Bringing MasterChef back to our screens was not only a smart idea, but also a kind one.

We are all indoors. We are all reaching for the eternal comfort that is food. We are all bathing in the memory of pre-pandemic life.

Producers hit the jackpot when MasterChef launched in 2009, with the show revolutionising ‘cooking culture’ in Australia. Now, maybe by sheer luck of timing, MasterChef has returned to us at our most vulnerable; they have nuzzled into a sweet spot where they can serve us familiarity as a starter, nostalgia as a main and magic as a dessert. And we want nothing else but to gobble it up. They offered a far from original ‘all-star’ concept and it turns out it is all we needed.

What fills me with the utmost happiness is that we could be giving our precious viewing time to shows about hot people trying not to have sex, or nutty tiger keepers. Instead, 1.3 million Australians are choosing free-to-air television. We are choosing familiar faces. We are choosing food.

We are met each evening by a kitchen full of jolly people, gathering for no other reason than a love of food. People-vs-people drama is minimal. Remarks of support, hugs and smiles are in abundance. MasterChef gives us a time and place to be every evening. We have people to meet. We have a date; a date with food and its creators. And every evening we show up, as it may be the closest thing we have to dining out with friends.

Food sits at the baseline of our existence. It is scientific and artistic, intimate and extravagant, necessary and absolutely thrilling. It brings us colour and gives us cuddles from the inside out, during times of pleasure and times of need. A show that simply relishes in food will, understandably, be of great comfort to many in times of instability.

And the commercials? I have grown to love them again, like I did when I was a child (they would give me time to play or get ready for bed or finish homework in between the joy of entertainment). As adults, they slow us down further, give us pause; allow us to make a cup of tea, discuss and share thoughts with those watching alongside us. Commercials, too, take us back to our younger years and simpler seasons.

By Michelle Wakim