By Dashmeet Kaur
Food and I, have always shared a close bond. It’s one thing that wouldn’t taunt you or betray you or nonetheless, smite you. Being a food lover, I’ve always admired food shows on television. There is something infinitely comforting about getting all cosy on a lazy afternoon for half an hour or so and watch someone weave magic in front of your eyes and all you go is like “Wow what a feast for all your senses!”(even if it’s far than reality).
There are shows like Food Safari, Nigella’s Kitchen etc that take you from one exotic location after another, show the varied dishes that you’ve never seen, heard of, or even imagine. And you get a vicarious taste of the world, thanks to the intrepid host, as you watch half-gaping half-drooling from your couch.
The most intriguing part of shows like these are that the dishes are the stars and the meals are extremely mouth-watering. The entire point is to appreciate the tastes in all its infinite variety. The hosts stand right in front of you, teasing the flavours and aromas and of course, to gulp it down their throat on your behalf. What’s not to love?
And then there are shows like Masterchef India, which takes the art of cooking and suck all the joy out of it so that rather than taking food in all its life-affirming glory, they just hopelessly turn it into an act of sole humiliation and as an instrument of mental torture because where’s the fun without that? It snatches away all the pleasure that you derive from feeding people, leaving out gut-wrenching anxiety in its wake. It appears less of a cooking contest and more of a who-smacks-whom-contest leaving one deserving winner in the battleground of spices. No seriously, what’s not to hate?
The too Punjabi Kunal Kapoor and Ajay Kapoor sure seem to summarize every Punjabi stereotype possible: loud, brash, rude and with little redeeming charm or talent; for example “The fish is so raw! It’s still finding NEMO!!!” Ah but nobody can beat Gordon Ramsay since he has made bullying a fine art.
On the other hand, Khanna is a pretty boy and very camera-friendly than his co-hosts but he makes you miss Akshay Kumar. Where the latter displayed humor and charm, Khanna reminds you of Neil Nitin Mukesh. There is potential, yet he manages to miss the mark for some hard-to-pinpoint reason. Anyway ours is not to wonder why. Ours is to just watch and cry. And appreciate Masterchef Australia all the more.
It’s definitely fun to watch amateur chefs make food by this sort of industrial perfection and watching them evolve through the show is an inspiration for not just inspiring chefs, but anyone in general what I fail to perceive is the contamination of the food (which would have otherwise delivered with love and warmth) by tension and stress.
Instead of serving it with utmost satisfaction and wide smiles, it’s often served with a not-so-appealing appetizer of tears that the contestants shed because of the fear of elimination from a competition. In one of the episodes, after praying for culinary prowess, the contestants start chopping as the judges walk by and wallop the contestants on their back as a sign that they had made it to the next round. Nobody lost a finger or turned and stabbed one of the judges was most disappointing to watch.
I’m pretty sure that all of them are worthy people who deserve to make it big BUT the lashings of emotional manipulation thrown into the masala is what makes my eyebrows waggle; Ask them why they’re on the show. They cry. Tell them they made it to the next round. They cry. Nearly every participant has a hard luck story and all the things about how nervous they get in a professional kitchen and the constant sword of elimination hanging above their heads : honestly, it leaves me cold.
Leaving all the things aside, It’s the fact that ‘cooking’ which is supposed to be fun and relaxing is showcased being super-stressful where you watch participants fret and fume, or go into full-on meltdown mode. The casting criteria sure seems to be the same as Indian Idol. All these praying and more things finally pushed me over the edge and almost cured me of my indulgence in cooking, at least for a while.