Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Get Into That Kitchen And Rattle Those Pots And Pans

After eight weeks of mad tough competition, and having seen nine for their rivals fall by the wayside into the metaphorical gutter of loserdom, for Andrew Kojima, Tom Rennolds and Shelina Permalloo, it is the start of final week on MasterChef. And, if the finalists thought the competition so far had been mad tough the pressure intensified all the way up to eleven in the latest episode. John Torode and Gregg Wallace sent each of them to test their skills at three of the finest three Michelin star restaurants in Europe. First there was a moment of reflection as baby-faced Steve Diggle lookalike Andrew proved, yet again, that some chaps can manage to look good in pink. Tom reflected on how amazing it was that he'd got this far, without once mentioning either Truffle-in-the-bin-gate or Who-turned-down-the-oven-gate. And, then there was Shelina who claimed that 'blood, sweat and tears, that's what got me here.' Well, those things and giving really filthy looks to anyone who has dared to criticise your nosh, of course. Oud Sluis in Holland, headed up by wonder kid Sergio Herman, who transferred the family restaurant into a culinary destination was to be Andrew's destination. Bruges hot-spot De Karmeliet where fifteen years ago Geert van Hecke became the first Flemish chef to gain the three star accolade was where Shelina would be spending the next two days. And the famed Alain Ducasse At The Dorchester in London, one of only four three star restaurants in the UK, run by executive chef Jocelyn Herland, who gained the third star after only three years of opening was Tom's port of call. A bit hard on Tom given that the other two got a trip on the Eurostar perhaps. But, hey, to somebody from Yorkshire, London's got to seem like another country at the best of times. Each of the three mentors first showed off one of their specialities to their news apprentices: Jocelyn's was a fab-looking crayfish tails with mushrooms dish, Sergio's a conceptually dazzling 'sea and land' conglomeration of lobster, razor clam, crab jelly, belly pork, frozen seaweed and lemon and Geert cooked his celebrated marinated mackerel. After this masterclass to introduce them to the style, skill and flair of their esteemed mentors, the trio of amateur chef had to recreate a three-star signature dish to prove they have what it takes to cook at the highest level. Introduced to techniques that they have never used before, the final three had to each dig deep and show real character if they were to survive the immense pressure of cooking at this level. Frankly, I have to say, I found this bit of the episode a touch boring to be honest although I'm sure that other viewers would've got something out of it. Andrew and Tom both had a bit of a rough time at various points but came through in the end with, if not exactly flying colours then, at least, not having been chased out of the gaff by an annoyed red-faced chef wielding a meat cleaver. Shelina was easily the best of the three. Then the contestants returned to MasterChef HQ to put their experiences into practice and show John and Gregg that they have taken on board everything they have learned. Encouraged by Gregg to 'reach for the skies' they were given the task of producing two 'show-stopping' dishes. Shelina's two efforts were spiced soft-shell crab with apple and lime compôte, tamarind sauce and chilli coriander chutney and red snapper with green papaya chutney, rougaille, deep fried aubergine skin, a spinach cake and lemongrass foam. 'This is the food that makes me smile,' said John Torode, adding: 'And, get emotional.' Fortunately he kept the waterworks in check long enough for his oppo to opine: 'This is an innocent plate of food but it packs a wallop!' Shelina, again, had demonstrated, effortlessly, her mastery of making Gregg Wallace grin from ear-to-ear. Andrew's two plates were 'fresh water textures with Japanese flavours' (grilled zander, pickled daikon, sorrel mayonnaise, crayfish tempura and nashi pear pâté) and loin of venison with cocoa nibs, beetroot and orange, roast chestnuts, black cabbage and chervil root purée. Occasionally, Andrew whilst dazzling with his technical brilliance has frustrated the judges with the more outré, experimental side to his cooking. But, not today. 'I feel like a crack has opened in the sky and a ray of sunshine's broken through,' said Gregg. And that was whilst Andrew was still cooking. 'Knockout!' Gregg added when the dishes actually arrived. But, for once, John was even more enthusiastic than his mate. 'Drop dead beautiful' he said before adding, since it was post-watershed, that Andrew's dishes were 'bloody fantastic!' As soon as he tasted the main course, he looked Andrew straight in the mush and declared 'I love you!' Christ, that must've been one sexy venison. 'It felt like they were going to give me a cuddle' said Andrew afterwards, seemingly unsure as to whether he should be delighted or, you know, worried. Then it was Tom whose dishes were a duck egg fondue with Parmesan, potato cups, smokey bacon, black pudding and bacon and potato dipping sticks and poached turbot, celeriac purée, tarragon and lemon butter and mussels in a white wine sauce. But, whilst the former was described as 'knocking on the door of spectacular' (by Gregg) and 'it's clever cooking because it's small and near perfect' (from John), Tom undercooked his fish in the latter. Something which, bitterly, disappointed John in particular ('bugger!' he said as Tom trudged back to his bunch, before adding: 'What! A! Shame!') So, with two episodes remaining, Shelina appears to be in poll position, with Andrew a sneaky little dark horse come up on the rails and Tom the outsider with it all to do. The next episode should prove fascinating.

The third series of Sherlock will start filming in 'early 2013', according to executive producer Beryl Vertue. Vertue, who was speaking at the Nations and Regions Media conference in Salford on Wednesday, told Ariel that it was 'too early' to confirm transmission times for the next series. But this appears to suggest that fans will have a somewhat longer wait to learn how the detective faked his death at the end of the second series than had previously beren alluded to. The drama, which has been a massive hit with around ten million viewers, was co-created by Vertue's son-in-law Steven Moffat and is produced by his wife Sue Vertue for Hartswood Films and BBC Wales. Filmed in Cardiff and London, it has also sold to two hundred territories. Leading actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are currently filming abroad on the next Star Trek movie and The Hobbit respectively whilst Moffat himself is going to be rather busy for most of the rest of the year producing the next series of Doctor Who.

Dannii Minogue has revealed she would be 'open' to returning to The X Factor. One is sure she would since her career has hit such magnificent heights since she left. But, I think you might find that ship's sailed, sweetheart.
Five suspects arrested over allegations of cover-ups in the phone-hacking inquiry, understood to include well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and her racehorse trainer husband, have been released on bail Scotland Yard have confirmed. The former News International chief executive and Charlie Brooks - who has been a friend of the Prime Minister since the were Eton Rifles together - were held earlier today on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, 'sources' said. Mark Hanna, News International's head of security, was also confirmed by the company as one of the six people arrested by being woken from their kip by a vigorous knock of the door at dawn in Oxfordshire, London, Hampshire and Hertfordshire. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said they had all been bailed to dates next month whilst the sixth suspect remains in custody.

The head of public relations at Scotland Yard has denied rigging a tendering process to ensure a one thousand quid-a-day contract went to a former deputy editor of the Scum of the World. Dick Fiasco was testifying before the Leveson inquiry about the decision to hire Neil Wallis as a consultant to the Met, despite his having served as deputy editor of the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid when phone-hacking was a tactic deployed by its journalists. Fiasco was questioned over his evidence that Wallis won the Met contract after a tendering process, in which two other companies bid. Fedorcio denied selecting the two companies because he knew they would bid much higher than Wallis's company, Chamy media. Fedorcio, the head of the Met's directorate of public affairs, claimed that his deputy was on long-term sick leave and he needed someone who would be able to start work immediately. The revelation last July that Wallis had worked for the Met came on the day the former newspaper executive was arrested in connection with the phone-hacking investigation. The news that he had been paid - a fantastically large amount of wonga - to 'advise' the upper echelons of the Met set off a chain of events that culminated in the Met commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, and the assistant commissioner, Champagne John Yates, resign and Fiasco himself be placed under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission over the circumstances of the awarding of the contract. Lord Justice Leveson intervened after Fiasco claimed that the two companies he had asked to bid for the contract were the public relations firms Bell Pottinger and Hanover, as well as Wallis's company. Leveson said: 'It's a square battle to put Bell Pottinger up against this one-man band who had just started business?' Leveson then asked: 'The point is, this is set-up to get a result?' 'Which it was not,' replied Fedorcio. Wallis worked for the Met from October 2009 to September 2010 on a two-day-a-month contract, and was paid twenty four grand. Fiasco claimed that he originally wanted only Wallis to bid because of the urgent need to fill the role, but was told the rules did not allow this. The inquiry heard that Wallis's company bid fifty per cent less than the two larger firms for the Met contract. Wallis and Fedorcio had met for lunch, during which the former newspaper man had offered his services to the Met, Fedorcio claimed. The Met's public relations chief said that Yates had 'passed on to him assurances' from Wallis that there was nothing in his newspaper work that would implicate him in the phone-hacking scandal. Wallis worked at the Met at a time when the force was publicly dismissing Gruniad reports that hacking had been 'widespread' at the paper and known about by senior executives. Leveson asked: 'You didn't think then that there was some sort of reputational risk to the Met that there was this debate with the Guardian, ongoing, and here you were contemplating giving the chap who had been the deputy editor at the time the consultancy arrangement?' Fedorcio said that he had 'not seen it that way' at the time. Fedorcio has been director of the DPA for fourteen years, outlasting four commissioners, and serving on the Met's inner cabinet for more than a decade. He is, according to the Gruniad, 'one of the most powerful figures in British policing and his evidence was a rare chance for the public to see him in action.' Fedorcio denied that there had been an 'incestuous' relationship between News International and the Met. The inquiry heard that in 2003, the then Scum of the World editor, Andy Coulson, sent the DPA a hamper to thank them for their work. Coulson, after resigning as Scum of the World editor in the wake of the jailing of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulclaire went on to work for the then leader of the opposition David Cameron as his media advisor. In 2010, Fiasco allowed the Scum of the World crime editor, Lucy Panton, to file a story from a computer in his office that was unfavourable to a Met commander, Ali Dizaei, who had been jailed for framing a man. The inquiry also heard that Fiasco's son had undertaken work experience at the Sun, as had the children of two past commissioners, and that senior Met leaders and News International executives had met 'for numerous dinners and lunches.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks also secured the loan of a police horse in 2008, which subsequently turned out to have been ridden by David Cameron. Against its will. Probably. Fiasco has been on extended leave since last July after being placed under investigation by the IPCC.

The Gambling Commission will meet senior executives at Channel Four in the next few days to discuss concerns that its hit tea-time game show Deal or No Deal may constitute gambling. The commission is due to publish new advice on the implications of the Gambling Act for broadcasters and producers next month. It is understood to have particular concerns about the Noel Edmonds game show, which broadcast for the first time on Channel Four in 2005. Deal or No Deal could be breaking the law because the format, which features twenty two different boxes containing various amounts of money from one pence up to quarter of a million smackers, does not involve an element of skill, despite the Beard of Despair often saying mind-numbingly stupid things like 'you're playing a clever game, here' to his numskull contestants. Non-skill games played for profit require a gambling licence. Sir Peter Bazalgette, the former chief creative officer of Deal or No Deal producer Endemol, which also makes Big Brother, said that this change in the law could have wide-ranging implications for the TV industry if the Channel Four show was classified as gambling. He said it could impact on any game show including an element of luck. 'This could be an operation of the law of unintended consequences,' said Bazalgette, who was responsible for persuading The Beard of Despair to take the presenter's role on the show, which is closing in on its two thousandth edition. 'Whatever the letter of the law in regard to television entertainment the sensible position here is that with Deal or No Deal you have a game show that has been on air in more than fifty countries around the world. In some of those territories gambling is illegal, but the game show is still allowed on TV,' he said. 'It would be very strange if the UK suddenly decided you couldn't have Deal or No Deal on air.' Very strange, perhaps, but would it be a good thing if it were to be banned? Yes, it would be. Next ... The commission is also understood to be looking at ITV's big-money game show flop, Red or Black?, produced by Simon Cowell and presented by Ant and Dec, which the broadcaster announced on Monday had been commissioned for a second series. ITV revealed a number of changes to the format for the second series including stressing that the game show requires contestants to 'use their judgment and skill' - as opposed to relying on luck - and that they will have 'more control over their own destinies.' The broadcaster has also piloted a revamp of Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right, presented by the odious Vernon Kay. Bazalgette added: 'Play Your Cards Right was a show for many years on ITV. Could that be revived? What we need is a sensible outcome. Common sense needs to reassert itself. Television that is not doing anybody any harm should be allowed to continue.' The Gambling Commission's guidance note next month is expected to draw broadcasters and programme-makers' attention to the law in relation to gambling and help them understand it. If Deal or Deal was to be classified as a gambling programme it would not necessarily have to move to a post-watershed slot, however. Horse racing is broadcast during the day, for instance. Media regulator Ofcom's Broadcasting Code does not say anything specific about gambling. A spokesman for the Gambling Commission said that it did not comment on individual cases. A Channel Four spokeswoman said: 'Channel Four has been contacted by the Gambling Commission about the popular long running series Deal Or No Deal, but it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.'

ITV has raised the stakes in its Saturday night battle of the talent shows with the BBC, moving Britain's Got Talent's place in the schedules to fifteen minutes earlier just moments after BBC1 did the same with The Voice. BBC1 sought to avoid an overlap between the two shows by scheduling The Voice at 7pm on its launch night, 24 March, fifteen minutes earlier than it had been pencilled in. The aim was to reduce the overlap of the BBC's new eighty-minute show with Britain's Got Talent, which ITV had earmarked for a 7.45pm start on the same night. But ITV responded by moving the Simon Cowell show to 7.30pm, running until 8.45pm, ensuring a substantial overlap would remain. The changes were revealed as the broadcasters exchanged their latest draft television schedules on Tuesday. 'It is disappointing they chose to launch Britain's Got Talent on the same day as us,' said an alleged BBC source. 'To not even meet us halfway on avoiding any sort of overlap is incredibly competitive.' The BBC1 controller, Danny Cohen, has much riding on The Voice, featuring a judging line-up including Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, Sir Tom Jones and Jessie J, which will cost twenty two million smackers over two series and is his biggest entertainment commission to date. Britain's Got Talent has traditionally launched in April but was moved to March this year with ITV blaming the Euro 2012 football tournament and coverage of the Queen's diamond jubilee. One or two people even believed them. ITV has been scheduling its hit shows more aggressively in recent months (and with a far more sneering attitude than previously), pitching an episode of Coronation Street against the last outing of BBC1's Sunday night hit, Call The Midwife. ITV blamed a UEFA Europa League football match for the switch. An alleged ITV 'insider' allegedly also pointed out that the running time of The Voice had been extended by five minutes and was previously seventy five minutes long. It is not too late for a further change in the Saturday night line-ups, with the broadcasters not due to exchange their final schedules until Wednesday. BBC1's latest draft schedule was sent out to all broadcasters at 4pm on Tuesday. The ITV schedule was sent at 4.31pm. Last year's series of Britain's Got Talent failed to live up to previous years, but returns with a rejuvenated judging line-up including David Walliams, former Strictly Come Dancing greed bucket Alesha Dixon and the odious Cowell himself.

The History Channel has ordered its first scripted drama series based on the Vikings. The drama will be written by Michael Hirst who penned episodes of Showtime's historical romp The Tudors. History announced it has ordered production of its first scripted drama series, Vikings. Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios brought the epic, historical series to the network, which gave it a full season commitment. The series will chronicle the extraordinary and ferocious world of the Norsemen who raided, traded and explored during pre-medieval times and tossed about in boats a lot. Set to premiere in 2013, the series will be filmed in Ireland and throughout picturesque locations in Northern Europe. Shaw Media will be the broadcast partner in Canada, broadcasting the show on History Television in Canada. The announcement was made by Nancy Dubuc, President and General Manager, History who said: 'This is an amazing crossroads for History embarking on our first scripted series. People think they know about the Vikings – we see references to them all the time in our popular culture from TV commercials to football teams – but the reality is so much more fascinating and complex, more vivid, visceral and powerful than popular legend. We will explore the mysteries of the Vikings - the adventures they took and the people who led them. And we will start to understand a past that is very much part of our collective DNA today. Vikings is an international Irish-Canadian co-production being co-produced by World 2000 and Take Five Productions.

The Heaton Horror Cheryl Cole is suing Now magazine's publishers over a story which claimed that she was 'involved' in a 'secret romance' with rapper MC Harvey. Whomever he is. The twenty eight-year-old has filed papers at the High Court seeking aggravated damages for libel. Her claims centre around a story published in February with the headline World Exclusive: So Solid's Harvey 'My Secret Romance with Cheryl'. The singer denied the claims on Twitter. 'Was this "relationship" happening in your head?' she wrote in a message to the rap artist. He replied that he would 'rather go broke and work in Sainsbury's' than talk about Cole's personal life. Which, if she wins her case against him, he might. Cole is also suing over a follow up story headlined: Cheryl And Harvey: The Proof which was published a week later. She has accused Now magazine and its publishers, IPC Media, of 'misusing private information' about her in the stories. Cole is also seeking an injunction to ban IPC media from repeating the allegations. Details of the court action emerged in the Press Gazette on Tuesday. Cole's publicist confirmed to the BBC that she was taking legal action over stories published in Now.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's the best song about cooking ever made. At least, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thinks that's what Big Joe Turner's on about in this one. Unless there's a bit of subtext going down. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was always rather naive when it came to, you know, cookery.

1 comment:

chas_m said...

Dear Sir:

It is through your magnificent blog that I have come to learn that everyone in Britain hates Mr Cameron, even the horses.

This is a relief to me, as I had feared that only all the people (and horses) in Canada hated him, and that was not enough.

Best Regards
Amelia Puddleglum