Monday, July 26, 2010

Adam Liaw wins Masterchef

As many expected, Adelaide-born lawyer Adam Liaw became the winner of Masterchef, defeating Callum Hann in the final. While he has lived in Tokyo with his Japanese girlfriend for the past 6 years, Liaw flew in to take part in the competition. It is hard to argue with his victory; while he was not necessarily the clear standout throughout the competition, he was consistently amongst the best, and cooked food that looked and apparently tasted great, but also demonstrated a clear vision and an artistic approach to food. The former child prodigy also came across as a damn nice chap to boot.

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.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was interesting that there were Malaysian-background finalists in both series too, being a fellow Malaysian-Chinese/halfie. But that's where the similarity ends as my cooking/gourmet knowledge is what could be called crap, and that would be being generous.
    I didn't follow most of the competition (I watched the start as my neighbour, Sarah, was on it) but I did think it was great to see so many backgrounds on TV, although no Africans from memory?