The BBC2 series ‘Masterchef‘ has come to an end with Steven Edwards winning the title. One of the competitors’ final tasks was to cook for a roomful of distinguished chefs, well known from Michelin-starred restaurants around the UK.
This is always a fascinating event, partly because of the way these leading chefs talk about food. When asked for their opinion on the dishes before them, they often say straightforward things like ‘well cooked’, ‘bang on’, ‘looks great’, ‘well-flavoured’ and ‘very enjoyable’. These are all people who perform artistry with ingredients on a daily basis. Yet they all seem very reluctant to commit themselves when it comes to describing the food they’ve just eaten. Perhaps they feel shy in front of the others and don’t wish to be teased. Perhaps they don’t feel relaxed in front of a TV camera. Maybe they say ‘it was well cooked’ and then go home and write in their diaries that it made them feel they were walking alongside the Seine on a crisp autumn afternoon with the scent of woodsmoke in the air. Maybe they call their partners and say it was like seeing the poetry of Seamus Heaney come to life on a plate.
I couldn’t help comparing them with a roomful of wine writers at a similar event. Surely the adjectives and metaphors would flow as freely and colourfully as the wine! But then let’s not forget that wine writers are not the ones who actually make the wine.
It’s a useful reminder that people who are very good at ‘doing’ are often not very good at ‘saying’. You see it in all sorts of fields, music included. I suspect some people actually feel it is important not to put things into words. Fair enough. Though in the case of Masterchef Professionals, it feels like a missed opportunity to give us a glimpse of how these eminent chefs actually think about food.