I love Masterchef South Africa. There I said it. I know that I run the risk of losing some serious man points by making this confession, but at this stage of my life I don’t really care. After secretly counting down the days until the start of season 3 it finally arrived and once again I was not disappointed.

What is it about this show that works so well?

Well for starters, it is extremely well produced. Compare Masterchef SA to the amateur hour that is SA Idols and you know what I mean. Secondly the judges know what they are doing and seem to be very honest in their assessments. The Masterchef judges are chefs and not budding celebrities although I do get worried when I see Peter Goff-Wood suddenly wearing a funky, pork pie hat, perhaps it is just a phase that will pass.

In this show, food rules! It is raw or cooked, dry or runny, tasty or bland. I do understand that we may have different tastes (that is why God invented Marmite), but generally good food is good food and bad food is McDonalds.

Idols and X-Factor judges are not judges, they are actors. Each one has their designated role to play. You always have to have the mean judge. Their meanness immediately confers some kind of wisdom, so everybody sucks up to them relentlessly. Then you have the counter-balance judge, whose role is to be to stand up to the mean judge, sometimes even confrontationally. And lastly you have the nurturing judge, who has to shed a tear when yet another loser tells their fake sad story and sings “The Wind Beneath My Wings” inevitably dedicated to someone who died.

Here you are judged on the food.

In fact, Masterchef SA seems to me to be the only aspect of life in this country which allows ordinary South Africans to relax and to be themselves. It is untainted by politics and our past. Good food prevails and it comes from the most surprising places.

For one hour each week, ordinary South Africans are allowed to be themselves and to compete on an even playing field. No quotas, no affirmative action, no politics; just food. It is so refreshing to see the unique personalities of the contestants emerge as the cream eventually begins to rise. Within about 5 minutes you stop seeing race.

I am waiting to hear some politician or Mara Louw complaining that we need a black winner, but until then, the contestants are given a platform to be creative and to be judged on the quality of a plate of food. And boy, how they shine!

The lesson that emerges is that we have such unbelievable talent and fine human capital in this country, but we do ourselves a disservice by covering everything with the stifling cloak of politics. If we let our spirits run free and stop looking at numbers and colours we will be amazed by what ordinary South Africans can achieve.

For one hour each week South Africa is a normal country and it is a joy to watch.


leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *