King of the Super-Masterchefs

Anyone who vaguely knows me probably knows that I was a finalist on the original Loyd Grossman-version of Masterchef back in 2000. Seems like a few centuries ago to be honest, but proud of my achievement nonetheless. There was something quite comforting about the format of the show when I was on it. Sunday evening, around teatime, lots of middle-England battling it out in their granite kitchens, trying not to destroy their window-sill basil plants. Loyd was the strangely urbane host whose accent was pitched somewhere Google Maps would probably struggle with, and his guests were an odd combination of professional chefs (Gary Rhodes’ spikes made him the same height as me), and B-list actors who are on to try and plug some strange adaptation of an Arthur Miller play in Stratford. But, alongside the 18-foot salt and pepper pots it somehow worked.

When that version went into the archives, and the new “professional” format came out, I have to admit to not being at all interested. It’s a bit like loving a Ferrari for its racing looks then watching someone take it on an off-road track. To me it just didn’t work. I hated the overly aggressive contestant hell-bent on getting that £9000-a-year sous chef’s job and the exuberant presenters who clearly thought they knew it all but didn’t.

And so, I almost surprised myself when I became hooked on the latest edition of Celebrity Masterchef. No idea why, but I did. Maybe it’s the fragility of the normally bullet-proof contestants, or the faux “OMG, they dropped the tart” startled look of Greg and John. Or maybe it’s because if you’re a Celeb, you somehow aren’t exposed to the contrite and often brutally honest attacks that wide-boy Greg and slimy John are prone to dishing out. Don’t know, but I’m hooked.

I like cooking competitions on TV. I think it shows that ordinarily ordinary humans can step up and be a bit creative. And I like that. But the question I’m getting increasingly asked now is, when I am going to take on the Greg and John show ? Who knows….


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