Please share my Prayers with TV’s Cheffiest, Nerdiest Cooking Competition | Tech Reddy
The coronavirus pandemic has changed my television viewing habits. With no reason to leave the house, I watched more. And the scenes were more absurd, because the outside world was stressful enough. The wire? Breaking Bad? Maybe later. In these times, all my poor mind can handle are people decorating cakes.
The result was a two-and-a-half-year deep dive into the vast world of food television. There is more to it than most people think. It is cut All right. MasterChef: Junior All right. But have you seen where the South African teams have to cook a fire burning in the desert? Or the one where Korean boy groups make chefs perform It is cut with the contents of their actual refrigerators? Or one where the baking icon Mary Berry agrees Not only has he heard of fried okra, but he doesn’t believe it could be good? Or are the hopeless trying to start restaurants in their living rooms? (I’ll never forget the episode where the drunk customers find and read aloud from the chef’s diary. By the way, these are on Netflix, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, respectively.)
This is all a roundabout way of promoting my food on television, Great British menu (streaming on Amazon Prime). Its premise is the dirtiest of all: a group of chefs are asked to design delicious dinner menus with a humorous patriotic theme. They cook their menus and the other judges decide which dishes will be served at the dinner. Thatit is. Nothing surprising. It’s not like crowning the best baker, or Sherlock Holmes-making a cake recipe.
Instead, Great British menu is a road, passionate, serious show about cooking in a high-end restaurant. In each episode, a competing team of fine-dining chefs prepares an experimental dish. About half of the contestants run Michelin-starred kitchens, and have been criticized by other celebrity chefs who look down on the field. The finalists cook their full meals for a panel of food critics, who choose the final menu.
One of the joys of the show is that this program takes forever. Each episode covers one region of the contestants (Scotland, Wales, etc.) to cook one course (appetizer, seafood, main, dessert). Everything adds up to 50 episodes each season. It’s like cooking Danger!.
This pace allows the show to get really nerdy about high-end cooking. You will watch the plating. Chefs will demonstrate unusual tools and techniques. Another competitor makes foamy sauce using a fish tank pump; the other shows rotoap. In Season 5, dedicated to farm-to-table ingredients, a series of mini-documentaries feature travel and fishing. We learn about herbs like anise hyssop, berries like sea buckthorn, and the heritage of animals like the Aylesbury duck and the Gloucestershire Old Spot pig.
It’s a relaxing, interesting watch with no drama. There are no dramatic challenges, no personal stories, and, in my viewing experience so far, only one surprise. Unlike The cook‘s Table on Netflix, examines cooking without slow piety or chef hero-worship (although the contestants are overjoyed at the chance to meet Prince Charles). Great British menu it’s about watching professional chefs do their thing.
For me, as a food critic, the most revealing theme of this show is the stark difference between how other chefs judge food and how critics do. Throughout the series, the chefs praise each other and watch their food be dissected by the critics. Often, chefs reward other chefs for interesting and unusual executions, or for presenting a common ingredient in an original way. Critics, meanwhile, are not told how the dish is made and only care about the actual result. Generally, chefs reward courage and judges punish.
But there is another side to that coin. The critics continued The menu make unusual assumptions about the chefs’ emotional states based on their food. Or they will say that the dish is a no-brainer after spending twenty minutes watching the chef painstakingly put it together. I’m still upset when they say charcuterie is simple. And although chef advisors are easily bored by the usual standard food, they can understand more about basic things like flavor and seasoning.
Critics, by the way, have camp fun. In the seasons I’ve watched, the pre-Great British Bake Off Prue Leith sits between two violent men who fly into a rage when they encounter methods and ingredients she doesn’t like. They also disagree with each other on literally everything. If Leith hadn’t been there, those rescuers would probably have thrown tubes of gelée in each other’s faces.
Great British menu it is not perfect. It has a questionable narrator, its chefs love jokes and puns, and the early seasons are almost a parade of white men. But I love a lot of things about the show: the kindness, the soft touch that most contestants think is trash talk (except for the sloppy Scotsman who competes) and the fact that the cameras show us the sous chefs helping the celebrities cook. I love watching smart ideas come together and crazy ideas fall apart (one dish requires diners to hold their noses until they’re done eating so they can’t smell the food).
And then there are times when the chefs give each other sincere praise. Sometimes, the whole show stops as everyone oohs and aahs over someone’s skills. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to jump on my TV more than to watch an episode where Tom Kerridge, of the Michelin-starred Hand & Flowers pub, orders fries (okay, “chips” ). All the other contestants get together, try a few, and declare these the best chips they’ve ever tasted in their lives. Then the judges agree.
Does the fry have to be so big that a whole bunch of experts and critics all agree that it’s the best fry? I want to find out! I want those chips!
I love the show’s unapologetic dining style, too. There are loads of programs dedicated to street food, and loads of contestants cooking traditional food from different cultures. But the Food Network-style show isn’t friendly to the time-consuming, old-fashioned, good-food genre. And Dallas, too. To watch Great British menu, I feel a desire to know the taste experience of a European chef. It’s a geeky run.
Well, if you read between the lines, Great British menu it achieved the most impossible of all: it made me crave English food.
Go ahead, laugh. Then start streaming. It will suck you in. You will start telling your friends that the hogget is interesting. You will buy materials for ring molding. Yes, Bake Off it’s the best with delicious cakes, hosts, and the usual ethnicities. The menu It’s for real serious foodies. Join us.
Brian Reinhart became D Magazine’s food critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants. Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.