When did the Olympics start? I think it was a few weeks back but it’s starting to feel like months.

I have to admit that I watched a fair bit of the opening ceremony but since then I’ve just seen updates in my news feeds or on telly. I’ve never been a big Olympic Games watcher but I think I’ve seen less than ever this time around and I think I know why.

The format is tired.

Yes, there have been new sports added over the years and some older, less interesting sports removed, but it’s essentially been the same for such a long time.

The ancient Olympic Games were held from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. After that the idea was pretty much rested until Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. Sure, there were a few attempts at reviving some sort of games related to an Olympic theme along the way but they didn’t really come to much.

I reckon it’s time to freshen things up. Let’s create a mashup of the Olympics and MasterChef.

MasterAthlete. I think it’s got a great ring to it and the possibilities are endless.

We’d start with three judges including two professional athletes and an acclaimed sports writer. Then hundreds of amateur athletes would battle it out for the honour of becoming MasterAthlete 2016. The MasterAthlete would win $250 000 and the opportunity to train alongside some of the greatest professional athletes in the world. They’d also be given a monthly column in Muscle & Fitness Magazine.

Contestants would talk endlessly about their ‘sports dream’ and about ‘doing this for their family’ (even though the competition would mean they’d have to be away from their family for several months). They’d talk about the pressure and just how far they’d come on their personal ‘athlete journey’.

Week by week the black active wear would come out as contestants fought to stay in the competition during the elimination rounds. The very best would be dressed in white active wear and compete against a professional athlete for an immunity pin which would entitle them to a generous head start in their next race.

The mystery box would bring added excitement as the athletes would have no idea what sport they’d have to compete in until the box is lifted. “When the lid came off and I saw the speedos, I was terrified. My specialty is weight lifting, so to know that I’d have to go up against the others in the pool really set my heart racing.”

We’d shed a few tears as our favourites left the competition because they’d left an element out of the triathlon. “It wasn’t until we got to the finish line that I looked around at the other contestants in their clip cloppy shoes and realised …… I’d forgotten to do the cycle leg”.

Imagine contestants arriving in the Master Athlete stadium to hear the judges tell them that they had to go from one side of the city to the other. “You’ve got an open sports locker. Get there any way you like. You can combine swimming, cycling, jogging or canoeing, but remember that in today’s challenge, running must be the hero of the event. Your time starts …… now”.

So there’s the basic concept but I think we need to push it just a little further. What other ways can you think of to create MasterAthlete? Let me know in the comments section of this post. I think we’re onto a real winner.

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Alice Brings it to the Table


MasterChef Australia is now into its fifth season and while many of us are still at the stage of getting to know who’s who among the contestants, deciding who we’d like to see do well or even win, there are several contestants from previous years that still hold a place in Australia’s heart.

Alice Zaslavsky was a school teacher before she joined MasterChef last year. Alice was known for her big glasses and even bigger personality.

Alice is on a quick trip to Western Australia this weekend to go truffle hunting.

She joined me on the phone for a quick chat during my radio program today. We talked about her current television program, Kitchen Whiz, as well as other projects that have kept her busy since leaving MasterChef last year.

We also chatted about a great initiative called Bring it to the Table which is described as a fun, easy way for people to show support for those living with dementia. It helps raise awareness and much needed funds for services and research.

You can listen to our conversation by clicking the play button on the audio player below.

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I’d Settle for a Sandwich

I need to admit, right from the start, that I’ve been sucked in again. I’ve started watching the new season of MasterChef. (I even have a favourite. I don’t know that he’ll make it all the way but I’m already a big fan of 61 year old Kumar.)

I also watched a number of episodes of My Kitchen Rules when it was on the telly.

Now that the confessions are out the way, I’m wondering what effect the latest bunch of cooking and food related television programs are having on the way we cook and the ways in which we relate to friends and family.

I love the fact that the people on these programs have a passion for food. I did a four year cooking apprenticeship and became a chef around thirty years ago and I’ve never had the passion for food and cooking that these people do. (Which probably explains why I left the industry as soon as I got my qualifications.) To see someone doing something that lights up their face and their heart is a wonderful thing, but where does that leave the rest of us?

I’m wondering if we are turning food into art and creating an expectation that we try something new and innovative when we invite friends over for a meal. Are we afraid to put simple food in front of people? Are we missing opportunities to interact with friends because we haven’t got the time and talent to produce a food masterpiece?

I really don’t think it’s the intention of these programs to create that kind of expectation but I wonder if that’s what’s happening anyway? Are we now putting pressure on ourselves to only ever invite people into a ‘display home’ for a range of expertly prepared ‘culinary delights’? I really enjoy lovingly prepared food that’s out of the ordinary and I love the opportunity to try something different if someone really wants to prepare something special, but in the end, I’d settle for a sandwich. Not because I love sandwiches (not really one of my favourite foods) or that I can’t appreciate the difference, but because what I really value is good company.

I don’t care if a home isn’t neat or if the food served would never make it to the table in a restaurant, what I do care about is good times with good friends.

What do you think? Do you avoid inviting people into your home because it’s too much effort? Do you think that cooking shows can build unrealistic expectations? Please leave a comment or two in the comments section of this post.

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Masterchef Breaks Australian Television Records

If you’re in Australia it wouldn’t be too hard for me to guess what you were doing last night. It’s very likely that you were watching Channel Ten’s final for Masterchef … like a massive chunk of Australia’s population.

We didn’t see all of the show but we got home from church in time to see the final challenge and the naming of this year’s winner. The final became the most-watched non-sporting event ever shown on Australian television. A peak of 4.348 million viewers across the five capital cities tuned in to watch Adam beat Callum to win $100,000 and a cookbook publishing deal.

Callum seemed very likable and a more than able cook but I’m glad that Adam took out the title. I was also very impressed by Callum’s reaction to Adam’s win. While the runner-up on most reality shows will give the winner a hug and smile a lot, you can often tell that they’re trying to stay in control while battling deep dissapointment (and who could blame them) but Callum appeared genuinely thrilled for Adam. I’m sure he would have preferred winning but his reaction showed a real maturity and great character.

Did you watch much of the series this year? Who did you want to win?

So Masterchef is over for another year and huge amounts of time will now be freed up for Australians as we no longer have to sit glued to the box each night for the next installment.

Mind you … Junior Masterchef is set to start soon. 🙂

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A Real Masterchef Challenge

If you’ve been watching Australia’s Masterchef you’ll love this video put together by the team at Compassion Australia.

Enjoy the video …. but don’t just leave it there. Find out more by visiting the Challenge Website.

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