Fuck Master Chef
We all love good food. Or, better, we all love a good meal and the joy that comes after it. But there is a world of difference between a satisfying meal and abusing food to chase away existential boredom that comes with having too much of everything in life.
I still remember being in primary school in the mid-1990s when we had to decide on our future careers. Many of us wanted to be engineers, teachers, or dentists. And there was this one chubby boy in our class who sent his application to a vocation school to become a cook. At the time, this wasn’t a particularly glamorous choice, and some of us (those with much better grades) looked down upon it. For the most part, being a cook meant working with big pots in some factory diner that had to feed hundreds of workers each day.
Of course, every job is honorable, and preparing a good meal for an army of miners, truck drivers, or even teachers is as honorable as it gets in my eyes today. But for a fourteen-year-old boy in a post-socialist era, there was still something derogatory about this position. It wasn’t exactly like being a movie star or chasing a Ph.D., if you get what I mean.
But who would have known back then that in less than half a lifetime, things would change so much. Cooks, or better chefs, have become entertainment stars with glamour that a Ph.D. in molecular biology can only dream of.
Is that good? I am sure that being a cook shouldn’t be frowned upon like it was in the socialist or post-socialist era. But turning that profession into entertainment is even more pathological and dangerous. It is a sign of decadence and probably a collapse of humanistic values.
Turning food into entertainment, by which I don’t primarily mean just shows like MasterChef or Chef’s Table, but the underlying phenomena of high-end restaurants which serve food that comes in small but incredibly pleasing portions. It is food for those who are not hungry at all but are so bored with everything that they seek something new.
The novel combinations of ingredients, ways to put them together, the artistic arrangements on the plate, it all aims at astonishing those who can’t be astonished anymore because they have everything in life; money, fame…