John Torode is a chef with over 30 years experience in top restaurants, having cooked for some of the most well-known and affluent humans on the planet. Greg Wallace used to sell cabbages.
India Fisher does the voice-over, very breathy and sultry. Her sideline is providing audio description on porn films for the blind. “Tonight, Greg and John will be judging celebrities’ cooking, using a really big book of cliches throughout the show. Actress, Lesley Joseph is making a wild mushroom risotto, and pop singer Mick Hucknall is making fish and chips with mushy peas. The former president of the United States, Barack Obama is making an apple pie with cinnamon ice cream, and soap star Dean Gaffney is baking a potato.”
There’s Lesley Joseph, weighing out rice and attempting to chop herbs without breaking a nail. She looks flustered. “Well normally, you see, I don’t cook at all at home. My husband does everything. He has to. I’m always on shows like this or Loose Women, so I simply don’t have time. I don’t even know where the cooker is in my house.”
Mick Hucknall, who had dozens of middle of the road pop hits in the 80s and 90s, is now working on a new album, hence his appearance on the show. “I’m doing the classic Fish and Chips with mushy peas, but I know the judges are looking for skills in this challenge. So, in the true spirit of Masterchef, I’m going to put my own twist on it, because that’s what everyone does don’t they? I’m par-boiling the potatoes in beer, and using Platypus eggs in the batter for the fish.”
Barack Obama is peeling apples in an immaculate suit. “Well, there’s nothing. More American. Than apple pie.” He pauses to look around the room, and allows everyone a chance to applaud. “When I was the leader of the free world, I missed having the opportunity to cook. Since my retirement, Michelle can’t keep me out of the kitchen.” More applause. “I like to cook healthy food, with lots of fruit and vegetables.” Applause. “All grown by me, in my garden.” More applause. India Fisher swoons, and the director places Wet Floor signs near all the female crew.
Dean Gaffney is looking at his potato. “I’ve never actually baked one of these. Am I supposed to peel it or what?” Greg comes over to see him. “Hi Dean, me old cockney sparrow, what’s ‘appening, mate? Cor blimey, luv a duck.” “Greg, mate, you OK? Luvverly jubbly. I’m trying to bake this potato, ain’t I? But it’s right doing me ‘ead in and no mistake, Guv’nor!” The director is concerned that this is turning into a remake of Mary Poppins, and grows more worried when he sees Chas and Dave wheeling in a piano. Greg says “It’s only a spud, mate. I used to sell these. Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned my working class background. What you wanna do, right, is stab it with a fork all over, and then rub a little bit of oil all over it. Bit of salt. Oven. 200 degrees. 75 minutes. Bosh. Done.” Dean looks puzzled.
Greg and John are discussing the menus.
John – I think these menus are very interesting. Simple, but the trouble with simple, is that it’s easy to make mistakes.
Greg – I don’t mind it when they play safe. And I’m glad that they’re all using fruit or veg, because I used to sell them. Did I mention that? Up at 3am every morning and off to market…
John – I’ve never had a platypus egg. Mick is making a batter for his fish using them, and I’m not sure how that’ll turn out. It could potentially be the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted, since bee pollen and burnt leek ash.
Gregg – I really liked the burnt leek ash. It was a complex flavour, and a stroke of culinary genius. I used to sell leeks.
John – Hm. Well, they’ve only got ten minutes left, so we’d better stand side by side like we’re guarding something really expensive. I’ll shout it out, and you do that wobbly head and wide mouth thing you do.
Ten minutes later, the contestants are waiting to bring their dishes to the judges.
Lesley goes first. She carries over her risotto, which resembles a bowl of sick.
John tastes it first. He does that horrible lizard thing with his tongue. Greg also has a try. “Well,” says Greg, “I’ve gotta say, Lesley, that that is a pretty good risotto. The mushrooms, which are very similar to the mushrooms I used to sell, are absolutely gorgeous.”
“I agree,” says John. This tastes really good. The presentation isn’t great. Maybe next time, put a streak of something around the edge of the plate. Or maybe serve it in a shoe?”
Barack Obama approaches the judges with his apple pie. “Hi John, Hi Greg,” he says, looking each one of them straight in the eye and smiling his dazzling smile. John’s legs wobble a bit.
“Barack,” says John, “you’ve made an American classic apple pie, but it looks different. Would you care to explain what you’ve done here?
“I’ve watched this show a lot, John,” he replies, “and I’ve noticed that you Brits like to serve things in this ‘deconstructed’ way. So I’ve put the apple over here, and some butter here, and I’ve sprinkled the flour over the top. The cinnamon ice cream is on this shovel. The whole thing represents the American Dream, but in Trump form. Nobody is going to help you make it, you have to do it all yourself, without the recipe. Or the right tools.”
Greg and John agree that Obama is going straight through to the semi-final.
Now it’s the turn of Little Mick Hucknall to present his dish.
“Are you happy with this?” asks Greg.
“I’m very happy with it, Greg,” replies Mick. “It’s a classic, but with the boundaries well and truly pushed, because I know that’s how you two like your boundaries.”
“Did you enjoy making it?” asks John.
“I did. It was tricky, but I think I’ve nailed it.”
“Cooking.” Says Greg, “Doesn’t. Get. Any. Tougher. Than. This.”
“Are you having an asthma attack?”
“No. It’s one of my catchphrases. All the kids are saying it.”
“Whatever, let’s have a taste of this Fish and chips.”
John pulls a face which we imagine looks very like his cum-face, as he pushes a massive lump of fish into his mouth. “That, Mr Hucknall, is sensational. I was a bit worried about the use of platypus eggs, but they provide a really rich depth of flavour to that batter. Great work.”
“I love, love, LOVE those chips,” says Greg. So crispy on the outside, and fluffy in the middle, with that delicate beer flavour running in the background. Cor blimey you can cook! Which beer did you use?”
“I got hold of some from a micro-brewery, local to me. It’s called Ginger Clunge. It was inspired by Carol Decker.”
“Well I love it. I’ll have to look that up.”
“NO! Don’t Google ‘Ginger Clunge,’ I’ll give you their number.
“Thanks Mick. You may now go and sit in that room which doubles as my sex-dungeon, and await our verdict. DEAN. Bring us your plate!”
There is a loud sigh from Dean Gaffney’s direction. “OH NO!” The camera pans over where we find Dean looking like someone’s pissed on his breakfast.
“What’s wrong?” asks John
“I got my temperatures all wrong. The oven wasn’t hot enough. It’s not cooked.”
“OH!” Says Greg, “Is it cooked at all? Or is it, (comedy pause) Well ‘ard?”*
“Bring it over, let’s have a look,” says John.
Dean shuffles over with his raw potato on a plate, looking forlorn.
They poke at it with forks, and John decides to slice a bit off and taste it anyway, because he’s tasted worse. Ginger Clunge as an example.
“Well, I think you know what we’re going to say, don’t you Dean?”
“You’re going to tell me it’s delicious?”
“No, we’re not. It’s a raw potato. Very disappointing,” says Greg, “when I used to sell these, years ago, I’d always hope that they would end up cooked to perfection, but you have offended me, and greengrocers everywhere. Go on, Dean, sling your bloody hook. Jog on. Bugger off. Gordon Bennett etc.”
Chas and Dave then start singing Ain’t No Pleasing You, and the credits roll.
*this cracking contribution is my wife’s. Credit where credit’s due. Thanks, Love x