Thursday, May 10, 2012

BBC's Great British Menu - Johnnie Mountain

I haven't been watching series 7 of BBC2's "Great British Menu" despite having seen most of the previous six series - why? Well the previous six were all shown at 18:30; an ideal time for me - get home; eat while watching Eggheads (I know how uncouth to eat and watch TV at the same time) then settle back for the Great British Menu.

This series they decided to show at 19:30.

So that's competition with Coronation Street, Britian's Got Talent, etc. in other words ITV's prime time selection. Not that I watch those anyway.

Now sure I could record or iPlayer them and watch yesterday's at the 'proper' time, but that requires a level of planning I just can't be arsed to do for a bit of light entertainment.

Despite these setbacks I've managed to watch a few episodes. I've still got problems with their all or nothing approach to the initial menu choices despite the final selection being a pick 'n' mix, but it's still entertaining to watch.

The big 'dust-up' was Tuesday and Wednesday's North West with Simon Rogan, Johnnie Mountain and Aiden Byrne. On Monday they showed a clip of a pot boiling over and some shots of Johnnie and the judge Marcus Wareing stating that "this has never happened before". Oh wow what could it be?

Tuesday we had the same set of clips including said pot boiling over - except even rewinding the programme we never see that event happen. The big event turns out to be Johnnie getting a 2 for his fish course and walking out. Everyone acts all shocked and Marcus gives a little speech about true Olympians not quitting (these dishes are to be served to Olympic athletes). What this shows is that Johnnie was the only one who could perform maths.

The scores out of ten given out for the two dishes

Simon Rogan - 9, 7
Aiden Byrne - 8, 10
Johnnie Mountain - 7, 2

Add those up for 16, 18 and 9. Hypothetically consider that for the final two dishes the current second place chef does averagely and receives 5 points for each. Their score now being 26. For Johnnie to go through he would be required to beat that by getting at least 18 points over two dishes.

If either managed to score over 6 on both dishes it would be impossible for him to win even if he produced two perfect 10's.

Now sure Johnnie could have stayed to make sure that one of the others didn't truly mess it up, but the odds were against him. By issuing a 2 Marcus effectively removed him from the running; big surprise he walked out. It would be like a runner twisting their ankle halfway through the race and everyone acting surprised that they stopped rather than carried on.

Again though this is a problem with the all or nothing format. Johnnie could produce the best dessert of the competition, but not even have a chance to put it before the main judges. The two that go through could produce the best starter and the best main course between them, but only one is allowed through.

Sure it's the Great British Menu, but in the final they're not choosing a menu they're picking dishes. The final menu doesn't therefore necessarily contain the best dishes that have been cooked for the programme as that chef was eliminated for one poor dish.


BuzzerFly said...

I feel that that prick of a judge has some kind of grudge against Johnny... as was evidenced by everything they showed. Of course we can only see what was presented to us, and they all seemed to like his dish OK, certainly not worthy of the 2 that he was awarded.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you BuzzerFly and with the article, Marcus judged the concept rather than the dish and in doing so removed any credible opportunity for Johnnie to win. Really love Eggheads by the way, perfect dinner-time fodder! Any thoughts on Johnnie's return for the tasting element of the show?

FlipC said...

Well Johnnie himself said it was a bit trantrumy and I think he was genuinely interested in what the other chefs were going to produce.

I'm also betting the producers had a word as otherwise it would the one remaining chef discussing the others dish with the camera or snipping it entirely.

I've got to say I am surprised at Marcus; not "getting" the dish doesn't mean it wasn't tasty and besides we've seen instances when the judging chef has raved about a dish and the three main judges have declared it inedible. Even a score of 4 would have given some chance of clawing back.

Amusement last night though - "is it plugged in?". Still haven't seen this boiled over pot though.

OT with Eggheads - am I the only one concerned by the lack of general knowledge on display by teams comprised of under-25's?

Was it last week or the week before - some medical condition to do with eyes, ears or nose and neither the questioned nor the medical student knew the answer despite the part "chroma" featuring in the name? Okay it's different when you're up there I'm sure, but still the shallowness of knowledge occasionally on display scares me at times.

Anonymous said...

I had a huge problem with Great British Menu when they introduced the 'get judged by previous winner' format in series 2 (or 3). IMO it laid the competition open to bias, where the three-member blind judging could never have suffered that (except by the judges' knowledge of the competing chefs' styles).

Now, while I don't think Marcus is consciously biased, I also think this episode shows the weakness of the single judge format, where the concept is so far beyond what the others are doing that there is no real way to compare like with like. I was really excited by Johnnie's Greek God theme, and thought it was the most original concept on the show for long time. IMO, really poor showing from Marcus, and I hope the BBC wake up and address the fundamental issue that has led to Johnnie's walkout.

FlipC said...

Oh yeah introducing the interim judges to the final sessions was a terrible idea; although it was amusing to see how far their judgements disagreed with the normal panel.

I don't think Marcus was even unconsciously biased; I just don't think he could add up. Check the NI judge Richard Corrigan's scores someone might be trailing, but there's always the possibility of being able to catch up if a chef produces something truly stunning.

As for the concept; I would have been interested in which god/goddess would have matched the main and dessert. Zeus as a main seems obvious, but what do you do for thunder and lightning?

Of course, as I've said in the main entry, the main failure with a themed menu is that they're not picking an entire menu. So just having one single Demeter starter wouldn't necessarily match with anything else.

jon said...

Sorry, have to disagree with everyone but Johnnie's dish looked rubbish. 2 dried bits of anchovy, a blob of fish flavoured jelly, crushed cone & some other bits & bobs.
When he was talking about the seabed I thought he was going to add some shellfish: clams, oysters, etc in some slightly different forms. Anything that would give it some oomph.

It is little wonder that Marcus struggled to get the dish. It seemed almost unfinished, waiting for something to be added - it was like a plate of chips waiting for a piece of haddock.

Was Marcus wrong to give the 2. There was nothing to mark - no fish, lobster, crab, etc. Just garnish.
I don't think it would have changed anything. What was he going to give 3, 4 maybe 5 at a push? Johnnie tried to be too wacky & failed.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think much of Johnnie's dish - constructive feedback fine - but Marcus did not speak in the same manner or tone to Johnnie as he did to the other two. It came across that no matter what Johnnie did Marcus won't like it.

FlipC said...

@Jon - I have to agree that the dish simply did not look good; but this is television - it's supposed to be a competition that runs over four courses. By awarding a 2 Marcus effectively knocked out one of the competitors.

Now sure if there were five chefs and only two could go through; knocking one out at this stage wouldn't have been a big deal, but with only three it was poorly done.

To riff from Anonymous - Marcus didn't say he didn't like it, he said he didn't get it and that's a large subjective matter of opinion to knock someone out over.

Anonymous said...

Having seen the Ruby Wax prog on mental illness all now makes sense.Poor guy.