Well then, another week over and one more week to go before we find out what the definitive menu for the grande finale will be; for the banquet of all banquets, celebrating 100 years of the WI. What an exhilarating journey it has been. To witness triumph through adversity, that one last push to the line and the immense joy – nay, tears of happiness – falling off the rosy, sweaty cheeks of our champion chefs, from all corners of the isle. Amazing. At the end of every heat, I have risen to my feet and screamed 'BRAVO' at the TV, smashing my clappy little hands together and honking like a seal. Because I do love a winner.
The spectre of loss, or losing rather, has also been palpable in this competition. 'But what of the losers?' I have often cried afterwards. 'What will become of them?' And it is a good question. Do they hang up their chefs’ whites and disappear, disgraced, into ignominy? Do they enter a more genteel, less stressful line of work and become florists, librarians or horse whisperers? OR DO THEY RISE LIKE A PHOENIX FROM THE VERY ASHES OF PAIN AND REGRET AND LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY?
This is something I am sure that Jason Hodnett will be asking himself after crashing out of the competition on Thursday, because it was a hard week for this young chap. Despite all his best intentions, his bold execution and experimental va-va-voom, none of it seemed to go down well with jolly Mr Richard Corrigan. After every appraisal, the grief on James’ face was plain for all to see and sadly, his demeanour turned sulkier and sulkier as the week wore on. He dropped a few fudges too, bleeped out for the watershed and I did wonder if we’ll ever see the likes of him on our telly again.
If James wants to take any solace or inspiration though, he should look towards Richard Bainbridge, who was entering Great British Menu for the fourth time this week. 'The fourth time!' you could hear the judges say as they entered the room. 'Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, here he is again people, Richard is back! The loser is back! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!' they all barked. I did wonder what the hell he was doing there again and when newcomer Pip Carey promised to knock him spark out, I thought to myself ‘Here we go again’. Especially since he also had to win around Helen Carey, a former chair of the WI with nearly 50 years of membership under her belt.
'Oh man, you are toast,' I said to his beardy face at the start of the show. All said ironically, by the way. Because I was eating a slice of toast at the time and so I waggled it in front of the screen for extra dramatic effect.
Richard did spring out of the traps though, with his starter-slash-main course called ‘We all stand for Jerusalem’, a fairly bulky plate of food, consisting of lamb loin, slow-poached egg yolk, pearl barley, windy Jerusalem artichokes (done three ways) and *gasp* microwaved parsley sponge. His decision to use the hymn ‘Jerusalem’ to kick off proceedings was a good touch and impressed the judges straight away, as did his rich, but apparently light, combination of flavours. Helen felt that each bite delivered a different surprise and Prue exclaimed that it was 'Really lovely!'