Monday, 8 May 2017

Masterchef Poem, aka ‘Ode to Torode’ (feat. NANBAN Epilogue)

Masterchef Poem - aka ‘Ode to Torode’

In a deeply secret red-and-silver kitchen,
Somewhere in London or possibly in Hitchin
( - in spite of sweeping skyscraper shots,
I’m guessing it's filmed somewhere in Herts.)

The contestants listen with a sense of forebode
To cheeky-chappy Gregg and his mate John Torode.
It's The Market Challenge!” they boldly disclose,
That's a pimped-up version of (the Hitchin) Waitrose.

The clock starts ticking, contestants are aflutter.
It's Supermarket Sweep with organically-made butter
That's been churned from a cow, who’s been pampered to the hilt
With a daily massage on Egyptian-cotton quilt.

Some go for savoury and some try confection;
Saliha tries ‘em both and Tamela’s for perfection.
And then there is Will, whose wild imagination
Pairs up ricotta cheese with porridge and crustacean!

The early frontrunner is East-Ender Steve,
Who did something magic with some Birds-Eye peas.
By day he's a DJ, his hand on the vinyl,
But now he's cooked his way to the Masterchef final.

Now here's something daring, that makes them all smile:
It's Lyndsay’s attempt to bake a crocodile,
Which usually lives in a swamp or a glade,
But now it's ‘sous-vide’ in a punchy marinade.

(Btw, John and Gregg think it's wizard
To ballotine a great big lizard..)

And whilst they're all sweating to finish on time,
In smoothly pops Gregg for a chat, pun or rhyme.
It’s just what they need at the height of concentration:
Their host trying to engage them in a lively conversation.

And every now and then, into the lens John stares.
Imparting some wisdom - he frequently pairs
An upbeat remark with some cautionary view:
It could be lovely, but have they left too much to do?..”

There's one particular thing that the judges can't abide,
So offended they get, they're rolling up their eyes
With the utmost disdain like you've just committed a crime:
There's nothing more deplorable than running over time.

“Scissors, scalpel, suction, saw and clamp!”
They're now at Holby City to show us who’s the champ.
Is that John and Gregg wearing surgical dress?
Let's sign them up now, to save our NHS!

Back in the kitchen, they're bringing up their plates
On to which are sealed their competition fates.
Wondering if they could have perhaps been bolder
Hoping that their dishes don't get any colder.

Each and every year, there's always quite a few
That try to go for broke, and bake a chocolate Gü.
Of course I mean a fondant, ‘cause that's the formal term
For something on the brink of a major crash ‘n burn.

(Although this year it's the pannacotta
That makes ‘em say ‘Well that's your lotta..”)

But if the pud comes off, and you can make it sing,
And John says to you: it's “a lovely, lovely thing”,
And Gregg sports a grin which spreads from ear to ear,
Then you're in the next round and have nothing left to fear.

Yes it's Masterchef time and I'm totally glued.
It's Great British Bake Off, but with savoury food.
It goes perfectly well with a few gin ‘n tonics.
It's like The Apprentice, but with less histrionics.

Yes it's Masterchef time, and I'm full of admiration,
So I’m dabbling at home with some fancy presentation:
Gold leaf on my Shreddies, to make them all look sparkly.
And I’m garnishing baked beans with a nice sprig o’ parsley.

John Torode      
Photos - BBC / Shine TV


Nanban Epilogue

But what of those winners of Masterchef past?
Foodie fame is great - long may it all last -
But what they really want is a restaurant or bar,
A Mexican chain or a Michelin Star.

There once was a champ by the name of Tim Anderson
Who dazzled John and Gregg with artistic combination
Of Japanese food mixed with other cuisines,
Bit like Heston Blumenthal - but even more extreme.

Tim’s latest venture’s in the London burgh of Brixton:
Nanban's a kooky mash-up of izakaya and Jamaican.
Just take for example his Brixton Market okra:
They're coated in srichacha and fried in light tempura.

But it's his Lamb tan tan men that takes fusion to the max;
It hits you with umami, with a punch that really packs.
With Japanese ramen and Chinese szechuan,
Who'd have thought they would go with grated Parmesan!

Wash the whole lot down with sake Kameizumi.
For this is what becomes of a Masterchef alumni:
Tim’s not chillin’ out, he's gotta push the boat,
He puts chicken schmaltz in ramen broth, and curries up a goat.

For if you complete Masterchef and duly crowned the champion,
You've already had a grillin’ from a Rayner, McLeod or Campion,
You've catered for an army - and I'm meaning that most literally,
And mixed it in the kitchens of Noma or El Bulli.

So whoever comes out top in this year's competition,
Your journey's only just begun (it's not like Eurovision).
It is time to sell up shop or cancel all your patients,
Hand your notice to the boss and quickly find an agent.

Whether it's a small-plates café or Korean barbecue,
Or supper-club or street-van or boutique of macaroons,
Or even write a book on foraged herbal smoothies,
You'll soon find on your trail come a multitude of foodies..



Chicken Karaage, Chilli Lime Miso

Brixton Market Okra

Lamb Tan Tan Men

Banana in Miso Black Sugar Butterscotch, Cinnamon Ice Cream






  1. You seriously wrote this?! That's amazing & since I've been following it religiously,I actually know of all the chefs you're referring to. My cooking skills don't even come remotely close so I've not even tried experimenting(though have been jotting down the featured restaurants they've shown like Ormer!)

    1. Aw, thanks loads Shikha! It did take AGES to complete.. not to mention there were times when my brain got so caught up, it actually ended up thinking in rhyme! (I now suspect that some of my GP letters at the time might well be in verse..)

  2. To write this takes much skill, I think you should put yourself forward next to go under the grill ;)

    1. Don't think my cooking is sufficiently outrageous,
      But can see that the rhyming is getting contagious! x

  3. Aaron! So nice to meet you at Plot today. Absolutely blown away by your poetry skills! Love it

    1. Aw, thanks so much Clare! Lovely to meet you too, and will definitely look out for your 'ForkInTheRoad' supper-club!

  4. I adore both Masterchef AND Nanban - loved these poems! What did you think of this year's winner? We were personally fans of Steve and Giovanna but Saliha was certainly a worthy winner!

    1. Thanks so much, Connie! To be honest I thought there was little to separate the Finalists - they were excellent, and all had their own particular strengths. Giovanna was superb with the puds, Saliha nailed flavour, whilst I thought Steve was very innovative and daring..


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