Channel: Seven Network
Time-slot: Mondays, Tuesdays, 7:30 pm
You would think that Australians had had their fill of cooking programs. The appetite that Jamie, Nigella and Gordon aroused seem to have reached its culmination in 2009 with Ten’s top-rating MasterChef Australia. That portion of the audience it didn’t swallow was probably gobbled up by other Aussie hopefuls like Ready Steady Cook. But it appears that we still have room for more.
My Kitchen Rules pits five couples from Australian capital cities in a competition to see who can provide the best at-home dining experience. Each episode a pair of everyday cooks designs a three course menu and theme that is judged by high profile chefs Pete Evans and Manu Feildel, as well as the rest of the contestants. Produced by the company that brought you My Restaurant Rules, MKR is full of the same ‘I could do that’ energy that pits ordinary Australians against extraordinary deadlines. But this time the spills and thrills take place in the very recognisable arena of the home kitchen.
Like most competitive reality television, MKR invites you to pass judgement on not only the cooking skills but the characters of the competitors involved. There will be those we make us shout as well as those who make us seethe. For example Paul Wood and Melissa Heilmann, the flatmates from Adelaide, seem well on their way to committing that most unforgivable of Australian sins: arrogance. Their candid out-of-kitchen comments are a litany of others’ mistakes and their own expertise. New South Wales competitors Matthew “Mossy” Moss and Gabrielle “Gabe” Moss are, by comparison, the essence of humility. They seemed genuinely grateful for even the corrections handed out by their judges, and just as concerned for their guests comfort as they are for their meals.
MKR is of course full of these deliberately manufactured stereotypes, but how audiences react to them can say a lot about a nation’s character. It is an enduring fact of Australian existence that we have no time for stuffed shirts. The corollary to this is that there is no higher national approbation to attach to someone than to label them a ‘quiet achiever’. Consequently, it doesn’t matter how loudly the boys from Victoria their friends “beg us to cook for them,” the proof of the pudding will always be in the eating. Australians are far more impressed with results than words, a tendency that goes some way to explaining the curious attitude they hold towards Jesus.
Cooking shows like MKR might be increasing in popularity but organised Christianity appears to be on a different track. Yet Australians continue to hold a high opinion of Christ himself, and it is his humility that provides the key. In the popular consciousness Jesus is the sort of bloke who doesn’t make a song and dance; he simply gets things done. He may display extraordinary power, but it is put at the service of the needy, and he never seeks a reward. Maybe this is also why words like, “No-one comes to the Father except through me,” jar so much with our present society? They could hardly have issued from the mouth of ‘Gentle Jesus meek and mild’.
However, just like the spectacularly presented meals in MKR, the proof of the pudding remains in the eating. If the smug South Australians do win the series then even though their attitudes grind our sensibilities like a mortar and pestle, we will have to admit that they were right: they were the best cooks. Likewise if Jesus could deliver on promises like dying and rising again three days later, there might be something to this ‘Son of God’ thing after all.