Saturday, August 25, 2012
Your time starts now
What I truly love about Masterchef is how it can take ordinary people and induce them to do extraordinary things – because they’ve been challenged. Or, to be more precise, stressed, pressed, whipped, dipped and devilled into reaching somewhere deep and magical inside themselves.
Just about every dish contestants are asked to cook seems to be beyond the reach of an amateur. The time allotted always seems too less. Two minutes before, something is still cooking – the plate still empty! But somehow, almost always, it all comes together, and comes through.
On a good day – like Mindy had recently - the amateurs even manage to beat the spatulas off professional chefs.
The question that fascinates me, however, is can the process of producing a Masterchef be replicated? Not just in cooking, but for any other kind of skill or subject?
Let’s first examine how and what Masterchef does correctly. Number one – they select the right people, but not just those who can cook – in a technical sense. Along with kitchen skills the judges look at how passionate you are. How intense is your desire to be on the show? How badly do you want to win??
So, now you have a bunch of highly motivated, highly driven individuals who have shown some flair for cooking. In the traditional mode, it would take 3 years in a catering college to get a diploma. Even then, you’ll struggle for an entry-level position in a restaurant. And slowly work your way up.
At Masterchef, 3 years gets condensed to 3 months. And from day 1, you get exposure to top-level chefs. The best in the business come as trainers, mentors, judges and even to cook against you. The learning curve is steep, fast and furious.
The next thing that kicks in is ‘self-respect’. There you are, on national television - family and friends are watching. You have got to do your best. Or even better than best. Things you never even knew you were capable of.
And of course, the constraints and challenges are designed to make you jump out of your skin. An invention test, for example is about more than cooking. It’s about pulling something out of your hat. There is no time to think deeply, you simply direct yourself to ‘do what feels right’.
Which is the best way to do anything truly worthwhile in life.
Lastly, the winner takes it all but even the losers gain a lot. Many left mundane jobs to pursue their dream of a career in food. And hardly anyone goes back. There is no stigma of ‘failure’, in fact contestants feel like they’ve test marketed the idea and now have enough skills and confidence to make a run for it.
A takeaway business, a bakery, a cookbook or food blog – these are the outcomes you can hope for, even if you don’t get crowned as ‘Masterchef’.
That means ‘winning’ is great but it’s also a process designed to awaken the power within you. The power to become a winner, to make your dreams come true.
I know this kind of awakening is possible in every field of human endeavour.
And that ‘education’ must expand beyond degrees and certificates.
The real proof of the pudding must always be the quality of the pudding you produce.
And not the bowl it’s dressed up in, labelled IIT, IIM, Harvard or Stanford…