Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Plate of the Nation

By Simon Grose

Our most successful television program provides insights into the Australian state of mind.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Averaging more than two million viewers nationwide each episode, Masterchef has been this year’s most popular Australian television program. Attracting the attention of around 10% of Australian eyeballs six nights per week is a mean feat, only achieved by nourishing the attitudes and aspirations uppermost in the minds behind those eyeballs.

Carbon profligacy was a constant theme. Various dishes were commonly “twice cooked”, perhaps searing under a grill after a session in the oven. Freezers were used to finish off desserts and chill other dishes between bursts of cooking. Occasionally a blowtorch was used to singe a meal to optimise its crunchiness or appearance.

No way was Masterchef’s kitchen carbon-constrained, indicating that Australians have yet to adopt a culture of carbon austerity.

The fantastic bounty of ingredients available to the contestants was a vivid showcase of our current era of plenty. Lingering shots of tubby judges thoughtfully chewing the day’s fare amplified this theme. In a world in which the FAO estimates that more than a billion people are malnourished, Australians enjoy life on an island of excess. Concerns about global food and water security, unnecessary waste and sustainable living may be paid lip service by programs like Masterchef, but that is as far as it goes.

The ethnic variety of the backgrounds of the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.