should be free to enhance the world, to bring happiness, and delight. That’s why I was so pleased. I saw the art, and the changes it brought.
How wonderfully and totally inspiring!