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Category Archives: Gregg Wallace

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For Swede Mason’s classic Masterchef mashup, go here.

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is it safe?

Aaaand, we’re back.  Masterchef UK is on our telly boxes once again.  It only feels like yesterday that Shelina, Tom and Andrew sweated buckets in Thailand and thoroughly educated us in the way of the mango.  It’s early days but I think, ladies and gentlemen, that we’re in for a real treat!

First of all, the producers have decided to go old skool.  No X Factor style auditions this year.  Initially this made me sad as it’s clear any attempt at modernisation of MC has been shelved.  Of course, I am a fan of OZ MC and think our version became neither here nor there – the audition process didn’t sit that well as everything else about the show remained the same.  All or nothing people, all or nothing.

Could Dale be crowned champion?

Could Dale be crowned champion?

While the show remains safe, our contestants seem quite adventurous.  The standouts from day one were Dale and Emily.  Dale produced restaurant standard plates with not much in the way of mistakes (or nothing that couldn’t be ironed out easily) and Emily was good but had the potential to throw it all away (almost literally).   Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

masterchef: the cop out?

So, I’ve given everyone time to watch and digest the final of Masterchef: The Professionals.  How crazy was that?

The semi-final pitting Keri against Anton was, in hindsight, an indicator of what could follow.  Both were put through to finals week and a few days later, both were crowned champions 2012.

 

Poor Oli, he fell apart a little bit and in any other year it might not have hurt his chances but this series was special and he finished third.  His back story (which always fills the first 20 minutes of a final) focused on his current location of Camden,  Would love to find out where he works – poor @oliboon1612 has no idea!  He’s been thoroughly confused as hundreds of people tweet their congratulations: “why do people keep saying this to me Dave I can’t cook for shit ha!”  I also loved Keri’s story.  She had her hair down!  She wore a lovely dress!

Right, finals week.  There was the standard, cook-for-a-room-of-Michelin-starred-chefs round along with a day at Fat Duck.  Nowhere as good as previous trips to Noma or Arzak but, there you go.  It would have been nice to go elsewhere.  There were a few chefs at the grand dinner that I wasn’t familiar with – could’ve gone to theirs.

MC Professionals winners

As it hadn’t occurred to me that there could be TWO winners, I thought Anton would win by a very slim margin.  I was half right!

Well done Masterchef.  While I do think there should be one winner, I guess they couldn’t decide.  Next season will have to go a long way to top that.

 

he’s not a pheasant plucker …

he likes to pluck pigeons!  So proclaimed James, one of the current batch of chefs on this year’s Masterchef: The Professionals.  Joining the self confessed huntsman is Anna ‘giggles’ Spooner, a pastry chef who started her career in the waitron department before getting stuck in behind the scenes and Andy, a 20 year old commi.  An early favourite is Karl, a pub chef with higher aspirations and Morton is promising too, with his Danish/Scottish accent.

James Burton: licence to shoot

The group of ten are split in two and the first major test, as always, is when Lovely Monica sets a challenge.  Well, I say challenge.  This is something a professional cook or chef should know off the top of their head, surely.  Butterfly a sardine and make some pommes dauphine – piece of piss.  Or so you’d think.  After explaining that this delightful sounding treat is choux pastry mixed with potato and deep fried, some got the gist.  Others weren’t familiar with the choux element either.  We also had many interpretations of a butterflied fish and after a disastrous attempt, poor Andy was put out of his misery.  “I know, with every inch of my body, I could’ve done better.”  Well, better luck next time, son.

The highlight of the next episode was undoubtedly the ‘cooking for Monica’s boss’ round where Karl explained his French background to Chef:

K:      Yeah, I grew up in France.
MRJ:  So I hear.  You also have your CNP?
K:      Yeah, I do.
MRJ:  The CNP is the [insert full title here].
K:      Yes, it is, yeah.
MRJ:  I’ve got my CNP too, you know!
K:      Oh!  … Well done, chef.

😀 Hil-ar-ious!  They both had a giggle and chef was pretty impressed with Karl’s dish.
Read the rest of this entry »

 

STICKING OUR FACES IN IT

Here up on the eighth floor at BdGTTt Towers we don’t just snark and drool at the telly box – no, just occasionally we get out and about into the ‘real’ world. So this Sunday past me, Fanny and guest Brenda Cheesecake went on a blog outing (blouting?) to the heaving Good Food Show at London. Although, given how tied in with the telly box it turned out to be, this was an entirely appropriate day trip.

The immense Victorian shed that is the Olympia Exhibition Centre was packed to the gunwhales with stalls, people, and tasty samples. Real wonderland stuff, the full flowering of the home-and-garden wing of the British Food Revolution. Everywhere we looked, the ‘artisanal’, the ‘bespoke’, and the ‘all-natural’ beckoned.  Whitley Neill gin, orangey and exotic. Vestal elderberry liqeur. Mr Todiwalas pickles (Christ, these were good). Clonakilty black pudding. 9bar honeyish, yummy energy bars. Diablo’s curious toastie waffle irons (bakelite!). Sipsmith’s gin and vodkas. RealAle.com. The Artisan Smokehouse and their smoked oils which I can’t wait to try with some roast potatoes. The Garlic Farm plaits, The Cornish Cheese Company and whoever was doing the funny little beetroot candies that tasted a bit like the post-dessert thing they give you at The Square   …all got a lot of interest or a sale out of me. Upstairs was ‘The Wine Show’, where I was particularly taken with an Argentinian Torrentes from Cupari Wines. SALE. There was a ‘VIP section’ with some more serious dinners which didn’t look very VIP, like every temporary ‘VIP’ section ever installed, anywhere. Pleasingly, pretty much everything bar a couple of the sponsors were mostly small, independent stalls – you were usually talking to to the people who made whatever you were gulleting. Big Food mostly kept its nose out.

But that was only the half of it. There was a (ta da!) MasterChef ‘pod’ where all our favourites banged a few pans and smiled for the audience. We caught a glimpse of Ash Mair (MC Professionals winner 2011) doing his stuff (isn’t he busy with his new restaurant?), and watched Shelina (MC winner 2012, lest you need reminding) bang together a red snapper dish with crab courgette flowers with the usual Mauritian seasonings and a couple of great tips about not letting fish curl. The ‘pod’ was MC’d by James Nathan (MC winner 2008), who asked Shelina how her post-MC career was going with just a hint… just the tiniest hint, of…. what’s that?…. hmmm… anyway, Shelina explained what she was doing with her hotly-awaited new cookbook and her cookery school as James explained that he’d been cutting fish for Rick Stein for the past couple of years. Such is the way of things.

Anyway, all that was just a warm up for the special event in the kitchen-equipped ‘Supertheatre’ out back. We take our assigned seats (this was an extra fiver) and even get a warm-up man. We missed Hollywood & Berry on Friday, but on Sunday we get Wallace & Torode’s Laughter Show. They dance on their entrance! They hug! They banter! They tell us they actually met fifteen years ago, but have been working together for only eight! John cooks fillet steaks with plenty of excellent tips (beef being, of course, his chosen specialised subject) while Greg bangs out some Turkish-ish biscuits with enough ‘sweethearts’, ‘darlin’s’ and ‘angels’ to pad an entire Eastenders story cycle. The visibly lighter Mr. Wallace informs us that he’s lost two stone, but doesn’t tell us why. Both of them seem to be actually enjoying themselves. First class family entertainment, anyway.

We wander out, and Fanny squeals at the sight of Michel Roux Jr. just walking about, like a normal person! Anyway, there’s more things to nibble on, and plenty more to see (we don’t even get round everything in several hours). A cynical person could survey this temple and see a lot of middle-class people gorging themselves on free Yakults and pickles like Daily Mail Roman emperors, being sold to, indifferent to the wider problems of British food. Theatre. Entertainment. Bread and circuses. There’s some truth to that. But there was also a sense of possibility and connection and inspiration that I hadn’t seen at similar things previously. A sense of joy, actually. Food in Britain. Everything you need.

Afterwards, we repaired to the nearby Cumberland Arms which managed to serve me the best pub roast I have ever eaten, and I’ve eaten a lot. Well done.

 

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and the winner was …

pretty obvious really.

Well done TV’s Emma Kennedy on winning Celebrity Masterchef 2012!  My favourite from the moment she graced my telly box.  That huge grin, just-got-out-of-bed hair and infectious enthusiasm had me from the get go.

“My mother is going to scream for about three months without stopping – we’re probably going to have to sedate her.”

The winning three-course menu was as follows:

*pea, mint and ricotta ravioli with pancetta butter and pea shoots

*pan fried turbot topped with samphire with vegetable filled leek cannelloni, crushed roast potatoes and a beurre blanc sauce

*Ile Flottante with almond praline topping and short bread biscuits

I knew she was on to a winner with the starter (I had scribbled a similar combination in my little recipe book only days before) and that pudding!  One of the best I’ve had at Koffmanns (la-de-dah, sorry!).

Someone had commented on the Digital Spy page ‘OK that Emma won. But wanted Danny Mills to win. Greg & John loved his fondant pud, so why he didn’t win I’ll never know’.  Because his main wasn’t 100%!  The second that John criticised his trout I knew Emma had won.

I’ll leave the last word to the Champion:

“It’s very weird putting on the MasterChef apron. It’s like getting an England cap and putting on an England shirt. It’s the culinary version of that. Not so much when you’re in the studio, but when you go on the outside challenges, you have the MasterChef badge on and you want to do them proud … It really is amazing. I can make tuile biscuits. I’m just happy with that. I can have that on my headstone. Emma Kennedy RIP, she could make good tuile biscuits. I’d take that”.

 

 

i’m not a celebrity, get me in there!

So, we’re at the end of week two in the Celebrity Masterchef kitchen and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  I decided against the previous series – for some reason the fact that it was relegated to BBC1 lunchtime really put me off.  Having said that, 18:30 isn’t much better and I ‘series record’ it but, y’know, I couldn’t be arsed.  Seeing snippets of it on Saturday Kitchen each week has convinced me that I made the right choice.

Anyway, back to the here and now.  Week one, I’d say my stand out was Javine and week two definitely Emma.  I love Emma Kennedy, I want to be her friend.  I feel she is the CMC version of me.  As we are introduced to her, she conveys the giddy excitement that would take hold of any MC fan should they get that telephone call.  I imagine it would go a little bit like this:

Agent: Hi Emma.  So, the BBC got in touch and we discussed the possibility of you taking part in this years Celebrity Masterchef.  You’re a big fan, right?  Are you free for the next few weeks?

Emma: OHMYGODYESPLEASEMASTERCHEFISMYFAVOURITETHINGONTELLYEVERIWILLCANCELANYPLANS

Agent:  … I’ll take that as a ‘yes’ then.

“to celebrate I might go home and try to make a quiche”

If I were to receive a similar call and end up in the famous MC kitchen, it would not be taken lightly had I replicated Emma’s joy at being there.  “Fanny, I get the distinct impression you’re not taking this seriously enough” would be John’s comment as I grin “But I am!  I’m just so excited to be here, I love you guys!”

Having been billed as a MC aficionado Emma made, as Gregg would say, a school boy error.  The final task of the week was the critics round – two courses for previous CMC contestants to sample.  It seems that Lisa Faulkner might get to attend all of these, lucky girl.  Or maybe not. Read the rest of this entry »