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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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Categories: in Marketing to kids
As well as being a qualified dietitian, Julie has a Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion and is currently working on a PhD in nutrition policy for older people

Self confessed foodie Renza heads up a community engagement programme for a state-based not for profit. In her (limited) spare time, she blogs at http://diabetogenic.wordpress.com/
Awarded Medals: - empty -
Current ranking: No rank.


  • Admin
    Admin 20.08.2012

    I'm with Julie on this one. I think the program has done very little to increase food awareness or promote healthy eating. As Julie points out, the program is also too focused on being the best. It is a competition after all, rather than a tutorial.
    Food shows that are about picking in season vegetables from the garden and doing something creative with them are far more beneficial for us and our children.

  • Margo Saunders
    Margo Saunders 20.08.2012

    I'm with Julie on this one and have been continually dismayed at unhealthy (and usually expensive) food and the intricate preparation featured on this program. Great for those who are willing to de-construct and adapt, but many others would simply say, 'not for me'. What did make me very happy, however, was the fact that Callum won!
    At the age of 22, Callum is using his skills and his passion to teach university students how to cook and eat well and is working with Jamie Oliver to educate on good food, plus writing a cook book and opening a cooking school. Impressive!

  • Admin
    Admin 23.08.2012

    I think it depends on your household and kids, and their (and your) cooking proficiency. Even the masterchef kids recipes are beyond me! For us, it targets how hard cooking can be, not how fun, healthy or delicious. Ok, delicious maybe.... We don't watch it as we don't watch much tv but the few episode we've seen certainly haven't inspired anything great in the kitchen, unlike the 'this is how to cook' shows which I often get something from. Again, it's less to do with the healthiness of the dishes as how complicated they are...

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