Susie Rushton: The raw truth about TV chefs in the flesh

Urban Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Its catchline was, inevitably, "Days out don't get bigger than this!" and in one sense this was true. Olympia's Grand Hall, once you get inside and look up at its Victorian glass-and-iron barrel-vaulted roof, is indeed grand.

I walk along the perimeter of Olympia every day, but had never been through its doors until Saturday. The outside of the 124-year-old building never gives much away. Although there are shows on every weekend, advertising is surprisingly low-key, and the passer-by has only a title to go by, and these always sound preposterous: "The Fertility Show"; "The Airline Purchasing and Maintenance Expo". Or, from today, for all you lovers of red plastic lingerie: "Erotica 09: For Your Imagination".

When I read that MasterChef was to transform itself into an Olympian "experience", I had to go. (And if you live near Birmingham, you can visit almost the same thing at the BBC Good Food Show on 25 November). I'd imagined a fully-interactive MasterChef-themed eating and entertainment fayre, with giant inflatables in the shape of Gregg Wallace's head, and the chance to try dishes made by past contestants. Indeed, there was a corner where ordinary folk could submit to the "Invention Test", although the judges weren't Michel Roux Jr or John Torode and Wallace, so I didn't get a chance to determine, finally, whether Gregg just parrots his co-presenter's views all the time or only whenever I am watching. No – for the most part, the show was a posh farmers' market with hundreds of stalls offering minuscule samples of just three (or so it seemed) specialities: chilli sauce; Cheddar cheese; fudge.

Eventually we drifted to the main attraction, the Cookery Experience Theatre, where chefs gave demos. On stage, James Martin wrapped a piece of beef in cling film and told what appeared to be side-splitting jokes (without hearing anything, it was impossible to know). You'd get a better view in the cheap seats at a U2 gig.

Mouths burning with chilli, pockets divested of more than £50 (cheese; an Italian sausage; one recipe book) we turned to what we guessed might be the exit, and charged the crowd. Sometimes TV is better than reality.

Mariah's support act

Westfield are spoilsports. The colossal west London shopping mall has turned down Mariah Carey's request for 20 kittens and 100 white doves to accompany her when she switches on their Christmas lights. In Mariahworld, that's nothing, a small favour.

A friend who works at MTV reports that MC "doesn't do stairs". The provision of pink loo roll is non-negotiable. Westfield say they can't allow Mariah's menagerie on the grounds that no pets are allowed in the mall. But her creatures aren't pets, they're accessories, part of the campest brand in pop. If you want a sensible, health-and-safety abiding celeb to pull the switch, you don't call Mariah Carey.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: BID Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With more than half the world's populati...

Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - CIPD - Buxton

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - CIPD - Buxton A highly...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Server Engineer/ Systems Engineer (Windows Server, Networking)

£23000 - £27000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Server Enginee...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Head of Regional Sales - Financial Software - £130,000 OTE

Negotiable: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly expanding, global Software/ SaaS Vendor ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: stupid questions in opinion polls, in the House of Commons and in job interviews

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: The demise of a Sixties monster

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?