Of all the versions of MasterChef that exist, it can be universally agreed that the Australian version is the best. No yelling, no insulting, no unnecessary drama. Agreed, the way contestants running around in a frenzy to finish their dishes in time is shown is dramatic, but that is what MasterChef Australia does right. It has now completed its 13th season and it gets better every year. But *spoiler alert*: the old judges are no longer here and though I once said that I don’t want to watch it anymore, I must admit that Andy Allen (a previous season winner), Melissa Leong, and Jock Zonfrillo are doing a decent job and making it at least as much fun as before, if not more. Sorry, Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris, and Matt Preston! You know I love y’all!
Anyway, that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. You might ask: Why are you talking so much about MasterChef Australia in a blog post that talks about vicarious living?
This was about 4 years ago. Even though Star World aired MasterChef Australia Season 9 every day at 9 PM, I dived into it in the very thick of it. As an unspoken, unspecified rule, I don’t watch episodes of any TV show out of order. So while this season finished in Australia in July 2017 and Star World was, at the time of my watching it, in the 30s of the episode list, I took it upon myself to start watching it on Hotstar, right from episode 1.
A 19-year-old girl, Michelle Lukman, was the first contestant of this season. With a dish she called the Golden Ball, she wowed the judges and me in an instant. In the moment she finished plating the dish, I started questioning myself. My vision blurred and I didn’t know where the emotion was coming from but I could feel my chest constrict. Whether it was from regret, shame, or joy, I couldn’t say. There wasn’t just one thing clamping my heart down. It was a torrent that threatened to deluge me if I didn’t take a deep, calming breath.
All of us have dreams of reaching out farther than we can see – of gliding over the horizon, breaching the limits, and be satisfied with what we do. But until we have the means to fly there, we glean inspiration from as many sources around us as possible. Using this inspiration, we build up the courage brick by brick. Maybe one day, thanks to this inspiration, this courage, we can see the world in the same light that they do. Maybe one day, we can see our goals as achievable, the same way they do.
Until then, let’s look on in awe and appreciate their immense talent, and watch them make their dreams come true. Until then, let’s live through their realities to see our dreams through. Until then, let’s applaud as the worthy push forward and show the world what they are made of.
Because that’s exactly what I decided I would do. In the rush of the contestants’ flurry to cook up lip-smacking dishes, I understood the importance of composure in a time crunch. I understood the importance of levelheadedness, that of creativity, and that of loving what you do, so much that it brings joy to the people sharing in your love. And if you can make people smile while doing what you love, there is nothing that can beat the feeling. Given, I haven’t yet been able to apply these to my own life, but I, surprisingly, given my fish memory, remember this feeling all too well.
I indulged in a bit of vicarious living through Michelle Lukman’s stunning creativity that day. But the feeling that coursed through me when the judges applauded her – the feeling that I’d somehow won with her – is priceless and will remain with me forever!
Picture Courtesy: mediaweek.com