Just look at the set in this picture. Fake stone clad walls in a strange pinky beige colour like a holiday rental cottage in Devon circa 1982. Random orange vases. Peculiar lighting. It’s a terrible set, a bit like the one you’d see in the 1970s lunchtime ‘housewives’ show Houseparty, which featured a similar fake domestic set plus a cast of various women who would ring the doorbell (did this happen or am I having a weird retro Avon lady dream here?) and happen to ‘drop by’ with a cake recipe or pink loo seat cover pattern to crochet. It was innocent, comforting and ‘hyggelig’ and I loved it to bits.
Saturday Kitchen is a bit slicker of course, but it’s just as cosy. I happened upon it when I was ill a few weeks ago. I remembered host James Martin from Ready, Steady, Cook a few years back, Fern Britton era, when he always seemed to be spinning hot sugar into baskets (pity the poor sod who had to clean the floor after he’d finished). I didn’t like him much then, but he’s lovely in Saturday Kitchen. Maybe he’s older, maybe he prefers being in charge.
It all kicks off (actually, that’s too active a description – ‘gently slides into existence’ perhaps) with him welcoming a couple of viewers, well-coiffed women in their 40s who look like they’d do well in a modern version of Houseparty. He has a couple of professional chefs that join him to cook for the celebrity guest, and these dishes also tasted by the two viewer guests. They get through quite a lot of wine, chosen by an expert such as Jolly Olly.
Last week’s smiley, unchallenging celeb was Amanda Burton, the week before, an entirely pleasant, flirty Gok Wan. Throughout the show the demonstrated recipes are interspersed with clips from other cookery shows, such as MasterChef, Rick Stein or Antonio Carluccio. Works a treat this – none of the repetitive flannel, just a perfect bite-sized mouthful.
My favourite part is when the two chefs enter the cookery version of the ‘Star in a reasonably priced car’ bit of Top Gear by trying to make an omelette in the shortest time possible. They mostly produce a slimy mess of runny eggs, but it’s enjoyable to watch talented people doing something as silly as a Generation Game test, and also, be a bit crap at cooking like the rest of us for once.
At the end of the show, Martin will cook a dish for the celeb which is either their idea of food ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’, and the decision as to which gets decided by the panel members of chefs and viewers.
It’s all terribly pleasant, sweet and gentle, like being fed spoonfuls of shepherd’s pie whilst slolloping on a La Z Boy recliner.
Posted by Inkface