Matt Butler: Phillips Idowu spills the beans – he's sticking to the day job
View From the Sofa
Good news: Phillips Idowu is not giving up on the triple jump. The bad news was that he wasn't at Moscow for the World Championships when he announced it. Instead, he had just demonstrated his hopelessness at cooking a lamb steak.
Idowu said in July that he would be taking a break "for the foreseeable future", which it seems meant swapping the prospect of donning his spikes in Moscow for tying up an apron to compete for another title: Celebrity MasterChef.
Let's face it, the coveted kitchen prize didn't do the former England rugby captain Phil Vickery's profile any harm at all – and who knows, Idowu may find an outlet for his "homely food with a Nigerian twist" that was revealed to be his cooking style by the familiar husky voiceover.
He started well, in terms of improving the public's perception of him. Before London 2012, his public spat with Charles van Commenee, the former Team GB head coach, gave him the reputation as a bit of a prima donna. The garish hair colours and numerous piercings didn't help with Union flag-waving middle England, who liked their triple jumpers to be a little more like... well, Jonathan Edwards.
On MasterChef, where he appeared last week with an acting trio of Ade Edmondson, John Thomson and Denise Black, he showed himself to be humble, as well as toned down: there were no bright red hair or twinkling tongue piercings this time around and he handled the initial tasks – cooking crocodile and serving 60 portions of food for a bunch of students – satisfactorily, while repeatedly saying: "This is a world away from what I normally do. In my day-to-day job it is just me and the sandpit."
Idowu is not the only person from the world of sport to tackle the heat in this series' MasterChef kitchen, as Matthew Hoggard, the former England pace bowler, and Joe Calzaghe, the ex-boxer, are also due to appear.
But the real stars of the show are Gregg Wallace and John Torode, the pair of judges who continue to mine every onomatopoeia in the English language in order to describe the dishes. "Boom is the culinary term," Torode said of one of Thomson's creations. One of the same contestant's sauces apparently needed more "woarh". Of course. But wouldn't a pinch of salt have sufficed?
Still, this is a show where if a dish offers a "kick in the shins and a smack in the gob" (Torode again) then it is deemed to be edible. Sadly for Idowu, his dishes garnered more prosaic terms from the judges. Some sea bream was "super yummy" but the creamy tomato sauce to accompany it was merely described as "disgusting". The mint concoction to accompany the aforementioned lamb was termed "an oil spill".
That meant the end for Idowu, especially after his starter of garlic mushrooms was described by Vickery, who made a guest appearance as a critic and was in full-on food-ponce mode, as "something I would do with the kids on a Saturday morning". Which said as much about Vickery as it did about Idowu's fungi.
On being told he was leaving, the triple jumper looked genuinely gutted. After being told the bad news, he said: "I can't wait to get back in the sandpit – the kitchen is too stressful. I am a lot more confident in my ability to hop, step and jump."
So you heard it here first. Good news indeed. Especially if you like your lamb minus an oil spill.
Celebrity MasterChef BBC 1
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