Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Oliver’

Big Chef Takes On Little Chef

January 20, 2009

The Great British Food Fight, alternatively referred to as ‘more cookery rubbish’ by the public at large, kicked off last night with Heston Blumenthal’s much-touted attempt at reinvigorating Little Chef’s branding, by way of the focal point of their operation – their rancid menu.

Like Blumenthal, I’ve not been inside a Little Chef in twenty-odd years. When Channel 4 eventually ventured in, it was both heart-warming and disturbing to see that absolutely nothing had changed in there. Not only in terms of the style of the interior, but also the actual interiors themselves. No broken chairs or peeling wallpaper appears to have been fixed. Now, this may not be true of every branch. Channel 4, devious bastards that they are, are probably using one bad example to tarnish the whole change. All the same, wilting pink walling isn’t what you want to see as you eat a leathery mixed grill.

Speaking of the food, it’s hard to defend what Little Chef were putting out. Hardened, overcooked, frozen meat. The fish pie looked like mixed bodily-fluid with the skin of an old woman floating on the surface. The Hawaiian Burger looked like roadkill. Heston and pals even gagged as they sipped the coffee. It could have been pantomime snobbishness, but it looked the real deal. Even as someone who despises the meaningless, middle-class bullshit of the word ‘foodie’, the food here simply looked unappetising

The strange thing with Heston Blumenthal is that, despite his running one of the most celebrated ponce-kitchens in the world, he comes across like a very decent bloke (and the kind of boss we all wish we had). He reminds me most of certain posh kids at secondary school who were almost embarrassed of their accents and sought to rid themselves of their upper-middle class roots by selling hash by the teenth in the playground. He comes across, essentially, as a stoner schoolchild with a frying pan.

Heston B’s approach to food is, fundamentally, at odds with what Little Chef seek to do. They’re operating in completely opposing markets – as Channel 4 knew full well when setting this absurd venture up. And fireworks have already started to fly, with the show’s one special ingredient turning out not to be the not-very-nutty professor Heston, but rather the Head Honcho at Little Chef, Ian Pegler. Pegler gifts Channel 4 the tools with which to make entertaining television, and from the moment he refused to give the company’s GP (or any figures at all, as it turned out) to Blumenthal, we knew we were on to a winner.

Ian is the anti-Alan Sugar, by way of Alan Partridge. From his bewilderingly misplaced use of the term ‘bluesky thinking’ to his assertion that Heston B could do absolutely anything he wanted with the company (so long as he didn’t change the menu), the befuddled swine was a trove of amusing vignettes, no moreso than the point towards the end at which, when pressed, he hung up on Heston Blumen-heck in a mild panic – a comedy moment which had to be seen
to be believed.

So far it’s a curious little programme this. You can’t help but feel HB is the only one of Channel 4’s four chefs who could actually do something with the idea. Hugh FW would start blubbing straight off the bat, Ramsay would fail, then blame everyone around him and Oliver would fail whilst pretending he’d succeeded, playing some Snow Patrol over the end credits by way of insisting he’d changed the world.

It’s interesting watching snobbishness battling inverse snobbishness and so I’ll watch this through to the end. It’s worth it for the guilty pleasure of the hilarious hatchet job on Ian Pegler, which would be cruel rather than amusing, if only it wasn’t Ian himself himself holding the hatchet.

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Willie’s Chocolate Christmas

December 23, 2008

unbearable oafs

That Willie arsehole (only on TV because he’s mates with Marco Pierre White) gets a Christmas gig, apparently with a hyper-budget, for reasons we can only grasp at like the blind, intolerable worms they consider us to be over at Channel 4.

Channel 4! Home of morons!

Is he sleeping with Isadora Buck-Tooth, the channel controller? Maybe he’s blackmailing the scheduler, Julian Tit? Are ALL the people at Channel 4 complete wankers?

So Willie, who apparently sells a chocolate lozenge for a living (big bloody deal), gets some people over so he can show off his enormous house, nauseating offspring and revolting wife.

His wife deserves special attention, as it happens, as she’s an example of all that is wrong with this particular class of brainless, born-rich, constantly-on-the-box bastard. She’ so proud of her lobotomised husband and the father of her dribbling kids that she spends the entire episode talking about just how crazy they are, how life is so tough but so much FUN!

She goes about proving just how gruelling her life is by spending the whole hour busy making goodie bags for 20 locals. It’s hardly spending a 15 hour day at the pit. Judging by the size of their manor, life must be a real fucking slog. ‘Boo’. And, indeed, ‘hoo’.

Later on they again demonstrate that money is tight, by cooking an entire fucking lamb for dinner. And, being a ‘crazy madman’, Willie cooks the lamb underground. Just as we’ve seen the Hairy Bikers do before. Just as we’ve seen on TV before, umpteen times.

Apparently, he keeps telling us, this is the first time he’s cooked for his family all year and it feels so cosy to be back for Christmas. At this point, the viewer can’t help wondering why he’d invited a fucking camera crew along, if he wanted the proposed quality time with his family.

Are these people complete unfeeling chancers – prepared to film even the most intimate or private family occasions? Do none of these idiots – Nigella, Jamie and the rest – realise that we see through this pathetic illusion and know full well that they filmed their sentimental, elaborately expensive schedule-grout in October?

I genuinely reckon that they think we believe it’s Christmas because they said it is. They think those of us with a gravel drive instead of a garden will start re-laying it so we can stick a dead sheep under it to cook. They think we’re going to start calling our beef stews ‘tagines’ and they think we’re actually going to make chilli popcorn at some point in our lives.

They can get fucked.

Happy Christmas.

NewsGush – Grade/Commons Comment on Cussing

November 13, 2008

According to the BBC, Michael Grade and a handful of politicians are getting themselves in a bit of a tizzy regarding all the bloody swearing on the bastard TV. Frankly, they think it’s a fucking disgrace.

It seems the focus of their ire is Channel 4’s Jamie Oliver who, it has to be said, did swear a hell of a lot on his last outing – Jamie’s Ministry of Bollocks Food.

Channel 4’s Head of Programming, Julian Bellamy, said the following:

“When you watch these shows it’s very clear that the fruity language he uses is a real response to the shock and anger at what he sees [and] his passion and determination to change things.

“People know what to expect from Channel 4 and we have a duty to push boundaries.”

I’m not sure being sweary pushes any boundaries, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. If you spend any time on crowded public transport, on a busy street or even at the pub you’re going to hear a hell of a lot of rude words – so why pretend in TV-land that everyone’s awfully polite and well-mannered?

 And do politicians have nothing better to do than react publically to the indiscretions and naughty words of public figures? The lazy bastards.

Jamie’s Ministry Of Food

October 8, 2008

As with his School Dinners campaign, Oliver’s attempting to change the eating habits of those who are just too working class to work out how an oven works.

He’s already befriended that old ogre who forced burgers on her children through the school fence in School Dinners, but having discovered that she’s not really cut out for TV, he’s got back up in the form of a young Mum who gave kebab meat to her children every night (with a side plate of fries with Kraft cheese slices) before meeting JO in episode one. She’s onside primarily to give the show a ‘heart’ which is a televisual bit of jargon meaning ‘time to fade in Snow Patrol really clumsily’.

So they swear (a fuck of a lot), they cook meat (with the odd vegetable here and there) and a lot of northern folk say ‘Ee that’s right tasty, that – wi’out a doubt’. All this whilst Jamie Oliver allows lots of unflattering shots of himself to be broadcast, aware that this will make him seem even more ‘man of the people’ than he was before.

Though he has a point and even though the problem is reaching morbidly obese proportions, you can’t help but find this campaign short sighted. School Dinners worked (or is beginning to work) because it was about changing the way a small niche of the food industry operated and forcing the government to change the routine.

With this ‘Pass It On’ idea, however, Jamie’s floating in la la land. As the Teaching Assistant who dropped out of his class said, time is a huge issue for most people. But it’s not only that. Good produce is almost impossible to find. Vegetables have been frozen en route to supermarkets and most meat has been intensively reared, with labelling disguising all the underhand processes that go on. Add this to general, wilful ignorance, stubborn stupidity and the fact that a lot of people aren’t that keen on Jamie Oliver and the mountain seems infinitely unassailable.

Are our eating habits so bad that it requires TV chefs to assuage the problem with campaigns like these? Or is it just another format – something new to excite viewers who are tiring of the usual kitchen based food programming?

First School Dinners, then the chicken/organic Hugh Fearnely Whatsit stuff and now this… are we being scared into a hypochondriac state by foodie fascism, or have they got a point?

Anyone fancy a chicken kiev?

NewsGush – Total Recall

August 28, 2008

Thanks to brain-melting industry publication, Marketing Magazine, you can easily obtain figures detailing how companies compare when it comes to a thing called ‘brand recall’ – which essentially means ‘remembering adverts’. After all – it’s no good making a brain-rotting telenudge unless it’s guaranteed to burn itself into the collective synapse of the proletariat consumer, eh?

Here’re the top 10 performers – and my attempt at total recall.

Sainsburys (69%)
Easy – this is Jamie Oliver patronising people and then cooking them a third rate dinner in some suburban vision of hell on earthly terrain.

Asda (61%)
No idea. Three crates of booze for a tenner? Some arsehole in a green hat patting his arse? Ian Wright pretending to be enthusiastic about baking a loaf? Or is that Somerfield?

Dolmio (60%)
Fucking annoying puppets blabbering incomprehensibly about sauce.

Littlewoods Direct (53%)
No idea. Scrabbling for a memory, I can picture some tall girl mucking about in slow motion on a beach in a peach-coloured dress – but I think that’s just a generic mental image I’ve invented when I think of the catalogues middle aged women get through the post. I also recall many happy moments spent with the lingerie section of the Kays catalogue. Thanks again, catalogue-model girls.

L’Oreal Elvive Re-Nutrition (51%)
Is this Andie MacDowell? Or Eva Longoria? Either way, it’s a shit actress talking crap. Or it may just be a model with the speech dubbed over. In any case, hair doesn’t need nutrition. It just needs an occasional wash.

Marks & Spencer (49%)
Undoubtedly this’ll be Myleene and Claude Makelele’s wife playing silly buggers in swimsuits, in a lighthouse while an old woman and a giantess look on. Getting a bit tiresome, this campaign (if looking at this sort of thing could ever be considered tiresome).

Burger King (49%)
The Dark Knight burger. When I can’t decide what brand of coloured, flavoured offal and dung pattie  I want to stick into my gut, I let a fictional character – usually a superhero – decide for me.

Morrisons (48%)
More reasons to shop at more-reasons? Is that still going? Or is it Alan ‘Arsehole’ Hansen clutching a trolley like a zimmer-frame? I’m guessing rather than trying to remember these ads now, if you hadn’t noticed.

Vauxhall Corsa (47%)
I can’t remember car ads, ever. Has it got a car in it?
Going very fast?
It has?
Then I won’t remember it.

Flora pro.activ (46%)
I don’t even know what this is. It’s got ‘Flora’ attached so I assume it’s margarine – but the weirdly punctuated and abbreviated bit at the end leads me to assume it’s a futuristic margarine that makes your bones robotic or something. This sort of branding makes me hit spread-autopilot and reach for the Utterly Butterly out of brain-freeze confusion.

The end

Scientific Conclusion:

We only remember adverts if they’re hugely patronising, if they feature women in bikinis or if they’ve got puppets talking with very strong, affected italian accents in them.

I think we’ve all learned something today.

NewsGush – Too Many Cooks

August 27, 2008

Great news for morons from Channel 4, home of morons. As part of the Autumn schedule we’ll have even more cookery on the box as Gordon Ramsay swears very impressively (and live, dangerously enough) whilst Oliver will try and fail to change the world. Again.

Jamie Oliver travels to Rotherham to launch his latest campaign and face some of his fiercest critics in four-part documentary, Jamie’s Ministry of Food. The Channel 4 chef wants to recruit the locals to his drive to encourage home cooking at the expense of unhealthy ready meals and has taken the wartime ministry as his inspiration.

Gordon Ramsay will also be back aiming to extend the nation’s culinary repertoire, this time with a full seven-part series of Live Cookalong. 

So, if you love watching arseholes cook stuff while you eat cereal, you’ll be well catered for.

Hugh’s Chicken Run

January 10, 2008

Hugh Fearnley-Shittingstool 

It’s only pertinent that I, Piqued, head up the fucking row – I mean debate – that has been brought to mine face by Hugh F Whitting-Wotsit over the past three evenings on Channel 4 (which, when I read, I hear it in my head as ‘ChA-NEALL fOOOR’ on account of this West Indian male announcer they employed back in the day. I digress) due to an ongoing discussion regarding a certain Mr. Bernard Matthews and his Chicken Kiev(s).

The premise is simple. Start two chicken farms, one a cuddly free range one, and the other a scene from a painting by Bosch/Breugal depicting hellish acts of (in this case, chicken) damnation – a battery shed.

From scratch the redoubtable Hugh FW cheerily goes about collating information/resources/experts in order to realise his dream of converting the straw-chewing bumpkins of Axminster to go free-range by demonstrating that shoving 50,000 birds into an area the size of a hankie isn’t a very nice thing to do (actually it’s 19 birds to a square metre) where they don’t have access to daylight to increase their growing time from chick to slaughter, which takes just over a month. Obviously the free range fellas are provided with their own five bedroom houses, top of the range Lexus, wide screen TV’s (three of) and a games room, with a full size snooker table and bar.

Hugh’s campaign got off to a bright start by recruiting some families who worked in the nearby allotments. After a brief period of doubt, he made them physically see the different ways of rearing chickens: the lot reclining on Chesterfields reading The Telegraph and other the poor sods pecking shit out of their dead mates’ arseholes in the dark. Apart from one fat cow called Hayley, all were converted tearfully on the spot.

But not all was well in the village. The locals (and really, this lot were a fucking good reason for never leaving London) barked and grunted paranoid abuse in the direction of Hugh and his campaign. Within hours, there were rumours that Hugh’s free range chickens cost ‘twenty pund’. The thick inbred cunts – sorry, did that come out loud? All this as Hugh tirelessly attempted to sign up shops to sell free-range produce. After a hilarious confrontation at the local Tesco (who up until this point had been totally uncooperative, as had the Co-operative, ironically) in which the manager thought Hugh had called him an arsehole, he began to make some progress.

Incidentally, in terms of the campaign having a long term and far-reaching sustainability, Sainsburys seemed to be by far and away the most prepared to assist Hugh’s Chicken Out campaign on a national level. We’ll see…

Overall, the programme was a success. This was due entirely to Hugh’s determination and enthusiasm for his campaign. He was obviously upset at the battery conditions he’d created in order to highlight his plight – on one occasion he was reduced to tears after having to dispatch yet another suffering creature from the intensively reared chicken shed and I noticed his language got all blue and rude due to his exasperation at the backward-thinking townsfolk and money-grabbing corporates as a symptom of his passion.

In all this, however, there was one major flaw, something that vegetarians understand, and for good reason. The bottom line, despite the way they were reared (though I maintain free-range rearing is paramount) is that all the creatures wound up being caught and knacked in the same way, carted off in cramped conditions, hung up upside down on a conveyor, stunned in electrified water and having their throats slit open by the sticker, all for the food industry. I do eat meat, I didn’t used to precisely because of the whole killing part and I am careful to make sure I eat free range/organic birds. But really, eating a free-range animal will always remain the lesser of two evils and no amount of campaigning will change that.

Oooh – look – Piqued just got all serious and deep. I’m off to KFC to recover.

Jamie at Home / Cook Yourself Thin

August 8, 2007

Make them go away

Channel 4 again, dominating the evening schedules with the TV equivalent of the Guardian’s lifestyle section – i.e.,  self-satisfied dross.

Actually, that’s not really fair on Jamie Oliver’s new vehicle, which thankfully hasn’t got him patronising any Italians or working class mothers this time round. Instead, it’s just him mucking about in the garden of his country pile with some weird ageing hippy, getting all horny about tomatoes. Actually quite a pleasant way to spend half an hour, despite the fact it has to be watched through gritted teeth as you spend 95% of the run-time wondering just how fucking rich the successful bastard is.

At least his presence on the TV has been hard earned. He’s a chef with some flair, which is more than can be said for the priviledged quartet who make up the Cook Yourself Thin team. Christ knows where they found this bunch of public school fuckwits. Actually, scratch that, I know just where they found them. Sipping cocktails in the same hell-on-earth bar as Polly Vernon, n’doubt. Given a job in journalism because they could afford expensive frocks, I imagine they were then wangled a pitch in front of Channel 4 bosses because they’re, y’know, soooo fab and rilly, rilly presentable.

Cook Yourself Thin is a televisual concentration camp, wherein these non-entities cut every corner imaginable to try and cut calories in some poor, neurotic cow’s diet. How many of these members of the public are lining up to stand in a whiteout studio showing off their entirely normal body shape and moan about it? It’s seemingly endless. The lady last night looked to be in pretty good nick for a mother of two approaching middle age. So obviously she needs to be patronised on prime time TV so that the rest of us with a gut can feel ashamed of ourselves.

Instead of eating a crunchie everyday, the four airheads recommended she makes herself a load of champagne truffles and has two of those a day, thus halving the amount of calories from that snack. What utter fucking genius. Of course – a champagne based mini-cake – that will stop me from expanding! Why not have half a chocolate bar? Why not one every other day? But no, if these overpaid twats reckon you should bankrupt yourself buying Veuve Clicquot and making stupid little confections out of it, go for your life. They’re on TV, they clearly know more than us fame-deprived plebs. For fuck’s sake, when they made the cake thing they said it would be unwise to make the chocolate ‘grumpy’ during mixing.

At that point, as my blood boiled, I tried to work out how exactly one would make chocolate ‘grumpy’? Channel 4 lost a viewer for the night at that point, so if anything groundbreaking occurred I apologise for not covering it. I somehow doubt they followed it up with anything other than a few more minutes of schedule-filling bollocks.