Half a year later, Masterchef Season 6 made its way onto my screen. Speak of lack of things to watch! Masterchef is a cooking show, starring the “ruthless” Gordon Ramsay, where home cooks fight their way to winning a quarter of a million dollars, a cookbook and the Masterchef trophy (and obviously title). Contestants typically go through four events:
- The Mystery Box Challenge.
Contestants haven’t a clue what’s in the box but have to use the ingredients given in that box in order to win an advantage in the elimination test and they do not have to cook in The Elimination Test.
- The Elimination Test.
The winner of The Mystery Box Challenge gets to choose from a series of options of what to make the other contestants cook or do. This is not limited to choosing the ingredients they cook with, assigning contestants to teams, or even saving contestants. The two winners of this test get to be the leaders of The Team Challenge while the loser goes home.
- The Team Challenge.
Contestants are divided into two teams: the red team and the blue team. Usually held off-site, they have to prepare meals for a large number of people. The winning team is safe from elimination while the losing team goes right to The Pressure Test.
- The Pressure Test.
Members of the losing team have to cook very technical dishes, often assigned to them, to impress the judges. The loser of this challenge goes home.
Masterchef Season 6 saw an incredible pool of cooking talents in the Masterchef kitchen. By the time the Top 10 came around, it was extremely difficult to decide who was the better cook, based on what we were shown on TV. Every contestant had his/her own strengths, some more than others. It was not until the last four contestants that the judgement of the three pillars of Masterchef, Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Christina Tosi started to look fishy.
Derrick Peltz, a stellar drummer turned chef and Stephen Lee, a mouthy gardener who outperformed himself, were safe from elimination, leaving Claudia Sandoval, a single mother passionate about Mexican food and Nick Nappi, the underdog who always managed to produce excellent dishes, to fend for themselves. The challenge, given by Christina Tosi, was to bake and decorate an overly complicated malted chocolate cake in 90 minutes. Both contestants had difficulties – Nick had to adjust proportions and produced a smaller cake while Claudia did not finish decorating her cake. Additionally, it seemed like the frosting between the layers of her cake was lacking.
The three judges tried her cake and all commented that it tasted good, despite the obvious failure at decorating it. When Christina Tosi went to try Nick’s cake (an almost perfectly decorated cake), she nodded, commented about the appearance, did not say another word to him on the taste, went back to the two other judges and said that his cake “had something that was not quite right”. Now, visually, Nick’s cake was a winner and unfortunately, viewers cannot pretend to be able to tell what the cake tasted like. Christina’s move very much looked like she was trying to tell the other two judges to lean towards Claudia. As compared to former instances they judged, they all voiced their opinions out loud, except for this one moment. From there on, it was clear that they had a favorite. This was only confirmed by the finale (let’s conveniently skip the part where Stephen’s steak-frites were better than Claudia’s).
Throughout the competition, Derrick offered viewers a plethora of his culinary abilities. He proved that he was well versed in countless different cuisines and more importantly, he always executed well with a presentation worthy of five-star restaurants. He does not just cook food, he makes art on a plate. The dishes he presented for the finale were nothing short of that. His cooking was the embodiment of finesse and his technique was flawless. He took major risks during the finale. After all, the judges always chant about how it is of the utmost importance to go outside one’s comfort zone in the final stages of the competition and he excelled at that. All the dishes he presented were Masterchef worthy. His whole journey on Masterchef makes him worthy of that trophy …but he did not win it.
Claudia, an equally talented cook, won the competition by making Mexican dishes. Props to her for shining the light on Mexican food and showing a number of ways to elevate simple Mexican food to fine dining. However, all throughout the competition, every time she had free range on what to cook, she made …Mexican or latin food. Does this sound like venturing out of one’s comfort zone? Should a Masterchef not embody diversity (hah!), hence the name Master? Why not rename it NicheChef since they clearly made a major exception for the latina who elevates everyday MEXICAN food.
Though her win was undeserved in the eyes of many viewers, it is not fair to bash Claudia. She did not have a hand in the final say of the three judges. From the very beginning, albeit sticking to her latina roots, Claudia has proven to be a very strong cook. She had a very stable journey, making latin food. Then again, she always said she wanted to stick to her roots and shine the light on latin food. She wanted to be the first latina to win Masterchef and she was. Were she facing a different contestant in the finale, the win would absolutely be hers. She cooks with her heart and soul and it can be seen that she pours some of herself in every dish that she makes.
The unfairness lies in Derrick Pletz being robbed of the opportunity and rewards that he worked so hard for and completely deserved. From a purely technical standpoint, the plates that Derrick presented during the finale were better than Claudia’s. They were better visually, they were riskier and they were all different. Derrick took multiple risks, overcame difficulties and gave the judges something completely new. Claudia put a spin on …you guessed it: Mexican food!
Shows like Masterchef, which serve a fat portion of bias, are a bad example for society. On one hand, it feels like they exploited Claudia’s story – single latin mom struggling to make ends meet. Mind you, there is SO much respect to Claudia to have gotten this far in life based on her determination and passion. If she were not an excellent cook, she would not have been on Masterchef in the first place. She is a PERFECT example of why people should follow their dreams. Sadly, her dreams were achieved at the expense of another talented and more deserving chef on that night. On the other hand, it does send the message that no matter how hard you work, if the
judges odds are not in your favor, you are doomed anyway. It is sad that competitions nowadays are more about “who can sell more?” rather than “who is more talented?” …but then again, I am just a viewer judging by the looks.
♠ Great show for food enthusiasts.
♠ Fast paced.
♠ Motivates you to be a somewhat more decent cook.
♠ Contestants are entertaining.
♠ Fairness can be questioned.
♠ Seems like a commercial show selling people’s stories.
♠ OBVIOUS BIAS.
Where to Watch
♠ Hulu: Find the latest season on Hulu.
Rating: 5/10 ¢