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well dressed plates – a review

As general rules go I don’t do restaurant reviews, I don’t take photographs of my meals and I don’t take selfies.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am about to break one of those rules.  I could’ve broken two – hell, I could’ve gone to town and broken all bloody three of them but … baby steps, right?

I was lured in via a tweet from BDGTtT favourite Tony Rodd.  Yes, lovely Tony.  East end Greek boy Tony with the sharp outfits and the twirly tash.  “Looking to speak to London food bloggers who might be interested in a meal in Shoreditch next month.”  Sign up me!  Okay, I’m probably not the food blogger you are looking for but I blog.  About food.  Food that appears on my telly.  Will that do?   Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

dressed to depress

What did you want to be when you grew up?  A friend dressed as a ballerina to a recent party themed on that very question (it was a strong look with a definite 80’s vibe) and it got me thinking.  I have never wanted something so bad that I would dedicate my whole life to it.  An ice skater … no, a vet … actually, directing music videos is what I want to do.

Now that I work from home (in none of those fields, sadly) I have the time to plan meals and do a bit of cooking but realised I could never have a career in food when creating a birthday meal for him indoors.  He’s all about the beer and food matching and all that jazz so I made a effort … and a monumental mess.  The smoke filled air turned blue then I dropped the C-bomb as beer hollandaise flew over the floor and myself.  The moment of truth had arrived: I can never apply to be on a cookery show.  I think it was Mat Follas who once said if you want the cameras to leave you alone just swear – they’ll edit it out.  If that’s the case I would only appear entering the Masterchef kitchen and later in the silent line-up before my name is called and I’m told to leave, “and take your potty mouth with you.”

Which brings me, vaguely, to this season’s Great British Menu.  I’m not a regular watcher by any means: I find it confusing.  Jennie Bond presented, then there was a public vote, then you got a mentor chef, then … It’s hard to keep track. I probably wouldn’t have watched this year to be honest but I noticed a familiar face in the trailer for the ‘South East’ heat: ‘Rising star’ Lee Westcott.  The Typing Room has been highly recommended by friends and I was greatly impressed as he took in the Masterchef cooks for a lunch service recently.  He was patient, seemed like a decent bloke and you cannot guess the number of things he can do with a cauliflower.  I’m a sucker for open kitchen arrangements (see my love for Pizarro and Konstam (RIP)), it’s near my favourite cocktail bar and judging by his performance thus far ‘Rising star’ Lee Westcott likes a swear or two.  “Who turned the [beeping] timer off?”  “No [beeping] way did you guys deserve a 5!”  No, they fucking didn’t, ‘Rising star’ Lee Westcott!

GBMenu

Matt, Lee, Daniel & Mark with the thousand yard stare

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make it thick, make it sticky, make it brown

“In a bar and I’m on TV… this is weird!  So twote Masterchef finalist Tony on the eve of the culinary showdown.

Emma, on the other hand wrote, “‘Twas so fricking difficult, I’m stressed just watching.”  Well, there’s no need for THAT kind of language, young lady.

Pete … oh, sorry, that’s the other one.  Simon?  Yeah, he probably muttered something softly and gave a shy smile.

I have to say I have not been impressed with this year’s series.  There’s been some back and forth on social media with John Torode defending the cooks against comments of ‘this year’s contestants are not that great’ – I agree with John in that the cooks are still up there with the best (certainly better than anything I can do) but I did tell him that I’ve had enough of the tweaking, thank you.  Yup, I went there.   Read the rest of this entry »

 

svɛnˈɡɑːli

A person who exercises a controlling or mesmeric influence on another, especially for a sinister purpose.

OK, so that’s a little dramatic but Sven did start his Masterchef journey in pretty outrageous fashion.  Monica and Marcus batted their eyelashes at him all series with a look of love bordering on embarrassing.  Well, he was good if a little dated.  Yes, I spotted the Ritz dining room in his introductory VT so it was clear he would create classic, well turned out food and he found his inner Sven eventually, even if it was by rummaging around in his allotment. I also couldn’t overlook his big Ben Affleck face.

There wasn’t an obvious trend this series ingredients-wise other than game but there was a lot of standy uppy food.  Do I care about erect parsnips, carrots or pork loin?  Yes, actually, I do.  I care not one bit.  I realise chefs like height in their food but, come on.  One particularly enjoyable moment was the don’t-use-a-sous-vide round.  YES!  This is why I liked Sam.  He made a point of explaining that his focus is ‘traditional methods’ ie, AN OVEN AND HOB rather than the modern twattery that is thermo mixers and water baths.  I whole-heartedly agree.  Then he muttered something about Marcus being his idol and he wanted to be him.

MC PRO

cereal killer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then noticed his serial killer eyes and thought it best he not progress any further.  Ben was also impressive with the correct look of a young chef: pale and haunted.

haunted

haunted

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blood on the dance floor

With Masterchef Australia (season 6) galloping towards its conclusion, the two hour New Zealand (season 4) final was screened last week on Watch. NZ may not have the vastness nor the glamour of its AUS counterpart but it gets the job done.

They live in a large, modern house as, one by one, they are eliminated and by the season finale we are left with two cooks: Aaron Brunet and Paula Saengthian-Ngam.  Aaron seemed to be a winner from day one.  His food was sophisticated and tasty throughout, pretty much.  On the rare occasion he made a mistake it was noticed and commented on by his competitors.  He was even nicknamed the ‘Aaronator’. Ultimately though, he made it to the final without too much drama.

Aaron

Aaron

Paula’s route wasn’t as easy but she got there by making some tip top classic dishes and using her knowledge of Thai flavours to her advantage.  Clearly the Masterchef experience filled her with confidence and a new direction in life.  One that didn’t include her husband, it seems.  “The show gave me the strength to end it. It made me realise that I didn’t really miss him. He didn’t understand why I wanted to do MasterChef.”  Okaaaay!

In standard overseas practice, the final was split into four challenges with marks out of 20 given by the judges.

First up is the taste test.  A giant vat of Ray’s bolognese was brought out and our cooks had to guess all 20 ingredients (beef mince, pork mince, cream and white wine among them, YUM).  Aaron leads 14 – 12.

Tony Astle, who’s been cooking for 40 years at Antoine’s, pops up to inspire them for the entree challenge.  Paula nails it with a duck salad to take it 32 – 25.  This is particularly impressive as events were temporarily halted due to the ‘incident’.  Now, there are quite often little mishaps in the Masterchef kitchen, now matter where in the world you are.  Many cooks exclaim, “I’ve chopped the end of my finger off but I can’t give up now”.  Yeah, right.  If you’re gonna chop your finger off, do it properly.  Poor Paula uttered the fateful words, “I usually nick myself with the mandolin but I’ve been alright today.  So far!”  Cue blood dripping down her hand and a scary amount on the floor.  Thankfully all was good in the end.  She pulled off a great dish.   Read the rest of this entry »

 

aussie rules

I could use my recent accident as an excuse, but I won’t.  Lounging around, nursing a fractured metatarsal, I set to work, doing really important things like catching up with lots and lots and lots of Masterchef.

Masterchefs Australia and New Zealand aired on Watch only for its British counterpart to crash the BBC party a few weeks later. Back were the familiar Aussie faces of Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris.  George is nearly half the man he used to be and looking very well on it too.  In the New Zealand kitchen we have Simon Gault, Josh Emmett and the fabulously named Ray McVinnie.  Josh has been in place since season two when Ross Burden bowed out due to ill health.

Josh, Simon & Ray

Josh, Simon & Ray

After a brief flirtation with Canada, it’s clear that my heart still lies in Australia.  Canada was good, don’t get me wrong, but the competitive element was ramped up pretty high with mystery box winners having the opportunity to remove a cook from an elimination round, catty comments and deathly stares.

One thing in Canada’s favour?

Bacon.

Lots of bacon.

And not a croquembouche in sight.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

“why you pursue something is as important as what you pursue”

Okay, I admit it.  I like Marcus Wareing.  There.  I said it.

Can you fault his skills as a chef?  No.

Can you fault his ability to grow an impressive beard?  Maybe.  But you’d be wrong.

Chef Wareing has even inherited Michel’s twinkly eyes and cheeky smile.  WHAT IN THE HECKY DECK IS GOING ON?  I think there must be something in the Masterchef tap water.

look into my eyes, look into the eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes

look into my eyes, look into the eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes

A new series.  A new scary chef.  A new format.  A new location.  The same Gregg Wallace.  Well, you can’t have everything.

Anyone fortunate enough to take a tour of the Ram brewery in Wandsworth would have walked the walk past the Masterchef studio and, yes, I totally strutted my stuff like an amateur cook on a mission.  We were under strict instructions: no peeking and no photos.  Sadly it’s in the process of being turned into shops, flats and all things hip but at least we got to spend some time with the wonderful master brewer, John.

The new surroundings accompany a tweaked format.  We now have a VT to introduce our professional chefs which is a nice touch.  I like getting to know these men and women, judge them on their hairstyles and dodgy tattoos, find a potential favourite or two then have them kicked out 10 minutes later.  Oh, bye, Jogi!  I’ve eaten in your place, it was quite tasty, thanks, but I’m glad there wasn’t any pasta on the menu.  Read the rest of this entry »