I love food. With the recent series of the ultimate foodie competition My Kitchen Rules consistently attracting more than a million viewers for each episode, it seems my food fascination is shared by many other Australians.
And yes, I like to cook. But that’s where I part company with the talented foodies who pitted their cooking wits against the other teams on My Kitchen Rules. While they were delighted with a long list of ingredients and making curry icecream with braised parsnip, or an unusual sorbet with poached pears, if a dish has more than six ingredients, it gets the flick in the kitchen where I rule.
Pondering the success of MKR, I realised that our fascination with food was already well established in biblical times, with God saying, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (Genesis chapter 9, verse 3).
Skip forward to the New Testament, and Jesus tells us, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink” (Matthew chapter 25, verse 35).
And the early Christians weren’t going to be left off the food fascination bandwagon either, as after being baptised “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts chapter 2, verse 42).
MKR might have been light on the prayer aspect, but food was certainly worshipped in this race to the top of the leader board, and the individual team’s reactions to others’ work varied greatly.
Competition seemed to bring out the best and worst in those involved. Many of the competing cooks genuinely hoped that the dishes created by other participants would be successful, while judges Manu Feidel and Pete Evans tried to give support and constructive criticism.
Reality series like MKR seem designed to bring out the best and worst in human nature. One of the most heartwarming epsiodes was where mother and daughter combo Valerie and Courtney moved us by re-creating their beloved patriarch’s recipes, and it was a joy to see that the judges were onside. But where there is television sunshine, there must also be stormy weather, and one episode with self-proclaimed (and later eliminated) seafood king Josh stood out in my mind.
This young man seems to have grown up without spending enough time in the naughty corner for bad behaviour, responding with ‘Thanks s***!’ when competitor Amy presented him with his entrée. While Josh insisted it was a joke, his fellow cooks were shocked, and I reflected that, while 30 years ago we may have accepted his explanation, today that kind of comment is socially unacceptable, and that was certainly the opinion of the table.
At the end of the day, this was (un)reality television, where the recipe for success was to mix controversy and cooking to get those million-plus ratings.