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True courage

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Avatar for zolabundance2
Written by   124
1 month ago

When it comes to reality TV, the only one I follow is Masterchef, both the American and Australian editions. I am more partial to the latter version mostly because there are hardly any toxic contestants there.

It's a cooking competition televised for the world to see so I can only imagine the kind of stress contestants are under in each episode. Not only do they have to create excellent dishes that meet the brief for the day, they must do so under klieg lights and before a camera where their actions, reactions and behavior are magnified for an audience.

Add to that is the fact that as they advance in the competition, the longer they have to be apart from their loved ones since they're locked-in together in one accommodation (this has always been the arrangement even before the pandemic).

So having contestants who can be testy or abrasive is not going to help reduce tension during the actual cook, especially if there are group challenges. And a friendly atmosphere is more conducive even for viewers. This way you can better appreciate the creativity and excellence shown by amateur cooks.

Still, it's a contest and nerves are part of the whole exercise and being away from home for an extended period can get to contestants and add to the pressure.

More pressure

The pandemic, however, plus the extended lockdowns, have made it extra challenging for reality shows on television. If a participant has had the beginnings of mental health disorders prior to making the cut in Masterchef, the multiple pressures each will be subjected to as they progress in the competition will really take a toll on them.

And it is having witnessed one such incident where a contestant bravely came forward with his mental health issue in front of the cameras that I base my post on.

The stigma that comes when admitting to grappling with mental problems is what keeps people from being able to properly address the issue in the first place.

Who would want to come out and tell the world their mental state was very fragile when the response to such admission is getting branded as a nut case, or worse have everyone dismiss your depression as just acting out or seeking attention?

Whether we admit it or not, most people are suffering from some form of mental disorder as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having our mobility restricted or limited, losing jobs, the fear of being infected with the virus and contracting the severe respiratory disease will certainly wreak havoc with our brains!

Raising awareness

Perhaps one good thing that resulted from all this is raising more awareness about the importance of mental health and how we each need to be sensitive to people's feelings and what they're going through.

While it make take a while before the stigma is finally removed, acknowledging the reality of mental health problems, and that everyone is at risk for it, is a huge step forward.

Before the bomb was dropped

Now back to Masterchef... with the number of contestants down to 13 from 24, the pressure is more intense to stay on for at least another week until the finals.

It was an elimination night. One contestant, Tommy, had won the immunity challenge and would watch the proceedings from the gantry. The 12 others would be paired up randomly and compete head-to-head during the first phase of the cooking challenge.

Those who lose in the first part shall again cook and do their best to avoid getting booted out. The twist is that they were given 90 minutes at the beginning of the cook, and whatever time they have left from the first part will be their only time for the second cook, should they have to.

Part of the footage shown in the episode had Brent already admitting he had been struggling days before. And we did notice that the quality of his cooking was declining, based on the judges' comments after tasting.

He's not a fancy cook, but he always presented delicious and well-thought out dishes that met the daily brief. And he was a real friendly bloke, well-liked by both the judges and his peers.

Needless to say, Brent did not win the head-to-head. As he was cooking, and saw the others completing their dishes, you could see him panicking, especially since he had used up more minutes than he planned to.

When the lineup for the second cook was announced, Brent was beside himself, worried since he only had 35 minutes remaining to complete a new dish.

He had to go

Just when the mechanics were to be announced, he quickly raised his hand and told the judges that he "can't cook." Asked to explain, Brent said he wasn't in a good place and would be unable to focus on cooking.

Chef Jock Zonfrillo, one of the judges, pulled him aside and spoke to him. During their emotional conversation Brent said the pressure had been getting to him and that being in the Masterchef kitchen, however a privilege, stressed him out and no longer fulfilled him.

He missed his wife and child, and felt that going home to them was the only way for him to find himself again and be happy.

With a heavy heart, Jock made the announcement that Brent was no longer continuing in the competition, and by default, all the other five cooks would be advancing to the next level.

What Brent did took enormous courage. Not only was he admitting his problem before the close-knit Masterchef family he was part of, the man was also announcing his condition to the world.

But as he walked out of the kitchen for the last time, there was a sense of relief in his face and in his last interview clip, there was already a hint of a smile.

How many people could be as brave as Brent? Yet it was this courage that will hopefully encourage those suffering the same problems as he was to also come forward to seek help as well as be understood.

Did Brent have a chance to win the Masterchef title, trophy and quarter of a million dollars? Perhaps. But what he did already made him a winner, in the minds and hearts of those who witnessed his brave exit. He left on his own terms. And saved his co-competitors from having to cook for a chance to stay on.

Images from Unsplash

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Avatar for zolabundance2
Written by   124
1 month ago
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Comments

I do love to watching Masterchef Australia but only when I come across it, not intentionally seeking it hehe. That is a brave act to do that. Sometimes it's really our loved ones who are more important to us than our own ambition and success.

There was an episode where Reynold was eliminated. That got to me. He was crying, his dreams falling apart. What made it more heartbreaking was that everyone in the room wanted to hug him and comfort him but they just can't because of this pandemic thing. They have to follow the safety rules.

$ 0.03
1 month ago

Ah yes, caught that episode, too. It's really the pressure of wanting to excel in the kitchen that can screw the mind, especially when you're up against really good contenders. And the pandemic preventing people from at least comforting others with a hug is really a bummer. It's just gut-wrenching to see people lose it even as they try to do their best.

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1 month ago

We win some, we lose some :) I think his business was doing great after that show.

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1 month ago

Reynold was already doing well before Back to Win. He just wanted to prove he was really excellent to win the title. His problem, however, was not being as well versed in classical cooking, and since he was used to creating his own wonderful dishes, he usually failed in replicating dishes of master chefs. Still, when it comes to desserts, he truly is a master.

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1 month ago

I also love watching MasterChef whenever I have chance to but then again we don't have tv and we only watched from my sister's house. I guess in this world there is only few Brent. He is a brave and courageous one to face what's the situation had call him to decide. I admire him for that.

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1 month ago

Yes, I also admire him for doing what he did.

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1 month ago

May we be like Brent when the situation calls us to become.😊

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1 month ago

May we be as brave as he is...

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1 month ago

Interesting article. At home we also watch Masterchef. We like cooking shows. Not everyone recognizes that they have a mental health problem, I tell you that I have more than 35 years working in the area.

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1 month ago

Yes, people tend to deny it too... having mental health issues. We want to tell ourselves it's just a rough patch and I can get over this. Or it's a phase. But there is a point when we have to seek help and hopefully, those around us will believe our struggle and indeed help rather than make the situation worse. Thank you for the visit.

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1 month ago

I wish I've watched that episode. He really misses his wife and child, it justifies why he can't focus on what his doing. But yeah, that was so brave for a man to give up that way. He is still a winner for that.

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1 month ago

It was so emotional watching him struggle to do what was right for him... But it was a proud moment for him.

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1 month ago

It was really stressful for all the master chef contenders, it just so happened that brent really misses his family and can no longer focus👨‍👩‍👦👍

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1 month ago

And here I thought it was just a cooking show... a huge lesson to learn

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1 month ago