This season of MasterChef has been a delicious breath of fresh air in the diversity and representation department. From new judge (and queen) Melissa Leong to an immunity challenge with 100% Asian-background competitors. We love to see it.
But the show hasn’t been immune from the odd stuff-up, and judge Jock Zonfrillo is the latest to fall into hot water after making ‘racist’ comments about Asian Cuisine.
Last night’s elimination challenge, saw contestants Laura, Emelia, and Khanh recreating a “fine dining” dish that represented a particular country in 60 minutes.
The obvious and safe choice was France, which is what Laura and Emelia picked; but Khan stuck to his guns and his heritage with a Vietnamese dish.
But Zonfrillo questioned the choice because, in his experience, Asian food doesn’t usually lend itself to “fine dining”.
Fans were quick to call him out for his ‘patronising’ comments. Adam Liaw – MasterChef season two winner – led the pack as Twitter debated the Eurocentric bias in deciding what gets to be labelled ‘fine dining’.
Asian cuisines are full of fine dining. Kaiseki, Confucian cuisine, Thai/Vietnamese court cuisine, almost any regional cuisine in China, Peranakan food… It’s just that the Eurocentric conceptualisation of Michelin, World’s 50 Best etc. constantly ignores it. #MasterChefAU
— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) June 14, 2020
“Many Asian cuisines don’t normally adapt themselves to fine dining.”
Is that because there’s been a particular mindset that has been levelled at non-Western European food, and the ones who have made them fine dining distinctively White™?#MasterChefAU
— Josh 🌈 (@abangpinoy) June 14, 2020
— Meera Pillai (@meerajpillai) June 14, 2020
There’s a whole body of research into how words like “cultured”, “civilised”, & “fine” got to be associated with the West… these words are deeply rooted in ideas of racial superiority
— s_alka⁷ (@twt_Salka) June 14, 2020
“Asian food don’t lend itself to fine dining” because ‘fine dining’ itself is a European/ Western concept… That’s exactly why we celebrate reality cooking shows like #MasterChefAU because it’s a (tiny) step towards dismantling the Eurocentrism that dominates food culture
— Fiza Zali (@fizawanders) June 14, 2020
Fine dining Asian food is like that fake accent you come back with after travelling for a week in the UK, US, or Aus. Fine dining is a fake colonial money making concept. #MasterChefAU
— கிருஷ்ணா🇲🇾🇮🇹 (@Krish_kumar22) June 14, 2020
If anything, the comments just highlight the need for more diversity in these kinds of reality shows – and the great work that they’re already doing by bringing non-Western cuisines [literally] to the table. Expand your pantries, folks.
In all seriousness Andy and jock need to really educate themselves about Asian cuisine before next season if they’re going to continue to be judges. There’s just been too many comments this season that just don’t cut it #MasterChefAU
— Laura Jensen (@LauraJcookies) June 14, 2020
“Asian food doesn’t lend itself to fine dining”. – @zonfrillo, absolute dinosaur at 43. 🙄 Sorry you had to listen to such patronising crap, @fooderati; I know YOU know that there isn’t an Asian cuisine w/o millennia of exquisite refinement behind it. How ignorant. #MasterchefAU pic.twitter.com/VehGqUzqjL
— Kate Pritchett (@sashimimimi) June 14, 2020
Zonfrillo’s comments seemed to spell the end for the fan-favourite Khanh who – despite serving up a really bloody bougie Vietnamese meal – was eliminated. You could hear hearts all over the nation breaking.
How did khan get eliminated on A WHOLE MEAL when we’ve got someone serving a literal bite sized cream puff… (just because it’s french does not mean it’s more fine dining than the Asian dish) #masterchefau
— hiris (@irishefp) June 14, 2020
Khan leaving over 4 frickin pieces of croquembouche sums up the white privilege on this show that has been there since season 1
— Shuri (@Shuri852) June 14, 2020
I’m not sure we’ll ever recover. Long live King Khanh!
Image Sources: 10Play.com.au (MasterChef), Twitter.