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Category Archives: Irish

“me on a plate”

Nothing fills me with more horror than the utterance of those four words.  It’s bad enough when a Masterchef contestant claims to be the physical embodiment of meat and two veg but, as MC Ireland begins the round of final 16, our haughty hosts gave them specific instructions to do just that.  The tables heaved with fresh, local produce and they could select whatever they liked in order to show the judges what they’d be if they were served up for dinner.

Sadly there was no recreation of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover although there were a couple of microplane ‘incidents’.  A quick look at the closing credits proved that ‘Medic Willie Wade’ earned their wage that week.

MC Ireland

So, what did we have from our cooks?  Apart from some blue plasters here and there we had quite a few desserts; a trio of strawberry treats and gooseberries with custard and biscuits.  There was also a bonkers dish from Kevin (the blow torched salmon guy) who smothered another fillet of the fish with chocolate sauce – I ask you!  He then created a garnish using a bulb of fennel that “looks very phallic to me!”.  Needless to say, he got rinsed but he did tell us later that he stood by the dish and thought they made a mistake.

Mary’s strawberry trio went down a treat but her station was atrocious – bowls of food on the floor, utensils everywhere.  She got through no problem but knows to never work like that again!  Shane’s gooseberries were a particular highlight for Nick Munier who seems to share Gregg Wallace’s sweet tooth.  He devoured the tea cup of custard and muttered something about wanting to lick the plate clean.  Well done Gregg, you should be proud of yourself.

One of the cooks decided that ‘me on a plate’ would involve many orange ingredients to match his red hair (beef with carrots and pumpkin) and we had Asian chicken kebabs with papaya salad from Nadia which elicited the following;

Dylan:  “It’s like something you’d pay £6 for in a Thai restaurant”
Nick:    “If that”

Ouch.  However, the heartbreaking moment came when, with 30 seconds to go, Jackie realised she hadn’t heard the judges calls to start plating up.  Turning to Pierce she asked why he wasn’t plating.  He replied, “Errrr … I’ve already done it, time’s up!”  Cue tears, trembling of hands and the realisation that she’d be hanging her pinny up within the hour.  Jackie was called last to the tasting table with nothing to bring, poor love.  Still, she got sympathy from the judges and a big hug.  Kevin, Nadia and Mandy also left MCK and then there were 12.

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a stew boiled is a stew spoiled

Just as the new year looked to be devoid of Masterchef, my thoughts turned to the world darts championship and avoiding Hobbits.  How pleased was I upon seeing an advert for Masterchef Ireland?  VERY.  The briefest of promo revealed a kitchen, an apron or two and a couple of male judges.  Who were they?  Will this follow the UK or OZ format?  All will become clear in a matter of days, my friends.

2nd January 2013 soon came around and our judge’s were chef Dylan McGrath (once of Michelin starred restaurant Mint, now owner of Rustic Stone in Dublin) and restaurateur Nick Munier, no stranger to pressurised atmospheres as the former maitre d’ for the Hell’s Kitchen TV show.

Masterchef Ireland Judges

‘Giggles’ and ‘Smiler’ aka Munier and McGrath

Right, let’s not muck around here, people, we know the drill by now.  The format follows the newer, UK format and the judges are grumpy.  Nuff said.

The auditions take place in Dublin in what looks like a studio based, warehouse mock up and family are on hand to give support to their loved ones.  Once through the sliding doors, our nervous wrecks are informed that they have 45 minutes to cook a dish plus 10 minutes to plate up and, get this, CLEAN DOWN!  I guess all MC contestants all over the globe are required to do this but it’s honestly never occurred to me.

Among the wannabe chefs we have Miana, a 23 year old au pair from Mauritius; Grant, a South African who cooked kangaroo in a cherry and red wine sauce (Nick commented, “I hope it jumps in my mouth!”) and Sinead made an average wonton soup.  Dish of the day was Mary’s scallops which perfectly illustrated that food needn’t be different in other parts of the world.  Wherever you go, there will ALWAYS be a scallop snuggling up to a pureed cauli or cubed pancetta and there will ALWAYS be a massive, shitty smear across your plate.  Mmmmmm, shitty smear …

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drop the boy, drop the boy

Donal Skehan is the actual (not actual) seven year old presenter of Kitchen Hero currently screening on Good Food.  Donal (real age 25) has an interesting past.  He reached the final of Eurosong 2008, Ireland’s contest to find their Eurovision entry.  Yes, that was the year when that bloody turkey won the coveted spot – Johnny Logan would be spinning in his grave if he weren’t still alive.  ANYWAY, a boy band here, a pop group there and with some presenting jobs thrown in Donal got the opportunity to showcase his love of food in his own show, Kitchen Hero.

We start with a title sequence straight out of Grange Hill – a comic strip complete with action words ‘PIE!’ and ‘BAKE!’ and the jangle of indie pop litters the remaining 25 minutes.

The first recipe is for a pavlova and he gets to grips with the meringue whisking the egg whites “so it’s the consistancey of shaving cream”. Aw, bless – I bet he makes meringue more often than he shaves.  Our eager cook is self taught and has the opportunity to be annoying (young, perky, you know the type) but I really like this chap.  His enthusiasm knows no bounds and I love the fact that his show is set in what looks like a real apartment.  The backdrop reveals random jars, mismatched glasses and crockery and lots of utensils that won’t fit in the drawers.  But the highlight for me is his fridge.  A proper, real-life fridge.  While preparing a vibrant coleslaw he grabs carrot and cabbage from the clear vegetable tray and you sneak a peek at the half jar of mayo, a few bendy spring onions and on-the-turn mushrooms – my kinda guy.

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Posted by on May 20, 2012 in Good Food Channel, Irish

 

no messing around

“So, here’s how you make my crab mousse lasagne.”  Oh, blimey, OK – hello, nice to meet you.  We’ve started already have we?  No gentle introduction just straight in there.  Get your crab meat and some other stuff, wack it in the blender – off you go.

Neven Maguire is a ‘celebrity chef’ in Ireland with many awards and books under his belt.  He has a fine array of pullovers too.  He looks like he’s just come from the golf course and decided to rustle up a couple of dishes.  Which he does.  He follows up his lasagne with roasted butternut squash, pancetta and pine nut pasta which doesn’t look the most appetising but maybe that’s me.

Now, this series is called ‘Neven’s Food in the Sun’ and after the commercial break we briefly see him perched by a beautiful bay where he introduces the pasta dish he’s about to make.  This is the only time where we see Nevan outside the snug confines of the kitchen.  The show could have been filmed anywhere – maybe he has just come from the 18th hole?

Just when I thought Nevan was bordering on dull and uncontroversial, I happened upon this 2009 story of a Food and Wine magazine cover which involved recent Celebrity Big Brother inhabitant Georgia Salpa – blimey!  Unfortunately this tale of swimwear and hors d’oeuvres doesn’t make him cool.