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Channel 4…The Taste. If The Voice were a cooking programme, it would be this!

7 Jan

The Taste. ‘The Voice’ meets ‘Masterchef’.

  • Three judges…Check!
  • Can’t see the contestants at the beginning…Check!
  • Have to trust their senses alone…Check!
  • Judges compete to select the best and become mentors…Check!
  • Contestants decide when more than one judge wants them…Check!

Sounds like The Voice, looks like The Voice, feels like The Voice, but certainly does not taste like The Voice. The Taste, Channel 4′s much heralded gastronomic reality show hit our screen today and for me it gets a big thumbs up.

I love the judges. Nigella Lawson was imperious despite her recent problems. Anthony Bourdain of Kitchen Confidential fame was suave and urbane, a culinary equivalent of George Clooney. Ludo Lefebvre was a Gallic tour de force. I loved the interaction between the judges, it was competitive without being bitchy. You would expect that though, as all three judges are very accomplished in their own right and really have nothing to prove by grandstanding.

The food, yes it comes out it single bites sizes on a spoon, but some of those dishes looked absolutely mouth watering.  I love the format of the show, judging by taste is what it should be about, not the ‘journey” the contestants have been on – I am talking about you MasterChef!

I think my Tuesday nights are sorted.

Channel 4…The Eloquence Of Chris Hadfield on Sunday Bunch

15 Dec

Although the TV channels never come out and say so, chat shows are almost primarily there to help promote new movies, albums or TV Shows. So you regularly get your famous Hollywood Movie stars coming into London to spend a few days warming the sofas across various studios, and being asked the same questions by the likes Graham Norton, Alan Carr, Jonathan Ross and all the other chat shows on TV and radio.

Some handle it quite professionally and you forget they are simply trying to sell you something, others don’t try that hard and can come across as a bit phlegmatic, like some of the infamous Bruce Willis interviews.



So it is really refreshing when you have someone on the sofa who is super-enthusiastic about what they do, and you would struggle to find someone more enthusiastic, more charismatic or more engaging than Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

You may remember him from this video, singing the David Bowie hit Space Oddity aboard the International Space Station.



If that video was not enough to convince you that this was a man who is really passionate in a fun way about what he does, then his appearance on Channel 4′s Sunday Brunch programme this morning served to further confirm this.

He had the hosts Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer, and fellow guests Little Mix, Dan Snow and Kim Wilde entranced as he explained the wonders of weightlessness in space, how you have to relearn to lift your tongue when speaking after you come back to Earth from space, and how re-entry and landing aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft was like being in a car accident.

If you missed it it is worth catching up on 4oD just for the Chris Hadfield segment.

MasterChef: The Professionals…Why doesn’t Monica Galleti have her own show?

27 Feb
English: MasterChef Logo

English: MasterChef Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monica Galleti is a breath of fresh air. She is a serious chef. Not a pouting diva delivering us lectures on how to boil eggs – I am looking at your Sophie Dahl or a distracting us from the food with an overdose of screen sexiness – I am looking at your Nigella Lawson. Monica is a down to earth hard-working professional who knows her stuff.

She was back this evening in a recap of Masterchef over the years in  MasterChef: The Professional Uncovered.  A look back at the professionals who have competed recently for the prize of being called BBCs MasterChef. Along with her boss Michel Roux Jr and Gregg Wallace they took us through the highs and lows of the series.

Monica traditionally takes the first half of the series, separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak, and obviously the riskier part of the show because some of the food presented by the cooks for her to taste in those first rounds defy polite description.

It is  amazing how the pressure really gets to the competitors especially considering they are supposedly professionals but it seems throw in a few cameras and tv exposure and these guys turning into wobbling souffles.

It also means Monica has to brave her way through a lot of muck before unearthing nuggets of golden cooking ability for  Michel Roux Jr to cast his eye over in the later round.

Her facial expressions as she tastes her way through a variety of dishes are the stuff of legends, as is her critique like when she tells one contestant  ”if you treated salmon like that in my kitchen I would slap you with it”.

I have to admit I am a bit of a philistine when it comes to food, and particularly do not like my food over-pampered but when I see Monica putting a dish together skills test for the contestants to recreate it just always looks exquisite and rarely matched by even the best of the contestants.

Come Dine With Me…but no Lamb

29 Sep

I would not say I am a big fan of Come Dine With Me (CDWM to its fans)  but when I feel like watching a bit of TV, if its on with nothing else on any of the other channels I will definitely give it a watch.

While it does throw up a memorable dinner host now and then, the real star of the show without a shadow of doubt is the “mickey taking ” narration of Dave Lamb.

His narration verging from sarcastic to withering to comically excited all over an episode of Come Dine With Me is as they would say in fine dining circles the jus that makes the meal.

It is so on point and  binds together what would otherwise be a mildly entertaining  dose of everyday cooking into a reality TV tour de force

What’s really remarkable about the don that Dave Lamb is, is that most of the narration we get to hear  is ad-libbed.

The mark of the cult hit that CDWM has become is that it is leaving our shores and  rolling out to other countries, but can it really work without the Lamb? Evidence from Australia is a resounding NO!!

Come Dine With Me without Dave Lamb is to stretch a pun like a Lamb roast dinner without Lamb. Pretty pointless. That was the Australian version in a nutshell. Pointless.

The dinner hosts were sufficiently catty, cliquey, blindly in awe of their limited culinary skills, all the things we expected from our Come Down With Me contestants but the narration was just flat. It just did not work.

Contrast that with Come Dine With Me (Ireland) currently showing on Channel 4 where they had the sense to retain the services of Mr Lamb. What you get is a faithful recreation of essence of the original. So to Channel 4, let’s not have any more Lamb-less CDWM please…

The Queen of Food Erotica is back

24 Sep

Nigella Lawson is back. Some people have labelled her the queen of Food Porn, but that would suggest what she was offering was brash, vulgar and in your face so to speak.

Despite the liberal use of words like “luscious”, “indulgent, ‘lip-puckering”,”squishy” and filmed in soft rich colours Nigella’s new series on BBC2 – Nigellissima – is as with her previous shows, beautifully presented with mouth watering dishes.

As the name suggests it focuses on Italian cuisine and this introduced me to something I had never heard of before – a Meatzza.

It might sound like something you would get from you local Doner Kebab shop after a night out, but in Nigella’s hands it became a fragrant delicately presented plate of Tuscan delight. A tribute to her ability to make pretty much anything sound desirable..Long live the Queen.