Cooking reality show – the new cancer or the new saviour of TV (depending how you like them). They captivate with their story and the skill shown by the contestants, but not all of them are made equal…

I have a simple message to all those Australians who have recently been watching and enjoying the plethora of cooking programs that have invaded our screens.

Welcome to my world.

I’ve been adoring food shows since the late 1960s. From ‘Cooking with Sherri’ (Sheridan Jobbins for Simon Townsend Wonder World officianados) to Kings Kitchen with Bernard King, I’ve watched them all.

Nigella? Cannot. Get. Enough. Jamie Oliver? He seriously changed the way I cook. The Barefoot Contessa invites me into her over-indulgent Hamptons world and our own Huey, god bless, is still mixing tasty sauces in his silver bowls. I can laugh at the crazy nut job theatre of Gordon Ramsay, and smile and be comforted by the elegant prose of Rick Stein. As for Heston Blumenthal and his scientific genius? Fascinating.

Honestly, the day Lifestyle Food entered my life, I wept tears of joy.

And it’s thanks to that network, I found my cooking show nirvana.

Since 2008, my summer nights have been transformed as a brilliantly produced cooking series whisks me away to my happy place. Children and chatter are banned from the kitchen as the show is watched in silent reverence.

That show is Masterchef the Professionals UK .

It is one of the most enjoyable and entertaining television shows I have ever watched. Full stop. Forget it’s about cooking. It’s much more than that.

The show is hosted by three thoroughly likeable and qualified cooking TV hosts; two star Michelin chef Michel Roux Junior, experienced chef and cook book author Gregg Wallace and Monica Galetti. Monica is a chef who works for Michel Roux and she’s the one that really excites me. For a start, she’s a chick, and there are not a lot of them around professional kitchens. She’s the gatekeeper….the one who filters who gets to cook for her boss. She’s tough, demanding, exacting and chases perfection. Big, beefy, bearded, boys quiver in her presence. Don’t even think about going in this competition if you can’t poach an egg, crack a crab claw or make a hollandaise sauce. Monica will be so, so angry. And you really don’t want that.

I congratulate the producers and talents of Matt, George and Gary on the Australian version of Masterchef. It’s been a bloody juggernaut and has introduced us to the talents of people like the lovely Julie Goodwin and Adam Liaw.

But I’m afraid I’ve always been enraptured by it’s nobler English big brother.

I think the success of this show is its mantra to keep it simple and straight. No tricks. No twists. No surprises. And that’s what I want in my cooking show. I want it to be just that. A Cooking. Show.

I completely trust the judges. These guys recognize within in ten seconds whether a plate of food is Michelin star worthy.
I love their reactions to the food, their honest compliments. They are firm but fair. The way Gregg can ecstatize (yes I made up that word) about a dessert, or when Michel Roux says the words ‘booze’ and ‘bags of flavour’.
Oh yeah, give it to me baby.

This show is ALWAYS about the FOOD.

Masterchef the Professionals UK is also about striving to be your best and competing in a cutthroat and at times heart-breaking business. There are real emotions at work here and the stakes are seriously high. The hard luck stories flow freely. The dreams are big and the reality is tough.

When I started to write this I was going to Google information about the background to the show but stopped myself for fear I would discover who the winner of this series is. And I simply couldn’t bear that.

On Friday night I joyously watched the final episode of the series and the result? (SPOILER ALERT)
The title of Masterchef the Professionals Chef of 2012 goes to TWO WINNERS. A first. Yes, they could not be separated and I was in total agreement. High fives all round. Oh and many tears. Mostly from me.

And now, much like the annual Madmen hiatus, I must wait impatiently for another series of this special show.

Jane Kennedy

Jane Kennedy

Jane Kennedy has worked in the media in Australia for over 25 years as an actress, writer and producer with the Working Dog team, who have produced some of this countries most popular films and television shows including The Castle, The Dish, Frontline and Thank God You’re Here.

She is also author of two cookbooks and begins her role as a weekly columnist in News Limited’s new Sunday Magazine on March 3. Clearly taking their commitment to comedy too far, Jane and partner Rob Sitch have five kids under the age of 12. Not one of those kids is Steve Molk.