Six excruciating things that always happen during live TV cookery demonstrations
"HERE'S ONE I PREPARED EARLIER!"
TV is the best, but also at the same time, hear me out on this one, the absolute worst.
For every 20 minutes of decent television, you have to sit through approximately 75 minutes of complete and utter garbage, as stipulated by Ofcom in their official guidelines.
Personally, I have a lowkey fascination with live TV cookery demonstrations. They're always supremely polished and rarely put a lightly sautéed potato out of place, but therein lies the beauty.
It's the exact same formula every goddamn time. It's boring, predictable, excruciating and therefore completely fascinating.
Here's six things that happen during every live cookery demonstration in the world ever. Trust me.
1. The chef makes everything seem entirely achievable at home, despite it being wildly complicated
If being a chef was so easy, everyone would be one. Before the real time cooking process has even begun, the chef will expertly gloss over the fact that everything he/she is about to do is extremely complicated. They'll scatter familiar items such as leeks and jars of olive oil on the counter top in advance, which lures the viewer into thinking that they can play along. 'There's nothing to be afraid of here, this chef is so relaxed he's even got a glass of wine resting to the side', the nation thinks to itself as the most complicated list of ingredients known to man is read out.
The chef advises those at home to carry out some essential preparation before cooking, such as getting the kettle boiled, peeling vegetables and graduating with a first class honours degree from culinary school. It's his/her job to put everyone at ease, including the presenters. The ingredients are usually fairly standard with one or two rogue items thrown in (wtf is okra btw?), but it's the job of the witty presenters to really sell the segment to us muggle viewers. Case in point, I'm not sure if a sausage tagliatelle is for me, but if Philip Schofield tells me it's nice, I'm making 17 portions of it immediately.
2. One of the presenters usually gets drafted in to help, but does so in an adorably clumsy and unsatisfactory way
To avoid a deeply awkward experience for all involved whereby the chef cooks and the presenters stand idly by waiting to tuck in, the celebrity chef will usually keep one or both presenters busy with a special task. The work they're required to carry out is rarely important, because no matter how well the chef wants to come across on telly, they're not going to have their food looking like dog shit because one of the presenters didn't know how to chop a pepper correctly.
The helping presenter will begin their task diligently, then descend into controlled chaos for comic effect. A near miss with the knife will usually occur, or a close-up of their puny un-chef-like efforts. Nobody knows why this needs to take place, it just does. When the chef eventually loses patience with the presenter, he/she will take back control and chop the required item in a nanosecond, exposing just how pathetic the presenter, who isn't a trained chef, actually is. The presenter will look suitably embarrassed, then gesture that they're hitting the booze as a result.
3. You can bet your sweet ass there's going to be some excruciatingly poor innuendo
Food is quite a sexual thing. It comes in suggestive shapes, it's got funny names and when you combine that with every TV presenter's insatiable thirst for making a joke that's on the cusp of being acceptable, what we're looking at here is solid gold television. If the chef is working with any kind of meat, there will absolutely be some kind of reference to 'pounding the meat' or something equally as grim, like when you're at an important business meeting and someone tries to toss in a chronic joke about how Excel sheets help us to EXCEL in our individual chosen fields.
The chef will tolerate the jokes right up until the point where the presenters start to get quite giddy and deprive them of their precious six minutes of airtime. He/she wants the camera on themselves throughout this performance because they truly believe that they are creating art. They'll join in with the fun, but only to regain control of the situation so that they can bring it all back to their work, forgetting that they have essentially entered a balloon shop with a porcupine by attempting to earnestly talk about the importance of a good quality sausage on live daytime TV with two presenters deep in the throes of hijinks.
4. The chef will try to teach the presenters about cooking but they are just so silly and fun, they won't understand
Listen, buddy, you're here to cook something nice, give the presenters and taste and then head off. It's no use trying to teach us about the complexities of baking with yeast in such a short segment, also we do not care. We're here to look at some food porn, then order takeaway after contemplating trying to recreate the meal and giving up precisely four minutes into deliberations. Stay in your lane, celebrity chef. Remember what this is and remember what you're about.
The presenters get a chance to show their true selves during a cooking demonstration. Depending on the type of show they're presenting, it often gives them a respite from the heavy stuff and a chance to get some heavily constructed banter going. They'll jest that they're not sure how to peel a potato or rinse some carrots, but it's all just a ruse. They're trying to stoop to our muggle level by pretending the concept of cooking a meal is entirely alien to them. Perhaps it is, but I refuse to believe it. Holly Willoughby is perfectly capable of roasting a chicken, I can smell it off her.
5. If the dish requires alcohol, a series of attempted relatable remarks will be made to remind us that they are all massive legends
We get it: YOU DRINK! Any time a cookery demonstration reaches the point where alcohol needs to be added to the food, either one or both presenters will chime in with a quirky little "Oi oi" or "I too enjoy a drink", just so the viewers at home can be freed from the illusion that these celebrities are anything other than regular folk. At the end of the day, they wash their knickers inside out so the patterns don't fade any further, just like you and I.
The chef never rises to the booze chat. He/she isn't there to stand around the water cooler, they're there to cook a decent looking meal. If one of the presenters jests about getting drunk off a mouthful of wine-featuring gravy, he/she brings them right back down to earth with the same quip every damn time, "The alcohol actually burns off in the cooking process" and what does the presenter retort with? What? What's that? Yes, correct. They say "Aw, that's a shame", so that we no longer remain in doubt about their fondness for a drink every so often. What a legend.
6. The food is always the best tasting food these TV presenters have ever had the pleasure of eating in their goddamn lives
I firmly believe that a chef could plate literal dog shit in front of TV presenters, have them taste it live on air and they would still groan in delight and claim it to be "Absolutely delicious, the best thing I have ever put in my flavour-deprived little mouth". It's hard to fault them, that's precisely what they're being paid to do, but just once I want to see a TV presenter tasting some freshly cooked food and stating "No, fuck that, you've put too many vegetables in and it smells like arse".
Obviously that's not the way it will ever go down. The chef is there to flog their latest book / TV series / multiple restaurants opening up in locations you haven't even heard of, so the presenters are just putty in their garlic-scented hands. Everyone has to play nice, otherwise they're all going to come out of the interaction looking bad. But mark my words, at least one TV presenter has had to swallow their true feelings on a dish on more than one occasion and we're going to hear about it eventually when their tell-all autobiography comes out. Schofield, I'm looking at you, pal.
All images via YouTube