As far as iconic moments on Australian television go, Matt Preston’s plate drop is right up there.
The year was 2010 and it was the second season of MasterChef. Preston was tasting a pasta dish made by contestant Aaron Harvie, and he didn’t appear to be impressed.
“There are some dishes that are freakish Frankenstein disasters,” Preston said in the episode. “And quite frankly, that is disgusting.”
Preston then dropped Harvie’s plate of pasta on the ground, smashing it into pieces.
With the contestant on the verge of tears, Preston then smiled and clarified, “disgustingly good!”
News.com.au recently caught up with Preston to chat about his new show Plate of Origin, which kicks off on Channel 7 tonight, and we couldn’t help but ask about that wild plate drop moment.
“In retrospect it was a stupid thing to do,” Preston said. “There’s an element of knowing better.”
Preston said the plate drop was his idea, and the only person he told about it was the head cameraman.
“They would have wanted to control it and do multiple shots of it,” he said about why he didn’t tell the producers. “And you miss the moment that way.”
As for why he dropped the plate, Preston explained: “One thing that was happening that year was that the contestants would take their plate back and all the other contestants would taste it. My thinking was that it was such a great dish that every contestant would want to taste it, but I’d not let them taste it.”
Preston said he thought it would be a bit of humour within an episode and Harvie “wouldn’t have to suffer”.
But instead, the moment was heavily promoted by Channel 10 and was made to seem much worse than it was. When the actual episode aired, there was even an ad-break between him saying “disgusting” and “disgustingly good”.
“The promo started on Monday of the plate hitting the floor and the follow up comment didn’t happen until Sunday,” Preston told news.com.au. “That’s a long time.
“The audience thinks it’s going to be something ugly and horrid and then you don’t deliver on what you promised and they get p***ed off by that.
“It also looked really mean. You should always try to avoid being mean, and that came across as mean,” he said.
Preston has regretted the moment ever since he did it, but he does find it amusing that it’s gone on to “become a bit of a thing”.
In December last year, the Plate of Origin star discovered the iconic moment had featured on a “doof stick” at the Strawberry Fields Festival in NSW.
According to Urban Dictionary, a “doof stick” is “a tall stick, thick enough for attachments of one’s choice, used as an identifier to find friends, of artistic or self-expression”.
“It’s kind of nice that something you did becomes a figure of fun and gives a laugh to another generation,” Preston told news.com.au.
But the popular presenter has guaranteed he won’t be pulling a similar “stupid” stunt on his new show, Plate of Origin.
“There’s not that same kind of pretentiousness, it’s much friendlier,” he said.
Ten teams of two representing different countries will compete on the show, with judges Gary Mehigan, Manu Feildel and Preston to determine whose food is the best.
The winning team will pocket $100,000.
“The whole focus of the show is people bringing the sort of food they’d serve up at their house on a Sunday,” Preston said. “It’s not fancy, fine dining restaurant food. This is real home cooking with soul.”
He added the show is a “joyous experience” and said there’s no bitchiness between the contestants.
“We’re not into that stuff,” he told news.com.au. “It’s by and large pretty loving and pretty funny.
“Hopefully people will connect with that and they don’t want car crash television because that’s not something that Gary, Manu or myself would like to make.”
Plate of Origin premieres tonight at 7pm on Channel 7 and continues on Monday and Tuesday night