Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

I Wanna Cook for Michel…

… although I don’t think he’d be impressed with a confit of chicken nuggets with a ketchup jus.

I think I have watched too much “Masterchef: The Professionals”: yet another example of TV taking advantage of people susceptible to the “Dunning Kruger Effect” – although not quite. They all have jobs as chefs of some sort – even head chefs – so, clearly they can cook, to some employable extent.

In the first round, they face Monica. Her facial expressions are a work of genius. She shows great restraint as the contestants make a hash of it with the various ingredients. She is the buffer between incompetence and Michel – and she does a great job.

I love the technical challenge. My favourite was the recent wood-pigeon challenge. How depressing to come through the door to see Speckled Jim waiting to be plucked and prepped for roasting. What a carve up. Those poor birds. Feathers and flesh everywhere. But with the lungs still inside…

The contestants manage to mess up the technical challenge spectacularly in almost every episode: gutting a fish, making a meringue, boning a leg of lamb. You’d have thought that these were kind of routine tasks – but the college course in “the classics” doesn’t seem to have embedded the learning terribly far down.

And all this talk of “the classics”? How come I’ve never heard of any of them? One guy did a coq au vin the other day, and the judges grumbled that it was not really a classic? Oh well…  And why has everything got a celeriac puree in a big splodge-cum-streak at the side? Who ever eats celeriac? What is celeriac? Or is it just me?…

However, there is always sufficient competence somewhere to allow people to cook for Michel. They say,  “I’d be gutted if I had to leave now. This means everything to me.” Really? I’m all for passion and commitment, but what’s with the clichés?

I love to see the beautiful food. There is always some. The presentation can be amazing. Colours, shapes, textures – if only we had the tastes (apart from the dodgy-looking seafood and the rare meats)! And then the judges’ commentary: sweet-but-with-a-hint-of-acidity; sharpness-and-sweetness; seasoning; – Greg’s ultimate: “lovely” – and Michel’s ultimate: “cooked to perfection”.

After watching the show you wonder how you ever get a meal in a restaurant that isn’t burnt, underdone, ugly, poorly seasoned or just plain wrong. But maybe it is all of these things, but, well, someone else cooked it – so it tastes good to me 🙂

I would have a MasterChef cook-in with my cook-in friends – but I get the feeling that getting the ingredients would bankrupt me, I would gross myself out with any gutting or plucking that needed done, and my plating skills would be sub-standard.

So I will continue to watch MasterChef, while eating a Weightwatchers’ meal out of a plastic tray, safe in the knowledge that Michel Roux Junior can cook properly, even if no one else can.

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One thought on “I Wanna Cook for Michel…

  1. You had me laughing out loud at the confit of chicken nuggets and ketchup jus. I like watching Top Chef and Iron Chef but sometimes it gets a little too stressful for me. I don’t have the talent to think up those creations on the spot. I need quiet and space when I’m in the kitchen. I do learn things watching those shows. Watching food and cooking is always a pleasure, it doesn’t cost much, you don’t have to clean up and it’s calorie free.

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