Thursday, November 12, 2009


For another week, the good people of Bristol are accosted by strange men (and the occasional woman) bearing trays of food. Raymond summons the couples on board a big boat and places a bunch of keys on a barrel top. It's a bit like a swingers' party, only with restaurants. Raymond sends them un petit amuse bouche to inspaire them to create somezing that demonstrates the essence of their vision and then give it away to the people.

Team Winker nab a rather posh venue with a big terrace and high five each other annoyingly. JJ appears to have been traumatised by last week's debacle, and refuses to do any actual cooking, apart from squeezing vaguely at a scotch egg. The boys manage to chat up a lot of blondes and do lots of annoying high fives. Even the waiters are high fived as they lay the tables, poor chaps. JJ cowers at the pass while other chefs assemble sausage rolls with salad and stuff for the "indoor picnic" concept. Raymond turns up at a full restaurant, which is nice. Except that it's full of very hungry people who have been waiting for over an hour for their scotch eggs, and only two waiters. James claims that everything is absolutely fine, and that everybody's happy. No really they are....absolutely. While Raymond interviews dozens of hungry, pissed-off people James runs upstairs and sobs into his spangly ABC jacket.

Team NotGay get a nice little place in a pleasant district and do a fairly good job at selling their restaurant to the public. Nathan screws up the service on the first night, and there are the usual scenes with annoyed diners getting their coats after waiting for two hours, but they like the food, even if they replaced haddock with cod.

Team Blonde get what looks like an old chippy with an non-working oven, which puts the dampeners on their amuse bouche of goats cheese parcels in filo pastry. The goats cheese is from France, and god only knows where the bread came from, but they still market their local food for local people concept with goats cheese on toast. That's cold goats cheese on cold toast. With a nipple of squished chutney. Somehow they get a full restaurant on the first night, but then Blonde number 2 forgets to cook anything. This isn't a good move. After all, people don't usually go into a restaurant to sit on uncomfortable chairs and chat. You go to pubs for that.

Team Nigeria offer suya to the masses. Lucky masses - though kosai (sp? - spicy little deep-fried puffs made of bean paste) would have been even nicer. The ladies get a restaurant in downtown Bristol and hire some African dancers to entertain the masses. Sarah still worries about their cooking (she's not into chewy goat), but says they know how to make a girl feel welcome.

I think Mark may be right about Team Miliband, maybe we should change their name to Bez/Miliband. Badger decides to dress up in a badger costume because name. However, badger costumes are hard to find, so he wears half a gorilla suit and paints his head in black and white. They serve half a strawberry smeared with cream and some parma ham and melon for their Modern British cooking concept, but at least it doesn't look like a giant blackhead on toast. Short on customers, Badger visits the local barracks and drums up a few of Our Boys to brave the cameras for an evening. Bez throws himself around the kitchen and worries Raymond with his instabilité and inability to make an edible sauce. The soldiers seem to like it though, and Team Bez/Miliband win restaurant of the week for actually managing to serve most of their customers and not having any walkouts.

Team Essex call their place The Front Room, because they serve food that you could cook at home, I suppose. Mrs Essex frets about people getting bored and walking out, so she hires a magician and a saxaphone player to entertain the punters. Mr Essex sighs and starts sharpening his knives meaningfully. They attract hearty blokes wanting slabs of pure MEAT without any fussy stuff, and even the sax player pockets a tidy sum - though he saw Mrs Essex coming when he told her his charges. Two hundred quid in London would get you a four piece band for two solid hours, and they'd help with the washing up if you offered them food.

Raymond doesn't want this lot of candidates cluttering up his manoir, so they all convene in the winning restaurant to learn their fate. Team Blonde are sacked for being blonde and a bit useless.

Next week: Sarah comes close to shouting at Raymond again, and James from Team Winker snivels behind a door.

Friday, November 06, 2009




Only seven couples remain to fart for zeir restaurants, while the director struggles to make Bristol look vaguely attractive in the connecting shots (half of which appear to be of Clifton instead). This week our budding restaurateurs have to run high street chain restaurants for a day, so they get to know the meaning of hard work and can have their naïve dreams re the catering industry brutally squashed. They have a day of training and learning the menu, and then are thrown into the deep end the next day.

There is a pan-Asian canteen called Tampopo that I haven’t heard of. The stern manageress says they have to give everyone their main dish within ten minutes. Team NotGay and Team Winker are sent to work there. During their training day, Chris nails the cookery but JJ and his hateful floppy hair struggles to control the wok. The following day, The Notgays seem to have no problems, food comes rattling out five minute after the order, Nathan is calm and efficient, and even Sarah can’t find anything to complain about. Team Winker start off all cocky and “Bring it on, chap!!” but are gratifyingly hopeless. “You’re supposed to take away my menu” Sarah hisses icily, as soon as James leaves with her order. JJ is instantly behind as James takes fifteen orders in the space of a nanosecond. Soon there is an hour wait for dishes (which James consistently lies about, even to Sarah, David and Raymond) and there are lots of shots of JJ panicking, messing up and getting dishes completely wrong while the guy who trained him basically stands around laughing. Stern manageress says it is UNACCEPTABLE. Raymond goes into the kitchen and brusquely orders JJ to clean up his station, not like that! Do it properly! LOLs. James says he did a great job and it is all JJ’s fault. Sarah, who understandably seems to have her hate on for these two, says it is partially James’ fault for not communicating properly. The NotGays were my faves from week one and seem to be the only ones who coped at all this week. Winkers to be fired soon pls thx.

Teams Essex, Blonde and Milliband (Barney looks more like Bez, methinks, esp when he starts panicking and running around in a flop sweat, which I predict will happen every week) are set to work in a Yo Sushi conveyor belt restaurant and have to learn all the names of the different sushi/nigiri/mako shapes etc. Team Essex are all “Eww!! raw fish!!” and Badger says “Ee by gum , we don’t have stuff like this oop north”, having presumably never heard of places like Manchester, Leeds or Newcastle. They just about cope at lunchtime, but baldy Yo Sushi bloke correctly predicts that they will be fucked in the evening when it is actually busy. That night the restaurant is completely rammed and the cooks neglect the conveyor belt, so more people order off the other menu, which means the conveyor belt is neglected even more. Cut to Raymond glaring at a sad solitary edemame bean trudging round the conveyor belt like a drunk asleep on the Circle Line. The regular chef seems to spend the whole evening shaking his head in disgust, and everyone struggles apart from Blonde waitress, who does very well. To be fair, the problem is compounded by the artificial set-up where each waiter can only work with their designated chef. It would have made more sense for two of them to do orders and one to stock the conveyor. There was a nice scene where David talked Mrs Essex into trying some raw fish and finding out it wasn’t too bad. I found David to be a bit of a blank last series, but he seems a lot more relaxed this time and is almost matching Sarah with his hilarious facial expressions. Team Blonde are dark horses at this stage. Team Essex have potential, but I fear that Team Miliband will fall to pieces at the first sign of stress.

Finally, Teams Nigeria and IKEA are despatched to Pizza Express, where a scarily fervent Pizza Express lady explains that the folded menu spines have to be perfectly aligned with the Earth’s magnetic fields or something. A hot chef explains the exact number of pepperoni slices and exact weight of cheese for each dish. At lunch time, the Nigerian ladies (who seem really likeable and are my second favourites after the NotGays) cope Ok while Mrs IKEA soon falls behind, getting her dishes wrong and turning out mutant, vaguely pizza shaped, dough-based hybrid things, while George Best keeps simpering to her about how wonderful she is. Boke. Sarah pretends to have a nut allergy to test their menu knowledge skillz, so George Best, trying to read the menu over her shoulder, promptly recommends her two nut-crammed death pizzas. One of the judges tells us that making pizzas from instructions in a glossy ring binder is not exactly hard. Cut to Mrs IKEA saying making pizzas from instructions in a glossy ring binder is harder than you think. The evening is a complete disaster. Team IKEA fall behind instantly and Team Nigeria fall behind at a more leisurely pace and end up offering free drinks. Scarily fervent Pizza Express lady is on the verge of tears and is all “what have they done to my beautiful restaurant!?!”. Sarah glares at George Best and says he has to sort this shit out right now. He gives a cringeworthy speech about how they are trying hard but he is just a humble flower seller from London Tahn, or something. The drunken starving customers applaud him, as opposed to pelting him with overcooked doughballs, which is what I would have done. Sarah asks Mrs IKEA how it went and she says it seemed fine and no one complained to her. Well they wouldn’t – they all complained to your husband who apparently spends his whole life trying to bolster your self-esteem. Sarah nods back with a hilarious “Alrighty then, you delusionoid” type expression.

After the restaurants have closed and everyone has stopped shaking, they are taken to a sinister barge to learn their fate. Raymond does his closing speech, saying that some couples coped well (cut to the NotGays) and some couples struggled (cut to everyone else). One couple will NOT get to open their Restaurant and that couple is… Team IKEA - surprise surprise - they really should have gone after the packet salmon debacle last week. George Best says their dream is over. “One of our dreams,” Mrs IKEA says darkly. Back to flower selling for you two, then.

Next week: the couples see their premises for the first time, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. They have to give away free snacks in the street (with Badger dressing up as an actual badger to do so), and one couple of annoying blond blokes WILL be closing their restaurant.

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