What we can learn from Master Chef

Posted on June 23, 2016

What we can learn from Master Chef

Yes, we can learn how to bone out a chicken and make an elegant parsnip smear on a plate.
More importantly what we can learn is how to brand Knowledge and Experience and engage people in our industry.

Master chef is a through-the-roof television phenomenon that has generated a massive following with broad ranging appeal. It dishes up lashings of stage-set glitz, spicy drama, “gut wrenching” insights and red-hot competition. The age group it attracts climbs from primary school aged children up to Grandma and Grandpa.

Master chef is the cooking thunder dome, the kitchen arena where the terms plating up,
mise en place and five minutes to go have become part of the vernacular, heard in kitchens Australia wide.

What Master chef ever so cleverly does is give us, the homebound viewer, an insightful look at their industry, the world of hospitality. It pulls back the curtains to the kitchen, in a nothing-to-hide TV dramedy, We learn over ensuing weeks to admire and respect the skill set, training and professionalism of the chef, you can’t help but be in awe.

Having firmly sidestepped from the formulaic Fast Eddy style of “just bang it in the oven”, demonstration style cooking show, Master Chef has confected a showcase of talent. It provides both the stage and opportunity for contenders to attempt the challenge to rise to the lofty heights of the professional chef.

Each week a contestant will fall by the wayside, sent home, wooden spoon still in hand, apron strings dragging, all in the knowledge that they were not up to standard, just not quite good enough, a lack of detail, poor time management, or a failing to get all the 947 elements on the dish. The message: it’s super hard to be as good as us; it’s not easy! This is a serious game, we’re a professional industry, and while you think you can cook, this is a whole different kettle of fish, literally.

Demonstrating a cooking style well outside the realm of “everyday” folk, this professional cooking show is selling a message, hidden amongst slapstick boil overs and ice cream meltdowns, Master Chef is building a brand, creating awareness and developing a tribe following, it’s a marketer’s dream.

As we sit and stare at the screen over a bowl of mashed (with a fork) potatoes and a badly formed rissole, we are ever so subtly being brain washed to the merits and value of the fine dining industry. Episode after episode we, as viewers, are taught to recognise culinary talent, to see the dedication, to discern class and skill.
With our acquired knowledge and understanding of how it all comes together, we can now appreciate the energy and technique that goes into creating culinary perfection. We have a refined appreciation and understanding of the true value of a restaurant prepared dish. Would we ever question the price of a meal again?

Mentorship, networking, innovation and passion, it’s all in the mix. Master Chef is a superb and clever marketing campaign for the restaurant trade. Advertisements and product placements aside, the spin-off and the game changer is that a whole generation of young people have engaged with an industry. It looks fun, challenging, sexy, gender balanced (except for the Male and Pale Presenters) and profitable.

Is it time that we as an industry took a recipe from the Master chef book?
Can we see another way to market our industry and product?
Are we bold enough to side step the tired and boring “stand in the garden” lecture format and move into a more engaging, exciting and entertaining space to sell our message?
Are we ready to shift the paradigm?

Of course it would take a leap of faith, a breath of fresh air and a new set of sunglasses, or we could just stay the same?
Burnt chops and boiled veg anyone!