Posted in Commentary, TV Program

MasterChef Indonesia: The Finale

Finally, around two weeks ago (per 21 August), MCI ended.

Has it been 10 weeks since my last rant? (From Top 10 to Final 2 should take around 10 weeks, right?) Thereafter I didn’t really follow it as eagerly and routinely anymore, especially since the black team challenge dragged out the whole competition and its recency-error evaluation irked me (every time a good candidate was cut off). All in all, I missed many episodes, catching mostly the elimination rounds.

So, in the end it’s Lucky and Agus who made it to Top 2. Both were the candidates whom I didn’t think could stand in the final round, but yeah, they did. Well, one can argue that Agus wasn’t really unpredictable; my dad has long predicted that it would be either Agus (he being a teacher) or Rahmi (she seemed to be cared for by the Chefs, esp. Chef Juna). Thus, the real dark horse was Lucky although my dad (and sis’) said he has gotten good in recent episodes. Haha, yes, my dad seemed to follow it more closely than I did. So when I missed an episode or two, I just needed to ask him what happened.

I also missed the road to final episode the previous day, so I’ll just write about the Finale. Two guys with different forte fighting for the Chef’s tall hat and the title of being the first MasterChef Indonesia. Lucky, whose headband reminds me of ramen man, is stronger in Western-style cooking. Agus, on the other hand, has been distinguishing himself by always wearing Batik, naming many of his creations in relation to Batik, is strong in local taste. It’s gotta be interesting. It better be!

There were three challenges in total, and the one who received the higher cumulative score would be crowned the winner. There was no invention test, as The Finale was about recreating (signature) dishes three different professionals had showed them. Each of them would contribute a mark, too. The judging would be fairer that way, although that also led the better copier to victory; no room for originality or taste.

First stop: Nila Sari’s cakes (kue basah). I’d watched Lucky struggled in making such cake before, thus I could foresee him mess this challenge up. Agus was indeed much calmer and organized throughout the challenges and managed to complete six required cakes while Lucky presented only four. I’d anticipated him to get lower score since the show’s been putting more weight on details. It’s futile to have superior taste if a contestant doesn’t follow the preset guidelines (shape, presentation etc). Many have fallen to this trap, including the beloved Fero and Priscil. That has come to a point where I think it’s better to put unworthy dishes on the plate rather than not having it served.

For example, two out of Agus’ six cakes were still raw and crude (didn’t he check the food?) while all four of Lucky’s cakes were well-done (he discarded one type due to failure). It’s clearly four against four, but I bet Agus got the upper hand since he served all six. Result: Agus got five points higher.

Second hurdle: Chef Mandif’s hilly seafood platter – his signature dish which costs, what, seven or eight million rupiahs! Lots of seafood in it, including fish, crab, lobster, and oyster. Yummy! I was drooling over here, Chef! As the platter looked western (to me), I believed it was time for Lucky to cut down the point difference. Agus’ presentation was better but he messed up one of the sauces. Result: Lucky gloriously topped Agus by eight points. He was leading by three points.

They had done dessert (cakes) and western food, my guess was it’s time for local taste. I was correct as the last challenge was to reproduce Chef Rochandi’s multi-colored tumpeng. Based on sederet.com translation, it is “(Java) ceremonial dish of yellow rice served in a cone shape.” To make things easier, they were only required to make six out of the original ten dishes. NOW it was Agus’ turn to shine. How fair this competition was? I had really no one to root for at that stage, but I thought it’d be Agus. Three points didn’t seem hard to beat. Moreover, Lucky’s telur pindang was pale and his prawn was cooked differently, albeit it’s also delectable.

For the final scoring, each judge revealed their scores one by one. What a great way to up the tension. Both Chef Juna and Vindex gave equal numbers (kinda abstain, huh?) while Chef Marinka gave Agus two points advantage. The difference was only one point, so Chef Rochandi’s grading would really make it or break it. His score…favored Lucky by a point. Result: Lucky was the man!

Surprise, surprise! It was shocking actually to us all, skills or luck aside, due to…himself as a person. Sensitive as it is, he is Chinese. Never before does an Indo-Chinese win any kind of competition, thus we were prescient that he couldn’t be regardless of his abilities. YET! He is probably the first (ever) Indo-Chinese to win an Indonesian competition. CHEERS~!

Another awe was the stupendous prizes: kitchen sets, cash, and a trip to Sydney, Australia worth more than half a billion rupiahs for the winner! (Half it for the runner-up.) Compared to other talent-search competitions before MCI, that amount was indeed gastronomical.

Final Thoughts

Okay. Enough with the good things. Move onto my overall impression of the show. First of all, the competition sure is long and winding. I followed it only shortly before the Top 20, but even then it seemed never-ending. The show itself is in no way boring, but the evaluation practice or repetitive patterns/challenges don’t do it justice.

MCI isn’t a vote-based competition, unlike any other contest. Since it’s solely based on the judges’ objective evaluations, one might expect to see finally the best contestant for the win. Sadly it isn’t the case. MCI uses the recency-error assessment to decide on which candidate to leave the competition. I am not a fan of this system ever since Day 1. Why? Because each episode has approximately three different challenges to boot. Yet, shining in the first two challenges doesn’t mean a thing if one flubs the last one. At the end of each episode, contestants getting poor comments for their last serving are sent to the pressure test. If one manages to impress the Chef Masters at that stage, they’re save. If not? You’re out.

That’s why I’ve been dreading the bumpy road towards the final as strong[er] contenders have succumbed to pressure one by one. I’ve long given up hoping the best to win. The winner would be the one who manages to stay afloat during each pre-pressure test or escape the axe. So, the alternatives for the ultimate winner might be: (1) The Good who never fails. (2) The Mediocre who always safely scats injury. (3) The Inconsistent who fails big time but always miraculously stays clear from being the rock bottom during elimination phases.

Why don’t they use cumulative points like the one during the finale???

Nevertheless, I am happy that the current system is applied strictly fair and square. The more for the Chef Masters to remain sharp and objective through and through. That no one can play around with the rules. So even when the likes of Fero were in danger, there’s nothing to save them – she was particularly eliminated due to lack of attention-to-details: she presented three slices when it’s supposed to be two slices only. The same went for Priscil when she failed to present the crucial caramel cobwebbed cover for her crème brûlée. Or Santiana for making a tower instead of conical-shaped Croquembouche pastry. Stoop-it? Yeah, there is really no room for (tiny) mistakes, inconsistencies, or fluctuations.

Final words: kudos for the production team. Otsukaresama deshita! You’ve all worked hard. See you all in Season 2.

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I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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