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Masterchef: not alone in going off the boil; Thinking inside the box Nathan Bevan.

'M not a fussy eater.

IActually, that's a lie - I am a tremendously fussy eater - any seafood with its eyes still attached, all vegetables beginning with 'B' and red meat being particular no-nos.

What I meant to say was that I'm not really fussed about the concept of cuisine in general.

It's something which completely incenses my other half - a woman with a near photographic recall of everything she's had for tea since 1987 - but as far as I'm concerned food is just fuel and meals simply a pragmatic necessity to prevent conking out at the wheel and crashing my car into the central reservation come about 2pm each day.

Blame it on my having been brought up by my uncle Iestyn, if you like. This was a man so nonplussed about dining decorum he was once thrown out of a Berni Inn in Cardiff for telling the waiter who'd asked how he liked his steak cooked: "Look, just cut off its horns and make sure you wipe its a**e."

Similarly, should anyone start explaining to me the ins and outs of how to cook a caramelised parsnip roux in a bainmarie, I'll fall asleep faster than you can say "Open University Lecture on Nuclear Fusion: Week Two - Bremsstrahlung losses in quasineutral, isotropic plasmas".

So the return of MasterChef to BBC One last week had me setting my enthusiasm to a decidedly low gas mark - so low, in fact, that you'd probably have more luck warming a meal by just getting hosts John Torode and Greg Wallace to sit on it.

And can you blame me after all the cookery shows that have clogged up the airwaves like the fat-furred arteries of a housebound obesity case? Nigella Lawson? Gordon Ramsay? Heston Blumenthal? Nigel Slater? You can stick the bleedin' lot of them - particularly Slater. I can't stomach those soft focus shots of that so-called man of the people pootling round his meticulously distressed kitchen and "throwing together" suppers from the contents of his backyard herb garden and whatever leftovers happen to be the larder.

"Tonight I'll be rustling up a lovely comforting venison casserole," he'd gush, as residents of the nation's sink estates sti-fled laughter through mouthfuls of microwaved macaroni. "Cheers for the tip, Nige," they'd think. "Often have we puzzled over how to get rid of all that spare venison - some days we can barely shut our fridges for the amount of antlers hanging out."

But back to MasterChef which, after a decade of plating up for viewers' delectation, has so far steadfastly refused to inject any freshness into its otherwise well-worn format.

Indeed, aside from a Meal or No Meal-type round where contestants had to pick mystery ingredients from either of two sealed boxes, it was just the same old blend of reality show platitudes about giving it "110%", corny catchphrases - "Cooking doesn't get much tougher yada-yada-yada" - and artificial drama - "You're cooking spicy duck AND chocolate? Heavens!" All of which now has the appeal of rancid margarine left to sprout mouldy green spines in a forgotten corner of the fridge.

Hence my deciding on a new name for the show : I Can't Believe It's Not Better.


John Torode and Greg Wallace, cooking doesn't get much more boring
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 30, 2014
Next Article:small step in the right direction.

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