How did this happen?
How did Masterchef come out of nowhere to become a media event?
I've already had a bit of a go about this over in the comments on Betty's place. But that was in the early stages of my addiction; I hadn't come across it in over a decade and had no idea it was still running. I was just taking the mick for it going 'a bit Apprentice' and featuring montage shots of contestants stomping through Borough market buying fresh things...
But it's feckin brilliant! It's exciting! It's tense! It's got nice food in and mad people! They flew the final three contestants out to Belize for the episode earlier this week, and choppered them around the jungle to cook army food in hot places. This would never have happened in Lloyd's day, I tell thee.
And whatever they are paying the person to stand in the corner of the room and hold down a single note on a synthesiser to denote tension while they reveal if it was the hot pot or eggs-in-chicken flesh with olive sorbet that has won that edition of the show is well worth it.
I didn't even understand the food on last night's programme though. A twirl? A swirl? A twill? Types of chocolate bars, I say, not some delicate piece of sugary thinness thing, which has no other purpose other than to scream 'oooh get me! I can do fancy things!'. Which is no bad thing I suppose. (I mean why else do I have about a fifth of the books I'll never get around to reading on my bookshelf...)
So skipping over the question of whether its the refreshed format that makes it appealing to me, the inane shouty, wide-eyed judges ("COOKING DOESN'T GET TOUGHER THAN THIS" etc etc) or I've just reached an age where nice food looks attractive, and hit straight onto the three finalists:
(...and can I insert the caveat here that whatever I am about to type next, all of these seemingly very lovely people clearly have more natural talent in the kitchen in their littlest of little finger than I will have in my entire lifetime. Last week I had something of a 'stop, little pot, stop' moment with a risotto. All was not well...)
Jonny: Looks as if he has bumbled into a kitchen by taking a wrong turn in a library, but is hoping no one will notice. Or like your dead great uncle who died in the war. Is endlessly referred to in the heavy breathing voiceover as a single dad. What impact this has on his cooking ability I do not figure. Although no doubt he can knock up a mean bowl of spaghetti hoops. Is not likely to win as judges see him as the weakest link. Depsite this he could have a stunning career as an army chef. Why he would want to etc etc.
Emily: The favourite of every father and male over the age of 35 across the nation, who may weep if she claims victory. Is endlessly referred to in the heavy breathing voiceover as 'just eighteen'. Probably because censors at the Beeb won't let them say 'a bit posh'. She is lovely and mad and lovely and has a bit of lisp. Her cooking is madly creative and wonderful, but her skin is not liking the hot atmospheres of professional kitchens. Is coping magnificently on working with people a lot older than her, but you sort of get the impression she could give it up at any moment and try world domination instead. Seriously. We'd all be being jolly and cheerful and eating bacon souffle for breakfast in a matter of weeks... May snare a win if her cooking doesn't too avant garde and she starts saute-ing furniture.
James: Has win written all over him (thanks Oli). Largely because he has the kind of hair you expect in a chef doing bonkers things in a high class kitchen somewhere in Devon. Is endlessly referred to in the heavy breathing voiceover as 'an ex barrister'. The fact that he's given something up recently is the icing on the cake. It's quite a good cake. In fact it's probably amazing. Looks good hanging out the back of a jungle range rover while being filmed by BBC film crew. Not only has he consistenly turned out top notch food, completed deliberately overly-complicated recipes and used individual ingredient combinations - he has also been 'a bit of a team player'. Ahhhhhhh, which is nice, isn't it?
So anyway. I'm off now to get the stuff for my beans on toast. Who will win, hmm? WHO. WILL. WIN. But before I stumble off, mandatory Vic & Bob clip ahoy: