Friday, 16 April 2010

Too Many Cooks

Hello. I thought I’d have a bit of a rant today, so brace yourself.

What is there too much of on telly these days? Sport, obviously, reality shows for sure, but more than them, there’s a ridiculously disproportionate amount of cooking programmes infesting the airwaves/cable-substations.

Yesterday there was an entire section of BBC One’s Breakfast devoted to some new series about a couple of guys going around different venues every week, cooking for demanding guests. As I understand it, they’d already been on a cooking reality show of some sort, and this was a sort of sequel featuring the more popular characters. A bit like how the disappointing Going Straight was a sequel to Porridge. Or Joey was to Friends.

Now, I’ve got nothing against these fellows. They seems perfectly decent chaps who do a bit of cooking (though, thinking about it, I think only one of them could even manage that – the other was some sort of ‘front of house’ people-greeting sort of toady. What a career aspiration. Anyway…), but do we really, honestly need yet another frickin’ programme about cooking food? Let’s look at the current crop of repeat offenders:

  • Sweary shar-pei faced chef

  • Mad-haired double-barrelled chef

  • Brainiac Harry Hill look-alike chef

  • Roadies on motorbikes chefs

  • Pukka twizzler-scourge chef

The list goes on. Or it would, if I paid enough attention to the screen in the three seconds it takes me to grab the remote and switch channels as soon as I realise I’m watching a cooking programme.

And that’s not to mention the Lady Chefs (husky brunette fellates her sauce-drenched fingers, former fat model gets flour over her once ample bosom), the Celeb Chefs (comedians and sportsmen get shouted out by an ego-maniac in a white coat) and the Pleb Chefs (exactly the same, except these guys actually want to be chefs. That’s their dream. “One day I hope to open my own gastro-pub.” Good grief. The hope in their big round baby-chef eyes. You’d think they were talking about walking again some day.)

Still with me? I know some of you might well like watching cooking programmes, Gawd help you. You probably think they’re interesting or give you ideas for your home cooking. Not the hairy, sweary, loony chefs of course. They’re just special people who’ve escaped from secure facilities and are being rehabilitated by supportive TV producers who are indulging their delusion that they’re in some way important, as part of a long-term mental treatment plan. Yes, some of the cooking programmes, some of them, might just be worthwhile. I suppose. If you’re really interested in the stuff we shovel down our faces every day.

I’m not. It’s just food. Just something to stop me starving to death. I don’t care about cooking. And here’s where I lose your sympathy entirely, my dears – cooking is no big deal. Really, it isn’t. It’s just making food. It ain’t brain surgery, rocket science or decoding the bloody double-helix. And what’s more, it ain’t an art form. Good grief, it’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes on TV sometimes:

“Oh Gordon, despite subjecting me to a ten-minute Tourette’s-like tirade, your tiny blob of sauce and sprig of plant on a big plate is truly magnificent.”

“Oh, Heston, the things you do with a sausage roll and a bucket of dry-ice are just inspired.”

“Oh Surviving Fat Lady, that badger pie with pâté d’écureuil was to die for, once I’d picked out your hair.”

And these chefs, these cooks. They’re treated like superstars. Time was, you had one cook person on TV at a time. The cadaverous Cradock, your actual Galloping Gourmet, mumsy Delia, Hom of the Wok, Madhur Jaffrey and her bendy fingers. One at a time. Course, we only had three or four channels back then. And more channels equal more chefs, just like how I always end up carrying more and more crap around every time I get a bigger handbag (believe me, a spare umbrella, a pocket A-Z of London and a mini screwdriver set are indispensable).

These guys, they’re nothing special. So why, and this is the bit that winds me up more than anything else, do they get to be called Chef, with a capital Ch? “Yes, Chef, no Chef, three tiny glass dishes full Chef”. What’s that about? These men and women are in charge of the food, that’s all. They’re not army officers, or judges, or bishops or royalty. How’d they get to claim a title, for the love of all that’s decent?

Bolshie so-and-so that I am, I wouldn’t last five minutes working for some twonk in a daft white hat who demanded I accord him/her some spurious token of respect like that. Certainly not for knowing how to chop a vegetable up properly.

According to my in-depth research, ranking coppers get titles like “Guv”, which is both cool and informal. Plus, they’re police officers and quite possibly actually deserving of some sort of respect, on account of how they Fight Crime, not because they Baste Lamb.

Imagine a different world, if you will. Different yet eerily familiar. Everything’s the same except that our channels are awash with carpentry shows. Woodworking in all its myriad variations – joinery, wood-turning, marquetry, you name it. There’d be reality shows like Last Man Sanding, practical shows like One Mum And Her Lathe, celebrity shows like Carpentry Stars, and quirky shows like Two Chippies On Horseback, wherein a pair of hirsute equestrian woodworkers tour the country, demonstrating how to make your own sturdy furniture at a fraction of the cost you’d expect to pay at a four-star carpentoir.

Wood, wood, wood, You wouldn’t be able to flick through the channels without seeing wood shows at every turn. Posh wood, healthy wood, sexy finger-licking wood, wood vs wood in a fight to the finish. Can you imagine such a nightmare scenario? Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

Right, I’m done. Ranted out. Time to settle back and catch an episode of Got Wood? The things they can do with a two-handed rasp and a length of pine…


Mitchell Adcow said...

Loving your work! Mrs Pavlitski would be proud of you!

Maleghast said...


This is marvelous stuff - more please!

jade.ent said...

Yes, we need less cookery programmes. That will free up TV time for more programmes about buying cheap antiques and selling them at a profit! We need more Kate Bliss and David Barbie on our screens. The world needs more Tim Wonacote.

The Chocolate Ocelot said...

I care not a jot for Mrs Pavlitski's approval. She kept me and Malcolm Brooks in after English in the 3rd year to sand off some offensive grafitti that had been scrawled onto our desks. I didn't even know who 'Shelley' was, nor that she apparently smelled.

Maisie said...

What I find particularly amusing is that I know The Ocelot had this rant after watching an advert for a food programme that had been immediately preceeded by an advert for a documentary regarding obesity...