Did we like it?
After ignoring series one (one can overindulge on the all-you-can-watch reality television menu), we gave this opener to series two a tasting and decided it’s not really nourishing enough.
What was good about it?
• The lack of nastiness was a relief. Most reality television sees conflict and bickering at its selling point; this show is all sweetness and light, with chef Raymond Blanc avoiding all that Ramsay-like ranting to give mannered, polite assessments of the couples aiming to win the right to run their own restaurant.
What was bad about it?
• Television shows spend so much time filming people as they cook, we might as well throw out the TV set and plonk our armchair in the kitchen. Scenes of stirring fail to stir, drizzling is dreary and all footage of chopping should get the chop.
• The couples are all quite nice but there’s no compelling reason to watch them in action, not even the hunky, tattooed kickboxer from Devon who seemed to be lacing his food with drops of perspiration, received a mild Blanc rebuke for his saffron pommes purées and ended the episode in tears.
• There were too many wacky ideas: the pea soup served in a hollowed-out loaf, the plan to open a restaurant with a Chinese-Welsh theme, the addition of flowers to every dish, fruity frisbees for kids (surely a recipe for disaster) and the planned names for the eateries including The Cheerful Soul and Sorbets & seasons. We did have doubts about the goats’ cheese cheesecake with pickled rhubarb and it was branded as a “dog’s dinner” by Blanc in his most severe criticism, but it did taste nice, apparently.
• The outcome was predictable from the moment losing couple, Annette and Kashell, whipped up a Mango Whizz – “If it sets, it’s a sorbet. If it doesn’t, it’s a mousse” – in just three minutes while everyone else put heart and soul (possible hearts and sole) into their dishes.
• Once we were told the pea soup pair/air stewards Scott and Richard “serve food to the international jet set” (eg Princess Diana, Prince William and Naomi Campbell), we were disappointed not to hear them say: “I passed a bread roll to one of the Chuckle Brothers once”
• Blanc’s sidekicks have none of the cutting edge of The Apprentice’s eyes and ears.