MASTERCHEF’S MATT PRESTON SERVES UP A CHALLENGE TO CONTESTANTS
You’ve probably seen the ads for MasterChef flooding your TV screens. Series three contestant Hayden Quinn pops up and says, with the current calibre of cooks, he’s not sure if he’d stack up had he been on this season.
So is that the case? Would earlier season cooks struggle now? Judge Matt Preston thinks so.
“I think on the face (of it), absolutely,” he says.
“We were joking not long ago that in this season we had the Anna Polyviou firecracker – it looks almost like a cartoon roadrunner stick of dynamite – then we looked at season one where we had sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce. That’s a dramatic change.
“We’ve had really good cooks, but a lot of changes in the past few years.”
But it’s no coincidence that the ante is continually upped. Matt says the show itself inspired a whole generation of cooks – some of whom are now on the show.
“From season six we put a lot more effort into the casting,” he says.
“We actually chased people down at farmers’ markets and cooking schools, we looked for people who were talented and that’s paid off.
“This year a big thing is that, nine seasons in, two of the best contestants both started cooking after watching MasterChef – they’re only 18 years old.
“So we’re really reaping what we sow.
“Kids are no longer daggy in the kitchen, they want to cook stuff they see in Masterclass.”
Matt says, if people’s intentions are pure, their lives can and will be changed by taking part in MasterChef – and that doesn’t mean a hosting gig on a local radio show. “The real challenge on TV these days is what it’s about,” he says.
“Is reality TV about changing your life or is it about being on telly to translate into a media career?
“The great thing about MasterChef is so many contestants just want to cook.
“You see so many alumni post show – whether it’s running a website or writing a book or opening a cafe or managing a restaurant.
“You don’t have to win for the whole thing to be a win.”
But, of course, you want your favourite to win, and sitting at home watching on television we all develop our favourites.
So do the judges, Matt says, but they’ll never let that affect their decisions.
“As judges we have the most simple of judging criteria: best dish wins,” he says.
“No matter how you feel about a cook you’ve got to be true to who you are. We like to refer to ourselves as Game of Thrones – you honestly do not know who’s going to go.
“You think everything is all fine but then you’ve got a red wedding on your hands.
“The Hollywood formula is reassuring as a cup of tea but you’re certainly not on the edge of your seat.”
MasterChef season nine, Sunday 7pm, Monday to Thursday 7.30pm, Channel 10
MasterChef judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan are savouring the reality TV show’s latest season.