‘What are you watching Mum?’ First thought; damn, I’ve been rumbled.
‘It’s called Masterchef. A cooking competition to find an amazing new chef, who’s better than all the others.’ Son raises an eyebrow, food: interest piqued.
‘Oh right. Who is that man with the funny accent?’
‘He’s one of the judges. He’s from Australia.’
‘Right. And the bald one?’
‘He’s the other judge.’ First daughter is now showing interest. ‘What’s a judge?’
‘The people who eat the food and decide who cooked the best food.’ Conspiratorial look exchanged between them…
‘That’s a job? We could do that!’
‘You two? Willingly try a variety of different foods and manage to say nice things about them? Ooh, that I would like to see!’
The contestants are producing a signature dish, this is the first time they have met the judges.
Boy Judge is asking the contestants if the food is ready every 45 seconds.
Girl Judge is refusing to move away from the oven door and is not allowing a flustered contestant access to the freezer and is glowering at another who is peeling a carrot.
Contestant 1 has made Mushroom Tortellini with truffle oil and a parmesan crisp.
Boy Judge: ‘It looks ok on the plate. The food is hot as it is showing steam, so I would probably wait another 5 minutes before calling me over, I could have been playing football.’ Shakes head, places fork on plate, walks away.
Girl Judge: ‘Is it on a Frozen plate?’
Contestant, helplessly, ‘No?’
Girl judge folds her arms, takes a very deep breath and begins to wail.
The contestants have been sent to a professional kitchen, to master some of the greatest dishes on offer. They are under the watchful eye of the head chef and each member is in charge of different element of the menu. The group are in full throes of the busy lunchtime service. There is a sudden explosion of noise at one of the tables, the restaurant falls silent. Boy Judge is sobbing. Girl Judge is red faced and surreptitiously trying to hide a meticulously coloured in colouring sheet which is now ripped in two. He storms out ‘I CAN’T WORK LIKE THIS!!’
The contestants have made it through an amazing host of challenges, cooking in soft play centres, creating mass catering for 180 fussy year one students with 43 different dietary requirements, cooking to highly specific and rigorous briefs – including the ‘Everything in Circles’ challenge and ‘Green is Mean’ and who could forget ‘Guess What I Want for Dinner’. Today they face their biggest challenge yet… with some help from a very special judge.
The final four line expectantly, wondering which culinary mastermind they are going to try and win over…
‘Hiyyyyyyaaaa!’ Every single jaw hits the floor. It is the terrifying, temperamental, vociferous and often violently tempered younger counterpart of Boy Judge and Girl Judge.
The floor is amass of chewed food, cutlery and dishes. The Guest Judge remains in her highchair, hiccupping. The final contestant, shaking violently, walks up to the judging table. She has made a dish of scallops and black pudding accompanied by an oyster fumed velouté.
Guest Judge: ‘MINE!’
Boy judge (quietly, to someone off camera): ‘Did you say pudding?’ Pause ‘It’s what?? Ugh, no way, that’s disgusting!’
Girl judge: ‘It tastes worse than Mummy’s casserole. And sprouts.’
Guest Judge: Licks a scallop, flicks it at the contestant’s head ‘Allllll gone… Yogurt?’
The Grand Final
The day has arrived, the final three – spent and creatively defunct stand before the judges with a weary but anticipating look – soon, they will know.
‘After a lot of thinking about this, we’ve decided who we think should be the winner. This, really amazing contestant has hit the nail on the head every time. The crusts-off sandwiches were inspired, we’ve never seen anything quite like the dino-pizzas and my sister still talks about the shepherd’s pie sans legumes…’ (enthusiastic nods from girl judge) ‘However, the piece de resistance had to be haribo-in-the-jelly finale!’ Boy judge kisses his fingers in appreciation at the memory. ‘You will all know that when I talk about the Masterchef, I can only be talking about this lady – our favourite lady and Masterchef of 2015!’
A quietly spoken lady in her sixties steps out and is wearing a tea-towel over her shoulder and her glasses dangle low on a string round her neck.
Girl Judge jumps on her knee and throws her arms round her neck ‘Grandma, what’s for pudding?’