How are you doing? First off, HAPPY EASTER!! It’s been something of a departure from the norm for me this year – no Easter eggs as I’m on something of a health kick. That didn’t stop me from baking though and I made veritably the world’s moistest, thoroughly scrummy fairy cakes. The recipe I used is from Nigella Lawson’s website and can be obtained HERE.
I’m used to the 100g recipe (100g of self-raising flour, caster sugar & butter + 2 eggs). This recipe called for 130g + 4 tablespoons of milk (I used semi-skimmed). The taste was moreish and mouth-watering and made for the moistest cakes I had ever tasted. Because of the milk content, I’d ensure these cakes are eaten within 48 hours (although I’m not sure how or why these little mouthfuls of heaven would last that long in the first place). I had my cake with Courvoisier, the perfect Easter treat from me to erm, me.
Now, I’m kind of messy cook. I really don’t want to be. In fact, I wish I was a master at plating up and making dishes look the business. Unfortunately, my dishes served seem to be aesthetically challenged, which is why I’m always a) in awe of chefs and cooks who make food look beautiful and b) love watching cookery programmes.
Which leads me to a cookery programme I’ve been hooked on called Burger Bar to Gourmet Star. And which I really don’t know what to make of. Not much leaves me gobsmacked, so to watch this programme and be genuinely torn speaks volumes (pun intended).
Each week, we watch an unwitting yet aspiring cook who owns a mobile burger bar (or some such contraption). They are plucked from road-side obscurity and plopped right into an intensive 3 week training session in a professional kitchen under the guidance of a “proper” chef (insert award-winning, celebrity, Michelin, you get my drift).
The name of the game is to get this aspiring (usually endearing ignoramus of a cook) to pass off as a professional chef with years of experience stashed under their immaculate whites. This is done by virtue of cooking for a week in another Michelin starred / world renowned restaurant and coming clean at the end of the week to let the restaurant owner know of their lack of experience thus inducing a potential heart attack at the thought of having a near novice manning work stations that sous chefs and more experienced chefs have manned. (Sorry that was a mouthful but I’m trying to get across this feeling of urgency.)
It makes for compelling viewing, that I won’t deny. The two episodes I’ve seen both have happy endings, whereby the cooks successfully pull the wool over their accommodating restaurateur’s eyes. In fact the last cook after passing her week was offered a job by the avant garde chef Aiden Byrne in his Cheshire gastropub The Church Green.
Now, here is my problem. It’s lovely viewing and great to see that anyone with temerity and aspiration can make it given the chance. But what message does this give out to celebrity chef wannabes? That after 3 weeks’ training, they can imitate and beat a chef with 30 years’ experience? That 3 weeks’ is enough to get by and forgo the years, of hard work, those myriad 18 hour shifts that a regular chef would have had to do? Because let’s not forget, being a chef is hard work. In a former life, I once contemplated being a chef. And it was ruddy tough. Gruelling shifts, being on your feet for the best part of 16 hours, being attentive and producing the best food 24-7 can seem an impossible life to lead. For me, it was. (I love food and cooking but decided I liked writing about it more.)
What about you? What do you think about the ethos behind Burger Bar to Gourmet Star? Do you think it’s inspirational, or that it give newbie chefs the wrong message whilst undermining the hard work of a real chef? I’d love to know what you think.