I got hooked to the MasterChef Australia when Season 4 was on. Never understood before what the hoopla was about and I used to feel that it must be boring to watch someone cook. But then I developed an interest in baking. Suddenly, MasterChef became my most (and the only one) favourite TV show.
As the Season 4 progressed, I encountered interesting episodes where I was able observe some great lessons apart from learning difficult to understand dish/ingredient names and sexy French dessert names :-D. Amina, Mindy, Audra and Julia were my favourites in the competition. They were really consistent through out the competition and one unlucky day did each of them in.
1. Being a good individual player and good team player are different ball games. As team challenges were being played out, one could clearly see Debra struggling. All the participants understood that although she was a great cook individually, she was not a team player and she was the last one to be picked in the team challenges.
2. Alice showed great character and strength when she chose TWICE not to use her immunity pin and chose to contest fairly. And thank God, she won both times. So if you believe in yourself and put yourself out there, you will always come back victorious from the pressure tests of life. One need not step on others while getting ahead. There's always room for skilled individuals, so believe in yourself and be the best you can be.
3. Did you notice that none of the contestants who gained advantages won that particular round? For example, in the Final 6, Kylie who chose to make dessert she was confident to nail, was out of the competition because the cream had curdled. So even if someone else seems to have upper hand in the beginning, it is skill, expertise, hard work, focus that wins the day.... and the challenge.
4. Did you notice that the dessert queens never won the challenges that the others predicted they would because it was their forte? What went wrong? Did the pressure get to them or was it something else? Rookies like Andy, Ben, Sam, who had never cooked desserts before, took the game away from the experts. Determination and imagination can get you surprising results.
5. The biggest surprise was Andy, who transformed from an ugly duckling to MasterChef Cinderella (did I just combine 2 stories into 1?!!). He proved that if you apply knowledge, technique into something you love, you can transform yourself from cooking steaks to mastering the fine dining.
6. The team challenges were always interesting in testing out the contestants' team playing, leadership and communication skills. In one of the challenges, Matt Preston mentions that the red team lost because "there was no Alice in your team". It was not only a compliment to the bubbly Alice, but also a reminder to everyone that communication skills are very important no matter in which field you are.
7. It was heartening to see that during the Immunity Pin challenges, the helpers to the contestants wanted to do better lest they let down their friend who was in fray to win the immunity pin. If it was India, probably the helpers would have purposefully ruined the dish, who knows! I am sure the contestants must have been really competitive but they supported each other throughout the competition. Julia was outstanding and she helped all the others no matter what the challenges were and how tired she was.
Closing note: You can learn lot of management (or otherwise) lessons from a cooking reality show as well :-)