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Deflating my souffle

The MasterChef final left a bad taste in the mouth.

Hardly possible, you might think, with three cooks heaping more succulent food on each plate than you could eat in a week of dinners.

Especially with two winners so talented they could not be separated. The judges could not put a single sheet of millefeuille pastry between Keri's crispy quail's eggs and Anton's nettle ballantine stuffed with venison trim.

But the plight of loser Oli made the programme sickening. Oli also had put fabulous food on the table, notably a duck confit sausage in potato string. But he was left devastated, a candidate for suicide watch because, in the words of presenter Gregg Wallace, he had "made one mistake too many". Oli put his calvados parfait in the fridge instead of the freezer so it didn't set sufficiently. He slightly undercooked his lobster. Food should not be seasoned by the tears of an eager young chef. In earlier episodes, contestants were subjected to professional scorching, with such insults as: "I actually hate my job for making me eat something like that."

Add in ingredients such as ritual humiliation and bullying and TV cooking becomes an unwholesome diet of tension and conflict.

Remember when MasterChef was about admiring the skills of talented amateur chefs? And laid-back Loyd Grossman would head off to cogitate, deliberate, and digest after having masticated.

There is a nasty streak in professional chefdom, like the pack which used foul language on Twitter to hound into submission a harmless amateur blogger who dared give a lukewarm review to Claude Bosi's two-Michelin Hibiscus restaurant in London.

Food should be about fun, friendship and sharing. As that nice Nigel Slater says: "There is too much talk of cooking being an art or a science – we are only making ourselves something to eat."

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