Spencer Matthews effectively treated the Celebrity MasterChef semi-final as if it was an episode of Made In Chelsea and an exercise in seduction.
Against expectations, he defeated world champion Paralympic athlete Stefanie Reid and sailed through into Friday’s final: effortlessly getting what he wanted by charming the pants off the judges and leaving three of the country’s leading food critics visibly, audibly, quivering with pleasure – as unable to resist Spencer’s intentions as the array of blondes and brunettes in MiC’s heyday.
‘Blimey!’ gasped one, as she sampled Spencer’s soufflé (not a metaphor or some kind of posh sexual slang). ‘Look at me. I’m helpless!’
Main man: Spencer Matthews effectively treated the Celebrity MasterChef semi-final as if it was an episode of Made In Chelsea and an exercise in seduction
Aren’t we all?
‘It would be nice to win! I love a trophy!’ he grinned at the start of the show with a mischievous glint in his eye as if relishing the thought of walking away with a co-star’s trophy girlfriend.
Surprisingly it was not just Spencer’s attitude but his food that provided any entertainment amidst the tiresome worthiness, mundane pretensions, and false modesty of his rivals.
Well done: Against expectations, he defeated world champion Paralympic athlete Stefanie Reid and sailed through into Friday’s final
‘I’ve made it to the finals!’ confirmed gigantic former rugby international Martin Bayford. ‘How ridiculous is that?!’
(Not very: Martin had clearly been the best cook in the competition from the beginning.)
‘I’d love to get to the final and I now have that chance!’ trembled Ex-EastEnders actor John ‘Christian’ Partridge. ‘Just saying that, I instantly feel nauseous!’
Impressed: He got what he wanted by charming the pants off the judges and leaving three of the country’s leading food critics visibly, audibly, quivering with pleasure
(It really wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t Celebrity Open Heart Surgery and besides John’s place in the final was also never in doubt.)
Characteristically, Spencer’s attitude was deplorable but far more refreshing.
‘It would be nice to win,’ he purred, treating it as a charm offensive, an opportunity to make mischief, and take outrageous risks (again).
‘There’s pushing the boundaries and then there’s pushing the boundaries!’ John Torode later lamented about Spencer.
Tasty: ‘Blimey!’ gasped one, as she sampled Spencer’s soufflé (not a metaphor or some kind of posh sexual slang). ‘Look at me. I’m helpless!’
When someone else said his food had ‘about seven ingredients too many’, they could have been talking about him as well.
Spencer was just too much – for Celebrity MasterChef and in general.
Food critic William Sitwell clearly couldn’t cope with him, summing up Spencer’s approach to cooking with the odd analogy: ‘Spencer has got an entire kitchen brigade in his head.’
‘He’s on the sauce. He’s roasting his venison. He’s baking his beetroot…’ he elaborated – which in Spencer’s case sounded more like a metaphor for his sexual peccadilloes than anything to do with cookery.
Hopeful: ‘It would be nice to win! I love a trophy!’ he grinned at the start of the show with a mischievous glint in his eye as if relishing the thought of walking away with a co-star’s trophy girlfriend
With characteristic restraint, John Torode described the episode that was ‘going to decide Celebrity MasterChef’s final three’ as ‘the day of reckoning.’
So god knows what the actual final will be.
‘We are going to hit you with two incredibly challenging tests!’ boomed Gregg Wallace.
The first (‘your impression of an afternoon tea’) seemed more like a pale imitation of The Great British Bake Off than a test worthy a ‘MasterChef.’
Delighted: ‘I’ve made it to the finals!’ confirmed gigantic former rugby international Martin Bayford later in the episode. ‘How ridiculous is that?!’
‘Afternoon tea is a fantastic challenge,’ Wallace continued. ‘Because you can be as wild and creative as you want.’
This seemed unlikely but when some of the semi-finalists’ creations included: ‘bacon jam’, ‘strawberry & basil cupcakes’, and ‘banana & parsnip cake’ it became obvious we’d been doing Afternoon Tea all wrong. (Suddenly a doughnut from Greggs seemed horribly inadequate.)
Guest judge and pastry wizard Eric Lanlard (from France) said he’d made ‘bespoke afternoon teas for Ma-donn-urgh.’ They certainly looked pretty spectacular to – particularly compared to these.
Ambitious: ‘I’d love to get to the final and I now have that chance!’ added Ex-EastEnders actor John ‘Christian’ Partridge. ‘Just saying that, I instantly feel nauseous!’
Stefanie Reid’s cheese & sage scones with bacon jam was basically How To Ruin A Scone while Martin Bayford’s venison & pork meat quail Scotch eggs with a pickled walnut puree really seemed like too much trouble.
John Partidge argued his mini quiche Lorraines, smoked trout & cream cheese rotolos (wraps), and ‘coconut & lime macaroons’ were ‘pretty classic I’d say.’
I wouldn’t but Gregg obliged, assuring him: ‘there’s nothing wrong with classic as long as it’s done brilliantly.’
(Yes but they’re NOT classic!)
Not happy: Food critic William Sitwell couldn’t cope with Spencer, summing up his approach to cooking with the odd analogy: ‘Spencer has got an entire kitchen brigade in his head’
This is it: With characteristic restraint, John Torode described the episode that was ‘going to decide Celebrity MasterChef’s final three’ as ‘the day of reckoning’
Wallace embarrassed himself still further when he saw a tiramisu éclair by Spencer so bloated and drenched in chocolate it looked like a beached whale that had died in an oil slick.
‘I would have a bucket full of that!’ salivated Gregg.
We didn’t doubt it.
Spencer’s other ‘savage twists’ on traditional Afternoon tea fare included ‘cheddar & crunchy bacon scones served with whipped goat’s cheese.’
It’s safe to say the food critics assessing Round Two were not like Mr Wallace.
‘I’m disappointed with the agretti,’ Grace Dent concluded authoritatively. ‘The compressed cucumber salad was absolutely delightful.’
Sitwell opined ‘Martin’s seaweed dust is clever.’
Anyone who didn’t instantly Google ‘where can I buy seaweed dust?’ just wasn’t living.
Why the programme bothered showing Gregg Wallace’s verdicts after theirs was anyone’s guess.
‘It’s proper yum grub!’ was about as articulate as he got. ‘Spencer, you are either a genius or…something else.’
It was even worse when he disagreed.
Tracey Macleod (the Queen of food critics) elegantly summarised: ‘Martin’s mistakes are better than most people’s triumphs’ only for Gregg to complain Bayford’s chocolate cake (‘with malt foam’) was ‘very cloying. I need some cream on there !’
Even John Torode was appalled by his colleague’s ignorance.
‘14 years on Masterchef… What is wrong with you?! I think it’s great!’
When poor Gregg saw Stefanie’s dessert he cried: ‘panna cottas, crumbles, mangos… Oh yeah!’
Tracey Macleod viewed the prospect of a panna cotta mixed with coconut crumble less positively.
‘I don’t want a mouthful of toenails cuttings in my panna cotta. Do you know what I mean?’
Sure enough, when Stef’s panna cotta separated the critics complained it tasted ‘like wallpaper paste’, ‘ectoplasm’, and ‘a strange mass of fatty nastiness.’
‘It’s gone completely wrong!’ tutted William Sitwell.
The critics had the measure of all the celebrities – and their limitations.
Sitwell saw Bayford’s main course on the menu (‘roasted cod with shellfish ragout and agretti’) and accused him of ‘trying to impress idiots like me who’ve never heard of agretti.’
John Partridge earnestly insisted: ‘what I’m trying to do essentially is put my heart and soul on a plate!’ but Grace Dent correctly dismissed his ‘beef fillet, artichoke gratin, and reduction’ as pretentiously humble: ‘it’s a Sunday roast really.’
As it turned out she declared the artichoke gratin was ‘beautiful.’
‘It changes how you feel about that vegetable!’ she cried, as if we all had strong feelings about artichokes.
His starter (‘a crispy hen’s egg) was less successful – not only because crispy hens do not exist.
‘It could be by a chef in a gastropub! One who’s having a bad day!’ she tutted as the judges found his Hollandaise sauce ‘not creamy enough’, the Scotch egg ‘not runny’, and John’s asparagus ‘under-cooked’ (which even I can manage).
Partridge and Bayford were still way ahead and heading into the final with Spencer behind Stefanie and only his dessert remaining.
This clearly channelled all the fancy holidays he’d had over the years: ‘Caribbean pineapple souflee with coconut & lime sorbet and rum caramel sauce.’
He’d only made a soufflé once before, he claimed, telling Gregg it had come out well (‘beginner’s luck’), beaming: ‘I’m a risk-taker. Gotta do it!’
Gregg’s reaction when he saw his new batch (‘OH MY WORD! LOOK AT THAT!’) was nothing compared to the critics’ when they tasted them: a collective shudder that was virtually sexual.
‘Blimey !’ Grace Dent muttered, struggling to recover. ‘That was like a religious experience!’
Tracey Macleod was also almost breathless, sighing: ‘that rum caramel sauce…Oh my goodness it’s good!’
Sitwell was as smitten as the women.
‘That was as perfect and as beautiful a soufflé as you might EVER wish to have!’ he wowed. ‘The lightness of it! Incredible!’
It fell to John Torode to describe what we had just witnessed – and they had just eaten.
‘When you put it all together you’ve got a cocktail of dreams!’ he cooed, confirming they had just become the latest victims of Spencer Matthews’ seduction.