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.
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.
Our chefs are literally (not literally) thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire. There’s no soft launch with Gregg and Monica; it’s down to business with the old ‘you on a plate’ routine whilst Marcus grins at you. “It’s my first day, I’m also nervous!” didn’t quite convince. You could see what was going through the chef’s minds, “Okaaay, he’s being nice, what’s that all about? He’ll swear at me and make me cry in a minute, I’m sure.” ‘You on a plate’ seemed to translate as ‘I’ve-run-out-of-time-here’s-a-few-things-that-are-mostly-edible-but-a-bit-burnt on a plate’. Not the best set of dishes unfortunately but a couple of promising guys so far.
Next up, the technical round and I could not believe Monica whipped out a croquembouche! A bloody croquembouche! Episode one. A croquembouche! I never thought I’d type the word croquembouche this many times. [Carsmile places an order for my 40th birthday croquembouche]
I think Masterchef Australia was the first time I laid eyes on a croquembouche and, yes, my tiny mind was blown. Now, five years later, I’ve seen LOADS of croquembouche (plural of croquembouche?) and I never want to see another. Once, the epitome of daring pastry it now seems a bit … naff? I know that’s terrible but that’s how I feel. Now, if the croquembouche was 8 feet tall, glistening with gold leaf then, maybe. I can never recreate that feeling of wonder since Adriano Zumbo carried his glorious creation into the Australian kitchen with a cheesy grin. So smug but I allowed him that as I picked my jaw up off the floor. Now? Meh. Clearly these chefs don’t watch as many cookery programmes as me because there were some that struggled and some that stuffed the cone with the pre-prepared choux balls! Tsk, it’s as if they actually have an interesting career, one they dedicate their life to, work all the hours possible and not have time to watch the telly. [Carsmile cancels the order for my 40th birthday croquembouche]
Now, I’m glad I’ve got that off my chest, let’s crack on.
I’m fully aware of Wareing’s reputation as a ball-buster, running a kitchen through fear and all that but the first episode made me realise that he’s only human maybe even a complete pussycat. This must be the Marcus that his family and friends know and love. Maybe even the Marcus that I’d go to the pub with. The Marcus that shouted at poor Mark “stick it up your fucking arse!” Moraghan in 2008’s Celebrity Masterchef is a distant memory. Actually, it’s not. That scene is etched in my memory forever. Poor Mark.
So; lovely, smiley, beardy Marcus. Then, I watched Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.
How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!