… Masterchef: It’s The Final!

I switch on BBC One. I meet a couple strolling on a blustery beach in the North East, throwing a stick for a black Labrador. Perhaps one of them has a heart-warming backstory. Possibly the dog.

Sharp edit to a flashy new city canal-side development where a beautiful young couple are walking bouncily, arm in arm, laughing. Presumably heading home from a Sunday brunch of smashed smoked toast on a bed of fairtrade scrambled avocado.

Cut to the home of a busy parent serving up a delicious, healthy tea. I suspect this is a stunt family of child actors because the kids are actually eating the food and a) the food is made using ingredients and it’s not even beige, b) without fighting and c) all the kids are at a table, at the same time, and using cutlery.



After six gruelling weeks this means we’ve arrived at the final of Masterchef!

Now if you’d pitched the idea of Masterchef to me at the outset, I’d never have believed it would take off.

“You remember Gary Rhodes? Sports cars and Michelin stars? Cooking is the new rock and roll? Well, we’re going to get rid of him, replace him with a curmudgeonly Australian chef and a cockney greengrocer. And they’re going to watch people you don’t know cooking food you can’t taste, from recipes we don’t tell you, for a prize we haven’t specified. And we’ll put it on random days of the week, at random times and random lengths so you’ve no idea where you’re up to, until we film them on bleak empty beaches and beside canals to add human interest in the final.”

But it works for me. And the other five million of us who watch the final.

I love Masterchef!

I love Greg and John. 

You see, the advantage of getting a cook and a greengrocer instead of a TV presenter is that they know what they’re talking about.  When things literally go on fire in the semi-finals, and the poo hits the non-stick pan, twenty years in restaurants kick in, and John will reach out an arm and give a pep talk that would put the best football managers to shame.  “Take a breath.  Wipe down and start over.  Now, come on.  You’ve got this!” 

You get the same when Gary Neville or Simon Cowell or Craig Revell Horwood drop their pantomime villain (or indeed dame) act and give a moment of guidance or insight, and you suddenly realise why they’re the judges and the rest of us are portly middle aged men chuntering in front of the telly.

Talking of Strictly (which I appreciate we weren’t), when I was watching with the girl a couple of years ago, she heard John Torode introduced.

“Is he not an Italian dancer?”

“Sorry darling.  What?”

“John Torode.  Was he in Saturday Night Fever?”

“Ah.  Travolta.  That would be John Travolta.”

Two short years later, while typing this, I realise I should have said Travolta’s cooking was good, but too Grease-y.

But Gregg, heir to the sausage roll empire, never lets you down when the right word is called for.

“The tangy, salty bite of the cheddar against the soft sweetness of the onions. Chris Really knows how to combine flavours!”


Hey! Gregg!

It’s cheese and onion!  Everybody knows how to combine those flavours!

What’s next?

The fatty richness of ham and the savoury earthiness of the mushroom?

The sharp acidity of the vinegar and the salty saltiness of the salt?

If it’s already a pizza topping or a crisp flavour, it doesn’t count as an exciting flavour combination!

But there are only so many foods.  How many variations of pasta can there be? (yes, I know, Italians:  about a million).  So eventually even Gregg runs short of advice.

My favourite was his advice on okra; a very unforgiving ingredient. “Undercooked it’s tough.  Overcooked it goes slimy.”   

Get it spot on and it’s both. 


The secret is to remember that some food is fancy.  Some food is nice.  Not all fancy food is nice and not all nice food is fancy.

Which reminds me of when I was on the show in 2015.

Fans of the programme might remember.

In the final I was up against Fiona who was doing sole cooked on the bone with new potatoes and samphire and a chocolate fondant, and Neil who served up rack of lamb with a herb crumb followed by panna cotta.

Time was tight.

Gregg and John come to my work station.

“What’ve you got for us, Rick?”

“I’ll be doing twice-cooked pain de campagne. I’ll be taking an artisan white loaf, carving it into three-quarter inch tranches, and I’m going to be applying heat under a medium grill to get a golden caramelisation on both sides, and I’ll be serving that under a layer of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”.”

“Toast, mate?”




I can’t really write about Masterchef without linking to this by Swedemason. I’m sure you’ve seen it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfeyUGZt8nk

3 thoughts on “… Masterchef: It’s The Final!

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