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‘Masterchef’: the alternative to sport

| Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Theresa Tulsiak

Seldom does a television series manage to bring quality amateur cooking, drama and competition together cohesively.

“Chopped” seems to focus too much on the competition, and the quality of the food suffers as a result. “Hell’s Kitchen” appears to be too focused on the food and the particular since it is a competition between professionals instead of amateurs. “The Bachelor” and its ‘–ette‘ counterpart bring together drama and competition without anyone ever stepping foot in a kitchen, let alone making food.

One show stands out from the rest. One series is able to do the unthinkable. Keep you on the edge of your seat, while your mouth waters and your competitive instinct is activated. “Masterchef” is that show.

Titles, however, can be misleading. The goal of “Masterchef” is not to find the best cook in America. Whoever that is, likely resides in a successful kitchen and is much too busy to bother himself/herself with a juvenile cooking “game show.” The series instead focuses on finding America’s best amateur chef — the most impressive cook whose experience does not go beyond the walls of their own home kitchen.

The amateur nature of “Masterchef” is precisely what makes it so entertaining. The contestants will be tasked with cooking something like venison and, odds are, many will never have worked with it. Dishes will fail; someone will forget a crucial step in a recipe. Mistakes are commonplace and add to the uncertainty of the show. In “Masterchef,” Gordon Ramsay is not cooking against other top chefs in an attempt to see who can reach perfection in the most unique way. The show is instead concerned with the question of whether anyone at all can come near to perfection.

As quarantine has progressed and my days have grown idler, “Masterchef” has become a part of my daily ritual. Each night as the sun goes down, my Smart TV resurrects. I sink into my couches with my roommates; we place bets, hold our breath and watch the drama unfold for as many hour-long episodes as our eyes and sleeping schedules permit.

Perhaps it is an absence of sport that has led us to become so invested in episodes that were filmed nearly ten years ago now, but we can’t seem to stop watching. None of us can cook anything that wouldn’t get spit back in our faces by the judges. But, nevertheless, we love sitting back in our chairs and judging each contestant’s food, determining their fate before the judges do so themselves.

“Masterchef” can be your March Madness, your Bachelor in Paradise, your escape from isolation during this period of never-ending quarantine. For whatever reason, seeing twenty people cook in ways that aren’t overly complicated and cut each other’s throats so they can get enough money to start a catering business or a food truck is quite entertaining. The show attracts more narcissists, nut-cases and kids with silver spoons in their mouth than any professional sports league or other organization that one would expect to house such personality types.

“Masterchef” is currently available to watch on Hulu. If you don’t have a subscription, however, it is worth scouring the internet to find an illegal bootleg. After all, watching a casual series on Netflix doesn’t exactly satisfy that need for competition that sports has instilled in most of us, does it?

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