I must admit, I’m a sucker for cooking shows, probably because I love food! I started way back when, with Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr. Now we have entire channels dedicated to cooking, and, as they played with what to do to create 24/7 cooking content, someone cleverly came up with the idea of competition. My guess is that it was a man…but I digress.
The competitions have included many names for the Crème de la crème in cooking. Top Chef, MasterChef, The Taste, Iron Chef, etc. Some shows focus on fastest chef like “Chopped”, or most ruthless chef like “Cut Throat Kitchen”. All very entertaining.
And then we got to Kid Chef land a la MasterChef Junior, and something very interesting happened.
Here’s the deal. MasterChef had been rolling along since 2010 and even has a huge international presence. Apparently people all over the world like food as much as I do. Wow! For a giggle, take a look at the giant list on Wikipedia under MasterChef; there are way more countries in on this than I would have guessed, and even more intriguing is the ones that aren’t on the list…and that is yet another digression. Ooops.
The point is that with MasterChef having been around since 2010, we all knew the general drill when MasterChef Junior came on the scene in 2013. But there were some unexpected differences.
Oh, we all hoped that Gordon wouldn’t go Hell’s Kitchen on them, Joe wouldn’t be as snarky, and Graham would be even nicer to them than the regular contestants. And all that happened. And it was a remarkable and fascinating thing how good their cooking was.
This was no let’s have the kids make Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches competition, this was real cooking! Some of their things I know very well I’d struggle with, and I’m a pretty fine cook.
The thing that was truly important and remarkable for these kids, aged 8 to 13, was their interaction with each other. It’s a thing called ‘sportsmanship’. Webster’s definition is: fair play, respect for opponents, and polite behavior by someone who is competing in a sport or other competition.
They not only practiced it, they lived it. If one of their competition had forgotten to get something from the kitchen, they shared. When they had an advantage to play a certain way they took it, but in an open clean way. They were supportive and encouraging. It didn’t mean they weren’t worried about other competitors, they just tried to do better rather than take down the foe.
There was plenty of emotion, including frustration. Kids got sometimes paired with other kids that really irked them, and yet they kept playing. They didn’t pout or storm off. They genuinely cheered each other on, and were sad when others went home…while still wanting to win.
So when did that change? When did we go from being supportive of each other, while doing our best and working to win, to a place of trying to trip up or psych out the competition?
There kids were human. Some of them didn’t like each other. Some of them weren’t likeable. Some were full of themselves and some were painfully shy. It does seem like none of them were bullies.
I like this, it warms my heart. I’ve always like collaboration, and the idea that we can and should ALL do our best, and that tripping up our completion isn’t really our best.
What do you think? Are these kids just naïve? Are they headed for disaster? Or might we learn from them? Might we all do our best and cheer each other on? Or at least try that first?
It seems to me that this is less about “turning the other cheek” and somehow getting hurt by someone, and more about keeping the standards of our own behavior.
For me, I’ll hang out in the kid’s kitchen any day…how about you?