From the simplest of meals to more sophisticated recipes, MasterChef’s Justine Schofield will inspire you to get more from your home cooking experience.
As season three of Masterchef revs up, I have to wonder what direction its contestants will head in once it’s all over. Maybe – just maybe? – some of them will actually go on to work in restaurants. Season two’s lot seems to have been content with filling our supermarket shelves with packaged food, whilst season one’s ambitions appeared limited to churning out TV shows. “Look! Oi’m famous!”
Poh was the first to make the transition from contestant to TV cook, and has been the best by a country mile. Her show is fun, she has a real TV presence, and she interacts with her guests in a really natural way. She even brought Andre (of the famous risotto) along for the ride for a couple of episodes. A (very) distant second was season one’s winner, Julie Goodwin, whose mediocre food makes Donna Hay look like Heston Blumenthal. In last place, Julia’s Delish showed that it is possible to make to make food TV dull. She had assistance from another season one alumnus, Josh the fish boy, who was equally as charisma-free in his al fresco pieces. Julia seems to have realised that her strengths do not come across on the screen, and has opened a restaurant with fellow season one contestant, Chris Badenoch, who I spotted in an advertisement for Peter Berner’s new show on the Comedy Channel1.
So, where does season one sweetheart, Justine, fit in to this hierarchy? Let’s find out…
“This is my favourite part of the show where we get to meet different people who specialise in different things” is how Justine opens the episode I watch first. This suggests that the editing team is on crack, as that seems to be an after-the-second-ad-break link. Anyway, this episode we have Sam Herde from The Vegetable Connection with a range of beetroot. That explains the somewhat unbalanced menu we are getting today, where two of the three dishes are beetroot-oriented. The second guest is from Weight Watchers, so that “mexican bean pizza” that already sounded pretty uninspired is looking even less appealing now. And explains why Sam was the part of the show Justine liked best.
Is this show functional as a cooking show? There’s no listing of ingredients at the beginning, a la Hewy or the Nutter, and there’s no detailed explanation of them, either. Justine tells us she’s sweating her eschalots down (doesn’t tell us how many to use), then refers to her “onions” caramelising, then goes back to reminding us that the eschalots cook much quicker than onions. Well, which are they? Suddenly some pastry appears for beetroot tarts – where did it come from, Justine? What kind is it? (She mentions puff pastry once, after she’s banged on at length about the cookie cutter size – it’s clearly frozen, ready rolled, too.) At the end of each recipe there is a slide that tells us how long the dish takes, how many it serves, and the “cost” (which for the tarts is “budget”, whatever THAT means). There is a link provided to the website for the recipes. I watched more than one episode and have concluded that “gourmet” means “has goats cheese” and that the Weight Watchers segment works only in that it will put you off food. FOR LIFE.
- When presenting a show with “gourmet” in the title, don’t say “REALLY?” with such surprise when told that beetroot leaves are edible. You’re expected to know this. We’re not, but you don’t have feign stupidity on our account.
- Repetition, and over-pronunciation, of “beautiful” seems to be Masterchef’s greatest legacy. As does describing EVERYTHING as “rustic”. Somebody buy the girl a Word-A-Day calendar.
- Why specify “California walnuts”? There are local walnuts, you know. I guess all your recipes can be “budget” if you use cheap ingredients.
- “I love my Sirena” is the message that greets you when you visit the website. Sirena scores very badly in the Greenpeace canned tuna guide.
- While cooing over the Weight Watchers woman’s hideous food, Justine is quick to comment that it’s “beautiful” tasting food, to appeal to all those “people who think weight loss is all about brown rice”. People who think “weight loss is all about brown rice” are, quite frankly, too stupid to live.
Everyday Gourmet is not even, to use a fast food slogan, “a little bit schmancy”.
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1. I haven’t watched the show; I don’t even remember what it was called. It appeared to be a cross between the execrable Nine series, 20 to 1, and the quite wonderful The Soup. It wasn’t clear how – or even if – Chris fitted into the line-up.