Ready, Steady, Hook Up!
I decided I'd review a piece of Australian daytime TV 'royalty' today - the Aussie version of the hit UK series, Ready Steady Cook.
Hosted by 'binned' Channel Nine personality Peter Everett (remember his famous hissy fits on Renovation Rescue and the like?), the show took a fairly odd turn in 2005 after turfing former host (and former chef) Nick Stratford in favour of Everett, someone with limited kitchen knowledge and next to no hosting skills when Network Ten and Channel Nine swapped Bert Newton for a handful of C-grade celebrities.
awkward as the host of Ready Steady Cook
The concept of the show is simple (although Everett constantly gets it wrong). Two teams, consisting of a member of the audience and one of the show's list of rotating 'celebrity chefs', cook up a three- or four-course meal using just a handful of items brought in by the pre-chosen audience member. The first team uses red aprons and is referred to as the Tomato team, while the second team uses green aprons and is referred to as the Capsicum team. Which isn't too confusing, despite there being such things as green tomatoes and red capsicums. But you just try not to think about that too much.
In the completely random episode I happened to tape for the purposes of writing this review, the Tomato chef was Adrian Richardson, a pony-tailed husband and father from Melbourne who owns and operates La Luna in Carlton North, while the Capsicum chef was Jacqui Gowan, a no-nonsense head chef from Sydney who runs the kitchen at Garfish in Kirribilli.
Tomato team leader
Capsicum team leader
Next we were introduced to the two audience members who were going to be particpating in the episode. As is the show's custom, the two audience members have a pre-existing relationship, and today we met two friends who were actors in a theatre company (which I have reason to believe has since gone belly-up). Our Tomato for the day was Amanda Burns, and our Capsicum was Naomi Yoshinaga.
I want to make this clear from the start: I have never met anyone involved with this show, nor the two contestants, but it was apparent from the outset just who the supposedly unbiased Everett was 'rooting for' (if you'll pardon the expression). He immediately sided with Naomi, and kept pandering to her, asking her wonderful and heartwarming stories of her childhood, her father's business, and her encounters with famous people. Compare this with his repeated questions to Amanda that related to embarrassing food stories, difficult former flatmates, and general cock-ups from her past.
The final count was as follows:
Embarrassing and/or 'weirdo' stories he asked Amanda: 4.
Complimentary and/or enriching stories he asked Amanda: 0.
Embarrassing and/or 'weirdo' stories he asked Naomi: 0.
Complimentary and/or enriching stories he asked Naomi: 5.
Does this seem fair to you? In fact, when it came to the one-and-only story for Naomi that was even slightly in the 'weirdo' category (relating to her love of Promite and honey, I believe it was), Everett tried to attach that story to Amanda! Talk about having a pre-disposition!
Additionally, I counted the amount of time he spent in Naomi's kitchen, and it was almost three minutes more than the time he spent in Amanda's kitchen. ("Shocking!")
So taking all this into account, I naturally found myself cheering on the poor Tomato lady, who was so clearly at a disadvantage before any cooking had even begun. I'm always more inclined to barrack for the underdog - particularly the ones who look so hottt. I quickly made myself a cardboard placard, which I held over my head as I walked in a small circle around my coffee table. The placard read: Vote For Amanda Burns.
Imagine my delight, then, when the studio audience was clever enough to agree with me. Amanda won the most votes, resulting in her taking home a brand new microwave for her troubles. Naomi, meanwhile, was forced to settle for a coffee plunger and two glasses. I hope she drinks coffee. Both girls also received a subscription to Super Food Ideas magazine.
Knowing the outcome, as we now do, allow me to give you a breakdown of the events Amanda and her chef Adrian went through to reach their goal:
to keep away from the food: "... And if you don't
keep away, do you know what I'll do with this?"
says the word 'spatchcock'
Crusted rib-eye with rosemary and, ah, garlic ... um ...
(Sorry, I'm getting distracted, here.)
Uh, with roasted sweet potato;
Moroccan-style couscous with dates and green beans;
Um, grilled fillet steak with green bean and herb salad;
*wipes brow; tries to avert eyes*
And an upside-down tart (not pictured on right) with a date glaze.
Truly worthy of the win.
get stuck into the complimentary wine
before the audience has even voted
It was a little bit icky that Amanda never once mentioned having a boyfriend on the show, yet Adrian kept making references to her boyfriend as if hoping she would correct him and point out that she was single. For his part, Peter Everett did his best to imply that Amanda was in fact a lesbian living in a lesbian household filled with other lesbians who like to 'lesbian it up' together. Amanda kept her cool and didn't bite at either implication; allowing everyone to think whatever they liked.
It was even more icky that Adrian (who - Wifey assures me from having seen other episodes on other days - is married with at least one child) kept trying it on with Amanda, both during the episode AND AFTER THE CAMERAS WERE TURNED OFF.
(How do I know this? I'm not telling. But it ALLEGEDLY happened. I just have a spider-sense about it. My prediction? He asked Amanda out for a drink after the show.)
The chefs always "name" their culinary creations at the end of the twenty minutes, and Jacqui called hers: 'A box office hit, starring Jacqui and Naomi in a spatchcock thriller'. Clever use of a Hitchcock reference there, combined with Peter Everett's new favourite word, 'spatchcock' (even if Jacqui missed the whole point of the contestants being theatrical actors, not film stars - but anyway).
Adrian, meanwhile, took the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a green room snog by calling his: 'Seducing my lead actress with my sweet date dessert'.
So what did we learn from watching this episode of Ready Steady Cook?
1) Peter Everett is a knob.
2) It's possible that Adrian Richardson is a sleaze.
3) It's possible that I could be sued for defamation (if only I could be traced!).
4) Amanda Burns is hottt.
5) Naomi Yoshinaga is a good loser (despite using that statement about Amanda as the show began).
6) Peter, Adrian and Amanda are going into business together, opening a restaurant called The Kitchen Witch. (Good luck working with those two, Amanda.)
7) There are some excellent local chefs out there.
8) If Peter Everett, Adrian Richardson, Jacqui Gowan, Amanda Burns or Naomi Yoshinaga ever read this, I take it all back. You're all lovely people.
9) I am a coward.
Both teams' full menus from this particular episode can be viewed here. Further information on the show can be found here and here.