I love cooking shows, mainly. The trend now is to make all these shows more like reality shows and the back story is the star rather than the actual point of the show, which is about the food or the cooking. So when an invite to the filming of the semi finals of Marco Pierre White’s new show arrived, I decided to go, since it was Marco.
The filming took place at a studio in Wembley. They made us turn up extra early to register and hang about After a while, we were led onto the set to wait for our turn to get into the “restaurant”. Kitchen Wars on Channel 5 is a competition to find a couple who already run a restaurant who create the best dining experience in Britain.
Each couple compete to cook and serve a 3 course meal within a specified time .
So when our turn came, we got led into one of 3, the Gold Restaurant. Only then did we find out what the menu was going to be. The Gold restaurant was the team from El Cantara, which we had never heard of but their website says that they do Spanish and Morrocan food.
From here, the experience turned into a bit of an Ealing Comedy. We got our menu and waited. We then ordered what was still available from the limited menu and waited some more. We then had to wait another age for our drink.The wait was even more torturous as we could see the food that the restaurant next door was serving up, looking very substantial and delicious.
The front of house guy was totally disorganised and was not very informed about what was on the menu. Then we got our starters of some sort of salad with orange water a bit bland and strangely sweet, completely overpowered by the orange water. Not nice.
Meanwhile, Marco was prowling around the kitchens, twirling his chefs knife menacingly and stopping by some of the diners to have a chat about their food. He didn’t seem to have much input while the restaurants were cooking but I did see him poking his nose into pots and tasting some dishes.
By now we were starving and had to wait a further age for the main course.At this point, we were tempted to move our table en masse into the restaurant next door as they seemed to at least have something to eat that looked tasty. The roving camera came to ask our opinion and a very lengthy interview was given. I wonder if this will be edited out of the final show as it was not complimentary.
It was really not worth waiting for when it arrived. I ordered the lamb tagine with a poached pear and when it came, sans pear, there was only a couple of morsels of meat in a sweet gravy. Not enough even for my cat. One of our party didn’t even get his main course as they had run out and they didn’t even bother telling him or offer a substitute. Meanwhile, we can see the pudding piling up on the pass but our clueless front of house guy completely ignored this.
The bell went off. Knives down.
We didn’t get our pudding and hunger was pushing us to contemplate the McDonalds next door. Desperation. Unfortunately, we couldn’t move as they had to reset the stage for the decision making scene.
Marco comes out brandishing his chef’s knife and dragging it’s tip annoyingly along the stainless steel work surface. The filming of the decision took a few takes and soon it was over. The Ebury won. We were totally underwhelmed. Our restaurant was dreadful, the service was confused and uninteresred, the little food that we had was awful, the filming was an experience.
Would I visit El Cantara for a meal now, absolutely not. It was especially surprising as Marco had auditioned these restaurants himself. Did he not spot this dud or was this just a bad day? If this was the semi finals, what were the earlier rounds like, can’t imagine it could have been any worse.
The moral of the story: if you get invited to another thing like this, give it a miss or make sure you eat before hand.
I am sure this series will be more fun to watch than to pariticipate in. You can watch Kitchen Wars on Channel 5.