sat 20/12/2014

Masterchef: The Professionals, BBC Two | TV reviews, news & interviews

Masterchef: The Professionals, BBC Two

A phenomenal final trio prove, in a trial by fire, who has the X factor in cooking

Three masterchefs: Steve Barringer, Claire Hutchings and, modestly at the back, the brilliant winner Ash Mair

There are all sorts of reality shows, but the best ones really do strip people bare. It’s the reason why The X Factor is more interesting than Strictly Come Dancing, why Don’t Tell the Bride is more revealing of the gamble of love than Snog, Marry, Avoid? It’s the reason why Masterchef: The Professionals is more gripping than the estimable Great British Bake-Off.

While it’s cheering to see talented amateurs like you and me win the original Masterchef, the most popular in the franchise, it’s far more exciting to see the culinary genius that so many college-trained chefs, beavering away in the noisy obscurity of kitchens all over Britain, uncover in the Professional version. No year has had more edge-of-seat thrills than this year’s, despite a long slow burn over 24 episodes, which ended last night with a win that to my mind states that something more profound, more theatrical, more about the art of creating joy than just eating well is going on in British cooking.

The paradox is that you actually can’t taste the food in Masterchef. It’s like discussing painting on the radio - an act of breathtaking cheek. Because even when plates are offered dressed with a visual artistry that miraculously crosses Jackson Pollock and Richard Dadd, what actually counts is entirely out of reach of the TV audience - taste, flavour, aroma, temperature.

Masterchef winner Ash Mair lobster saladThis means the judges need exceptional selecting. Competing in dodgy superlatives may pass for the normal Masterchef, but for The Professionals - with a final in which they cook for 34 3-star and 2-star chefs - there comes the tranquil pleasure when chief judge Michel Roux Jr, patron of Le Gavroche, has passed through the patronising whirlwind of “exceptionals” and “sublimes” and reaches the sincere accolade of “this is very good cooking”, one master to another.

That happened several times in last night’s final, when three cooks of evidently stupendous talent competed for the title. All of them were what some might call in today’s hokey-academic climes underachievers. Two started in kitchens from 15 or 16, another drifted into it at 19. One learned as a tot from his grandma, another would get her brother to pay her to make family breakfast, the third grew up in the Tasmanian bush eating veg from his family garden. All three had Roux speechless at times, and dimpled über-grocer Gregg Wallace rolling in the lard of his own clichés. All three drew plaudits from the roomful of multi-starred masterchefs, memorably pared down to the envious basic, “If you cook like that in a restaurant, you’ll be busy every day,” from one of them.

The paradox is that you actually can’t taste the food in Masterchef. It’s like discussing painting on the radio

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exmplary article

exmplary article

What a superbly-written

What a superbly-written piece. There's so much dross on the internet and in most newspapers these days, that good writing like this stands out like a sore thumb. Great analysis of a great show. And Michel Roux is one of the most watchable people on tv, without any gimmicks, showboating, arrogance or aggression - just a great knowledge of his subject and a gift for articulating it.

For me, this time what came

For me, this time what came across was how likeable the contestants were, and Roux is obviously a very nice man. Unlike that torode man he never rubbished anyone without praising them at the same time. I'm just not sure what Gregg Wallace was doing there! The spectacle of him devouring the puddings was enough to make you sick! And his facile commentary was even more nauseating. Next year, just people who know about it, please!

Ash made food that I looked

Ash made food that I looked at on the screen and nearly drowned my mrs by just looking at it wit my drool. Gred and Roux stayed cool and judged but from day two there was always one winner. Ash you have done well.... just let me know where your food is at.... Roux.... you still have the best the food I have ever had....

Here, Here! I also thought

Here, Here! I also thought Roux really enjoyed himself this year and Greg, well he is like a kid in a sweet shop! Great review!

Great review of a great

Great review of a great television programme.

Could not agree more (not

Could not agree more (not just for the fantastic use of the word stupendous)! I barely watch TV and never reality TV but found this series absolutely compulsive - 3 definite stars. x.

To put the record

To put the record straight... "the third grew up in the Tasmanian bush eating veg off his family allotment." http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/allotment "British . a plot of land rented to a gardener." It's actually a patch in their garden which isn't rented ... I've eaten from it and it was good!

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