Monday, July 26, 2010
Adam Liaw wins Masterchef
In its second season, Masterchef remained extremely popular and proved that the impact the first season had on public consciousness in Australia was no fluke. But it also was the second time we have seen an Australian of Malaysian-Chinese heritage in the final, after Poh-Ling Yeow came runner-up last year. Indeed, another Malaysian-Chinese Aussie, Alvin Quah, made it to the final six this time as well.
(Adam also has a bit of French and Indonesian in there as well, apparently. No, he's not Japanese, despite his samurai-esque hairstyle; he just loves Japanese stuff.)
Should we be surprised that Malaysians are doing so well in this competition? Not really. There are plenty of them in Australia, and Malaysians are among the most passionate foodies of any nationality.
There was a strong Asian element in the top 6 this year, which also included Jimmy Seervai, of Parsi Indian heritage, while blonde Courtney Roulston also revealed an impressive affinity with Chinese cuisine (which clearly astounded guest judge Kylie Kwong).
I wonder if this sort of thing will do anything to combat the subtle prejudice that is so often held in Western nations about Asian cooking. There remains a mentality that no matter how tasty it is, no Asian cuisine is really as good as "proper" European culinary traditions like Italian and French. I remember reading a comment somewhere about Poh's near-victory last year that kinda sums it up for me - "Why do we need another noodle and dumpling bar?"
Elsewhere you can read this article about how Masterchef's contestants say a great deal about the diverse nature of Australia today; pointing out that not only were there Asian contestants, but 2 of the final 6 (Courtney and Alvin) were same-sex-attracted as well. One thing about talent-search reality television is that by (hopefully) allowing talent to take centre stage, it beams a diverse range of people into the prime-time ratings period, which otherwise does not normally see such diversity. Remember that the very first winner of Australian Idol was another person of Malaysian descent, Guy Sebastian.