There are so many food shows on TV these days. How many of them offer something new or different? If Delia has already shown us how to roast a chook, do we really need to see Nigella doing it, too? And Jamie? And how many times can we watch pizza-making before it becomes aversion therapy?
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to try to add a post-a-week on a food show. New shows will take priority, but there are only so many launches in a year, so there will be recaps and round-ups of some stayers, and some that are quite possibly new only to me. I’ll also keep writing up the Nutter magic on Fridays for as long as channel 7Two continues to show it.
To kick off I’m taking a look at the show that debuted on 7Two the Friday before last: Delish. There’s been a bit of build-up to it, largely over the participation of last year’s MasterChef contestant, Julia Jenkins, so let’s see what it’s like, shall we?
The Foxtel synopsis is this:
Join 2009 MasterChef Finalist Julia Jenkins, as she teaches you how to turn your humble backyard produce into mouth-watering meals.
Okay, issue number one. No backyard, so no backyard produce. I hope I can still make do with food I pick up at the markets. Issue number two is the description of home produce as “humble”. Why describe home-grown as humble?
Julia welcomes us to the show, telling us that they will teach us how to grow our own food, source the freshest local produce and bring it all to the table. Who are those men flanking her? Well, one is Josh, who was booted relatively early from last year’s Masterchef, but still qualifies as a finalist, if we’re talking top 20. Why has he been absent from the pre-publicity? He lets us know that they’re at a farmers’ market and that he’ll be showing everyone there how to cook “two simple dishes using seafood and fresh vegies”. He will also be talking roo. The other man, who looks a bit like Harry Butler1, but rounder, will show us how to grow thyme, raspberries and barramundi, whilst Julia will be using “Harry’s” thyme and raspberries and Josh’s kangaroo to make “three great dishes”.
Basically, this seems very Better Homes and Gardens. Comfortable, familiar, sunny and non-threatening. The thing is, don’t we have many iterations of that already? What does this offer that other shows don’t? The hosts are personable enough, but not terribly charismatic. Delia was able to overcome a fairly unexciting presence, since she had established her authority over such a long period of time, but can it work for a pair whose food credentials come via a televised cooking talent quest? What reason do we have – apart from recognising their “celebrity” – to tune in, and to trust their advice?
The first episode has given me no reason, and the timeslot is against it, too. At this stage I am still checking in on the MasterChef Masterclass, and have my weekly Nutter date, so another Friday cooking “how-to” is too much. It’s on the recording cycle; it’s unlikely that I’ll watch it before deleting.
- It feels as though the show is aimed at relative newbies or home cooks with a very limited repertoire, given the nature of the recipes and the unadventurous ingredients. Julia narrates as she’s cooking, explaining some – but not all – steps. Some of the explanations sound a bit like gobbledy-gook – “To de-vein, release it from the bottom, and pull it out through the top”.
- The show has explanatory captions, which provide information about some of the ingredients (varieties of herbs, how to select bugs, the best oranges to buy and when they’re available). The captions can be quite lengthy and a tad distracting during the “how to” segments.
- “I’m using the teppenyaki plate” for the burgers is fine, but giving alternatives for people who don’t have that equipment would be good – a better use for the captions.
- The recipes are online, but it wouldn’t be difficult to specify quantities in the narration, rather than just say “some” onion and garlic, “some” bacon, “some” caramelised onion.
- A show on seasonal, local produce is always going to butt up against the realities of what can be available across the entire country. Would Moreton Bay bugs be “easier to source” than crays in all parts of the country?
- Dr John Tickell needs a better set – seemed as though he was ranting from a laundry somewhere – and his rapid-fire delivery was more Sam Kekovich than credible expert. And his claims are so sweeping (“you can’t eat too much fish”, “fish is the best protein for the human body”) that I feel compelled to verify them, rather than accept them.
- Please, let Julia’s Americanised pronunciation of “produce” at the end be an anomaly.
Delish is on 7Two on Fridays at 7pm and recipes are available on the web at www.thegardengurus.tv/delish
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