Anger over MasterChef Singapore on Channel 8 – an overcooked reaction?

Singaporeans apparently don’t only like to eat, we also like to cook.

Finally, MasterChef is coming to Singapore. Many of its local fans were sibei excited, but only for a short while, as it was announced that the programme will be on Channel 8. And then people are not happy that their fluency in Mandarin was specifically asked in the online application.



Because it will be MasterChef Singapore on Channel 8 and not Channel 5? But hello, Mediacorp bought the rights to bring it to Singapore. Of course, they would want to make the best of it and milk it dry dry right? It is a known fact that Channel 8 programmes appeal to a larger audience and can attract more sponsorship (=$$$). This is not a public education programme that has to be in all four official languages. This is a profit-making, commercial-based decision.  

How many of us watch Channel 5 at home every night? Hands up lor.

A Chinese programme organiser asking for a possible contestant’s fluency in Mandarin is logical. You go eat mala hotpot the shop owners will also ask you how high a spiciness level you can tahan right? The staff is not going to chase you out of the shop just because you say 小辣 (or the lowest level of spiciness). It’s mainly to help the kitchen staff to prepare the hotpot accordingly. In any case, the organisers not only ask applicants for their fluency in Mandarin, they also ask about applicant’s fluency in other languages, their marital status, spouse’s occupation, the number of children you have … why nobody kpkb and ask how are these relevant to cooking leh?  

Because how are these details related to how well a person can cook?!

masterchef_marital status.JPG

By the way, who is to say that being Chinese = can speak Mandarin? And a non-Chinese = someone who cannot speak Mandarin? For example, my mum, a Chinese who is more comfy speaking dialects and Malay, will have to choose 1 for fluency in Mandarin if she is thinking of joining. I also know of many young Chinese Singaporeans who are not comfy speaking Mandarin at all. It’s about whether you are fluent in a particular language, not about your race.

Then again, having said the above, it would be a great opportunity to have Singaporeans of different races appearing on Channel 8’s MasterChef and showcase the different cuisines we have here. For now, besides food and soccer (although our Lions’ performance is really nothing to shout about), I can’t think of anything else that can bond most, if not all, Singaporeans. Whenever I watch the sponsored Sheng Shiong Show on Channel 8, and see non-Chinese Sheng Shiong customers having fun, just like their fellow Chinese contestants, at the games segments, I appreciate Singapore’s multi-racialism even more.

For the Sheng Shiong Show, the games segments are relatively short and the rules are much simpler. MasterChef will be much more complex. However, that doesn’t mean it cannot be done. We have seen many cooking shows on Channel 8 that featured Chinese chefs or participants who can barely string sentences of proper Chinese together. Many simply do show and tell lor. And just nod and smile when the hosts banter with them, or simply spoke and responded in English. I don’t see why we can’t try doing that for MasterChef Singapore.

Chill guys, no one is stopping us all from entering this kitchen.