Celebrity Chefs & TV Cooking

These are synopses of my past postings on celebrity chefs and TV cooking. Click on the links for the posts.

October 27, 2009Oooh Mummy, Can We Have Some Umami?Umami, or the "fifth flavour" may be a word that is part of the vocabulary of the average Japanese toddler, but it's hardly something we know much about in Britain. I was amazed to see that a feature about umami had been shown at peak evening viewing time on BBC1. In this post I've briefly discussed what umami is and included an edited clip from the tv programme.
October 03, 2009They Go Really Badly Together - Potato And OrangeThe bits of this series of Masterchef: The Professionals that I've managed to watch so far have been every bit as awful as The Hairy Bikers' Food Tour of Britain has been brilliant. But I've not only been shocked by the poor standard of the contestants. I've also been amazed at the arrogance and insularity of the presenters - even those with Michelin 2* restaurants. Read this to discover how Michel Roux Jr. wrote off one of València's classic regional dishes.
September 03, 2009Working-Class Gastronomy (Having A Larf)The latest to arrive on my regular tv "food parcels" from back home are some clips from the latest series of "The Hairy Bikers". In this great new series, the lads are touring Britain, bridging the gap between comfort food and fine dining with all the honesty and joy of ordinary people discovering the better things that life has to offer. Having a larf... and surprising some very experience chefs in the process. From what I've seen, a series definitely worth watching!
August 28, 2009Sugar DaddyAlthough this man is one of Spain's most famous chefs, I could equally have posted this in my Professional Work section, because I had the great pleasure of meeting world class pastry chef Franscico 'Paco' Torreblanca in the kitchen at work the other day. One of the greatest experts in work with sugar, Paco is a huge inspiration to me in my present endeavours.
August 05, 2009Cambodian FoodIn his latest series, Rick Stein visits Vietnam, Thailand and my favourite South East Asian country, Cambodia. When I visited a few years ago I was knocked out by the food, which combined strong Asian flavours with a subtlety and complexity of balance. Watch these clips for just a small insight into the cuisine of this amazing country.
May 31, 2009Deconstructing BourdainOne of the culinary world's toughest and most cynical commentators is reduced to the level of a giggling child. "Is it good? Yes, yes... it's really good! Does it make sense? Yes, yes... it... it makes sense." He could only be talking about the food of one man. Ferran Adrià i Acosta. Anthony Bourdain undergoes The El Bulli Experience.
August 07, 2008F*** Working In A F***ing Kitchen For A F***ing LivingFile this one under celebrity chefs and TV swearing. There can hardly be a TV viewer in the world who hasn't wanted to do what happens in this sketch at some time. I just love the last lines - delivered with perfect timing. "He makes a fine casserole." "Doesn't he, though?"
June 13, 2008Whispering WindIt's 18 months since I last posted about Ray Mears, the English TV presenter, survivalist and bushcraft expert. Although there has been lots to enjoy in what I've seen of his latest series 'Ray Mears Goes Walkabout', one piece stood out for me. It's the story of Australia's forgotten hero Syd Kyle-Little, known by his Aboriginal name as Whispering Wind.
May 12, 2008A Taste Of Two HoneysI think this is the first time I've ever posted about a TV cooking programme that hasn't been aired yet. Unfortunately I couldn't be there myself, but my dad was invited round to nearby Broadway Market in Hackney last Saturday to meet his friend Ian Davies and take part in a blind honey tasting. Not unusual in itself, but this street trial was conducted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and was being filmed for the new series of River Cottage on Channel 4.
March 27, 2008A Cook's Tour Of SpainThe latest Channel4 offering features former Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers in a series about Spanish regional cuisine. The first programme, set in Andalucia, exceeded my expectations by some distance. A Cook's Tour Of Spain gets up close and personal with its subject and really teaches you something about the fantastic and varied regional gastronomy of Spain.
March 02, 2008The Appliance Of Science In PortugalPortugal has never been at the forefront of innovation and creativity in Europe - at least not for the past few hundred years. But things are changing rapidly. Hard on the heels of Heston Blumenthal's "In Search Of Perfection", Portuguese TV is starting to show live demonstrations of molecular gastronomy techniques. And my friend Professor Mata is participating in a regular TV series about the science behind food products and processes. Amazing stuff!
February 02, 2008Doing "Something A Bit Different"When my dad emailed me to view an edited clip from Masterchef, I wasn't very excited. I've never really liked the show very much - it's far too conservative for my tastes. But dad was right about this particular contestant. Eighteen-year-old Emily is someone very special. She visualises combinations of taste, aroma, texture, colour and shape and then creates her own dishes from the images in her head - exactly what I try to do. My reaction watching her was the same as John Torode's. "Wow!"
January 20, 2008Doing What You Do BestThere's a famous BT advert starring Gordon Ramsay in which order in his kitchen disintegrates as he relinquishes control as Head Chef and attempts to install a new phone. "Do what you do best" is the message. I don't think he was expecting Rory Bremner to produce this hilarious spoof in which order in Gordon's kitchen disintegrates as he does what he does best - taking endless phone calls to arrange his latest TV programmes and appearances. Lol!
December 06, 2007What Women WantBack in September I wrote about Marco Pierre White, saying how well I thought he'd done fronting Hell's Kitchen and posting three video clips from the series. Two months later, those clips had over 20,000 views and the adoring comments from women were embarrassing. I think Marco looks like something recently dug up from the vegetable patch, but clearly I'm in the minority.
November 01, 2007It's More Kushti At HomeNot long ago I wrote a post about how relaxed Jamie Oliver was looking in his latest series "Jamie At Home". At last he'd got away from the controversial politics surrounding him in recent years. Rory Bremner must have read my blog, because last week he made exactly the same point on "Bremner, Bird & Fortune". Watch the clip and laugh yourself silly.
October 18, 2007Splitting My HashiUntil I saw this video clip I'd never heard of the Rahmens, but a little research revealed that they are hugely popular celebrity comics in their home country of Japan. The connection with food is in the subject matter of several of the videos in their series "The Japanese Tradition". In this clip they explain the intricate rules of etiquette associated with hashi, or chopsticks.
September 25, 2007From Angry School Dinners To The Good Life Home CookingA year ago things were looking good for Jamie Oliver after the successful launch of his campaign to improve school meals. But a year on and the cracks were appearing. Moaning parents, disgruntled dinner ladies and the lowest school meal uptake for 50 years. The new TV series "Jamie At Home" has taken the cheeky chappy back to basics with simple Mediterranean home cooking based around locally grown fruits and vegetables. The stress has gone and Jamie at last looks like he's really enjoying life again.
September 21, 2007I Never Thought I'd Hear Myself Saying ThisWhen it was first announced that Marco Pierre White was to host the new series of Hell's Kitchen, dad and I didn't believe it. "He'll storm out half way through" was dad's judgment. Well, the series has finished and Marco has done himself proud. Never mind the orchestrated nonsense to make good TV - The Great White has shown the world exactly what it takes to be a great chef. Leadership, inspiration, teaching and charisma in bucket loads. Without a single "F-word". Eat your heart out, Gordon.
July 13, 2007TV Food Shocker Hits BritainI was shocked when I saw an episode of this new BBC TV cooking series. It involves street gangsters, violence, poisoning, size discrimination, retro cooking recipes, improper kitchen hygiene and food sourcing practices, the taking of illicit substances... the list goes on. And it's so frightening I had to hide behind the sofa. To discover the full horrifying facts about this show, click on the link and read my exposé.
June 01, 2007Ramsay's At Your Beckham CallWhen I read that Gordon Ramsay was going into partnership with Posh & Becks to open a restaurant in L.A., I simply couldn't believe it. With a past history of food friction between the weight-conscious, vegetarian Victoria and the carnivorous, foie gras loving Gordon Ramsay I can see all sorts of problems with this venture. So I'm appealing to readers for menu suggestions.
March 23, 2007Spot The Chef CompetitionThere's a photograph on the wall in Café Spice showing the proprieter Cyrus Todiwala with 33 other famous chefs. See how many you can name. There many very famous practitioners of the culinary arts in this room, with quite a few Michelin stars between them.
January 15, 2007Here's One I Made Earlier...The Sunday Times has revealed that today’s celebrity chefs are merely entertainers - chosen for their ability to ooze TV personality - backed up by a "galley of specialists who translate chefs’ ideas into digestible formats..." with some backroom staff "actually supplying the ideas". Well, surprise, surprise. I'd never have guessed.
January 03, 2007Naked Chef Outdone By Jay Kay's ParsnipIn a recent episode of Saturday Kitchen, Jamie Oliver was invited to the home of Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay to cook for the band. When the vegetable accompaniments were revealed I was shocked. Not clean and neat veg from Sainsbury's, but produce from Jay Kay's own organic vegetable garden!
January 02, 2007Fancy Your Own TV Series?Last November I posted about Aussie chefs Vic Cherikoff and Benjamin Christie. Shortly after I heard that their TV shows are being networked US-wide. In December I posted about survivalist and wild food expert Ray Mears. This week BBC2 presents Ray's new series "Wild Food". So if you fancy being on TV, maybe I should write about you first.
December 18, 2006Here's To You, Marguerite!Marguerite Patten taught Brits to cook in the 1930s and advised the government and housewives on food during the second world war. Old, retired and set in her ways? Not a bit of it. This week the 91-yr-old celebrity chef has released a podcast showing how to make a quick and easy Christmas pudding.
December 04, 2006Living Off The Land: Mother Nature's LarderRay Mears is a presenter known for his TV series on the subject of bushcraft. Surprisingly he is not an Aussie but an Englishman who lives and works in East Sussex. Ray has presented on the techniques employed by our ancestors for hunting and gathering and he's a keen promoter of indigenous wild food.
December 02, 2006Cooking For The QueenIn June the BBC ran a TV series called Great British Menu, in which top UK chefs battled it out for a chance to cook for the Queen's birthday banquet. They've started filming next year's series and I appear in some background shots, weighing up flour and sugar. Not exactly a starring role, but who knows where it could lead!
November 15, 2006In Search Of A LaughYou can't fail to admire the genius of culinary alchemist and 3* Michelin restaurateur Heston Blumenthal. But that doesn't mean you can't have a good laugh at some of his more extreme approaches to cooking. This Private Eye cartoon had me in stitches.
November 10, 2006And Now For Suspension Of Disbelief...Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's new series of River Cottage is a fantastic improvement on the last series. This week Hugh worked with a group of ready-meal addicts, teaching them to fish, to rear animals and to dig their own vegetables, before cooking home made versions of their microwave favourites using his farm-grown organic produce.
November 05, 2006Heston Services - In Search of PerfectionLast week saw the first part of Heston Blumenthal's new TV series "In Search Of Perfection". I defy anyone to read the story of Heston's rise from unsuccessful trainee with Raymond Blanc to Britain's #1 restauranteur without being touched by the man's sincerity and deep love of food.
October 01, 2006And The Celebrity MasterChef Winner Is...Friday night saw the final of BBC Celebrity MasterChef. I thought the winner would be comedian Hardeep, who cooked the most adventurous dishes. But England rugby scrum-half Matt Dawson - complimented on his cooking by the Roux family earlier in the series - won the final with salmon carpaccio with scallion pancakes, sea bass in a tamarind broth and an almond and pear tart.
September 23, 2006Celebrity Masterchef Poaches My RecipeThe new series of BBC Celebrity MasterChef has really impressed. One of the inventive dishes that caught my eye this week was the combination of butternut squash with shiitake mushroom, which Greg Wallace agreed "would make a good broth". Now where have I heard of butternut squash soup with shiitake before? Oh yes, I published my recipe for it just the other day.
September 19, 2006Jamie's Return To School DinnersLast night Channel 4 presented "Return To School Dinners", a follow-up to Jamie Oliver's ground-breaking TV series last year which led to changes in school meals across Britain. It seems that not everyone has been totally enthusiastic towards the school food revolution. Some parents have been feeding their kids junk food through the school fence.
September 10, 2006Deer Oh Deer!A while back I posted a piece on Marco Pierre White, this country's greatest ever trainer of master chefs. I argued that he was someone for whom one should feel sympathy. Not a sentiment shared with his wife, apparently, who flung her husband's treasured deer-hunting trophies onto the pavement outside their home, following a vicious screaming match.