Masterchef has now reached the interesting stage, where the final six have been chosen and are whittled down by a relentless slog of cookery challenges.
Last night, the six had to produce a three course meal for 20 ladies who were all bigwigs in the Womens Institute. These ladies, India Fisher breathlessly reminded us, “knew all about food.” They were “experts in their field,” their field including, but not confined to, jam and relish. And cakes.
The six all set to work, under the relentless gaze of the camera and judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace, who proceeded to ramp up the tension as much as possible by shaking their heads, sighing loudly and exchanging forlorn glances at every opportunity.
One of the contestants was a dead man walking from the start. Despite apparently “knowing all about flavour” and “delivering some exceptional plates of food” (the Masterchef cliches are uttered so often that they stick in your head) he made a right mess of his fishcakes. “There’s something wrong with that,” John Torode commented, eyeing the small bowl of mashed potato that was supposed to feed 20. And then he left half of his wilted green unwilted. And he hadn’t been keeping an eye on his walnuts.
As well as being a bit horrible, it was all going to be horribly late! The ladies who lunch would have to wait five minutes! John and Gregg were appalled. The ladies who lunch, starters devoured, sat in a frosty silence waiting for the promised fishcakes. They could have profitably spent the time by posing nude for another calendar, but no.
Considering the main course was such a disaster (“My walnut is burned!”), you’d think the ladies would be more than ready for a decent pudding. They were having some kind of jelly, a bakewell tart, a biscuit and a slice of Victoria sponge. Stacie was in charge of the Victoria sponge. Stacie’s fashion sense is rooted in the 1960s – she even has a scooter – and her cooking sensibilities are very much rooted in her native north east. This means massive portions like her mam used to give her, and like she gives her husband (who is one lucky man). So Stacie made the biggest Victoria sponge John Torode had ever seen, and dished out humongous slices. The ladies professed to be shocked. “This is enough for two… or even three!” they gasped. Stuffed full of fresh cream and jam it looked bloody delicious, and I bet if no-one else was watching those ladies would have rammed the whole lot down their necks very happily.
I’m not sure what the point of the exercise was, as no judging seemed to occur and the six contestants were wheeled back to Masterchef HQ (see, I’m so immersed in these catchphrases now I’m not even bothering with the quotation marks) to produce yet more perfect plates of food.
The dead man walking guy jittered around and sweated a lot and John Torode gave him a short inspirational lecture about believing in himself, which did absolutely no good because he carried on sweating and jittering. Don’t ask me what he cooked, because it all becomes a blur of towers of this, smears of that and blobs of the other after an hour. It can’t have been good, though, because they sent him home, and he was so upset he threw his apron on the floor rather than hang it up nicely in his locker. This is high drama, Masterchef-style.
Tonight the action is going to involve lots of running up and down some ancient steps in a castle. It could be that the remaining five have to prepare vats of boiling oil to repel invaders. More likely, they’re just doing more cookery.
Posted by PLA (we’ve blogged about lots of cooking shows here)