Tag Archives: marcus wareing

Masterchef: The Professionals. Ho, ho, ho…

by Maggie Gordon-Walker

Time once more for Masterchef: The Professionals; the hardhitting juggernaut, with nary a festive cheer, especially unseasonal since it was filmed in summer. And we’ve got a new title sequence to admire, where our three presenters turn to the camera as if they’re being sent to their doom, especially Marcus Wareing, who looks up with wounded rabbit eyes, resembling a bearded Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale.

I was asked to share some thoughts on the latest MC instalment, which gets ever harder with this iteration. I mean, the line-up is almost always 95% young, white males, with varying amounts of Ts & Ps (tattoos and piercings). Slightly less Ts & Ps than I remember from a year or so back, although the recently dispatched John had those things, which are all hole and no earlobe. Like a pair of giant hula hoops either side of one’s bonce. I’ve just looked up what they’re called: ‘flesh tunnels.’ Well, that’s appetising, isn’t it…?

I didn’t mind John though, ear decoration aside. He was, whisper it, not actually cowed and grovelling, having the temerity to look somewhat irked in an earlier episode when receiving criticism. Through pursed lips, he declared in the VT that he thought what he’d produced was good and should have got better feedback. Dear God man, that’s like telling the Daleks to calm down a bit. He wasn’t aquiver with gratification at the prospect of The Mighty Shrek bestowing one of his favourable culinary bon mots…. ‘deep and meaty’, for example. It was definitely The Big E when Marcus declared smugly that John’s unravelling at the pop-up kitchen was ‘a classic example of a chef who’s not tried and tested’, with all the delight of someone finding an unexpected fiver on the pavement. (A special moment of scorn here for their notion of the ‘pop-up’; which takes place in an industrial hangar in the arse end of nowhere, with a fleet of servers with the word STAFF emblazoned on their T-shirts in the way no pop-up ever does).

So, at the time of writing, there’s six left. They mostly merge into one amiable, slightly anxious youth. Except Portuguese Daniel, who carries all the worries of the world upon his skinny shoulders. The lad is haunted. If this were the film version (dear God no, I couldn’t take Shrek in close-up), he’d be played by Steve Buscemi. You have the feeling you’d like to edge the knives away from him, just in case, but then he breaks into a smile. However, the real characters have all gone, along with the diversity. Such as Charath, who was the undeserved recipient of Marcus’ little moue that his curry should have had rice to mop up the sauce, not bread. Eh?! What’s the bread doing there then, knitting a jumper?!

Well now, onto the judges and let us consider Shrek some more, aka Gregg Wallace, which lends itself beautifully to Egg. The fact that he’s still there is a mystery, as he has neither wit nor knowledge to bring to the table. A couple of times in this series he’s held a different opinion to Marcus and Monica (the actual experts), as to the quality of what he’s eating. I did catch an irritated glance from Marcus at one of Egg’s utterances, yet it doesn’t seem to be enough to shift him. The contestants occasionally murmur that they were sorry Gregg didn’t like something they’d spent hours sweating blood over. Why are they not inwardly screaming in horror at having to pay heed to the ex-greengrocer with a failed restaurant…? Sorry, TWO failed restaurants. But the one thing he used to do right, THE ONE THING, Greggy-boy, was LOOK like an egg. Now he’s slimmed down so much he’s almost thinner than Monica. As far as I know Wife Number Four is working out ok, putting paid to the notion that people in relationships get tubbier (cf his erstwhile presenter Torode). It’s a pickle. Maybe even a pickled egg.

The most entertaining contestant by far was Nic, way back in the early rounds. My friend pondered if he’d imbibed too much coke in the dressing room (and not the stuff you drink), as the man DID NOT STOP TALKING. Certainly, the patter meant he couldn’t cook effectively, but the fact that he out-geezered Shrek by a million apples and pears is worth anyone’s licence fee. The heats had a couple of other amusing moments. In one challenge they were presented with a tin opener and told to knock something up. They looked as flummoxed as if they’d been given a monkey wrench and a couple of feather dusters and told to create a meringue with them. I know they’re all about their fine dining and/or foraging, but surely one of them has made something with a tin of tomatoes before? Another time they were exhorted to make something ‘with colour’. That’s definitely the result of someone on the production team on the happy sauce. I’m yet to think of something I’ve eaten that has entirely NO colour to it, but I’ll be sure to rush to tell the world when I do.

4 Comments

Filed under Cooking shows

Masterchef the Professionals: Popping up near you

EE494203-EB5C-4BD1-9EA5-3DE6E4F31071

Boiled (Gr)egg

Yep, the gladiatorial instalment is back. Much the same as ever. Marcus – still wearing his ‘nice guy’ mask, Monica – a little bit feistier and more relaxed than in previous series, Gregg…words fail. When teamed with Torode, I think of them as Toady and Shrek. On his own that doesn’t suit, so I’ll just call him Boiled (Gr)egg, Boiled for short.

Boiled is clearly there because they have an hour long slot to fill and think we all need to see him shovelling forkfuls into his gob, being faux chummy with the contestants, gurning and repeating what Head Girl and Boy have said, with a puzzled frown on his face. I don’t need it, frankly. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if each episode was only 45 minutes because he had been shelled, sorry shelved and the proper judges could get on with it without resorting to picture cards?

Astonishingly, we seem to have reached the final twelve and they’re not all young, white men – who would have thought? So, what’s new this time? Not a whole lot, although I did notice they made less of the ‘bottom four’ having to cook-off and focused on saying the top eight had got through. A subtle distinction, but less damning. Continue reading

Comments Off on Masterchef the Professionals: Popping up near you

Filed under Cooking shows

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

3 Comments

Filed under Cooking shows

Great British Menu: blood, sweat and hogget

Tom Kerridge -pub landlord extraordinaire

We’re pretty much at the end of the series. Only the banquet to go, and unlike the successful chefs, who will be cooking for it, and the judges, who will be eating it (along with Charles and Camilla and the food producer guests), I’m not that bothered about watching. The most fun has been the interaction between the chefs in the kitchens, and like the end of I’m a Celebrity or Big Brother, the fewer contestants that are left, the less interesting it gets to view.

No phone votes this year. Instead, a previously successful chef has joined the judging panel – a different one each day. This has added an intriguing, and sometimes unexpected, dynamic to a team of three that usually bicker away like an old, married menage-a-trois. Sometimes the competing chefs get more sympathy and understanding from someone who knows what it’s like to wear whites in the sweaty hell of a competitive professional kitchen. They understand the pressures of a place where other chefs can undermine you and appliances are often unreliable (the blast chiller freezes, the oven thermostat is temperamental). They also appreciate the effort and skill that went into an immaculate clear jelly cube. But sometimes the chefs are damned to hell. “Curdled custard” sneered Marcus Wareing, who is quite sexily authoritative and has manly, hairy arms.

I was pleased that Kenny got his mackerel ‘fish finger’ and gooseberry fish course through, also Northern Ireland’s Niall’s pretty lavender ice cream and crumbled honeycomb ‘yellowman’ pud. Both looked delicious and I like to see sweets I once made as an eight year old transformed into posh food. It was a relief to see that Will, who has struggled this week, got his lovely pink rhubarb soup pud into the top three of the dessert course day. I was also delighted that the only woman in the competition, Lisa Allen, a very cool, confident and competent cook, got her handsome rabbit pie starter through to the banquet. I struggled a little with her adulation of the royal family, but I can see that, in the competitive cooking world, it is a big deal to serve your dish up to a prince.

What I ended up thinking about (because in the final week there is just too much cooking going on for me to concentrate on the food; you get battle weary just watching all those plates going back and forth – how the judges cope eating them all I have no idea) was which of the chefs would, in a fantasy life where I could go round the country to fancy restaurants on a whim, actually seek out.

Not Alan Murchison. He comes across as not much of a team player. Very angry and aggressive. Even his clever pudding plate of eight winning ways with carrot failed to make me want to eat his food. Jo the Hat talks of ‘technically fit’ men. Murchison is probably a technically fit cook, but I wouldn’t want to eat in his restaurant. Nathan Outlaw has a great name, I liked his dishes and would very much like to eat them, but he just failed to make the final cut.

Tom Kerridge I’d drive many miles to visit. Now there’s a man who can cook magnificent chips, and what woman wouldn’t be delighted by that? I was glad his beautiful duck and chip dish got through as the main course. He also seemed decent, not overly undermining of the other chefs around him, and generally big-hearted. He got such a huge cheer from the other chefs when it was announced that his dish had made it. Entirely endearing. Continue reading

Comments Off on Great British Menu: blood, sweat and hogget

Filed under Cooking shows