With equal amounts of hilarity and horror, I have spent the last two weeks watching another fresh batch of hapless first rounders publicly disgrace themselves on Masterchef. Obviously it’s nowhere near the morto level that you get on the opening episodes of X Factor, but some of the contestants need a serious kick in the goolies.
There was a 21 year old Law student on tonight who quit college to pursue the restaurant dream, such was his passion for food. When he told the presenters he was going to cook ravioli he was all cocky and sure of himself, until Jon Torode questioned whether he’d have enough time to make everything. Every shot of him thereafter increasingly showed the sweat getting thicker and more plentiful on his brow, til he eventually looked like a paedo that just stepped out of a Barney suit.
His ravioli never happened. The culmination of his efforts resulted in a plate of cherry tomatoes squashed on top of some pre packaged Chinese noodles. What a schmuck. Torode pointed out that it looked like something you’d make when you got back drunk from the pub. At that point the corporate law path might have seemed like a much better call.
Oh the innocence of it all! Masterchef always seems to feature the same types of disillusioned professionals every year. The IT worker who, “thinks about food all day.” The out of work architect that yearns, “to own my Gastropub that serves classic British fare.” The emotionally frail housewife who “really needs a new challenge and wants to set up a nice family restaurant.”
I don’t know where they get their ideas about the service industry from. They somehow reckon that once they start blissfully churning out edible Nirvana, everything will be right in their lives. And even though Masterchef drops them into professional kitchens, that goes nowhere near to preparing them for the grim realities of running a bar or restaurant. Here’s what they don’t show you on the telly:
- Your kitchen porters will be Heroin addicts.
- Your commi chefs will be stoners.
- Your front of house will all be coke heads.
- Your bar manager will be an alcoholic.
- Your landlord will more than likely be a faceless bank who went on a spending spree in the 90’s for pension funds and is represented by some complete wanker in a property management company.
- You will want to kill at least 50% of your customers for being clueless morons devoid of any taste whatsoever.
- You will quickly turn into a strange mix of demon and vampire through a combination of bugger all sleep and working like a malnourished slave.
If you know anyone who wants to set up their own joint, then do them a favour and at least show them the above. Should they still want to soldier on, then give them my recipe below for peanut sauce. Everybody loves peanut/satay sauce. It’s now a standard recipe that every kitchen should be able to reproduce and this is so simple even the ex law student from Masterchef could knock it out. My one is quite westernized and it has some big ass flavours. It’s the nearest I could possibly get to replicating the one from The House of Nanking in San Fran. A fantastic restaurant.
BIG FUCK OFF PEANUT SAUCE
* 1 cup of chunky peanut butter
* ½ cup of peanut oil
* ¼ cup of lemon juice
* ¼ cup of white wine vinegar
* ¼ cup of tamari sauce (Asian Market or Oriental Emporium, use soy sauce if you can’t get it)
* ¼ cup of water
* 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger
* 4 garlic cloves
* Half a fistful of fresh coriander, stalks and all
* 1 teaspoon of dried chili flakes
Throw in all the wet ingredients into a blender and then all the other ones. Blend it until it’s real smooth.
For chicken, beef or pork, you should chop up the meat and take a few dollops of the sauce and use it as a marinade. Keep them in the fridge for at least a day or so then grill or barbecue on skewers. Cook until nicely golden/brown.
For meaty fish, get some monk fish, chop it up, skewer the chunks of fish and baste with the sauce and then grill for a minute or so on each side.
Do the same with some veg like asparagus, baby Asian aubergines, red peppers and it’s pretty good with courgettes too.