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Category Archives: Competition Genre

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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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 »

 

the brain works very weird at this hour

Yessssss, I managed to find an obscure lyric from a song called Alaska.  Get me.

OK. let’s not beat around the bush.  Poor, lovely, beardy Iain was sabotaged by the most evil pensioner in Britain, Diana.  Well, that’s what you would think by watching the furore unfold Wednesday evening and throughout Thursday.

After an exceedingly pleasant evening beginning with Expendables 3 (everyone needs more Dolph in their life, right?) and finishing with some yummy Chinese, we returned home and switched on Newsnight to find Kirsty donning a pinnie and introducing the ejected Iain Watters.  WHAT?  This would never have happened on Paxman’s watch.   Read the rest of this entry »

 

not on menu, my food ever is. made special for me, was this!

I admit, I needed some kind of kick up the backside to get blogging again.  That kick has come in the delightfully shaped boot of the new series of Masterchef.  It feels like only yesterday that Scott won my affections but, sadly, not the Professionals title and it was just a few weeks ago, surely, that the amazing Natalie took the amateurs trophy.  During that time I have put the keyboard down and picked up the numerous cookbooks that adorn our shelves.  Well, who knew cooking could be so much fun?

With yet more tweaking the series has been a joy thus far.  No ‘mystery box’ to start, we have a ‘calling card’ round where contestants cook what is essentially their signature dish.  If Luke’s future lies in the culinary world he will be forever remembered for his vegetable samosas.  Has there been a more successful opening dish in the history of Masterchef?  Anyway, whilst I wanted this post to contain nothing but 250 point type exclaiming ‘LUKE MUST WIN, WE LOVE HIM’, I shall discuss the utter gloriousness of the Luke The Robot Dude later.

if this man does not win, i'm leaving the country

if this man does not win, i’m leaving the country

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a spoonful of sugar

Hello everyone!  Fanny is back.  Miss me?

Fanny

Oh, OK.

So, after a brief period of hibernation, I decided the time had come to get back into the swing of things – I admit, I’d been sidetracked by Tom Kerridge and Masterchefs Australia and Professional but the triple whammy of Bourdain, Lawson and Lefebvre was too much to resist.  Yes, The Taste has come to town.

Originally created for American TV Channel 4 ditched the four judge idea and the slimmed down panel are the aforementioned Anthony Bourdain (now known as Tony), Nigella Lawson (now known as Poor Nigella) and Ludo Lefebvre (widely known as WHO?).  Having worked together on two seasons for the ABC channel there is clear familiarity between the three with much eye-rolling and banter which, I think, work well.

Nigella

“all I needs is a spoon and the right pot”

The show’s premise is all about simplicity and back to basics; you can learn all the techniques you want or create a five course menu but The Taste is all about ONE SPOONFUL OF FOOD.  So, it’s a shame that the show itself seems a little confusing.  Don’t let that put you off.  Episode one in summary:

  • 25 contestants
  • professional or home cooks
  • one hour to create your food
  • judges taste with their backs to a glass wall
  • contestant can hear the comments then enter the room
  • feedback and verdicts given
  • if more than one judge says yes, contestant chooses which mentor to follow
  • each judge is looking for four contestants
  • successful contestants are given an apron

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go big or go home

Having spent a lovely week in Edinburgh seeing lots of Fringey things, the lady occupying the adjacent seat on my journey home decided to catch up with Celebrity Masterchef.  Yep, seen that one – he does something with a crocodile.  Oooh, not seen that one – concentrate on your book, Fanny.  No spoilers!

I managed to reach the comfort of my sofa not knowing the outcome so cracked on with some catching up of my own.

Phillips & friend

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somewhere, Brendan is stroking a white cat…

Celebrity chefs Paul Hollywood and Marcela Valladolid.

Paul Hollywood, the star of the Great British Bake Off, has spoken about his upset and sadness at the collapse of his marriage, saying he might have been happier if he had not become famous.

The baker left Alexandra, 49, his wife of 15 years, amid efforts to launch his career in the US and reports of a relationship with his new co-star Marcela Valladolid, 35.

Hollywood, who returns to the small screen with Mary Berry for a fourth series of the hit programme this week, told the Radio Times that he is tempted to “disappear and hide”. The 47-year-old said that he did not have girlfriends until his mid-20s, described himself as an “egomaniac” and “an old man from the rough end of town”.

Hollywood, who has an 11-year-old son with Alexandra, said: “I didn’t think Bake Off would be like this, although you have to be an egomaniac to do it. Anyone who says they’re not is kidding themselves. You couldn’t put yourself in front of a camera otherwise…

He told the magazine: “I thought I’d spend my life making baguettes, muffins, croissants. I might have been happier if I had.

“One day I’ll disappear and hide in a corner of Britain. I’ll own a bakery in a village, live above it, have a big garden because I like mowing. I want to get up when I feel like it, let people queue for my products and when they’re gone, shut the shop and think about tomorrow. Creating magic – that’s my dream. And I’ll do it.” Hollywood called his heartthrob status “a joke”, adding: “I’m an old man from the rough end of town. Wouldn’t you be [flattered]? I lost my youth because I started baking with my dad at 17, and had to get up and go to bed early.

“I needed the money, was happy to be led, and happened to have a good feeling for it, but it took over my life. I never had girlfriends or went clubbing until I was in my mid-20s.”

There has been speculation that Hollywood’s marriage breakdown could affect Bake Off’s popularity and in May the BBC denied reports that his role on the BBC2 show was under threat. But Hollywood said: “It’s about bakers, not judges. Maybe fame has caused a problem, but it’s not fame as such. To nail it to that would be foolhardy.

 He insisted: “The real Paul Hollywood is shy, likes nothing better than going home, putting on slippers and dressing gown, having a cup of tea and watching telly.”

Read the full story here.  (And have a look at brendanbakes.co.uk too…)

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Baking, Competition Genre

 

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