People Aren’t Saying Laura From ‘MasterChef’ Is A Bad Cook, They’re Just Calling Out Favouritism

There's a clear double standard here and that's a bigger problem than all the pasta.

masterchef laura pasta favouritism

Throughout the entire season of MasterChef: Back To Win, there has been one major talking point above all else: Laura and her obsession with pasta.

Early in the competition, people noticed Laura’s affinity for pasta, which became a long-running joke for those watching at home. And look, it makes sense. Laura runs a pasta bar in her daily life and comes from an Italian family. Plus, pasta is delicious and often pretty simple to make, so who wouldn’t want to cook it?

The problem here isn’t Laura cooking pasta. The problem here is Laura ONLY cooking pasta and never getting called out for it while other contestants are.

So far in the competition, Jock has called Brendan a “dumpling guy” and on Sunday night Reece was pigeonholed as a “cake guy”. Yet, Laura, despite also “playing to her strengths” has continuously gone without criticism in the competition for her choice to cook the same thing over and over again.

To put this into perspective, in almost every cook where the contestants have had the freedom to make whatever they like, Laura has produced some form of pasta. Earlier in the competition, Laura even went so far as to cook pasta for four entire days in a row.

Starting with cacio e pepe during an elimination cook, Laura followed that pasta with a crostoli (sweet, fried pasta), ravioli doppio and then a gnocchi. Yet despite serving up four pastas in a row, Laura has not once been called the “pasta girl” or been called out for sticking to her comfort zone like other contestants have.

The most recent example of this double standard was when Melissa made an off-hand comment about Reece needing to step out of his comfort zone during this week’s fish-based elimination challenge. Despite having only cooked cake a few times this season (a carrot cake during the vegan challenge and a rum baba on the Katy Perry episode), Melissa told Reece that he “can’t cook cake everyday”.

Beyond this, Reece might be a cake maker by trade but as a vegan chef focused on sweet dishes, Reece has shown a lot of variety so far. From desserts like creme catalan to savoury plates like seared wallaby and beetroot, Reece hasn’t let his background, speciality or own diet affect how and what he cooks in the competition.

Beyond Reece, people often try to highlight that Brendan only cooks dumplings and therefore deserves the same criticisms. But even though Brendan runs a dumpling bar and is great at what he does, he also dishes up different foods too.

Chinese pies, biang biang noodles, Korean fire pockets, pork belly rice rolls and wonton soup are far from “just dumplings” — plus, they’re different types of Asian cuisine. But even still, the judges have called out Brendan for being a “dumpling guy”, which is fine. It’s what he’s known for and best at.

The problem here, again, is calling out Brendan for being a “dumpling guy” while never commenting on Laura’s continuous cooking of pasta. The judges are free to point out what they see — it is their job to judge, after all. But it’s just simply not possible that these same judges who notice Brendan and Reece do not see a very obvious pattern in Laura’s cooking.

Viewers have noticed this blind eye being turned and have come to the conclusion that it’s blatant favouritism at play. Again, this is not a criticism of Laura’s talents. She is obviously a very good cook and great at making pasta.

What viewers are mad at is other contestants essentially being called one-trick ponies while Laura is able to freely cut her pasta dough into different shapes and be praised for it. And yes, while pasta comes in many forms and can be mixed with an array of sauces or stuffed with different fillings, it does not change the fact that Laura is being given a free pass to skate through on variations of the same dish over and over again.

Even Reynold, who’s easily the best dessert maker in the competition, has gone out of his way to learn new things and present dishes outside of his comfort zone. Hell, Reece is a vegan and even he’s serving up blood red meats to keep things fresh and interesting.

And for those who like to defend Laura’s pasta making by saying that contestants like Sarah Tiong only cook South-East Asian food, that’s true. Sarah may only cook with Asian flavours but cooking different dishes from different cultures is not, and will never be, the same as only cooking pasta.

This comparison would only make sense if people were highlighting that Laura was only cooking Italian food — which she is not. Italian food is more than just pasta. Where’s are the risottos? The breads? The pizzas? The stews? If Laura decided that Italian was the cuisine she wanted to stick to, people wouldn’t be mad because at least there would be some variety in her cooking.

Throughout the competition, Laura’s pasta making has only ever been mentioned once by the judges as a passing comment on how well she did during the black box dessert challenge. As Jock was praising Laura for her efforts, he said in passing that it was “no pasta dish” but that is very far from calling Brendan a “dumpling guy” or Reece a “cake guy” and demanding them to step out of their comfort zones.

While people desperately want to like Laura and support her time on MasterChef: Back To Win, the blatant favouritism and clear double standards are getting very hard to ignore. So here’s hoping the judges address the doughy elephant in the room sometime soon otherwise we’ve got a few more tough weeks ahead of us.

MasterChef: Back To Win is on tonight at 7.30pm on Channel 10.