Every time I watched Masterchef, I wonder if academic writings can be judged like the way John and Gregg comment on the dishes served by the contestants.
In some way, cooking actually has some similarities with writing. A chef (or a cook) has to cook a dish by using certain ingredients. There she has lamb, rice, cabbage, green peas, onion, garlic, pepper, salt, cumin, soy sauce, etc. In the process, she has to cut the meat here, cut the vegetables there, grind, crush, chop, mash, boil, fry, etc. While processing the ingredients with those treatments is one thing, plating the food on the dish is another. After the cooking is done, she has to pick the right form of plate, meticulously arrange the food, decorate the placement, shape the balance, and finally clean the plate to make it shine.
Writing, on the other hand, is not too different. The writer has to produce a certain amount of text by using certain ingredients. There he has journal articles, book chapters, notes, videos, photographs, interview transcripts, and also the writer’s own knowledge and experience on the topic. In the process, he has to highlight the sentences here, mark the paragraphs there, take note on some relevant quotes, compile the articles, make comments on some interesting points, etc. Afterwards, he has to, and this is the hardest part, write.
However, the process is not that simple. And here is where it differs. On cooking, we just go in one straight way from preparing the ingredients, cooking them, and serving them on a plate. And we cannot not re-cut or re-chop the meal that is lying on the frying pan! (Well, you can of course for those who would). On writing, we cannot go in that single linear way. To produce a high quality writing, revisions are the main part of writing. Write and revise, write and revise, write, get feedback, and revise, these are what it would be like when one writes a paper (not counting the writer’s block period).
At the same time, a writer has to ‘plate’ their writings. Presenting them beautifully that (hopefully) will attract the reader’s interest to read the text until the end. The choice of words, the organisation of sentences, the use of punctuations, the craft of storyline, all these are the elusive moves that a writer has to be deliberate in doing so.
Then, voila! You come to the point where you feel that the writing is good enough. If cooking takes hours, writing may take a lifetime to accomplish. However, at one point (or mostly because of the deadline) we must say enough is enough. And submit them.
Coming back to where we were with Masterchef. Let’s say that this time our paper is submitted to the John and Gregg. Imagine that these sorts of comments are given to your writing.
and finally, Gregg would say:
I would love to hear if some reviewers will give these comments. :)
There is even a song compiled from Gregg and John's comments:
Buttery biscuit base!
And you can get the feel yourself by watching on this parody:
Michel Roux, Jr. and Gregg Wallace judging the finalist