Masterchef: Ep. 20

“Today is not the day we die!”

The Mechanisms

In what appears to be yet another Masterchef semi-final, five amateur chefs go to Hever Castle in Kent to do some cooking under a Michelin-starred chef. This being reality TV, the whole thing has to have a Theme; this being Hever Castle, the Theme is Spurious History. So the lucky guinea pigs who get to eat the contestants’ creations are (for no discernible reason) moderately famous historians: Cambridge professor Mary Beard, inaccurate and annoying Lucy Worsley, and holy crap it’s Terry Deary.

That’s the Terry Deary. As in, Horrible Histories Terry Deary. I had a fangirl moment.

However. You know the thing about historians? They know nothing about food. Or, at least, they are not qualified to judge how well Michelin-style food has been cooked. And it’s kind of embarrassing watching them try. Because, of course, they try to do the whole “historical-accuracy” thing, which is doomed from the start because I’m pretty sure the Tudors did not have chocolate. Or, in fact, a course called “second dessert”. (Come to think of it, the only people likely to have invented second dessert are hobbits.) And this round is not really what you would call competitive, because there’s a nice Michelin chef (they exist, apparently) holding everyone’s hand all the way through, and no-one burns anything or gets shouted at, and everything is all fluffy pumpkins and rainbows, and goddammit it’s dull.

I suspect I’m being more sarky than I usually am about Masterchef because I had three helpings of chocolate pudding today and am therefore nowhere near as interested in the food as I would normally be. This freed up my mind considerably to laugh at the cliche-ridden extravaganza that is a Masterchef semi-final. “These cooks are going where no cook has ever gone before! They are being tested to their limits!” It’s as if they’re on a particularly extreme episode of Top Gear. There’s even a slightly worryingly mafia-esque assistant chef going “C’mon, mate, it’s your time to shine!” as if Greasy Michael (yep, I’m naming the contestants now, Apprentice-style) is about to go off and murder someone with blowfish poison or something.

Also, can anyone tell me what the point of olive oil powder is?

In the last twenty minutes, though, it got quite exciting with the Leftover Invention Test, in which the contestants each got a tray of leftovers – fish heads, stale croissants, vegetable peelings and so on – and told to think of something to make sharpish. Plenty of bacon and chicken skin was involved: proper comfort food, warm and hearty and gamey and lovely to think of eating. And, of course, it was rather amusing to see the looks of panic upon the contestants’ faces as they realised just what they had to cook with.

As it turned out, though, no-one actually got kicked out of this round, which made the whole thing seem a bit pointless really. Yes, I’m sure the contestants had lots of fun and grew as people and the historians got a free dinner, but that does not make it good telly. Especially not on top of three helpings of chocolate cake.

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