Masterchef Spe­cial

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I’ve hosted Masterchef for 11 years and my ab­so­lute pet hate is when we are served raw food by con­tes­tants...

What’s it like to host such an iconic pro­gramme?

It’s an ab­so­lute scream! Masterchef is hon­estly such a won­der­ful thing to be a part of, I’m re­ally very lucky, I just get to mill about and taste all sorts of de­li­cious food – it’s a dream job as far as I’m con­cerned. I par­tic­u­larly like to watch peo­ple fol­low­ing their dreams on the show and be­com­ing some­thing great.

Can you tell us any juicy se­crets about the show that we don’t know at home?

The big­gest se­cret is that the con­tes­tants don’t ac­tu­ally need us to judge them. What they should re­ally do is keep the cam­eras rolling once the di­rec­tor shouts ‘Cut!’, be­cause at that point the crew all ap­pear. You wouldn’t be­lieve it but the cam­era crew ac­tu­ally carry their own cut­lery and the very minute we stop film­ing they just delve in and com­pletely de­mol­ish what­ever is there. The most de­li­cious meals tend to get eaten the quick­est – that’s the best way to judge it.

Were you sur­prised that Masterchef has be­come such a huge suc­cess?

I’m re­ally sur­prised how well the show has done. It’s in­cred­i­ble to think that we’ve been go­ing for 11 years now and that the latest se­ries was the most viewed Masterchef of all time – it’s just un­be­liev­ably crazy. I have no idea what makes it so suc­cess­ful, but I’m re­ally pleased it is so well re­ceived.

You must get an­noyed with the con­tes­tants at times. What’s the most frus­trat­ing part of judg­ing the show?

The most frus­trat­ing el­e­ment is when you’re given the same old rub­bish ex­cuses from con­tes­tants. We get them over and over again, year in and year out. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard phrases like, ‘I was go­ing to make this but I was miss­ing one in­gre­di­ent’. We are so fed up of hear­ing it. When peo­ple un­der­cook meat they al­ways say the same thing – ‘I didn’t want to over­cook it’. All I can think is ‘Well no, I didn’t want you to do that ei­ther – I just wanted you to c cook it prop­erly’.

Do you and John [Torode] ever get gen­uinely an­noyed when con­tes­tants present rub­bish dishes to you?

If I’m pre­sented with some­thing that’s not up to scratch I just think to my­self, ‘Why are you on here wast­ing our time?’ It does re­ally frus­trate me as there are thou­sands of peo­ple that want to come on Masterchef, a lot of who are prob­a­bly very good chefs, and some of the peo­ple that ac­tu­ally make it, don’t de­serve it at all in my eyes.

What’s the worst dish you can re­mem­ber tast­ing?

Peo­ple al­ways ex­pect the an­swer to this to be some strange com­bi­na­tion of food, which I have of­ten had and be­lieve me, it’s not great when you’re served a re­ally odd con­coc­tion that doesn’t work. But, the worst thing is when some­one of­fers us raw food. It is my pet hate! It’s aw­ful when we go to taste some­thing and it looks cooked and golden brown on the out­side, then you cut into it and it’s com­pletely raw in the mid­dle. It’s dis­gust­ing!

What’s the best dish?

Steven Wal­lis [2007 win­ner] made a won­der­ful clas­sic called a Pear Belle He­lene. A pear poached in vanilla and dessert wine, served with Chan­tilly cream and a cho­co­late sauce. If you didn’t want to eat it, you would take it home and snog it! I think I can still taste it.

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