Tag Archives: masterchef

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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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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MasterChef: Dougal fluff hats & other sweet surprises

MasterChef lost me as a regular viewer this year because of all the X Factor style nonsense early on. Plus my cooking show viewing quota is currently being diverted watching too many suckling pigs get slaughtered on the altar of the Great British Menu. But I caught last night’s MasterChef, and I’m glad I did, because there was a guest appearance by Michel Roux, the daddy of both lovely Michel Roux Jnr and pastry cooking in general. He was giving the remaining four contestants a masterclass in making the ultra-tricky croquembouche. But here all my (probably fantasy) credibility as a foodie deserted me, because in my eyes, this towering French choux ball structure looked like a heap of Pizza Express doughballs piled up into the shape of a wizard hat with a load of hairy fluff from Dougal (the Magic Roundabout dog) scattered over the top with random almonds stuck on for no reason I could discern.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore puddings and I adore Michel Roux, and eating any of the wonders that come out his legendary kitchen would make me a very happy woman indeed. I just didn’t quite get why a croquembouche is held in such high regard.

Actually, I blame Iceland (the frozen food manufacturer, not the country that produced Björk). Their ghastly Kerry Katona/Jason Donovan pile ’em high ‘party’ ads have ruined the joy of choux pastry as a luxury item for me. I can’t look at profiteroles with respect any more, and essentially, a croquembouche is a monster pyramid of profiteroles minus the melted chocolate that is my favourite part anyway. With heaps of spun sugar. Life, in my view, is too effing short to spin sugar. Continue reading

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Saturday Kitchen: Not cool but I like it

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

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MasterChef: Off their trollies

I happened to speak to someone who had made it to the very end of the (very long) MasterChef process a number of years ago. A life-changing experience? Yes. But they also reminded me that there is no money involved in winning MasterChef, and you don’t get paid whilst you’re engaged in the process either – when you’re not earning money from your day job. Success gives you a lot of exposure, you learn an incredible amount and it offers the winner the opportunity to work in a top professional kitchen (unpaid) but for people without serious financial stability or a high-earning partner, even for those who make it through the weeks of competition, this is one tough gig.

And now they’ve changed the set and the format. This is a ‘culinary cathedral’, according to the blurb. Well, I’m a food lover and it’s not my kind of church. And the style is X factor apparently. With ‘auditions’. Since I don’t watch the X factor, I can’t comment on that (is it because they’ve brought their families along, in what feels, watching, like a precursor to a massive and really weird church picnic?). And worst of all, I could not believe my eyes when I realised contestants are now expected to provide their own food. In they trekked, these gaggles of hopefuls with their carrier bags and picnic hampers and kids and partners and eyes full of hope that gets as crushed as their new potatoes as it all goes horribly wrong for most of them. And that’s exactly why I don’t want to see the families or hear the backstories. So many dreams of leaving current jobs, so many nights reading poncy cookbooks, all boils down to some especially bad trifle and lumpen mash. Following Grace Dent concurrently on twitter helps with this actually, providing the nice acidic edge you need to cut through the cloying treacle of India Fisher’s voiceover.

Never mind the cameras and audience, it’s such a strange and unnatural cooking environment. It feels more like It’s a Food Knockout than a culinary test. The strangest of all is the last-ten-minutes cooking part of the format when they have to pack part-cooked food from one part of the set onto a TROLLEY and wheel it though to finish the dish off then serve up to Gregg and John. They are perched on their boy band (Blind Date?) stools with a pile of immaculate white Aprons of Joy to give out to The Chosen Ones. The apron ‘prize’ makes even the Generation Game cuddly toy seem generous. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s ‘symbolic’.

In the words of John Torode to one poor contestant ‘Everything is soft and wet. You don’t have to chew on anything. It just disappears’.

Posted by Inkface

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Lustbox: Michel Roux Jnr

Woe, woe, misery and woe. The light has gone from my weekday evenings. And when Normal Masterchef returns with Gregg the Pudding Oinker, with it will come John Torode, all Australian and shouty rather than the pale and lovely Michel Roux. Very few people get Michel-as-lustbox. He is cadaverous, pale and wears truly terrible jackets. He looks like he needs a big sandwich made of Maman’s caramelised bananas. He has the gauntness of an etiolated marathon runner who never gets out during the daytime (which he is). Despite all, he is the King of Cooking Programme Lust.

Michel has is sternness combined with (occasionally) kindly mercy, extreme delicacy and exacting standards. This is very, very sexy indeed. One would need to try very hard not to be disappointing in any way whatsoever. The pressure to achieve the highest standards of taste and presentation would be immense. Swirl those nipple tassels unevenly and see his left eyebrow raise almost imperceptibly. Let your moustache go unbleached for a day too long and see a very small moue of disappointment. Serve the sushi from your bellybutton slightly too warm and Michel might sigh, deeply, painedly. But the joy, the pure joy, of making Michel smile…oooh! Oui Chef!

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