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Master Chef

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There are lessons to be taken from everything we see, if only we look and listen for them.  Here are some BiteSize learnings I picked up from the recent Celebrity MasterChef series:

Give people the opportunity to do things they’ve never done and be amazed by what they can achieve. TV presenter Rylan Clark, who genuinely didn’t seem to have a clue about cooking at the start, beat 17 other contestants to the competition Final, producing creative feats such as his gourmet homage to the Shard, London. It won’t work out every time but it’s worth taking the risk to uncover hidden talent.  

Encourage and reward creativity for outstanding results. Competition in the Final was tough: TV presenter Sam Nixon had a track record executing classic dishes with creative twists – sticky toffee pudding and dandelion and burdock ice cream, Ex Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt produced elegant food you wanted to reach into the screen and grab and there seemed to be no limit to Rylan’s imagination or ambition. But any seasoned fan knew the real competition was always between Sam and Kimberly. In the end it was Kimberly’s winning combination of technique and creativity which won her the MasterChef crown.

Give yourself permission to manage and your team will succeed. It was obvious that the team leaders approach was the decisive factor in the semi-final. Actor Scott Maslen was on top of individual team members’ tasks and took responsibility for motivation, setting the tone for some serious hard work, allowing a moment of light relief only when the job was done. In contrast, Presenter Sheree Murphy seemed uncomfortable with her leadership role, failed to grasp an overview of tasks and joked around like “one of the” team. The result: undercooked and burnt food, stress and a team fail.

Know your audience for effective communication. Serving a meal can be a bit like delivering a presentation: both require careful planning and preparation, can be nerve racking and share ultimate aim to engage and delight the audience. Something Rylan’s team failed to appreciate when they served pasta at the authentic Victorian feast; they would have been better off serving steak and kidney pie. It’s easy to make simple mistakes when you fail to prepare for your audience.

Be prepared to leave your comfort zone in order to embrace change. Resistance to change can be deep rooted and related to past events. Rylan puts his fish phobia down to a childhood incident when his big brother shoved him on a fish counter. When he joined the competition he had never eaten, let alone, cooked fish, so when he was asked to prepare halibut and squid he was visibly shaken. Despite being completely out of his comfort zone he did it with the encouragement and firm guidance of Chef Angela Hartnett. It was a treat to watch his response to the fantastic feedback he received on his dish.

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