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PhilD

MasterChef - The Professionals

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By chance I caught the first episode in this new series. Gregg Wallace is joined by Michel Roux Jr as a judge.

First episode looks promising. One to watch?

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I inevitably end up watching these. I may have missed it, but did it mention the places where the contestants work at the moment? It would have been interesting to know what level they're at professionally already, because in general they didn't seem that good!

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I inevitably end up watching these. I may have missed it, but did it mention the places where the contestants work at the moment? It would have been interesting to know what level they're at professionally already, because in general they didn't seem that good!

When is it on?

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Just caught it on iplayer, i really liked it actually. Would rather they kept Torrode than veg man, but nice to see Roux, i.e. someone who knows what theyre talking about, on there instead.

That mousse with the orange looked immense. Got to give that a go.


Edited by CalumC (log)

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not seen this but it must be better than the hairy 'insert cunning pun' fools on motorbikes which really is the most infantile cookery programme i've ever had the misfortune to spend half and hour of my life on, which i'll never get back.


you don't win friends with salad

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I thought the first eps was quite good. Its basically your common garden professional culinary competition, just filmed.

I haven't seen Michel Roux on telly before. He's quite good (weird mid-channel accent though) - very perceptive comments, clearly garners respect from his victims.

He also painfully exposes greg wallaces limitations when you put them side by side ("well conceived dish, marginally undercooked potato, slight too sweet sauce means the final dish is not balanced" vs. "CHOMP. Mmm. Good mousse. I LIKE IT.").

I still think the editor of the series should be shot. The whole things put together in a clod-handed lets-create-some-fake-dramatic-tension-with-some-pre-scripted-asides manner. It's like they've just got out of documentary school and been given their first camera. If Karen Ross is reading PLEASE sort this out - it's embarassing and makes Shine look like a bunch of pillocks.

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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I enjoyed it too. Good early evening “popcorn” telly.

But I was disappointed to see that when it came to commenting on the dishes Michel Roux went first every time. Like what’s Veg Guy going to do after that, disagree with him ? “So, two Michelin star holding chef at Le Gavroche Michel reckons that dish is a bit of a dud; what do you think Greg…?”

Much more fun would be to let Greg go first and then have Michel comment. A chance to judge both wanna-be chefs and wanna-be critics !

G.

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I enjoyed it too. Good early evening “popcorn” telly.

But I was disappointed to see that when it came to commenting on the dishes Michel Roux went first every time. Like what’s Veg Guy going to do after that, disagree with him ? “So, two Michelin star holding chef at Le Gavroche Michel reckons that dish is a bit of a dud; what do you think Greg…?”

Much more fun would be to let Greg go first and then have Michel comment. A chance to judge both wanna-be chefs and wanna-be critics !

G.

What do you mean 'wanna-be-critic', I hope you are not talking about Greg. He is a well respected critic in the food industry, infact he is known as a 'pro' in Olive magazine. If it wasn't for his superhuman knowledge on all things food related ( with extra special knowledge on veg and puds) we would not have Thomasina, and erm, the rest.

Greg has a far superior knowledege on food than that Roux fellow, anyone can tell that,. by the difference in their physique.

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As far as Mockney market traders go, Greg has to be right up there in the top 50. Roux makes the show more watchable than it has ever been, and it is amusing (as someone else alluded) to watch him sum up a dish and then listen to Greg verbally stumble around like a mechanical rodeo bull.

As far as the Hairy Bakers (or Bikers) go, infantile isn't the first word that springs to mind when I watch them, now I've got over the fact that only one of them can cook, while the other hangs on his mates (boyfriends?) coat tails, they're both able presenters who whilst, admittedly commiting the ultimate crime of actually appearing to enjoy being on television, cook food which people at home who don't even know egullet exists will happily try to recreate. I like the show and enjoy watching it far more than most other 'personality chef' led shows.


Edited by fisherman (log)

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I thought it was great. No messing around - just do the same (classical French, technical) thing, see who does it best, gets judged quickly and efficiently by the judge and his assistant (as mentioned above)...

It does feel as if Michel Roux is only on TV to show the country how cooking should be done. His "duty". Unlike the chef he regularly beats at the London Marathon...

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Michel Roux junior looks pretty scary when he wanders round - I'd be terrified if I was cooking in front of him. The comment about him always giving his opinion first is very interesting - maybe Greg feels intimidated by him and he doesn't by John T?

From the two episodes we've had so far it has been pretty easily to determine who is going to win - hopefully that will change and add some excitement. I think Roux junior is good, he scoffs the food in a far more delicate way than Greg, who generally makes you feel quite ill with all his chop licking and lip smacking. I think the programme shows lots of potential and is far more classy than it was before - it is just a shame that they still use those dreadful cliches.

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One to watch?

Only if being poked in the eye with a stick is your sort of fun, Phil.

Concept is fine. But, as others mention, the cliches just overwhelm it - the fake tension, the moody looks as the "judges" wander round the kitchen, blah, blah.

It'd have been more useful if the chefs' full names and restaurants had been mentioned but that might have compromised the Beeb's "no advertising" integrity. Yeah, right.

And, as for the Hairy Bakers - makes me ashamed to be northern!


John Hartley

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As far as the Hairy Bakers (or Bikers) go, infantile isn't the first word that springs to mind when I watch them, now I've got over the fact that only one of them can cook, while the other hangs on his mates (boyfriends?) coat tails, they're both able presenters who whilst, admittedly commiting the ultimate crime of actually appearing to enjoy being on television, cook food which people at home who don't even know egullet exists will happily try to recreate. I like the show and enjoy watching it far more than most other 'personality chef' led shows.

don't get me wrong, i don't expect every cooking programme to be gagnaire in a cook off with roellinger and i'll generally watch any old sh*te if there's a modicum of foodie interest, but they really take the biscuit.

It's sub-standard daytime tv as far as i can see, never mind fairly peak time. Even mrs m who is no food snob wouldn't even let me watch 5 minutes of it this week just to see how bad it was !


you don't win friends with salad

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One to watch?

Only if being poked in the eye with a stick is your sort of fun, Phil.

Aye John, nowt much to do down here 'til whippett racing is back on't telly.... :wink:

I wonder if not naming the chefs restaurants is more subtle than we give the programme credit for. After all these are all junior chefs who probably have little influence on what goes out of the kitchen. They may be very talented but if they work in a dodgy restaurant with a poor head chef their talent will be hidden.

Agree with the cliches and fake tension....but still the best of a bad lot.

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Forgive me, but I assumed that most of the competitors, while chefs, weren't necessarily cooking in restaurants. I thought that was the whole point of the programme? There are lots of other places which need to have catering but the guests/inmates/students/patients can vary, as does the quality of the food.

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Mrs F

You're right - the programme doesnt indicate where the contestants are working only that they have a professional background. So, they may well be working in a variety of establishments.

John


John Hartley

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Why oh why can't we have something like Iron Chef or Top Chef in the UK, at least there is a modicum of telnt from the chefs and far less cliched!


If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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I can only echo the criticisms to the effect that it is a hackneyed, lazy piece of work. But I did have a beautiful schadenfreude moment with the naff macarons. Delightful.

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OK having stewed over a few episodes I still think its a very good show.

I'm less down on the editing than I was at first. Its a bit heavy handed (erm, are they going to tell us EVERY DAY that michel roux has had two michelin stars since 1991??? Presumably they're not going to mention that was only because they knocked one off when Albert pere retired...) but not as disasterous as I've seen from Shine's previous efforts.

I'm even more down on Greg Wallace however. Having Michel Roux alongside just shows up how out of his depth the guy is. Its embarassing. Today there was some bizarre suggestion that a thinly sliced strip of courgette somehow contains a deluge of juice which rinses out the flavour of a dover sole. Embarassing, just embarassing.

What annoys me is that I need to be able to trust the judgement of the judges. Michel Roux is a case in point. The stuff he says is fascinating, precise and adds enormously to the show (love the boggle eyed look he uses to make a point too). Whenever Greg Wallace opens his mouth he is either a) stating the blindingly obvious (or repeating what Michel Roux has just pointed out) or b) saying something that's just wrong. What I want from an expert if for them to both inform (say something I didn't know) and provide insight (point out something I wouldn't have realised otherwised). Sure I've probably got higher expectatations than the target audience, but I simply make the observation that Roux provides both, Wallace provides neither.

Other than that I think the format is excellent. Simple no frills - and definitely a challenge. Two dishes in fifty minutes sounds a tough ask; I assume they get prep time before that. I like the classics dish too (good way to seperate men from the boys - one thing you notice is that a lot of the high profile competitions like Roux Scholar and Ramsay Scholar have a strong classical dish component. Gives the contestants nowhere to hide).

As to contestants it is a shame they don't say where they've cooked - I think there'll be a big variation. It looks like the net is spread fairly wide from central london commis to people from random provincial restaurants (not necessarily fine dining - think slightly above the level of restos which feature on Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares?). I suspect the level of competition once we get to the final will be similar to student chef of the year at the Cateys?

One misconception I have spotted is that most of the contestants seem to conflate getting a Michelin star with being a good chef. For most of them having a michelin star seems to be an end in itself (I suspect the editor is stressing this bit it their usual heavy-handed way to add to the macho "I want to be the best of the best" glamour). The aim should be to cook delicious food to the best of their ability. In theory the stars will follow. Every young chef should remember Pierre Koffmanns dictum "having three stars doesn't make me a three star chef. It simply gives me the right to be a three star chef" (or words to that effect).

I actually think there's a wealth of learning aspiring chefs could learn from the show. Follow it with a keen eye and you see a lot of basic mistakes (unbalanced proportions, not playing to the strengths of the ingredients, excessive garnishes, mixing and matching ingredients from different cuisines) which scream out at you from the sofa, but you probably miss in the heat of competition. Actually its similar to the faults which a lot of the victims on Kitchen Nightmares exhibit (I'm thinking especially of Loic Lefebre the gazillion thinks on a plate wannabe haute pourcel alumnus from a couple of series back). Just Michel Roux points out the faults with surgical precision and a damn sight less unecessary personal abuse.

Despite my misgivings a net positive though. Fascinating viewing. More please, especially from Mr Roux.

J

PS One other observation - its interesting the reverance the contestants have for Mr Roux who is obviously far far less well known outside the trade than Mr Ramsay. When Gordon Ramsay slams someone on Kitchen Nightmares the overall emotion you get from the victims is fear and anger (admittedly the format doesn't help). When Michel Roux puts his hatchet in the response of appreciation, respect and a willingness to learn. A chef's chef, non?


Edited by Jon Tseng (log)

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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Today there was some bizarre suggestion that a thinly sliced strip of courgette somehow contains a deluge of juice which rinses out the flavour of a dover sole. 

Made even more bizarre when the thinly sliced courgette strips on the next contestants plate didn't merit any mention.

But am enjoying Michel Roux's comments.


John Hartley

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I saw my first full episode last night, I was shocked at how poor the plating was especially from the guy who had been a chef for 8 years and was interested in the artistic side of things. Presumably the CV's contain names such as the Happy Eater and Dave's Caff :shock:


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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For me the highlight was the lass who produced Lamb curry that looked straight from the “Serving Suggestion” box-top of Vesta c.1975 – even down to the sprinkled bits of chopped parsley over the rice. It took a level of naivety that was almost charming to serve Michel Roux a dish that proved that you had what it takes to replicate JD Weatherspoons in a professional kitchen.

This was closely followed by the “Classic Test” in which two of the three contestants confessed to never have seen – let alone cooked – Sole Menuire before.

But once you got over the comedy value (and not all the contestants have been so limited) there was something more than the voyeuristic social bloodsports that makes Reality TV such a turn-off.

Vesta Chef was clearly so far out of her depth she needed a periscope. Like the others who hadn’t cooked a menuire dish, she was a product of her prior horizons. Which probably says as much about Britain’s food culture and vocational training as it does about them (see the recent Jonathan Meades article…). And which also meant that you also sensed that it was the first time she had an opportunity to genuinely appreciate what is expected by way of standards, if she wanted to match her cooking to her level of ambition; and the first time she had direct and honest feedback from someone who genuinely understood those standards. So – like the others who were having their car crash cookery moments as they stepped up to the plate and were found wanting – you felt that she was walking away wiser, but not ridiculed, humiliated or with her dreams diminished.

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I'm enjoying this 'Professional' series a lot more than the usual 'Goes Large' one (hideous suffix - "Goes Large" - as if to emphasis how silly it really is). Though Slaphead still deserves a thorough tenderising with both mallet and jaccard, I have come to accept this boil on the arse of television. I am content to believe that his soul has been sold; that he has had to perform many degrading acts in order to appear so regularly on our dear national broadcaster and yet have such lack of any discernable talent.

He is tempered by the non-BS Roux jnr who simply tells it like it is with authority, clarity and genuine wisdom. Good stuff, two challenges no messing around with stoopid formats. Refreshing to see a TV cooking competition that is actually about the cooking of high-quality food. I hope the format doesn't alter too much in the later stages, no cooking on side of cliffs for our lighthouse-keepers please.

Funny though, I think the quality of these pros has only been as good as the amateurs back in the original series all those years ago. Does anyone remember the standard back then? Granted I was only a whippersnapper back then and easily impressed by Frenchy methods but I remember they were really good! Am I deluding myself?

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Though Slaphead still deserves a thorough tenderising with both mallet and jaccard, I have come to accept this boil on the arse of television.  I am content to believe that his soul has been sold;

presupposes that he has a soul to sell.

In fact, he's just the sort of mouthy moron that programme makers deem a prerequisite for any topic that benefits from the "common touch" to make it accessible to the "mass market".

Patronising beyond belief, of course.

PS the moron isn't a "boil on the arse of television", he is television - nose to tail.

PPS when it comes to the common touch, he's non pareil

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Funny though, I think the quality of these pros has only been as good as the amateurs back in the original series all those years ago.  Does anyone remember the standard back then?  Granted I was only a whippersnapper back then and easily impressed by Frenchy methods but I remember they were really good!  Am I deluding myself?

Bear in mind original masterchef had different conditions. Contestants chose their own dishes and practiced them to buggery ahead of the event. That's very very different from being chucked an ingredient box and being told to slap together two plats in fifty minutes.

A different analogy would be to say it's like doing two back to back episodes of ready steady cook, sans the inane chatter. IMHO the contestants are performing at or slightly above that level. (take that as you will depending on your view of RSC cast, although I would point out that brian turner was a judge at the bocuse d'or last year).

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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