Cooking and Careers. A tale of two Masterchefs

Source: via Marja on Pinterest

The TV show Masterchef has been around for a while now. First season winner in Australia, Julie Goodwin, has become a household name and many others have gone on to have great success. Some have written cookbooks, opened their own restaurants, are writing and speaking at events, and heading their own cooking shows. Over the seasons this reality show has proved to be very popular and a ratings winner for Channel 10.

I quite like the show and have enjoyed watching the challenges and heartache from season to season.

This year, and before the official ratings season commenced, we were introduced to Masterchef Professional. The basic premise being instead of having amateur cooks on the show, there would be people who actually work as chefs and cooks and are therefore "professional".

I watched the first show, probably along with lots of other people who aren't that enamoured with tennis. It was ok, but there seems to be something missing. There was still the background story on each contestant, the same pressure filled challenges, and a couple of tough judges. So why was I feeling a bit, well.....under-whelmed?

I think the reason I like the regular Masterchef is because there is hope, and passion, and creativity, and optimism (some may say it's there in the professional version, but I think it's a bit different). In the "regular" version the contestants don't cook to pay their mortgage or rent. There are teachers and lawyers and accountants and stay-at-home mums and all sorts of people. They have passion, desire and hope, to do something different. They have raw talent and the desire to put themselves out there and take a risk. They may not be able to finely chop an onion but they can take a box of random grocery items and turn it into something spectacular! These people are taking a chance to turn something they love doing into something more.

So this is a blog about career and how to manage yours better. How does this relate to your career? I think there is a real lesson in these shows, both for how organisations choose their people and for how we present ourselves and navigate . 

Masterchef professional is taking chefs and asking them to do essentially the same tasks as those in the regular version, but we all expect to them to be better somehow. But they struggle. It's still hard and we expect with all that training behind them, they should be able to do the tasks. Easily. Yet in the regular version I find myself wanting the contestants to succeed and win, even though they don't have the training to be successful! They struggle and it's hard. So what's the difference?

I have found in many organisations I have worked in, they want to recruit people who can already do the job. They are proven. Little risk and not a lot of reward for the organisaton or the person. Blah! Unless you can do something already, no one will give you a chance to do something new. To me this is Masterchef Professional. Chefs and cooks trained to...well..cook.

Been there? Frustrated? I hear ya! I once worked somewhere where they wouldn't give me a chance in a generalist HR role (even though that was where the bulk of my experience was at the time) because I was currently doing a specialist role. So short-sighted! While that company was getting round to making a decision about my future there, I got head-hunted into a great role with an interesting company and more money.

I like that the "regular" Masterchef reminds us that people are amazing and have limitless potential. Sometimes that potential just needs to be identified. Realised. Organisations need to take more heed of this. I'm loving my current role because I can do the core part of the role easily. It's familiar and I feel confident. But there is a large slice where I get to challenge myself, think hard and test some ideas. I'm having fun.

Getting to this place is not easy, nor is becoming a contestant on Masterchef, I imagine. You need to be clear on your purpose, be yourself and you need to have some energy to work towards what you want, and work hard. Maybe, like a "regular" Masterchef contestant you need to do something differently. Be somewhere else, go to a different company, take a different career direction or some time out to contemplate your navel. Sometimes you end up a fair way down a particular career path and perhaps it's not what you thought it would be? Sometimes there is that nagging dream from when you were little that just maybe you should try and realise?

I have also been watching bits and pieces of My Kitchen Rules. A similar concept to the regular Masterchef but some different learning for developing your career. Take Lisa and Candice from WA, a highly unlike-able duo who bitched and moaned about everyone else's cooking and then couldn't deliver the goods themselves. Or what about Luke and Scott from NSW. From what I could see they were generally positive and supportive of the other teams and ended up at the top of the leader-board. You could apply this behaviour into the workplace. Organisations will be much more willing to "take a chance" on those of us who constructive and collaborative rather than always looking out for yourself and complaining about others.

Inspire me

Seth Godin always has some inspiring and wise words. Are you open, generous and connected?

Develop me


 Just for me

Need a giggle? The morning after each episode of Masterchef or My Kitchen rules is screened there is often a funny, naughty and sometimes scathing "recap" article on the Sydney Morning Herald site. Not really a help to your career but a light-hearted break to your day. If you haven't discovered them yet here is the latest article on My Kitchen Rules titled Think Pink: Don't cry over candied rose petals. A good tip for your career!