Masterchef: Best of British Cooking

 
9780091868444: Masterchef: Best of British Cooking

This is a collection of all the recipes from "Masterchef" and "Junior Masterchef" in the 1999 series. It should enable the reader to reproduce the same concoctions at home. Each series runs for 13 weeks, giving a total of 26 weeks on air.

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Review:

It must be said that the subtitle of this production throws down a gauntlet. What it seems to suggest is that the very best of British cooking, of whatever kind, is to be found within; whereas in reality the book is representative of the kind of cooking that meets whatever selection criteria are applied by the anonymous judges of the various regional qualifying rounds for the television competition Masterchef. Those criteria appear to impose on the entrants the burden of restaurant-aping originality at all costs. As Arabella Boxer has pointed out recently: "The contestant who essays a meal consisting of asparagus, grilled Dover sole and strawberry fool, has little hope of reaching the semi-finals, let alone winning." So what kind of recipes does it contain? Opening the book at random delivers Spinach Gnocchi with Roasted Capsicum and Blue Cheese Sauces and Stottie Cake, a recipe in which the modish regionalism of the stottie cake (kind of Northumbrian focaccia) seems to strain for effect. An ostensibly simple recipe such as Fillet of Beef with Sherry Sauce actually incorporates creamed parsley quenelles, deep-fried garlic cloves, carrot cakes and green mash. To what end, one must ask? (And is it worth pointing out that the photographs are the work of stylists, not the original contestants?) I suppose that if one accepts the purpose of the whole thing as a form of the higher showing off, it takes on a rather different complexion and can be viewed as an example of paranoid British competitiveness expressing itself through gameshows. Masterchef has its adherents, of course, and they will be the ones who buy this book. Quite rightly, they will regard this review as nonsense. -- Robin Davidson

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Masterchef
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