Save the rhetoric, show the data: cooking show wannabe shows how little some cooks know

Intertubes have prevented so many bar fights.

In the past, someone would assert John Fogerty was singing, “There’s a bathroom on the right,” when he was really singing, “There’s a bad moon on the rise.”

Now, check the web, lyrics are there, punches avoided. But arguments in the absence of data continue, predominantly on dumb cooking shows.

The MasterChef franchise has extended to Australia and New Zealand. I don’t watch it but saw this story from the New Zealand Herald where the eliminated contestant made protestations that his chicken was perfect, while the judges disagreed.

“Controversial MasterChef contestant Tony Price has hit out at the reality show’s judges after he was eliminated for serving "slightly undercooked" chicken.

“Price was told he was being sent home after last night’s tense cookbook challenge because his spicy Spanish chicken dish was undercooked.

But Price – who sparked a nationwide debate about "narking" after dobbing in two contestants for cheating in last week’s Singapore-based challenge – today told his chicken dish was "cooked to perfection."

"I knew then that I didn’t serve undercooked chicken and I still know now that it wasn’t undercooked," he said.

"It was moist all the way through. It was in an oven at 200 degrees for 35 minutes – that’s after I’d browned it off in a pan – then it went into a resting oven for another 30 minutes at 70 degrees.

"It can’t not have been cooked – it’s a matter of physics and maths."

Price, an Auckland resident who is now cooking fulltime, said the judges should have criticised him for putting them at risk of salmonella – a food bug which can be caught by eating raw chicken.

"If (chicken) isn’t cooked, you can’t eat it. That’s a black and white thing. If it wasn’t cooked through enough to get me eliminated, they should have been slamming me for having put them in a dangerous situation (because) they ate so much of it.

There’s an easy, data-based solution: use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

I have no idea what narking or dobbing mean.  

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time