Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Cooking the books...

 I've been watching Masterchef Australia 2022 Fans vs Faves. I'm playing catch up with the scheduled programming but I'm now up to the last few episodes; the sharp end, if you will. I like watching programmes that feature creativity, especially competitive, challenge-based creativity. Even though this isn't how I create. It interests me how the competitors respond to critique and advice, and the things/the thought processes that underlie their creations. Clearly technique is crucial. If you don't know the steps to take to make a certain element then you just can't produce it.  Although a strange ingredient a cook has never used before isn't a deal breaker. How does it taste? What is the texture and do the qualities or components mean it will cook like a starchy vegetable or a low fat protein? If you know the rules, the science of cooking, you can make educated guesses/decisions about how to treat anything new.  Invention comes with making unexpected pairings, whether its savoury and sweet, or using foreign ingredients in local dishes. Or elevating something familiar. How do you update a classic? In the end though it's about making something people enjoy eating. Technique and quality ingredients aren't enough if the resulting flavour isn't enjoyable and the balance is out.

In the episode I watched today one of the contestants, now in the final four (from a starting group of twenty four) said he'd felt insecure about his cooking ambitions amongst his fire fighter workmates in the firehouse. Coming to the Masterchef kitchen had changed him irrevocably. There he'd met others who felt as passionately about food as he did. As inspired and excited about what was possible. Finally he'd met his tribe, and his skills and ideas and thinking about food came on in leaps and bounds and from a rudimentary understanding of food he now found himself in the top four. Using techniques, ingredients and combinations he would never have imagined using before he joined. Interacting with your peers and/or your heroes will challenge your thinking about your craft. It will encourage you and inspire you. It will introduce you to new things and broaden your outlook. Hanging out with other folk who also feel passionate about their craft is good for you. It's good for them too.  

And watching Masterchef can be good for your writing