Friday, January 20, 2012

Honking Box Review: Masterchef

Masterchef is a show we’ve shied away from previously. Well, not so much ‘shied away’ as ‘run screaming from all televisions, covering your ears’. But last year’s rejigged format proved impossible to resist, and so the proverbial party poppers are back out again for a new series, especially now they’ve run out of ways to spread the Great British Bake-Off brand as thinly as possible.

Yes, Gregg and John are back, once again on the hunt for a person wot can cook, and can translate that skill into a moderately successful recipe book. Seemingly, their hunt for a Mini Heston wasn't satiated by the questionable, stomach-turning-on-paper – but ultimately champion – flavour combinations of last year's winner Tim. The unofficial brief is once again someone who takes risks, but more often than not results in what sounds like the culinary offerings of Letitia Cropley from The Vicar of Dibley.

As for Gregg and John themselves, it’s almost impossible to fathom that the pair have miraculously gotten less loathsome. And if John’s pathetic “I WANT THAT CURRY SAUCE, WAH WAH WAH” tantrum was any indication, they haven’t.

(Top tip! Watch with subtitles on, and the volume muted. It makes the Wallace/Torode element infinitely less painful.)

More likely, their overt cuntishness has been merely offset by the significantly more unpleasant head chef of Gilgamesh, whose appearance must have been an ingenious plan to ward off customers as part of some kind of elaborate taxloss scheme. He may as well stand outside the premises, foaming at every orifice and screaming “FRESH HOT PLAGUE! Get your plague here!”

(...Which, bearing in mind it’s in Camden Market, isn’t entirely implausible.)

The contestants are the usual bunch of competent, wacky, weepy, clumsy and trainwreck, so even if there’s not a worthy winner in the mix, there’ll at least be some entertaining television. Somewhat unfairly, the selection process was a bit of a first come, first served affair, with five hopefuls put through in the first episode, leaving just three places for the last eight competitors. Mind you, if the same rules had been applied to the first series of Pop Idol, we’d have been spared a decade of Will Young sounding like the mating call of a walrus with a headcold.

The current favourite round these parts is Aki. Partly because she’s a quantum physicist (which is up there with ‘marine biologist’ and ‘chocolatier’ as one of the coolest-sounding job titles ever), partly because her food looks amazing, and partly because she’s responsible for facial expressions such as these:

With the track record of Masterchef champs being very heavily male, even though the sole female winner gave us the immense Wahaca, we don’t fancy Aki’s chances much. At this stage, however, she’s head and shoulders above the competition.

No doubt that’ll all fluctuate across the course of the series, when the contestants are made to cook a nine-course feast from the comfort of a genuine WW1 trench in the middle of a re-enactment, or have a head chef with stinking breath screaming orders in their face until they cry, or fillet an entire deer underwater, with just two minutes of oxygen, using just a clothespeg. Frankly, we can’t wait.


Anonymous said...

This blog reeks of self satisfied snobbery. Get a job.

al said...

Ooh, thanks for the advice. Will send a CV to Gilgamesh, bet that bellend of a chef could use some more self-satisfied snobbery on his team...

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