Celebrity Masterchef – The Final

I’ve missed two whole weeks of Masterchef, because I’ve been ill, busy and away and I didn’t set the video, so here’s a quick summary of what I assume I’ve missed:

  • Somebody cried
  • Somebody else cut themselves
  • Kirsty Wark appeared, and said “More on that dish later”
  • Dramatic music played
  • Somebody left
  • Somebody who didn’t deserve to go through, went through
  • Linda left
  • There was a task involving people going out into the wilds of nowhere and cooking three squirrels in a puddle.
  • Horrible mound of lard Charles Campion lumbered into the studio and turned his nose up at perfectly good food because it wasn’t 100% up to his usual standard, the sneering buffoon.
  • That nice Jay Rayner said things were fine, because he knows how to cook and has some empathy.
  • Finally, climatically, Kirsty Wark, Phil Vickery and Tony the chef off of Hollyoaks went through to…

MASTERCHEF, THE FINAL!

Kirsty Wark is a journalist, most famous for presenting Newsnight on the days when Paxman is at Fight Club. I didn’t see her in the earlier rounds, but I suspect she combines traditional Scottish flavours with a modern twist.

Tony the Chef off of Hollyoaks (still going under the pseudonym “Nick Picard”, presumably for reasons of professional anonymity) was last seem in Week One. I hope he’s improved, or maybe he’s the “Wild Card” who John is “staking his reputation on”. Or something.

Phil Vickery is a former England rugby international who has a face like a cauliflower: He should be on You Are What You Eat. He has the same name as a celebrity chef (Phil Vickery, keep up) who was a regular on Ready Steady Cook before he went off and did sex with Fern Britton.

I cannot see how a man with the same name as another man cannot be part of an elaborate conspiracy to fix the program. It’s a disgrace.

Onward with the challenges: first up, the Chef’s table. The cream of British Cooking talent assembles at Gidleigh Park, Michael Caine’s restaurant

<Editorial aside>

I’m not doing the joke.

I’m not!

It’s cheap and demeaning, the readers of this blog expect and deserve so much more

Oh, alright then

</Aside>

…whose cooking Blows The Bloody Doors Off.

“There’s no place to hide in the kitchen” says Chef Michael.

He’s wrong: you can hide behind the potato rack, there’s loads of room.

First, the team have to prepare Michael’s signature dishes as a master class in Michelin cooking before the main event.

Nick cooks scallops dressed with angel tears and a salad made from platinum shavings (this might be a slight exaggeration). He’s nervous as hell, not helped by Michael fussing over him.

“Your scallops are the wrong direction in the pan” is an example of the sort of nonsense he has to put up with.

Phil cooks a fillet of Turbot so beautiful that Leonardo da Vinci would refuse to paint it. He has four minutes to pull together six different dressings and sauces, rub his stomach, pat his head, and finish three Only Connect walls. He does well.

Kirsty is cooking lamb with what looks like a coating of AstroTurf on it, and boulangère potatoes.

“It looks like a butcher’s been at it!” shouts Michael, seemingly unaware of where meat comes from.

They serve it up to a bunch of over-privileged posh faced gonks. One of whom says that the scallops “look heavy – there’s a lot of salad” – a statement I’m still struggling to understand.

Gregg and John are so impressed with everything they eat that they forget to shout.

Chef’s table day arrives with five world class chefs, and Masterchef winner Mat Follas. I hadn’t realised that Michael would pick the dishes: I assumed that the contestants would choose the food, not the chef. He’s picked some doozys though: Lobster cooked two ways, with sauces and sauces and foams and stuff; beef with delicious veg and some sort of chocolate thing which has to be tempered to the nearest degree to ensure it forms the right shape (take me out for a beer sometime and ask me about the crystallisation of chocolate – It’s fascinating).

“Kitchens are normally calm” says John “but today we’ve thrown a spanner, a firework and a Molotov cocktail into the mix” – as he says ‘Spanner’ the camera cuts to Nick, which seems a bit unfair.

Despite being a couple of minutes late, the chefs’ table all love it and Gregg looks like he’s halfway between tears and orgasm when he eats Nick’s chocolate thing.

He’s wearing a shiny suit – I’d hate to be his dry cleaner.

Job done, and we’re back to Masterchef HQ for the Final Reckoning.

Except we aren’t, we have to get a recap of the various ‘Journeys’ (with a capital ‘J’) first. Lots of smiling, lots of tasting faces from the judges and lots of people telling us ‘how much it means to them’.

We also get another view of Gregg’s Caractacus Potts hat, which has been my highlight of the series.

Three courses, two hours, let’s cook:

Kirsty makes a starter of Scottish salmon tartar, cooked on the plate with a sorrel soup and oatcakes (this is a genius idea, and one which I’m stealing if I ever have any friends to cook for), then liver with greens and chips, then a pistachio meringue with rosewater cream and a pannacotta – which is an amazingly technical dessert with about a million things that could go wrong.

Seriously people, flying the Space Shuttle is less complicated than this dessert: loads of work to do, and it leads to some intense shouting out the back between the boys.

Unfortunately, Kirsty really messes up the main course (“Oily” says John, “Oily” says Gregg, getting ready for the professionals’ series where he stands around and agrees with Michel Roux) and this costs her. A shame, because her starter and dessert are wonderful.

Phil does a classic starter of scallops and black pudding; a proper lamb dinner, but with baby asparagus wrapped in mint and ham followed by bread and butter pudding.

It sounds simple, but his presentation and attention to detail is exactly the sort of thing I aspire to when I cook, and I tip my internet hat to him. Gregg starts laughing at how good the lamb dish is, and John seems amazed by the asparagus, demanding to know where he got the idea from.

Nick tries to do the work of fifteen men: a crab and avocado starter, duck with spicy braised cabbage and a treacle tart (meaning he’s trying pastry again after some disasters in the earlier rounds). All his food comes out well, and the lads seem happy: John particularly likes the pudding.

Off go the boys for the final discussion on the judgely sofa. There are some flashing eyes over the consistency of Phil’s pudding, but to be honest the decision is an easy one:  all the arguing and indecisiveness is really just for show.

There is only one winner out of this, and it’s…

*Florence and the Machine break*

Phil Vickery M.B.E.

Vickery is astonishing: that boy genuinely knows what he’s doing. He cooks food that both looks brilliant and is packed full of things that he, a big lad from Gloucester (and me, a big lad from Newcastle), would like to eat.

The other chefs didn’t really do anything wrong, but he was so much better that they just didn’t have a chance. It’s also really heartening that a man who has won the Rugby World Cup and would eat the ears off an opposing forward’s face seems close to tears every time somebody says something nice about him – I look forward to the spin-off series where him and Matt Dawson (former Celebrity Chef winner and fan of macrobiotic fish dishes) go round the world arguing about food.

That’s it then. Sorry for the gap in the middle, but I hope you enjoyed it.

Roll on the Professionals.

—————————————————————————————-

You can follow Graeme on Twitter, where he goes by the name of @Magicdarts

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