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Category Archives: Monica Galetti

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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“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 »

 

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.
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the roux, the whole roux and nothing …

Recently concluded on Good Food is The Roux Legacy, a ten part series focusing on the legends that are the Roux family.  For the first time all four chefs unite to cook their dishes, recount some amazing stories and generally bicker like most families do.

The subjects of this programme are fascinating, the overall feel of it however is quite dated with a synth soundtrack and the occasional VT wipe …. niiiiice.  [I have just been advised that the main music used is Marillion]

As someone not old enough to know, it was a revelation to be told the Roux story – opening Le Gavroche when the quality and availability of British food was, by all accounts, appalling in 1967.  Their one ray of sunshine was Billingsgate Market where they would buy all they could and advise the traders what types of fish they should be stocking.  They became known as Mickey and Albie and pretty much transformed the way markets and shops were run.  In more recent years M&S had regular access to the Roux kitchen and changed how their own fruit and vegetables were packaged – green beans, for example, were top and tailed and stored in small, plastic trays – something you often see presented this way these days.

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mystery box

As an armchair critic of shows such as Masterchef (UK/Australia/New Zealand) I am often bemused at the contestants lack of knowledge with the culinary basics.

I am, at best, an average cook and I know I’m being harsh but once you get through the audition process and the screen tests you surely must practice, practice, practice. 

If you can’t make the perfect shortcrust pastry – KEEP TRYING!
If your first few attempts at pasta don’t make the grade – MAKE IT AGAIN AGAIN!
If your mayonnaise would fail to impress Monica – DO IT BETTER NEXT TIME!

Really!  I would make gnocci until they were beautiful, light pillows that melted in Greg’s massive gob.  I wouldn’t sleep unless my flatbread was fantastic nor my souffle superb.

Memorise the recipes.  Carsmile is the pastry king of Fanny Towers: “6oz flour, 3oz fat and about 6 big spoons of water” is the automatic response to my often asked question “how’d you make pastry again?”

If you know the basics inside out, you will go far.  As a little green fella once said: “Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained.”

 

 

masterchef: passing the test

As La Fanny notes in the previous post, the essence of cooking well is actually “IT’S GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT”, rather than “IT’S BETTER THAN SEX” — culinary excellence is not (in itself) that high a bar to clear; there are tens of millions of excellent cooks in the world, and only a very few of them wish to be high-profile chefs in the Ferran Adrià sense. Masterchef has to preserve this low-bar high-bar dichotomy: essentially it’s a very severe (and carefully calibrated) obstacle course to discover the very very very best “ordinary” cook.

(Hence the need to siphon off a different class of competitor, with Professional Masterchef, which has a somewhat different sequence of pathologies…)

The obvious ones (for Masterchef OG) are:
i: technique (not burning stuff; not undercooking it; knowing how to prep meat; a basic knowledge of what to do in a kitchen and what not to)
ii: palate
iii: timing
iv: inventiveness
v: working knowledge of the tradition
vi: dealing with pressure
vii: curiosity and ability to learn Read the rest of this entry »

 

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