Tuesday, 18 December 2012

TV Chefs... Who's YOUR favourite?

Nigel Slater
Has anyone else been watching Nigel Slater's Dish of the Day on BBC One on Friday nights?  Now, don't get me wrong, I like Nigel Slater, I really do.  There's just something very relaxing about the way he talks, the way he cooks... but, I do sometimes wonder what parallel universe he's living in because it certainly ain't my world.  I mean, to begin with, this latest show of his has him looking at ways to make the most of your weekly shop and each episode usually begins with him dredging the remains of his fridge and knocking up a quick snack before he heads off to do this aforementioned shop. Except that, the remains of his fridge usually consist of a nice slab of Parmesan, half a dozen field mushrooms, some fresh garlic and a slice or two of Italian ham!  He wants to come round my house on a Saturday morning before we do the weekly shop and see if he can knock up a quick snack with a Dairylea triangle, a slice of mouldy bread and half a jar of salmon paste because that's what's usually left in our fridge come Saturday morning.  And then, when he finally gets out of his rather impressive kitchen to do that weekly shop, where does he go?  Not one for pushing a dodgy trolley round Asda is Nigel, oh no, he's off down the High Street to that friendly delicatessen on the corner or the cheese shop next to the French Bakery, which is fine, if you're loaded.  Has anyone told this bloke there's a recession on?  I'm in Lidl, Nige, mate.  But, guess what?  I can still get a nice Spanish Chorizo in there! ;)

And then, later in the show, just to thank that friendly Deli owner for helping him choose the perfect sausage, he pops over to their pad to cook them a quick lunch, asking very politely if he can rummage through their fridge to find something he can use to make that little thank you lunch.  However - and call me cynical, I can't help it - he always manages to find the perfect marriage of ingredients in these peoples' fridges and cupboards.  A nice block of cheese or a whole salami, not to mention a couple of perfect peppers and more seasoning than you can shake a stick at.  If he came round mine and had a rummage in my cupboards he'd probably find that I'm out of salt, me peppers have shrivelled up in the salad crisper and that garlic sausage at the back of the fridge has been there for far too long!  Make something out of that, Nige!  

However, putting the obvious manipulation of TV aside, I still love Nigel Slater.  When I just want to chill out and watch somebody cook nice food, he's the perfect choice of TV cook - even if his ingredients are sometimes a little extravagant for my budget.  Maybe the BBC needs to do another version of this show where they send Nigel up north to make dishes using my weekly shop... Not a block of Parmesan in sight...

Nigella Lawson
Moving on, another of the popular TV chefs that have been around for a while now is Nigella Lawson - and I can't stand the woman!  I mean, I've got nothing against her personally, but her programmes, her cooking style, the way she pouts and leers into the camera, it does my head in!  Does anyone actually live like her?  The woman cooks in her dressing-gown for heaven's sake!  Who does that?  Actually, probably quite a few people, but I doubt they look as glamorous as she does.  I do actually remember coming downstairs on many a morning when I lived at home to find me Mum cooking breakfast in her dressing-gown with her hair still in rollers and no make-up on.  Not exactly Nigella, but more realistic.  Ms. Lawson appears to roll out of bed with her hair all perfect and her make-up in place as she strolls casually into the kitchen to knock up Eggs Benedict and a Bucks Fizz, instead of the real-life version of events - a bacon and sausage bap and a mug of tea.  Yes, I'm northern and proud! ;)

Raymond Blanc
But, moving back to those TV chefs I actually like, let's talk about the lovely Raymond Blanc.  Out of all the TV chefs I've watched in my life, he's been one of my favourites for decades now, mainly because he has never done anything to annoy or aggravate me.  Ever.  He's only ever made me smile.  Granted, sometimes I have to put the subtitles on because I can't always fully understand what he's saying, but I love the bloke.  Just love him!  In fact, The Restaurant was one of my favourite TV programmes ever and I was, to put it politely, bloody annoyed when the BBC decided to axe it.  The memory of Raymond's face when he caught some woman trying to open a can of coconut milk with a knife the size of a small machete is an image I'll  never forget!  Hilarious!  He just comes across as such a nice man, a gentleman, and even though French food has never been my favourite cuisine, if Raymond Blanc's on TV, I'm there.  

Heston Blumenthal
And another chef I can take or leave?  Step forward Heston Blumenthal.  If I can't knock up a dish in my little kitchen using stuff I can buy from Aldi then I'm really not interested.  You can stuff your dry ice where the sun don't shine as far as I'm concerned, and while you're at it, take Jamie Oliver with you.  He's another one that gets on my nerves, although I will still watch him, if there's nowt else on.  But it usually ends up with both me and my husband picking holes in everything he does - apart from a very nice recipe for a turkey and leek pie he did on one of his Christmas specials a few years back.  We tried that, and it was lovely!  So, he might get on my nerves at times, but at least he turned out a recipe we could cook easily and which tasted fab!  Which is more than Nigella's ever done...

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
And back to my favourites - Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall!  I like Hugh, almost as much as I like Nigel Slater.  They both possess that calming quality I look for in my TV chefs, and whenever I see a River Cottage programme making an appearance on Channel 4 I always look forward to just sitting back and enjoying whatever it is Hugh's got in store for us.  And the same can be said for my absolute favourite TV chefs - yes, it's The Hairy Bikers!  Those two fabulous northern boys who very rarely make anything I wouldn't eat, although, it has to be said, it's going to be quite a different experience watching the pair of them now since they lost all that weight.  I'm just hoping Simon King won't lose that cuddliness (is that an actual word??) that makes him so weirdly attractive!   

The Hairy Bikers - pre-diet in this pic I think...
I do hope they're still going to knock up a few more pies and cakes in future shows though, because I'll be extremely disappointed if all they're going to cook now is rabbit food!  Mind you, once Christmas is out of the way I can guarantee I'll be wanting to shed more than a few excess pounds so maybe one more Hairy Dieters wouldn't exactly go amiss, after all, in their last series they managed to make a low-fat pie, and I always thought that was about as easy to achieve as finding the Holy Grail... Greggs needs to seriously think about this line of business...

Now, I could probably go on and on talking about the TV chefs I love to watch, and those I can quite easily switch off, but I'd probably be here all day if I did.  And to be honest, all this talk of cooking is making me quite hungry, so, I'll pop off now and try and resist the urge to dip into the Christmas hamper by actually doing some work on 'Striker', but, in the meantime, who are your favourite and not-so-favourite TV chefs?  Who ices your cup cakes, and who burns your baps?  And do we actually have a TV chef that could seriously be called "eye-candy"?  Because I really can't think of one - can you...?

Right, I'm off to stick that kettle on... Anyone got any cake they're willing to share...?

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