chef, Cooking, Heston Blumenthal, independent restaurants, learning the basics, Masterchef, Michelin Guide, Molecular chef, Nigella Lawson, pretentious, reality tv, tv chefs, walk before run, Wannabe chefs
I am an avid cook and have no quarms about spending hours in the kitchen for a meal that is going to be eaten in a matter of minutes. I find it relaxing and helps me to put my mind elsewhere after a long day at work or just when I want to do something a little more creative.
I am always learning so I won’t pretend to be anywhere near being pro, but I do have a large amount of the grounding that you need to be able to take your cooking to the next level. I will also admit that although I have a reasonably comprehensive knowledge or food from France, Italy, Spain (among others) I am not the tidiest cook and presentation isn’t my forte. I don’t make pretty food, but it usually tastes pretty good. I say all this by way of wanting to speak from a position of some knowledge of food.
All that said there is one thing that seems to have been happening for a number of years that is really spoiling the televisual cooking experience for me…Nowadays it seems that there are 2 types of cooking programme
- the celebrity chef journey – where some famous chef (e.g. Heston, Gordon) take on the challenge of their lifetime with a restaurant or reinventing some classic
- the shit wannabe chef journey – people who don’t know how to cook are put in front of the camera in the desperation that they might bypass the years of hard work to become the next big thing
Wannabe Chefs and Wannabe Stars
It seems that cooking on TV has gone from being about the food to being about the people. In both of these types of programme there is so much focus on the bloody journey these people go through rather than letting the food do the talking. I can’t understand the modern obsession with “reality”. People are forgetting the beauty of food and the role that it plays in our lives. In lieu of this we have to sit through an hour of Heston complaining at how difficult it has been to make a giant Shreddie (my heart bleeds for you) or watch a “professional chef” trying to serve up caviar and chocolate without any of the knowledge that it clearly is going to be disgusting.
It makes me laugh when I see Ramsey complaining about how working with this failing restaurant is one of the toughest things he has done in his life (even though he has ran marathons and set up a number of Michelin starred establishments). Are you kidding Ramsay? Maybe if you spent less time doing these shit programmes in the US and more focusing on your restaurants you wouldn’t have had so many problems. I liked this article about Ramsay as well, really doesn’t endear you to this horrible man.
Then there are the wannabe chefs, whether they are pros wanting to get recognised in Masterchef: the Professionals or average Joes in Come Dine With Me or the normal Masterchef programme. Why do people think that they can get famous through cooking without having the understanding of the basics. They mostly don’t know how to deal with the raw ingredients or even make something as simple as pastry yet they try to impress with crazy flavour combinations. As a rule if someone hasn’t done it then it probably isn’t going to work. When you can do all the basics of modern gastronomy then and only then are you in a position to serve up molecular cookery and snails with porridge. At least on Come Dine it is amusing watching them fail fantastically…
I know what people will say; if you are not interested then don’t watch it. I suppose they would be right, except I rely on TV cooking programmes to provide me with inspiration and it is only by seeing the food that you can get a feel for what it might taste like and how to make it. I don’t give a shit about these people and their “journey” so I wish there could be more focus on the food itself.
Even the programmes that tend to be more about the food often end up focusing more on the presenter than the actual food. You only have to watch the filthy and deeply annoying Nigella Lawson (she can’t even chop an onion without making me think she is going to lose a finger) or Lorraine Pascale who seems to spend more time shopping than cooking. When they finally get around to making something it is either shot in soft focus or up so close that you don’t see what is actually being cooked as they move the camera around in such a way to almost make you sick.
It seems a shame that there aren’t more programmes about real cooking and giving people the understanding of the basics. I can’t imagine that this is going to happen too soon although I hear that there is a new series of Food & Drink with Michel Roux Jnr which is surely a pleasant surprise to some. I hope this is seen as a request to the TV people to bring us some good programming on food. BBC4 recently brought us a series of programmes on food that was excellent, but they only come up once in a blue moon.