Masterchef – a love or hate relationship

Julie says –

At the risk of outing myself as the only person in Australia who hasn’t enjoyed watching Masterchef, I feel the need to add some thoughts about what I feel about the show.

For my whole working life I’ve been involved with either treating or preventing diet-related ill health.  The reasons we choose to eat what we eat are many and complex but we do know that the prevailing food culture, and our food knowledge and cooking skills play a role in helping to choose and eat a healthy diet.

When I say this, I’m talking about the basics – knowing about where foods come from, how to shop for and purchase nutritious foods, how to make good use of the excellent variety of foods we have available, how to use a knife and how to prepare and cook basic foods.

Masterchef might help to get us more interested in food but in most cases it’s not the sort of food we should be choosing on a daily basis – rich meals, high in fat, using gourmet, expensive ingredients.  It also gives the message that you have to be an accomplished chef to be able to get decent food on the table. And, really, let’s not fool ourselves – the aim isn’t to educate but to entertain – something that I guess it’s done really well – but don’t expect a healthier population. Give me Jamie’s School Dinners any day!!

Renza says –

We’re big foodie types in our house. There is a lot of baking and cooking and learning about food and shopping for food and sharing of food.  It’s how I was brought up, and it’s how I am bringing up my daughter.

So, we watch Masterchef together as a family. Often, we see a recipe on the show and decide to prepare it. Together, we sit down, find the recipe, my daughter writes the shopping list and we shop and cook. We talk about food in terms of something to enjoy, share and as a source of nourishment. We don’t attach taboos to it and we don’t use words like good and bad. Cooking shows open dialogue about food and give it a healthy place in our lives.

Some criticism about programmes like this is regarding the level of butter and other fats used in the cooking of the dishes. But knowledge of food and an understanding of recipes allows the home cook to adapt, make small changes and reduce the fat content if desired. My daughter’s understanding of food – where it comes from, how things are made, alternatives to packaged foods – will only assist her to build an arsenal of recipes to cook as she gets older. Jamie Oliver says that by the time kids leave home they need to be able to cook five meals . My seven-year old can do that now. She will not have to rely on take-away, fast foods or two minute noodles.

In our family’s philosophy about food and eating, Masterchef is but one part of the picture. We add to it by reading cookbooks, shopping together and discussing ingredients. Settling in together on the couch to check what’s on the menu at Masterchef has been a really enjoyable way for our family to an important dialogue about good food. The only downside is cooking dinner for some newly enthusiastic food critics!

Who do you think is right, Julie or Renza?


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