‘Patronising’: MasterChef fans fume
MasterChef Australia judge Jock Zonfrillo sparked a viewer backlash after a questionable comment about Asian food on Sunday night's episode.
Last night contestants Laura, Emelia and Khanh each had to create a fine dining dish that represented a particular country in 60 minutes.
While the others picked France, Khanh Ong went with Vietnam - a natural choice, given his Vietnamese heritage.
But Zonfrillo questioned the choice, remarking that Asian food didn't lend itself to "fine dining."
MasterChef season two winner Adam Liaw led the charge in criticising Zonfrillo's comments, as other food fans weighed in to debate the Euro-centric concept of 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
“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
even now, many asian restaurants that are seen as fine dining are only considered fancy because they serve “fusion” cuisine - very few asian fine dining restaurants are completely authentic or traditional #MasterchefAU— Kat (@katattackw) June 14, 2020
Jock's attitude that Asian cuisine isn't fine dining and is difficult to 'make' fine dining is such paternalistic wank. #MasterchefAU— Kedgie (@kedgie) June 14, 2020
Asian food is all about abundance and sharing. Fine dining is a fake colonial concept and needs to be abolished just like the police #MasterChefAU— no more hibachi grills!!! (@chefsofcolour) June 14, 2020
Pretty sure fine dining just means lots of wastage because they chuck away all the 'bad' parts of the meat just to serve a fraction of it for 10x the price. Sounds very privileged and pretentious to me. In Asian culture we don't waste food, period. #masterchefau— Darling (@Himihunny) 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
respectfully disagree with @Zonfrillo that Asian food is difficult to make ‘fine dining’ - having grown up in & travelled to Hong Kong alot & had many fine dining registrations, I can say Asian fine dining is awesome - with 3 sets of chopsticks to get right & use #MasterChefAU— Richard (@Richardshouse) June 14, 2020
#MasterChefAU So apparently Asian food is now not fine dining. How ridiculous is that to take entire countries‘ cuisines off the fine dining menu! Unless you have decided that fine dining means just European fine dining.— Prabha Fasman (@PFasman) June 14, 2020
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 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
Someone tell Tetsuya and Nobu that Asian isn’t fine dining. #MasterChefAU— Tracy (@fester4kermit) June 14, 2020
#MasterChefAU Asian food's inability to be fine dining according to some chefs is like reinforcing stereotypes...— Neel P (Not Sarah🥕) (@neels_pandit) June 14, 2020
It's more to do with the chef's inability to understand that kind of food and see how it can be fine dining. A chef who knows Asian food can make it work, 100%
Zonfrillo's comments come in a season praised by MasterChef fans for its significant representation of Asian Australians.
New judge Melissa Leong herself celebrated an immunity challenge in an episode earlier this month that saw all five cooks - Reynold Poernomo, Jess Liemantara, Poh Ling Yeow, Khanh Ong and Brendan Pang - hailing from Asian backgrounds.
She shared a picture of the contestants on her Instagram, calling it "ground breaking".
"Not only did these tremendous humans create the five best dishes yesterday (we judge dishes, not people), but I could never conceive of witnessing a moment like this on prime time television in my lifetime. Thank you Channel 10," she said.
"Diversity and representation does not come at the detriment of others, it is to the inclusivity of us all.
"I am proud to be Australian. To be part of a nation whose identity is indigenous and multicultural, we are richer because of ancient and recent.
"To every person who never felt seen, this is for you, may it give you hope. To every person who is yet to feel seen, you are valued and your moment is on its way. We rise together."
And sadly, Ong was booted from the competition last night after the judges felt his traditional Vietnamese dish of Ga Kho Gung "lacked finesse" and the cooking of his quail was "less than perfect".
After being told he would be leaving the show, Khanh broke down in tears before delivering a powerful farewell message.
Originally published as 'Patronising': MasterChef fans fume