OPINION

If I want Pete to win MasterChef Australia 2021, am I a racist?

The cast of MasterChef 2021. Who will win the grand final? Picture: Supplied
The cast of MasterChef 2021. Who will win the grand final? Picture: Supplied

Just because I want Pete Campbell, the 36-year-old tattoo artist from Sydney, to win MasterChef on July 13, doesn't make me a racist. It makes me a fan of his improvised style and understanding of flavours. I like his laid-back approach, the way he's put up with Justin's boy crush, and I'm genuinely interested in the kind of restaurant he might actually open.

Just because he's the only "white" contestant left is completely irrelevant.

Or is it?

My two favourite contestants in this series were Scott Bagnell and Sabina Newton.

Scott was great and deserved to go further than week 11. He was the retro king of the kitchen, his cakes and pavlovas brought back so many memories. And there was a complete lack of ego. He was never one to waffle on about how super he was.

As the cocky contestants around him dropped quicker than a souffle (we're looking at you Therese, Tom and Aaron), Scott stood firmer than well-whipped egg whites. He was white.

Sabina, too, was fabulous. Only 22. The Tasmanian lass impressed everyone with her mastery of fish and flavours and a resolve when leading team challenges that was well beyond her years. She was white.

And apparently voicing said opinions makes me a racist.

If there's one thing I like more than watching MasterChef, it's joining the Twitter conversation about MasterChef. If you think things get hot in the kitchen, get involved in this challenge.

And this year, there's been plenty of vitriol.

In late May, I tweeted something about young Eric. The 21-year-old medical student from Sydney got under my skin.

Pete Campbell, the 36-year-old tattoo artist from Sydney, might win MasterChef. Picture: Supplied

Pete Campbell, the 36-year-old tattoo artist from Sydney, might win MasterChef. Picture: Supplied

"I think Eric will make a great surgeon like on Grey's Anatomy where people die on the table and the doctor cries and it's all ok," I tweeted.

"Let's be honest, Eric's been hanging on by a pea tendril since episode one," went another, following one of his dishes that involved pea tendrils.

I'm sure he's a lovely young kid, and perhaps he got a bad edit, but he just annoyed me. He flapped about too much, cried after, or during, every cook, spoke too much about his MasterChef dream, how he'd given up everything to appear on MasterChef. Dude, you're studying medicine. Cook in your spare time, or toss it all in and get an apprenticeship. Eric is Chinese-Australian.

And I get called on that.

"The old white men in the MasterChef viewership are ... so toxic. Your racism is showing. And I'm also including some Karen-y white women into this mix. I just saw one shitting on a young Asian contestant while hoping a white middle-aged woman wins again," went the tweets.

I'm not afraid to admit my all time favourite MasterChef contestant is Julie Goodwin, winner of series one all the way back in 2009. Goodwin will always represent what I hoped the series would be. A chance for good home cooks to show us what is possible. Like I was amazed by the magic of Reynold Poernomo in season seven. But I will never be anything even close to him. Goodwin gave all us middle-aged white women hope.

But that doesn't make me a racist. Linda and Kishwar have flown the mum flag this year. I would have warmed to them more if they had stopped talkling about how they were "just" stay-at-home mums. But that's a different column.

Last season MasterChef was plagued with accusations of racism. Jessica Zhan Mei Yu wrote a piece for The Sydney Morning Heraldwhich spoke of the "bamboo ceiling". It was the super Back to Win year, where our favourite contestants returned for one more chance, the fabulous Melissa Leong had joined the judging panel, but according to this story the odds were stacked against the Asian-Australian contestants.

This year the main furore has revolved around certain contestants cooking certain types of food all the time. If you mention that you'd like to see Kishwar cook something other than a curry, you're racist. If you say something about Tommy, who admits himself he's no good at anything else than Vietnamese, you're racist.

It all came to head on Wednesday night when Campbell went through to the grand final after winning immunity and tweeters put it all down to white privilege.

Perhaps it is white privilege that I just want the best contestant to win this year and I think that contestant is Campbell.

People, it's just a cooking show.

This story If I want Pete to win MasterChef, am I a racist? first appeared on The Canberra Times.