Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Counts More on MasterChef: Presentation or Flavor?

I'm trying to figure this out. Last night, Lynn and Jonny made French macarons as their pressure test, and Jonny was eliminated, ostensibly because his macarons looked bad and he had smashed the box he put them in trying to close it in a moment of frustration. I don't buy the idea that they need someone who can handle the pressure of a kitchen because, honestly, the prize here is not running a restaurant, it's writing a cookbook. I still maintain that, despite the show's insistence that this program is an American institution that permeates every aspect of our lives, being the winner of the American MasterChef is more or less meaningless. From a cultural standpoint, that is.

So, Lynn's cookies were pretty. Beautiful, even. But they complained so much about the flavor, and praised Jonny's flavor over his presentation. And Jonny was eliminated, so... are they looking for pretty food more than they are food that actually tastes good? I mean, what's a beautiful presentation worth if it doesn't taste good? The point of food is still actually eating it, right? Or has that changed now, too?

Of course, at all times I'm still wondering if the cooking isn't completely beside the point, anyway, and the producers just gradually decide who is going to be the winner based on who is the best sell: the one with the most appealing story (overcoming blindness, being a wunderkind) and, apparently, who's the prettiest and most pleasant. I think this idea of making it a good, sensationalized story is why we have situations like the one several weeks ago when Sasha Foxx was eliminated right out of the gate instead of Howard, even though Howard's food was apparently so offensive that Joe threw it in the trash before the judges could even taste it. It's typical TV logic: "Howard's food was so bad I wouldn't even deign to eat it, so let's send the 42 year-old black woman home."

Anyway, going by past MasterChef logic, Jessie's the obvious winner this season. She's blonde, she's pretty, Gordon seems to have a massive, blood-draining hard-on for her, so I'll be surprised if she's not at least in the final three. She seems pleasant enough, just a bit bland, and I find the constant attempts to make a sellable story out of "privileged Southern belle" rather ridiculous. Nothing against her personally, I just don't find her very interesting, and Gordon's constant insistence that her overcoming her privileged roots is compelling and trying to impose the whole Southern cooking character on her all that convincing. Sasha was from the South, too, and she had a personality, just saying. Not that they were ever going to have someone in their forties get that far on this show, I mean, come on. (Sarcasm. I feel bad that I should have to point that out, but there's always someone.)

I don't know, maybe if we saw more cooking and less of Russell Crowe, Big Bopper and Joffrey Bastianich having their pissy little meltdowns I'd think differently. But no, the three judges are really the kind of people I'd like to spend more time with. (Yeah, sarcasm.)

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