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Category Archives: Channel 4

tonight there’s going to be a jailbreak somewhere in this town

Despite not being a fan of Chef Ramsay I have a passion for food and more than a passing interest in the justice system so, I wonder, does Gordon have what it takes to set up a culinary business in HMP Brixton?  Will Gordon’s confrontational and foulmouthed approach be a hit among the burglars, thieves and addicts or will chaos ensue?

We start the show with a quick run down of Gordon’s family history and his hopes and fears for this pet penal project.  This will no doubt draw comparisons with Jamie Oliver’s school dinners revolution but the moment Gordon walks into the prison, hands over his keys and phone he looks more vulnerable than Oliver ever did.  Well, there were tears and the odd lip tremble from the Essex boy but our ex-footballer appears tougher than than – just.

This isn’t a recipe show, a travel guide or competition.  This is not fun.  We get the voice over cliches and the swearing but [cliche alert] this has the potential to actually change lives (as apposed to a Masterchef banker quitting their day job to follow the culinary dream).   Read the rest of this entry »

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YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WAN(T)

Gok Cooks Chinese. Brilliant. Ronseal, mate. Can’t possibly imagine what’s going to happen now. Oh, I can. And I have. And now I’ve watched it, unnecessarily. This programme is so utterly, utterly pedestrian in its format and execution it could almost be on prime-time midweek Channel 4. Oh.

You probably know Gok. I have a near pathological aversion to the sleb-rag X-Factor daytime TV entertainment that smothers mainstream UK media – like drowning in a mix of fake tan and regurgitated WKD – and even I know who fucking Gok Wan is. I know what to expect. Specs. Camp. Asides. Well, thankfully, no one is keen on disappointing me. He actually comes across as entirely charming and personable, and he obviously loves his food. Shame that whoever produced this almost supernatually ordinary ‘vehicle’ had about as much imagination as a free prawn cracker starter. There was a budget, yes, and they spent it on speed-ramped rostrum pans, a lifestyle-porn kitchen big enough to take a moody lighting rig, pointless Jolliver animated inserts, will-this-do? voiceover, yeah yeah. There’s an insert of Gok standing and throwing things about which unfortunately reminds me of the opening titles of the Ali G show. The familiar grammar of a hundred precedents. Let’s make this cuddly. Let’s make this easy. Let’s make this boring.

So Gok gets to work on fried rice in ‘his’ whoah-no-really posh kitchen. “Egg in the wok, a little bit like an omelette”, he opines as he, um, scrambles the eggs in the bottom. Bish bash frozen-pea bosh and he serves his rice on a board, with chilli sauce overflowing on the edge, like someone completely fucking insane. Things pick up when he starts cooking with his dad Papa Wan, who is dry as a bone and great value. He used to work in various Chinese restaurants (as very clearly did Gok, judging by his seriously fast cleaverwork and casual pan flipping). The usual family photos and bonding follow. It’s all about the sleb journey, right? Gok’s strangely unappetising-looking stir-fried beans with shrimp are trumped by his dad’s nommy pork char-sui. They also, surprisingly, make a version of the joke once delivered in public by Prince Philip: “If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and flies but is not an aeroplane and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”

Still, at least parental chipping makes for drama of sorts. Back at Wan Towers, the vehicle drives on solo. Thoroughly unconvinced, Gok reads the VO script anyway: “So simple, so quick.” (with a vast stock cupboard of dry goods.) “…that you can get really easily from the Chinese supermarket” (well, yes…) “You can be the Bruce Lee of your kitchen.” (FFS). Even the one blatant innuendo is forced out through gritted teeth. The producer used it anyway. Do I have to? Yes, Gok, you do.  

As mentioned, his food unfortunately doesn’t actually look all that special to the eye, but the presentation has been porned-up to the max. So this lovely simple you-can-do-it home cooked food goes to the tracking shot ‘pass’ on huge slabs of Michelin-y greenstone and slate. He clearly knows his shit though; there is a lovely illustrated tip about cutting meat at an angle to hold its shape, and a delightful cheffy moment where he seasons cooking food by dipping one side of his stock-wet ladle into a bowl of pepper and the other side into salt before returning it to the wok. He’s got it.

The really, really annoying bit comes when he visits the kitchens of Hakkasan, the multi-award winning, game-changingly excellent Chinese restaurant. We get to watch the head chef make beef with black beans at high speed, as his brigade watch nervously. Gok gets out his PE teacher stopwatch and times it at 1 minute 41 seconds. This is sped up, as a montage. We don’t get to see a top chef make a dish in less than two minutes. That, apparently would be boring to the audience, rather than fascinating, especially with an detailed voiceover. Nope. One minute forty one of high-speed sexy cheffing? Nah, people would be switching over to Auction Hunters, mate. What utter contempt for the viewer. What a waste of time. What a waste of Gok.

 

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baking bad

SIGH Unfortunately I have to blog the good, the not-so-good and the bloody awful.  The Fabulous Baker Brothers are getting a repeat on More4.  Baking powder? Ex-squeeze me?  Yes, if there’s one thing I don’t want repeating on me, it’s this.

Now, I like to think I’m a reasonably nice person who tries to see the good in most people.  I feel bad at bitching for no real reason and I often default thus: “oh, I’d have a drink with Gareth Southgate no problem but his post-match interviews leave a lot to be desired …” etc.  However, even I would struggle to nip down to the local boozer for a drink with the Herberts (even if I was in Chipping Sodbury).

A butcher, a baker ...

I would politely request that anyone currently finding Rachel Khoo annoying watch one episode of FBB – you will never complain again.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard

Two episodes in to the second outing for this ad for cookery classes Channel 4 Food ship-of-the-line, and it’s all pretty familiar.

Eric Lanlard is a French patissier who looks like a puggy crossbreed of Alex James, Richard Herring and Peter Andre, hiding slightly underneath a beard which looks weirdly like it’s been drawn on with a black biro. He seems pleasant enough, but with a slightly reticent, sod-you-gits manner, like the whole thing was his agent’s idea, which it probably was.

The format is pretty standard, and inexpensive. It opens with a gushing fruity voiceover about the ‘master’ over a montage of Eric slebbing it with Amanda H and Claudia S and the like, followed by a few standard pan shots across his lovely puds. Eric makes a carrot cake in his ‘home’ kitchen, deploying his essentiel cheffy accent and pink KitchenAid mixer (they sponsor him). There’s some soft-peak frosting porn, lingering soft-focus pull shots, “rosted woolnuts”, “arsing sugar”, and a great tip about pulling a knife down the centre of a half-cooked cake, the better to give it a nicely domed top. But so far, so what.

The obligatory competitive element has a trio of contestants (a classic mirepoix of posh / ambitious / worthy) piping macaroons flavoured with champagne and the like, as Eric watches them from a peephole. I think that’s what he says, anyway. There’s some seriously bored who’s-gonna-win-then cutaways before the strangely alien-like Dwayne takes it, and (after some hot pastry funnel action) gets to help Eric construct a showcase macaroon tower fit for emperors, with ganache, chocolate beads, glitter, raspberries and more which he then puts in the window of his shop. Did he mention he had a shop? Yes. Yes he did. He has also swapped his pink KitchenAid mixer for a covetable ‘Conran rainbow’ model, which I presume is a custom job cos I can’t find it on their website. Want.

The last section is suddenly riddled with sexy technique and talent and excitement. A properly-thrilled Dwayne gushes right at the end that it’s a day that he’ll remember for the rest of his life. Actually, I believe him.