Category Archives: Cooking shows

Celebrity Masterchef: Your 15 minutes is up

imageI actually quite enjoy this version, truth be told. Not so much the personnel in question, who range from quite endearing to making you want to put your fist through the wall, but because they have some rather good challenges in this incarnation. The ingredient recognition test was always one of my favourites and I’m pleased to see it’s made a comeback, even though some of the items are insultingly simple. Red pepper, seriously?! Although I’d suppose you’d technically get brownie points for knowing it is a bell pepper, but this wasn’t adhered to.

The disparity between competence levels is both amusing and frustrating and makes you realise all the more they had to take who they could get, so thinly stretched is the ‘talent’ available. These Celeb versions littering the schedules rely on us, the ever-slavering public, giving two figs as to whether so-and-so who once presented something on an obscure cable channel is now able to boil an egg satisfactorily. You do get one or two bona fide big names per series, Vic Reeves being one this time round. Shame he couldn’t have been paired with Ulrika Jonsson. Or Ulrika-ka-ka, as she’s better known from their time on Shooting Stars. He might have relaxed her slightly. She looks like she’s being almost constantly tortured, which makes you wonder why she’s subjected herself to it. Oh yes, for cash probably. Continue reading

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Masterchef: This little Masterchef went to market….

‘I’m a pig in a sweetshop’. Ooh Wallace, with your Wildean bon mots, you are rillllly spoiling us. Actually, he said ‘kid’ not pig, but he doesn’t enunciate properly and it’s all much of a muchness with our fruit and veg man anyway. Yep, Masterchef, in all its infuriating glory, is back. So, what’s new? Well, they’ve got their names embroidered on their aprons, rather than one of those badges you get at conferences, so the budget must have been upped. Anything else? Yep, there’s a new challenge. ‘It’s called the market test’, announced Torode proudly, as if his toddler had just taken its first step. ‘We’ve built you a market.’ Woah, slow down there with these breakneck speed ideas. I thought he was going to say he’d built a brand new combine harvester!  Continue reading

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Masterchef: The gladiators

Guest post by Maggie Gordon-Walker

masterchef professionalsSo here we are in the latter stages of the competition and we can all rest easy. Any competitor who isn’t young, white and male has been eliminated. Phew, that’s better isn’t it? It being the Pro version we need a man to voiceover it so here’s Sean Pertwee (not exactly the eponymous Doctor is it, Sean?) giving us the lowdown on the sous vides, the purees and the foams. Ah yes, the foams, that irritate Marcus Wareing to such an extent that he’s in more of a lather than the foam is, which is puddle-like by the time the judges get to it. No surprise really. The strictures of the filming mean the food is always cold when the judges taste it (someone who’d been on the show told me).  Continue reading

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The Taste: A rose between two prawns

The Taste Tasting RoomWhy are people tuning into the new Channel 4 show The Taste? Let me count the ways. Because they enjoy cookery programmes? A few, possibly. Because they’re fans of Anthony Bourdain’s 2000 sex, drugs and buttered roll book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly ? Some. I loved it – and I got the vibe that a few contestants on The Taste were hoping they could look forward to a bit of a hardass Tony tongue-lashing in future episodes, definitely.

Nobody I know has ever heard of French ‘Allo ‘Allo stylee head chef Ludo Lefebvre that’s for sure. He’s apparently big in LA, but an unknown quantity here, other than appearing to be a bit of an egotistical, culinary willy waving twat (which Google Translate tells me, perhaps unreliably, is “zizi-agitant con culinaire”).

So what was the big draw? Nigella, of course. Along with most of the country, I couldn’t give a toss about the alleged cocaine snorting, I’m just sad she chose such a massive zizi-agitant con for a second husband and wish the ghost of John Diamond would come and “calm him down” with a couple of firm hands around the throat.

Anyhoo, Nigella was on top form. She’s a beautiful woman I don’t envy, because she’s mentally placed in my ‘statuesque goddess’ file, along with Sophie Loren, Beyonce and Angelina Jolie. She didn’t disappoint. Utterly, preposterously gorgeous. Also, kind, funny, smart, supportive. Made the two blokes look even more like a pair of zizi-agitant cons culinairesContinue reading

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Great British Bake Off: Buns ho!

There’s been so much good telly recently, slobbing on the couch has never been so much fun. And a bit educational, in a literary sense, too. There was Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s novel Parade’s End (Rebecca Hall, Benedict Cumberbatch magnificent, and the rest of the cast were superb as well). I also enjoyed two ITV productions, which isn’t something I expected to write; The Bletchley Circle (I love Anna Maxwell Martin), and their adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier novel, Scapegoat (starring a most excellent Matthew  Rhys  – who you’ll know as Kevin from Brothers and Sisters). And the Strictly matchmaking show followed by a three-week hiatus, which happens every year, and every year I forget and get cross. Then there’s the return of The Thick of It, which is warming up to be nicely evil.

But in all this loveliness, the beacon of televisual fabulousness  every week  is the fragrant and delectable Great British Bake Off.

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Homeland, White Heat & MasterChef

Yes, I know the customary Pauseliveaction procedure is to pick just ONE programme to write about, but I’m greedy, and frankly I’ve been a viewing flibbertijibbet recently, so this post reflects that.

These have been three of my favourite programmes of late (to be fair, I must add that I also loved Prisoners Wives, and am quite enjoying Pramface. Well, the former has the fabulous Pippa Heyward in it, the latter has Angus Deayton and Anna Chancellor, and BOTH have Emma Rigby).

I’ve flitted in and out of MasterChef. I was utterly hypnotised by Aki’s eyes for quite some time, and when she got told off by John for being a mucky pup in the barn-based-undercooked-brownie-debacle (and we never did find out who sabotaged her), my heart went out to her. I couldn’t keep a white apron clean making meringues.

But when she left, my viewing became intermittent. The Jane Austen Fan Club task, with its purple horror show beetroot sauce, made me feel queasy.  The way every task is made out to be so hysterically dramatic and overhyped, with daft, shrieky incidental music, makes me want to shout “It’s only FOOD dudes. Chill the fuck OUT”.

But then, Twitter chums, including Pauseliveaction herself, alerted me to the concurrent (to the programme) tweets of @themanwhofell, and this brought the magic back. Surreal, hilarious. Utter genius. It’s the Twitter equivalent of having Dave Lamb narrate Come Dine With Me, but even better.

Sadly he wasn’t tweeting for the final, in which the beautiful Shelina beat the two boys, Tom and Andrew, to win the trophy, and frankly, it was less fun. But I’m glad she won. Continue reading

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The Great Sport Relief Bake Off: BBC Celebrity Special


Sports and cakes? Do they go together? I think not. And I’d have to seriously question the ‘celebrity’ bit of this, since I hardly recognise anyone, apart from Angela Griffin, Arlene Phillips and Fi Glover. But I’m enjoying it hugely. Why? Because they’re being set tasks most primary school kids would expect to do in a cooking lesson, (eg cheese scones), and despite that, they’re mostly crap, that’s why.

The woman who plays the shop assistant in Miranda tipped a ton of red colouring into her electric mixer for her revolting looking ‘red velvet tray bake’, turned the mixer on, then splattered red slop over herself and everything around her. Then she created an accidental snowstorm with icing sugar and a fast moving whisk attachment. That never happens on the main series of the Great British Bake Off. The contestants are far too good, too practised and perfectionist for that sort of thing.

And by ‘that sort of thing’ I mean what I sometimes do when I cook. I was employed as a chef once and I sent watercress soup squirting with vivid green splendour up the walls of a very posh kitchen when I forgot to put the lid on the blender. Twice. Oh yes.

It seems that many of these ‘celebrities’ never bake in real life at all. Arlene Phillips got herself into somewhat of a pickle. Angela Griffin was pretty darn good, and is in the final tonight. Fi Glover and Anita Rani too.

Sadly there is no Sue Perkins in this. And the banging on about baking cakes to raise money for Sports Relief gets a bit tedious (fine cause though it is of course). I love seeing the wonderful Mary Berry and rather foxy Paul Hollywood looking on with pained sorrow at times, when all of the banana chocolate cakes are so bad as to be inedible, or pastry sticks to the surface, quiche sticks to the flancase, or someone makes a prawn meringue, yes you heard that right. Truly, madly, horrible. But brilliant.

The celebrities flail around like helpless, hopeless mortals who normally buy Mr Kipling slices. God bless them, one and all.

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