Masterchef The Professionals – disagreeing with the judges is sometimes the only way to win.

The current series of Masterchef – The Professionals which is running on BBC2 has lacked excitement. We don’t even have the frequent assertion that “Cooking doesn’t get much tougher than this” – perhaps because the candidates on this version of the reality show are actually people who earn a living from cooking unlike the amateur, dinner party enthusiasts of the core series.

(So that they actually know that cooking does in fact get tougher.)Tucked away in the most recent episode was a great turning point moment.

Two of the six remaining chefs were battling it out for a place in the final. Clare, a self deprecating woman with clear talent, was pitching with a starter of a giant ravioli (or should that be raviolo?), and a main of “pan-roasted calves liver with crushed jersey royals in a spring vegetable broth”. Imagine if you will the stirring music that injected excitement into the gritty finale cook off with her immediate rival – a rather charming French bloke who made some lovely rum ice-cream. The key moment came when the judges Michel Roux Junior and Gregg Wallace tasted her food. They both liked the food but Gregg said he didn’t like the combination of broth and liver – he didn’t think they went together. Getting the mix of flavours and textures wrong is enough to lose the competition usually. Mild mannered, unconfident Clare, uncharacteristically, said that she understood his point but that she disagreed with him. At this moment the course of the show changed completely. Up until this point her rival looked like he was going to carry off the prize. On any previous show a criticism of culinary juxtapositions would be enough to ensure a knock out. Clare stood her ground, and carried the day.

Not being afraid to disagree with other people’s opinions and conventional wisdom is a sign of potential greatness. As Rupert Murdoch pointed out in his recent speech at the Centre for policy studies (, Margaret Thatcher (of whom I am not a fan) was undoubtedly willing to court unpopularity even within her own party in order to get change to happen. Murdoch said “…she has that admirable quality so rare in politicians – a willingness to court unpopularity. As she said, “If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”

Not agreeing with her judge on MasterChef must have taken some courage. But standing her ground got Clare in the final. I await with reawakened interest now the final result – but good luck to her and her giant ravioli.

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