How to be a MasterChef when you're not | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 30, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 30, 2018


How to be a MasterChef when you're not

Being a MasterChef takes hard work and maybe even losing a finger or two. Every chef has harrowing tales of losing a bit of forefinger or pinkie at least once. I would not know. But I believe I could have been a superb chef. As do many other men and women. As the saying goes, believing is half the, er, achievement? Are you a believer? Here's how you can believe more authentically.

It's all about the camera angles

MasterChefs are all around you. Click open your Same-Face-AlbumBook and Insta-gratification social media apps. Look up #iCook and #OMG-made-lunch to see the best and worst of how to appear like a MasterChef. Camera angles are important. The show has cameras zooming in from the right, left, from under a frying pan and down from the sky. They stitch it together brilliantly for that seamless, one-take look.

You sadly only have a cellphone. Real cooking experts rarely have pictures of themselves. If they do, someone else has shot the photo and they appear harried and often sweaty. 'Believers' like me always appear pretty and composed. We know our best angles and we know we have used the right kind of skin toner beforehand.

Know your words

“Woodsy with a whisper of coriander.”

Normal people do not talk like that. They say, ''Hmm, gobble mmmhfrggle, you know grrbemmphfrggle”. That's how I used to talk with my mouth full of food before I became a MasterChef. But now, I know precisely how to say, 'Subtle micro explosions of a pinch of crushed cardamom seeds.'

Before, all I could manage was, “Amagad, who the heck put that horrifying elachi in my polao? Ow my taste buds. Ow holy mother of Chewbacca. Aaaargh!” 

Don't be uncouth. Use confusing words because we painstakingly invented so many of them. And do not forget to use all the hashtags. They are free.

Understand your salt, bae

As the fairy tale went, a king asked his three daughters who loved him best and how. One said she loved him like honey. Another said she loved him like sugar. The third said she loved him like salt. “How dare she,” the other two sisters fumed. “Salt is a terrible expression of love.”

Immediately, the third was banished from the kingdom.

This terrible father figure was then fed dishes made with honey and sugar by the elder daughters. He couldn't take it until years later his third daughter turned up again incognito. Also she was older and used makeup so no one recognised her. She cooked him a dish with salt, but not so much that it would kill him because the property was still under his name.

He realised his folly and wondered why he had not died from diabetes yet. The king started a new campaign: “Let salt make food great again.” Everyone lived happily ever after.

Nothing can make or break a dish the way salt can. I am blessed with this particular talent. It alone qualifies me to hold the MasterChef title. I always know just how much salt to throw. Here's a secret: it's just a pinch. To add some flair, practise like Salt Bae, the cook that forever changed how we sprinkle the taste enhancing mineral.

Cooking is the smallest part of the show

Just like the real MasterChef franchise, it is all about the preparation. Have you adjusted the light properly? Have you laid the utensils in a way that they complement each other? Is that stain on the wall going to be visible where yesterday's poached egg had exploded? Because the social media photo is about that. Have you carefully removed all traces of the takeout boxes as you scoop out the khichuri from the oddly clean pot? 

Know at least one trick

Make your acting believable by having at least one culinary success in life. Boiling water does not count. In fact, some pepole have been known to do the impossible, they have burned water. And that is not a skill to be proud of.

It only goes so far

In the end, all that bluster is not going to cut it forever. My seven year old son scathingly reminds me that I'm no MasterChef. He believed it when he was four. He can make a cake, but can I?

Our social media is full of cooks. You can easily spot the fakes from the pros. The real cooks have frequency. They make and make and often, the pictures are taken by someone else, blurry and not so colour coordinated. Because they simply do not have time to pose in case the caramel starts to burn.

For the rest of us, we shall make do with a chest full of hot air.

Ehsanur Raza Ronny is a confused dad, all-round car guy, model car builder, and cartoonist. He is also Editor of Shift (automobiles), Bytes (technology), and Next Step (career) of The Daily Star.

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