I used to stand in Britomart, waiting for the Howick bus to pull up to take me all the way back to Howick and dump me in its safe, suburban arms at the table of my mother who invariably had a boiled spud with parsley garnish waiting for consumption.
Last night’s MKRNZ held a challenge there, and boy, has it changed from those days.
I used to fear for my life there. Concrete steps leading to the carpark above, diesel stench, late transport … well, some things haven’t changed.
But as a cooking challenge venue? Think: wind tunnel. They call the wind Mariah.
But first, the grand entrance of the hosts, Ben and Gareth.
It has that magic quality; the insanely form-fitting suits, the personal grooming, the thinking that modern-day celebrity chefs are also fashion plates …
I love the beginning of these episodes. The boys tend to pitch the coming events as the apocalypse.
“Great calamity awaits and flame will issue from your Stevens-issued blender, resting on your Stevens cutting board of destiny”
Auckland transport watchers shudder as Ben announces that 10,000 pass through this part of the transport centre a day as if that’s a positive thing.
But to the cooks, it’s an amazing fact, one they’ll have to turn into charity-drive dividends.
The challenge is to feed the hungry travelers, who as we will find out later, look like ‘special invitees’ and amateur food critics, surely the subject of another blog further down the track.
Layman food testers of cooking shows: surely the biggest fuckwits around.
But before we can start, the wildcards-The Gatecrashers-are rolled out. It’s clear from the outset who is a real contender here. One of them nearly stacks it on the stairway just trying to get down. The others try not to repeat the stumble. But one lone face stares ahead, fearless:
And on with the Oxfam-themed, Stevens homewares, Nosh-sponsored action.
There’s a mix-up with the lamb mince, surely the closest the show has come to a punch-up yet. RESOLVED through diplomacy. See, viewers? The script writers care.
The barbecues are fired up, as is the cooking banter. Some people simply can’t shut up.
I turn the barbeque on. The flame comes out. I am glad. Because I know I can cook on it. It is hot. Ouch! And again, Ouch!
The contestants mix, shred, cook. All I can see is wall-to-wall shredded courgette for some reason. I feel sick but a little hungry.
People are frying and ‘putting something up’. One team, Hannah and Cathy, decide to heat oil. On a barbeque. In a pot. Around 25 minutes later, nothing is happening, except handfuls of cold sodden courgette mixture.
I flashback to 1989 sitting stage two 18th century literature. I’ve only studied the Coles notes, not the actual novels. What were they about? How much time do I have left? I need to put something up, so I can hastily exit and get down to Britomart, and home.
Back to the show and I am really feeling for these girls. This will break them.
Reagan has broken his finger off, there’s a bleeder. You can audibly hear the production crew sigh with relief, that the drama is really unfolding.
Team Lauren and Simon are doing Asian Sticky Pork Meatballs with a pesky, overpowering fruit slaw of some kind. Hopefully the American guy from Fawlty Towers won’t turn up.
I like this team. They are good cooks.
Kimberley and Brooke are doing two options, because they are competent. Another great team. A +++++. Would watch again.
The Gatecrashers, Stella and Jess, are making a Grilled Lamb Kofta, so popular with Aucklanders. Gareth cruises over.
So, how R U gatecrashers doing, innit?
Who am I kidding, Gareth is great. Just as a friend though.
There’s a drug theme tonight as the smoke from Travis and Jeremy’s grill wafts over to Stella and Jess’s workspace.
Jay and Sarah’s Salmon Wrapped in Bacon is a heart attack with coronary thrombosis chaser and it’s freaking delicious looking. These guys are wonderful cooks. Not too shook on Jay’s manbun, but appreciate that if someone serving me food at Britomart didn’t have one, I’d be disappointed.
A welcome ad-break comes, peddling Cirque de so Lame.
And we’re back, the public critics are coming in now to incense me with rage with their silly attitudes and “I think this could have been done better” paradigms.
Hannah and Cathy are still waiting for their pot of oil to warm up.
And as such, they are selected as one of the bottom teams, along with Reagan and Ben. So much for my awesome winner’s radar.
Sadly, Hannah and Cathy get the chop. They didn’t deserve it. Never mind guys, the radio and television green rooms await you and Woman’s Day has a double page spread set aside.
The winners? Henry and Monique are the winners of the People’s Choice, voted by coin (or note/s) donations.
Later tonight: the Sudden Death challenge.
Top tip. Never Google “Sudden Death” to find the origin of the meaning. You’ll get this. And that will leave you feeling like this: