There is so much to hate about massively successful TV series Masterchef that I have been glued to it for ten years. But then I always watch Nigel Farage when he pops up on TV, and even sit through that advert for Sheilas’ Wheels.
But let me explain why I think Masterchef is so bloody annoying to me, a food-lover and enthusiastic cook. First there are the hosts, John Torode and ‘Mr Spanky’ Greg Wallace, and their parroting of puerile comments. You know what I mean: ‘Saltiness coming from the…’, ‘Sweetness running through…’, ‘Flavours of the sea’, ‘Tang of the…’, ‘ABSOLUTELY beautiful’.
Then there is the question of John Torode’s upper lip: where is it? And why does he have to wear chef’s whites (I preferred his grey cardigan that made him look like Gavin from Gavin and Stacey) and barely ever smile? Spanky laughs most of his words out, doubtless in order to mask the fact that he is saying nothing of substance.
I hate the smug, self-congratulatory comments by the critics, Jay Rayner, Tracey MacLeod and Charles Campion, who sit there like High Court judges about to pass sentence. They are so damned superior, waiting at their beautifully laid table twiddling wine-glass stems while the hyper contestants run in with plates of nonsense that these overfed, overpaid professional nasties sniff and prod and pronounce on.
Then there are the guest chefs, stern-faced Marcus Wareing – the ex-Ramsay boot boy – and the twee, cherub-faced Tom Kitchin. What do they add?
There is the look of absolute cancer-curing concentration on the faces of the contestants as they stir, taste, whip and dice whichever organic ingredients have been left out for them in a hand-woven hessian basket made by Guatemalan peasants. Masterchef is a food programme by tossers for tossers, and I (normally at least 95 per cent twat-free) can’t get enough of it.
Thyme air. Bone marrow jus. Acidic jus. Chocolate water. Sous vide. Sod it. I switch on an episode, squeezing my eyes almost closed. Spanky is smacking his lips between tastes: “Clever, clever, clever.” He is looking for something else to say but can’t manage it, what with him smiling patronisingly and looking like he could sodomise the pudding in front of him.
John Torode, as he tastes the contestants’ offerings, opens his mouth so wide it could house a family of four.
Oh yes, the contestants. Right now, in the episode I’m glued to, the contestants are in some posh restaurant helping with lunch service. ‘We are cooking for some of the best chefs in the world,’ says one. All the chefs they’re cooking for are British.
It is no wonder that this programme is such a big hit. It’s cookery porn – the stuff that has schoolboys contorting, hiding their erections in the hope of a flash of C-list celebrity clout. Getting a stiffy while boning up on your culinary skills is a big seller.
‘It’s just as well there is a table between us,’ says Spanky as he tastes a pile of mush I can’t quite make out as I tuck into my KFC. ‘Cos I could give you a great big kiss.’ (There are lots of threats of snogging from Greg. He describes mashed potato as ‘a big snog’.)
Anyway, Ping won this year, and so she should have done. Her food was amazing, or as Spanky said, ‘Ping’s desert has got me by the ears, and it’s threatening to snog my face off.’ When it is announced that Ping, the only woman in the final, is Masterchef champion 2014, we are treated to the soundtrack of Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’, because it’s all about vaginas rather than vichyssoise when a woman comes out top.
In the words of Gordon Ramsay – the man responsible for all this kitchen machismo – ‘It’s Masterchef, not masturbate.’ I would hate Masterchef so much less if they recognised this truth. But I’d enjoy it so much less too.
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.