About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, December 22, 2006
MasterChef Goes Large
Photo courtesy Lifestyle FOOD, from left, John Torode & Gregg Wallace

One cooking program I've been watching lately is MasterChef Goes Large. It's all about foodies like you and me that dream of working in their own restaurant. Six contestants are asked to cook a dish and are then judged by London restaurateur John Torode and fruit and veg expert Gregg Wallace. The six become three and are then set more tasks including cooking an actual service in a real restaurant.

This is the part of the show that fascinates me as good home cooks are put through the stresses and strains of cooking for paying customers. People who are perfectly competent in their own kitchen are suddenly under immense pressure and it soon sorts out who has the wherewithal to really make a go of it. Having worked in a large commercial kitchen, I know about the pressure to perform consistently well and how you can be left to sort out any difficulties that crop up as everyone strives to get meals to the customers.

The reality of a restaurant kitchen is a universe away from the home kitchen and it comes as a shock to some of the contestants who fancied themselves as a chef. At home, cooking allows your creative side to blossom; in cooking for just a few, any mistakes can be glossed over and matters of timing, crucial in a restaurant, have far less importance. In a restaurant, cooking is hard graft with many boring, mundane tasks, like the time I had to prepare a grape garnish that consisted of two and a half thousand bunches of grapes that had to contain just three grapes each.

Another part of the show that provides a reality check is when the contestants have to cook a signature dish of their own devising. This is when a lot of them are brought undone by the criticisms of the judges, though in fairness, what is said seems to be an honest though blunt assessment of the presented dishes. One mistake that many commit is to make their dishes too busy with lots of ingredients, some of which can never be best friends. Another error, in order to catch the judges attention is to produce the downright weird, which at home might see your friends proclaiming your brilliance, but under the harsh light of television might see the judges have some unkind words.

Ever wonder if you could make it as a chef? Check out this program.

MasterChef Goes Large, 8.00pm weeknights, Lifestyle FOOD
  posted at 10:46 am

At 10:55 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely love Masterchef, It is a great show. They seriously judge the food. The contestants get to cook in a kitchen with heaps of room to work in. I love watching what the contestants create and I love the way Mr Fruitshop tells it how it is in his down to earth manner. Why can we not have a show like that in Australia? Also the Lifestyle Food channel is doing a Top Chef marathon on boxing day for all of you who missed it. Great review Neil.


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