Today’s episode followed the same structure as yesterday’s. We were reminded briefly of the five chefs : Eager Aaron, Assured Alec, Chisselled Alessandro, French George and Hollow-Eyed Martin and then we dove straight into the tests.
Yesterday’s group had definitely got the better deal when it came to the skills test. Today’s group were faced with a kidney. At least, Greg assured them it was a kidney and they had to take his word for it because it was surrounded by so much flabby fat that the cow it came from must have been fed exclusively on pate fois gras. Either that or hay has got way more cholesterol than I ever suspected.
The blubber didn’t stop the chefs though who dug through the white outer yuck to reveal the dark fleshy kidney below and put many a young viewer off the idea of a career in plastic surgery in the process. I say the challenge didn’t stop the chefs and it didn’t. But it did slow down one of them. Chisselled Alessandro from Italy. Doubtless brought up on the Mediterranean diet the toughest skin he’d ever had to peel off probably belonged to a sun dried tomato. Faced with this slab of British grease he was nonplussed. He set to work gamely enough but he lacked the brute butcher’s bravado of the others and attempted to liberate his kidney with delicate snips of the kitchen scissors. The result was his kidney was able to proclaim itself “Free at Last” after eleven minutes of the twelve allotted for the task.
Even Jamie Oliver’s next recipe book which, it is rumoured, goes by the working title of Super Speedy Suppers That Are Ready Before You’ve Begun Preparing Them would have struggled to get the kidney edible in one minute. And Alessandro duly didn’t. Greg gave him an extra six minutes which I thought was a shame. Mainly because having been compelled to see so many of Greg’s fake expressions of shock and disgust I’d like to have seen him eat it and produce a real one.
So it was Arriverdeci Alessandro who headed back to the Tuscan hills or Basingstoke. And it was Bonjour to Michel who instructed the remaining chefs to make a classic fish stew which in French is known as un classic fish stew (All right I’ve forgotten its real name). Things didn’t go entirely to plan. Assured Alec made a great stew but served it on a plate (the first error I’ve seen that even I would have avoided). The look of Eager Aaron’s dish was more bacon stew than fish stew with lardons that were more like largeons. French George produced what seemed to be watery nuclear waste and Hollow-Eyed Martin made it clear he hadn’t been lying when he said his strengths were desserts.
But Michel is too nice a bloke to make them feel really bad. Even when finding a fish bone in his whiskers the most he offered was a clipped “It shouldn’t happen.”
On to the final test when the four chefs cook their signature dish and it all began to go wrong for Assured Alec who up until this moment had been sailing through (plate mistake aside). His mysterious decision to deconstruct the paella…that’s right deconstruct the paella because what every dish that works by being a hearty mixture of gutsy flavours and textures really wants is someone to take those ingredients apart and serve them individually. Anyway it resulted in him serving fish on one plate with an accompaniment of yellow rice in a storage jar. That’s right a storage jar. And then he lost control of his squeezy bottle and sent squid ink and anchovy paste everywhere. It was comedy gold. Unless you were Alec.
For the first time worry creased the five star executive chef’s brow. Alec needed someone to make a mistake. Eager Adam put up delicious ravioli and Hollow-Eyed Martin produced his own perfect take on black forest gateaux. There was only French George left. And he…he…overcooked his lamb. Assured Alec was Reassured Alec and French George put his whites back in the cupboard. Tomorrow, the critics.