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Category Archives: John Torode

make it thick, make it sticky, make it brown

“In a bar and I’m on TV… this is weird!  So twote Masterchef finalist Tony on the eve of the culinary showdown.

Emma, on the other hand wrote, “‘Twas so fricking difficult, I’m stressed just watching.”  Well, there’s no need for THAT kind of language, young lady.

Pete … oh, sorry, that’s the other one.  Simon?  Yeah, he probably muttered something softly and gave a shy smile.

I have to say I have not been impressed with this year’s series.  There’s been some back and forth on social media with John Torode defending the cooks against comments of ‘this year’s contestants are not that great’ – I agree with John in that the cooks are still up there with the best (certainly better than anything I can do) but I did tell him that I’ve had enough of the tweaking, thank you.  Yup, I went there.   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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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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OzMC the Unending Ordeal*

*in a good sense

G&GIs OzMC the crucible for all the best MC trial-by-concept moves? The just-ended O/G MC (feat.Toad&Gregface) seemed oddly and anxiously in its shadow — with the introduction of Toad’s make-my-masterpiece test a hurried and blodged redux of a Gary&George move. Natalie is lovely and clearly a deserving winner — in a very strong amateur final three — but the series seemed skimped and hurried, with the cutaway-to-gurning factor higher than ever. Too much cheaty editing. JohnT seemed uncharacteristically stressed in the later stages, also (and Gregface more unwatchably over-parodic; all these tics he doesn’t really earn by DOING anything except eating and letching).**

Thing is, Gary&George (&Matt&Matt) give themselves so much generously longer, with their 90-mins masterclasses following the trials, and the endless succession of high-end cookery names cheerfully coming in to present the masterpieces to be there and then made at sight (and taste), and really almost none of them being as d!ckishly brittle as the worst sleb-chef guests on O/G MC. (I’m judging by 2011, which I’m currently watching on Really: it’s more than three months in, and we’ve just reached their final three. 2012 I haven’t seen.) Read the rest of this entry »

 

“there’s no drama like wrestling”

OK, OK, I had to shoe horn a wrestling angle in there somehow (all will become clear later)… that or a Marx Brothers quote.

There are always trends running through a Masterchef series and this year it seems to be duck, duck, duck (but no duck soup).  The current run continues apace with another trend – women!  Lots of them!  Quarter finals, semi finals.  Brilliant.  About bloody time.  There also seem to be a lot more curries than there have been in previous years or at least of the fiiiine diiiining caliber.

There have been some memorable moments already (the uber posh brothers, the ‘young grandmother’ who was a personal favourite, the dish that made Torode’s heart go thump) but my ultimate moment has to be the trip to Brasserie Joel for a lunch shift with Walter Ishizuka.  Anyone familiar with American culture or comedy will hopefully be aware of the genius (and I don’t use that word lightly) that is Mr Andy Kaufman.  He was a man of many characters and one of the funniest was Foreign Man with his accent and squeaky voice.  FM became known as Latka Gravas in the hit show Taxi.  I have no doubt in my mind that Chef Ishizuka is a serious, focused and talented man it just so happens that he speaks exactly like Foreign Man.  Walter, I’m so sorry.  I could not stifle my giggles and I am so glad that I was not part of that brigade – I would have been thrown out in no time and rightly so.   Read the rest of this entry »

 
Video

MMM-HMMM

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 »

 
 

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 »