Celebrity MasterChef dishes up more delights

Wednesday: Celebrity MasterChef; (BBC One, 9pm)

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 5:00 pm
John Torode, Aldo Zilli and Gregg Wallace get ready for more cooking challenges
John Torode, Aldo Zilli and Gregg Wallace get ready for more cooking challenges

In 2004, Gordon Ramsay launched Hell’s Kitchen, an ITV cooking show which saw a bunch of famous faces showing off their cooking prowess.

It became an instant hit with the masses, and not always because of the lipsmacking dishes on display.

Ramsay’s salty dialogue with Edwina Currie helped turn it into one of the most jaw-dropping shows of the year.

John Torode and Gregg Wallace

However, the format seemed to run out of steam, at least in the UK. While Ramsay was off in the States berating rookie chefs in the slick American version, on this side of the Pond, fans of star-driven cookery shows took another strand to their hearts.

In 2006, the likes of Arabella Weir, Charlie Dimmock and Rowland Rivron showed off their cooking skills for the first Celebrity MasterChef. As good as they all were, sadly they didn’t have that winning mix which saw rugby union veteran Matt Dawson walk off with the prize.

It’s perhaps a blessing that the UK Hell’s Kitchen evaporated like a pan of water on too high a heat, because John Torode and Gregg Wallace proved that it wasn’t big or clever to have a go at celeb chefs with every expletive under the sun. A little encouragement usually went a long way, and in the years that followed, Celebrity MasterChef became one of the nation’s favourite reality shows.

Nadia Sawalha proved she COULD stand the heat in the kitchen when she won the 2007 contest, while Liz McClarnon and Jayne Middlemiss also romped to victory while fellow contestants fell by the wayside in subsequent years.

A decade ago, 2010 winner Lisa Faulkner won not only the contest but also the heart of co-host John Torode. They eventually tied the knot last year, and these days their show John and Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen gives the likes of Sunday Brunch a run for its money in the culinary entertainment department.

Back to Celebrity MasterChef, and we’re now at the closing stages of the 2020 contest. In the first of three shows this week, the remaining contestants take part in the inaugural semi-final. They travel to the National Breeding Centre at Leamington Spa’s Guide Dogs For The Blind to face their toughest challenge so far.

Aptly for such an intense show, contestants will be cooking in tents. Faced with unfamiliar equipment, the stars are split into two teams and are challenged to cook up a feast to celebrate Guide Dogs For The Blind’s 90th anniversary for 120 staff, volunteers and those whose lives have been changed by the organisation. Later, in the MasterChef kitchen, the competitors are tasked with recreating their favourite takeaway dishes in the Invention Test.

In Thursday’s second semi-final, John and Gregg are joined by Italian chef Aldo Zilli, who challenges the six remaining hopefuls to recreate one of his favourite recipes.

After using unfamiliar ingredients and techniques, the next task sees them serving up a dish inspired by someone they love or admire – knowing that only three of them will be awarded places in the final.

And for that all-important task, the trio must cook and present a faultless three-course meal for judgement by John and Gregg.

It’s anyone’s guess who will clinch victory, but there is a good bet all of the shows this week will lead to a serious amount of fridge-raiding for us at home.

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