Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Kitchen Rules - Who Rules Your Life?

by Narelle Atkins

Cooking shows are very popular here in Australia and the new season of the top rating MasterChef Australia commenced last week (very good news for Aussie cooking show junkies!) A few months ago I was glued to the screen on a Monday and Tuesday night watching an Aussie reality tv show called My Kitchen Rules.

In the first round of My Kitchen Rules, the contestants (pairs) created an ‘instant restaurant’ in their homes (or they borrowed a friend or relative’s home for the shoot). There were two groups in Round One and a team in each group represented one of the five mainland states. The contestants flew around the country and dined with each other, plus two celebrity chef judges. The teams cooked a three course dinner for ten guests, and their performance was scored by the other contestants and the celebrity chef judges. The highest scoring teams from each group competed against each other in the studio to win the $100,000 first prize.

The teams consisted of married couples, sisters, friends, newly dating, childhood sweethearts and a happily divorced couple. I sat in my comfortable living room and tuned in, hoping to learn how to create fine dining food.

The contestants designed their own menus and had a few hours to purchase their fresh ingredients before they started cooking. Their courses included: Squid with Rocket & Aioli Garlic, Trout Ravioli, Orange Blossom Custard, Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Slick and Palm Sugar Caramel. Clint and Noah (runners up in the competition) produced a divine chocolate cake that everyone loved. These recipes plus more can be found on the My Kitchen Rules website.

The trick was to create a difficult menu to demonstrate technique, but not bite off more than they can chew and have their dish ‘flop’.

One thing I learned from watching the teams was, no matter how prepared you are, whether or not you’ve cooked the dish fifty times before, a lot can go wrong on the night. Every course is a gamble and nothing is a sure thing for success! One little thing going wrong could set off a domino effect that ruined the dish. And bombing out in one course could be the difference between staying in the competition and leaving at the end of Round One.

We can sometimes try to fool ourselves into believing we have everything under control. Financial security, a stable family, good health, and a career we love. Life can be going great but, in the blink of an eye, everything can change – stock markets crash, lose your job, accident, unexpected health crisis. Like the old saying goes, there are two guarantees in life – death and taxes. Just because we work really hard to achieve something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen or be successful. Aspiring authors know this all too well – there are no guarantees that we’ll be offered a publishing contract and sell truck loads of books despite how hard we work to improve our craft and write a marketable story.

In a restaurant, the chefs are in the kitchen, and it’s the waiters who deliver the food to the customers. The restaurant patrons don’t usually see what happens behind the scenes. Mistakes can be hidden, dishes recooked or replated if necessary, and the customers are none the wiser.

With an ‘instant restaurant’ in the contestant’s homes, the judges were seated in their dining room, could hear what’s happening in the kitchen (including arguments and stressed out contestants cracking under the pressure) and the judges made unexpected visits to the kitchen to check on progress.

God isn’t remote, like the chef’s in restaurants that you don’t often meet in person. We can’t hide from God – he’s omniscient and knows our secret desires and thoughts.

God is up-close, personal, involved and interested in our lives. He loves us and we can’t hide our mistakes and disobedience to his word. He is like a judge in our ‘instant restaurant’, and he will sit in judgement and call us to be accountable for our lives.

Romans 5:8-10 (NIV) says: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

The good news is we can become a new creation in Christ, and have his spirit living in us to help us follow God’s will for our lives. Our salvation through Jesus is a ‘sure thing’, one guarantee we can hold onto as we face life’s challenges.

Childhood sweethearts Shadi and Veronica from Queensland won Season One of My Kitchen Rules. His Lebanese heritage and her Italian heritage inspired them to create a winning combination in the kitchen and one day they hope to open their own restaurant. They may rule the kitchen, but who rules your life?


  1. Great post, Narelle and even at 6am those foods sound yummy. I admit I love cooking shows. I love to cook and I have a little insight into the world of restaurants and behind-the-scenes. Do you find the tv chefs' dishes inspire you to 'try this at home'?

    How true that even with practice and experience, the smallest thing can go wrong--in the kitchen and in life. Pie crust is my favorite example!

    Another old saying: Expect the best, prepare for the worst. But we Christians have some help behind scenes, out of camera shot, don't we? A God who has it all under control!

    Thanks Narelle!
    by the way, Mangoes are a luxury item in my neck of the woods....

  2. Narelle, I am certainly no fan of cooking. I'm too spacey and tend to forget ingredients and burn things. I completely freak out cooking for anyone other than immediate family. I can't even imagine the pressure of a cooking show. Someone would need to institutionalize me. I now take salads and homemade dips to church pot lucks. I can usually do a decent job with those.

    I love the spiritual tie in. God is judge, but he's also counselor, helper, and best friend. How nice to know he's on our side.

  3. I hate cooking, too, Dina! But I do love watching cooking shows. Probably because my chef-to-be daughter loves watching them and I've gotten hooked. My Kitchen Rules sounds like one we would like! But I love how you've tied in spiritual truth, too, Narelle. A great reminder to start my day!

  4. This show sounds like so much fun. (And I confess I'm curious about the Orange Blossom Custard. Sounds delicate and yummy.) I don't watch a lot of cooking shows, but I used to watch "Take Home Chef" with my mom, featuring Curtis Ooh-can't remember his last name. But he'd sneak up on someone shopping in the grocery store, then go home with them and teach them how to create a fabulous meal for their loved ones. It was a cute show and I got some great recipes from it, including a potato gratin which is just about the most decadent thing I've ever eaten. The kids and I were into the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution show, too.

    I love the spiritual tie in. I'm so glad God is in charge!

    Thanks, Narelle. Wonderful post!

  5. I like a lot of cooking shows including Top Chef and Iron Chef. I don't mind cooking, but I hate cleaning up afterward. And I make such a big mess that no one really wants to clean up after me.

    Love the idea of taking it to the amateurs and having them work at home. Sounds like a hoot.

  6. I've never heard of this show but my husband I love Kitchen nightmares! So much fun to watch.

  7. Deb, these cooking shows do inspire me to want to cook some of the dishes - especially the desserts :-) How terrible for you that mangoes are a luxury item - you'll have to visit Australia during our summer so you can buy a large tray of mangoes for a very reasonable price!

  8. Dina, I'm currently watching Masterchef and a few nights ago the contestants were given a cooking challenge and only 2 minutes to grab their ingredients from the pantry (the size of a small store) - talk about time pressure! I was amazed that most of the contestants didn't forget to collect all their ingredients :-) Then they had only a limited time to prepare their dish - they need to be very organised and have nerves of steel to survive!

  9. D'Ann, I think this is why cooking shows are successful - you don't need to be a good cook to enjoy the experience :-) Although, it's better to watch them with a full stomach otherwise that block of chocolate in the cupboard or tub of icecream in the freezer becomes very attractive!

  10. Susie, by memory I think the Orange Blossom Custard is a traditional Lebanese recipe. Was it Curtis Stone (blond, looks like a surfer)? He has been involved with some very successful cooking shows here in Australia.

    We had a similar show here a few years ago (starting in a grocery store, and they can only use ingredients in the shopper's basket) with a chef called Aristos. They cooked some wonderful recipes and we use one of his cookbooks all the time :-)

  11. Lisa, I'm hearing you about the clean up afterwards :-) Even with a dishwasher there's always lots of cleaning to do! My husband and I both cook and if one of us cooks, the other one does the clean up. Although, I do tend to wash up as I go because I hate having dirty dishes piled up everywhere in my kitchen :-)

  12. T.Anne, I don't think 'My Kitchen Rules' has made it to North America, although I hope you're able to watch a similar show because it's lots of fun :-)

  13. Oooh, Narelle, I love the analogy. Very nice. You're so clever to tie this in with a cooking show. Which sounds fun, by the way. I don't cook, and I don't watch cooking shows, but I think I'd watch this show.

  14. If I had more time for TV, cooking shows would sizzle and pop and bang their way into my life. We transplanted Southerners treat food like an art and LOVE talking about it, making it, eating it.

    Great post!!!

  15. Yes, Narelle, Curtis Stone! That was the surname on the tip of my tongue but I wasn't sure. He is a a sweet-tempered guy, and his surfer look is nice too...Hmm, I'm thinking of a plot for a new romance now, LOL!

  16. Suzie, it's a fun show and the dinner parties in the first round focused on the whole dining experience, which I think made it more interesting for those who aren't into cooking.

  17. Patti, it sounds like we have a lot in common :-)

  18. Susie, I'm hearing you and totally agree :-) A good looking man who can cook - definitely hero material!


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