Ten easy ways to fail on a TV cooking show

Television cooking show ‘season’ is upon us, so for one of my first blog posts I thought I’d offer some suggestions to those contestants (admittedly a minority) who from the opening scenes of the first episode give the impression that they suddenly wish they were somewhere else…

 Are you about to compete in a television cooking competition with your psychotic new spouse, bigoted colleague or better-looking-than-you best mate? Changed your mind and want out? Don’t panic. Here are ten foolproof ways to guarantee your elimination early in round one.

1. Cook something you’ve never attempted before. Choosing now to make a soufflé for the first time is the easiest way to ensure your instant restaurant lasts but an instant.

2. Display no emotion. If your grandmother died recently, don’t tearfully dedicate your cooking to her. If pressed on this issue, tell the judges ‘Nonna? You’re joking. We hadn’t spoken for years and anyway, she was a crap cook.’

3. Antagonise the French judge by putting your own ‘interpretation’ on something classically French. Alternatively, cook a main dish without a sauce. Et voila! Your limousine back to obscurity is waiting outside.

4. Speak in the past tense. This is absolutely verboten in any television cooking contest. The audience must be duped into thinking there’s a compelling immediacy about the whole charade, despite several weeks having elapsed between your time in the kitchen and your post-cooking interview.

5. Cook something that takes ages. The judges and other competitors will love spending three hours sniping at each other on your mosquito-infested patio while you defrost a pheasant.

6. Choose a key ingredient that’s difficult to find in the shops. Then you can spend most of your allotted cooking time driving round suburbia giggling inanely while looking for somewhere that sells jugged hare.

7. ‘Cheat’ by using ready-made pastry or curry paste out of a jar. A gambit so effortless and certain of success, this is the lazy person’s way of bailing out of the show.

8. Speak truthfully and display humility. If facing elimination after serving a pile of inedible slop and a judge asks if you deserve to stay rather than your fellow competitors, say ‘No – clearly the other team is more accomplished than us. Good luck to them. We’re just stoked to have got this far.’ Similarly, if asked how badly you want to remain, say ‘Oh, we only entered for a laugh and have no desire to ever cook food for a living, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we went out now.’

9. Give the more squeamish of your fellow competitors every reason to unfairly mark you down by cooking things like black pudding, lambs’ brains or whelks. No matter that you nail the dish – they don’t like what they don’t like.

10. Fail to demonstrate that you’ve put any ‘love’ into what you’ve cooked. I have no idea how you do, or rather don’t do, this. But if one of the judges says ‘But where’s the love?’ you know you’re home and dry.

Adopt any of these strategies and your fifteen minutes of fame will last literally that long. Perversely choose to ignore them and you might just make round two. Bon appétit.

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