#SpoilerAlert - Details of the current series of 'MasterChef: The Professionals' contained within.
“Whatever the result, Adam Handling has a very bright future ahead.” When Michel Roux Jr. expressed that sentiment (I don’t have the exact words) in the final programme of MasterChef: The Professionals 2013 I thought he was preparing me to see my favourite chef of that year come in as runner-up. Which he did… and went straight on to enjoy that very bright future.
The latest episode of this year’s series had Marcus Wareing critiquing the dessert of Matthew Campbell. I hurried to catch up with my recording of the programme after seeing this tweet from chef Wareing:
With apologies to proper fans who watched live, here is a little of what went on. Marcus thought the 'show-stopper' artichoke dessert offering "very, very heavy". He liked the ideas but wasn't a big fan of the dish... which generated this reaction from Matthew:
As you can see, Matthew doesn't actually say 'old-fashioned' or 'stuck' but I suppose 'classic' is not 'modern'. His words might be interpreted as less than odd, and even complimentary. But those words were the impetus for Marcus' tweet. He continued with just one more comment on the situation which could be seen as demoting Matthew from 'chef' to 'cook'.
Of course, the results which will only be revealed to us this week have been known to all involved in the programme for some time. I will watch the last episodes with extra interest. I still don't mind which of the chefs wins. I refuse to let Matthew's style and presentation of himself as opposed to his cooking get in the way of that enjoyment. But there is a big prize in store for the winner. Like other finalists, Matthew has already established a high profile on social media. He has a book ready for publication next year. He has certainly attracted the praise of other cooks and chefs. Vegans are rejoicing... but they know that Michelin starred chefs have been using vegetables in dessert for at least a decade, don't they! Matthew's promotion of nutritional gastronomy doesn't seem too whacky or even dangerous so far. But, whether he wins or not, I will discard him if he descends into a world where pseudo-science underpins his cooking. He could be about to make serious amounts of money on the back of his appearances in the BBC show. That will all be meaningless to me if he 'earns' that money from diet 'fadiots' who are after a quick and unsubstantiated fix rather than good honest cooking. At least some of those have already fallen into the trap of saying that Matthew is cooking without sugar.
Marcus has no need to justify, explain or defend the excellence which he has achieved. He could easily flick away 'odd' criticism by ignoring it. So, is he preparing us for Matthew's fall from grace... or am I whipping up all this from a bit of froth and starting to look a bit thick?
The next programme is airing as I post this. Best go and see what's cooking. I'll applaud loudest if flavour is the focus. Good luck to all!