CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Brain kebab? I'll have what Nadiya's eating

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Brain kebab? No thanks, Gregg, I’ll have what Nadiya’s eating

Masterchef: The Professionals


Nadiya’s American Adventure


Taste is a bizarre thing. Gregg Wallace, host of Masterchef: The Professionals (BBC1), raves about the complex interplay of ingredients on his tongue.

‘I’ve never had that combination of flavours before,’ he gasped as he tucked in to water buffalo with potato cannelloni.

We’ll have to take his word for it. Even the most advanced, ultra-HD, 8k Smart-TV can’t let you taste the dishes in a cookery contest. And no one will be replacing the turkey on their Christmas dinner table with water buffalo this year.

But we can make judgments about Gregg’s taste in clothes. The harsh fact is, he hasn’t got any.

Alex, who started his career as a pot-washer at the village inn where he is now head chef, took first prize on Masterchef: The Professionals

On this year’s final, he opted for a grey suit with dark brown shoes and an open-necked white shirt. He looked like an estate agent heading to a disco after work.

Like any estate agent in his new threads from Moss Bros, Gregg was panicking that some clumsy nitwit might spill food on his jacket. He squeaked anxiously when he saw 25-year-old Alex was serving party poppers with his passion fruit cocktails. Mind the whistle and flute, Alex!

It was the menus that were more likely to give the rest of us anxious squeaks. The pan-seared trout with a mussel and cream caviar sauce looked like something the cat had sicked up. But the real horror was lamb brain kebab, cooked by Nepalese whirlwind Santosh.

Because all this was meant to be extra special, every platter was garnished with flakes of edible gold or silver … except for Dutch chef Bart’s mousse. That was topped with chocolate soil and a scatter of bee’s pollen that looked like earwax.

Bart wanted to win so that he could sell his house and take his wife and small children around the world in a camper van. 

Safety hazard of the night:

Andrew Marr saluted Clive Sinclair’s electric C5, on New Elizabethans (BBC2). I saw my one and only C5 in 1985. It looked like a death trap. Next to today’s electric scooters, though, it’s almost robust.

I don’t know why he has to scoop a TV trophy first. Funnily enough, around the suburban streets where I live, quite a few people have started living in parked camper vans. Perhaps they’re all chefs.

Alex, who started his career as a pot-washer at the village inn where he is now head chef, took first prize — tough luck for Santosh, who had rustled up a dim sum sweet dumpling dessert with monkey aphrodisiacs on the side. What more can a hungry estate agent desire?

Nadiya Hussein was feasting on more appetising fare, as she explored the street markets in LA and San Francisco in her American Adventure (BBC1). ‘I have a feeling that my tastebuds are going to explode,’ she declared happily, before wrapping her smile around tortillas and tacos.

One grizzled fellow was grilling meat on a makeshift barbecue fashioned from an abandoned shopping trolley. It looked much more delicious than any of the constrained, pretentious fare on Masterchef.

Why there has never been a telly contest based on street food is a mystery. It ought to offer everything — lively characters, mouth-watering new dishes, travel and inspiration. Surely, viewers would rather see flatbreads and chili peppers sizzling on a roadside stall, than offal arranged like modern art on a plate the size of a bedsheet.

This urban episode was far more successful than Nadiya’s earlier excursion to the Deep South. She attended a Mexican quinceanera party for a girl’s 15th birthday, with a cake that cost $1,500 (£1,100) — that’s worth more than a Paul Hollywood handshake.

Then she tried making Chinese fortune cookies in a family-run shop. The grandmother watched her efforts with dwindling patience, before moving her aside.

‘Please, I’m working!’ she said. So is Gregg… he’s back to selling houses.

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