Flashing back to a year ago when I won The Taste Uk 2014 , this is a real mind dump of everything I can currently remember and can think of during the show, happily creating my own written reference of the month spent cooking and eventually winning , the cliche of tv moments as a roller coaster which mine was, win, lose, win lose, win win, lose, win, lose, win! Its the final part 3, now if you haven’t read the others here they are for reference Flashback Part 1, Flashback Part 2
The final episode (10) was a surprise to us as the final four- Chloe, Dixie, Kelly and myself. We thought it was a cook off amongst all of us, they threw a spanner in the works . It started out same format as always , Guest Chef cook off ,we ALL cooked for Pierre Koffman a Champagne Canapé cooking with our Mentor. It was Chloe and ,myself with Ludo in our kitchen and Dixie cooking with Tony on her own and Nigella with Kelly on their own, proper 1;1 tuition and mentoring for them 2.
Pierre direction was very specific he wanted seafood, Fruit de Mer on either pastry or bread and salty to complement the Champagne , so challenge set.
I had a complete mind blank, couldn’t think of anything to cook AT ALL Not good when your under a time pressure and in a final, a true emotional meltdown. I let Ludo know I was struggling and he just kept saying over and over again I didn’t want it, it wasn’t important to me and I really was fizzing inside- I truly wanted to punch him.
Ludo’s style is frenetic,loud, shouty, his words can be hurtful, damaging, which I’m sure he isn’t intending to wound but he really does get in your face , ( there is an episode where he says you must have a Little Ludo in your head talking to you to me), he has a self importance, self belief that is engaging and he is fabulous in a mentoring capacity and when the cameras are not rolling he seems more uncomfortable, more aware of his thick accent and not getting his english correct, he is less of a personality bit awkward, but get those cameras rolling and wow his Jekyll and Hyde character and personality are exhibited at their best and he becomes the showman.I did say a few times it was like being around a stroppy teenager!
Ludo is a true advocate for being passionate, he is very french and very proud of being french, very very competitive ( well he gave that impression on camera), and he does have a great sense of humour , he thrived on creating stress, uncomfortable situations, tension, threat, he used to wait till the last few seconds before he chose a dish for the Guest Chef making us all feel “pick me pick me” in amongst all this he was a great teacher and he is a genius in the kitchen and I know that if I had been with another mentor I wouldn’t have excelled and continue to develop and won. Understanding that no personal relationship was undertaken , no conversations to get to know us, no awareness of who we were as individuals , we were just people that cooked in his kitchen for a TV show and that I always understood.
The first cook off started with me really at a loss, my creative juices had a brain freeze, my ability to I couldn’t think of a dish so started out *clock is ticking*
………making quiche as its a Ludo favourite or so he said, then I said no I didn’t want to make Quiche to boring, ….*clock is ticking*
……..so I started another dish this time crouque monsieur directed by Ludo, I really needed his help and this was not the day to freeze up, but Ludo in his best Ludo style was not impressed and focussed on Chloe understandably who seemed to be getting her shit together very well. I let Ludo know and he just and I really want to beat Ludo up with a rolling pin, he came close to me under his breath and I really really couldn’t take it, I told the camera team to f$%& off and stay away from me , which thankfully they did.
I was making a Lobster Croque Monsieur and didn’t feel it was right, it wasn’t the right dish, it didn’t seem impactful enough, so I talked he shouted, and we changed plan and started to make…..*clock is ticking*
Langoustine (Prawn) Toast- the best decision that day. Ludo’s recipe was superb. The recipe panned out like this……………………
Langoustine Toast Recipe
- De- veined Langoustines, diced and chopped into tiny tiny pieces – a mulch of langoustine really
- Heavily seasoned salt pepper
- Lime Juice , Lime Zest, Ginger
- White Miso paste mixed through the langoustine and lime mix, TASTE TASTE he kept shouting , I kept grimacing trying not to cry! It tasted good even at this ceviche stage
- Brioche Bread sliced diced to the right size pieces this took some trial and error and used the a spoon as a tester
- Beaten Egg again seasoned and mixed in
- Piled onto the Brioche
- Cooked in lots of butter right at the last minute extra Lime Zest and Salt
- Served simple, delicious and perfect Champagne Canapé
Ludo, again he went into shouty overload but never stopped giving me support and direction once I had set my mind on what I was cooking I had lost about 20 minutes and need to work super fast
I didn’t know what the others were making and didn’t spend anytime considering it either, again they all cooked great dishes too:
- Kelly made Lobster and Scallop Ceviche on Melba Toast
- Dixie made Salmon (smoked and poached) Rillette with Caviar
- Chloe made Salt Cod and Salmon Tart
Pierre chose mine as the wining dish and I went through , he loved it and I was so pleased a few tears were shed as i really thought I had messed up again! Kelly was 2nd with the canapé.
Throughout the show they had said 2 of us in the final so we were taken off and told to wait, something had happened. Both Kelly and I were concerned for the other 2 as they wouldn’t discuss anything with us we actually thought something bad had happened. In all they had thrown a curve ball and had got another finalist to join us after another cook-off, Dixie and Chloe were set to cook again and cook an cheese and ham omelette in half an hour.
Dixie was voted by all 3 judges as the winner of coking an omelette and joined Kelly and myself to cook yet again.
Chloe went off through the studio exit and her exit interview…..
SECRET : Chloe was after saying goodbyes etc told to head home, she met up with my husband and spent the day with him whilst we continued cooking, Chloe wasn’t supposed to know but she found out about my win too. But after a whole month together and her getting in the final four it seemed only right, a new cooking friend had been made and she had done incredibly well too.
The final cook off started and we all got 90 minutes an extra 30 minutes than normal to do 3 courses…..amazingly we all delivered every spoon, my panic was that i didn’t salt the scallops on the spoon and at the time thought this was a true disaster. It tuned out it wasn’t!My favourite feedback was Nigella saying” I want to go round to this person house to eat” when she tasted my spoons.
We had all chosen very different meals
Kelly had gone for a Mexican feel and theme throughout
Dixie went for a fusion of dishes to create her 3 course meal:
My Finals 3 course meal was
Starter : Scallop, pea and Pancetta
Mains : Rabbit and Red Wine Stew
Dessert: Apple, Lavender and fig
The tasting of the spoons and the deliberations for the final took ages and ages, they probably went out for dinner! And a big mistake was made on the reveal and it the final scene was shot twice!
When Nigella announced that the winners 3 spoons where under the cloche, she lifted it straight away to reveal the 3 spoons- now the spoons had been sat out for a long long time had congealed and I didn’t know if it was Kelly’s or mine, I mentally thought it was Kellys’ spoons and think I may have muttered it to her,So at this point I am certain that Kelly was the winner.
We then heard the producers go NOOOOOOOOO, we are not filming! The cloche lid was slammed down and we got an apologetic smile. Filming recommenced and we were asked who cooked – which isn’t on the episode I pathetically put my hand up and that was that! .It was non fanfare event, it was a more of oh thats the winner then, we had a glass of champagne, the judges and mentors left and I had an interview, a few photos and then we went back to the break room! I suspect as a novice in these things this is TV and life moves on very fast, job done, tick in the box, next show. For me it was a huge achievement and I really wanted someone to say that.
We got invited to the Wrap Party which is not a winners party but a production/TV party where they congratulated themselves, well done to them,producer said a speech thanking his team etc, and not one mention of me winning which i found really strange! Or was i expecting too much, no idea not my world and I had met lots of nice people along the way , improved my cooking and won- sod it thats good enough.
I get asked what did you win-, I won thats my prize;
I however did get sent to me in the post after the final show aired (5 months later) :
- Trophy which i believe is unique!
- My Apron
- My “Debbie” Tile with my name on it
- The knife roll and 3 Wusthof knives
- A spoon
- and I stole a The Taste Mug
Then I got my husband to get me and headed home not before drinking more and having dinner at Pizza Express where it all started with The girls (no Chloe she went home as she felt bad in case anyone got in trouble!),, it was a surreal situation I really couldn’t believe Id won and that was that. It was huge big fat full stop.
I had been told someone would get in touch and tell us when it was going to be screened ( if at all, as it turned out we got informed about the horrible situation Nigella had been going through and I didn’t know if it would be aired for a while or at all) . On a timescale perspective we finished filming on November 1st and I didn’t get any contact or updates until 7 or 8 weeks later this made it feel even more unreal and gave it a sense of non achievement unfortunately. I couldn’t say anything to anyone as it wasn’t on TV.
We got invited in January 2015 ( Ithink or it may have been late December) ,as a collective of 25 to a viewing of the first 2 episodes so we could see what was what and how the programme was being edited. Again this was weird I couldn’t disclose anything – Kelly, Dixie and Chloe knew of course and the others didn’t or if they did they didn’t show any knowledge of. We al watched the first episode and then the second episode the 13 who didn’t get through were asked to leave, some didn’t even turn up for the viewing. We did met and have drinks afterwards and it was a lovely day seeing a great collective of people with The Taste in common.
I have met up with a few of the contestants, a London Dinner Date with Dixie and Chloe which was great, did have an event planned with James and Kalpna but it got canceled and turned into a smaller event which I did myself,seen Kalpna at a few events and she also did some Judging for a event via a friend of mine for Manchester University. Now I’m fortunate to have many of them as recent Facebook Friends so we can dip into each others going on, which is always nice. Its great to see so much success and people going into/staying in the food industry from after the show; living the dream!
The show aired in Late January and ran through to 11th March 2014 , the hype from other people was great, and what was created marketing, PR , events, activities was purely from contacts we knew, people wanting to help but no professional services, no agents , it was a get on with it and do it yourself and thats what i did. The ensuing success ( not monetary) was from being there, doing demonstrations, events, PopUps and learning as I went. (my blog tells of all the adventures I have had)
The one thing that helped was meeting Louise Leonard, an incredible lady and Im delighted to say now a great friend, who won The Taste USA 2014 and we did 2 events together in America READ HERE I wrote a daily diary for 2 weeks. The agreement was we both felt the same about the lack of sense of achievement, this wasn’t about being unappreciative – the total opposite- It was more having to many high expectations from others, the show didn’t hype, didn’t, contact us, didn’t follow up but we decided that we did good, and its what you make of it yourself and we have both achieved great personal success and are still cooking – happy days! God Ludo doesn’t even follow me on twitter!
The story continues and there is so much missing…but one day maybe the whole story will come out as well.
- The wait between the judges eating our food sometimes over 45 minutes, some people got upset about time delays, hot or cold, sauces, gels, mousses, ice creams but it was what it was
- There was an onsite medic who sat around all day, most of us cut ourselves at one point but nothing serious and a few headaches tablets!
- The food economists worked extremely hard and were out of sight but always there when filming, got every ingredient ready and sourced, and they had a wealth of knowledge, my finals dessert dish was enhanced by rosewater under the creative idea of Katy Ross Ludo team food economist
- All the food left over was eaten by crew and we weren’t allowed to take it to eat!
- As soon as Nigella walked down the stairs she would change her shoes to flats!
- Ludo once chased me around the kitchen with a pigs head on!
- I cooked with fois gras and they wanted to call it pate so as not to offend anyone- it got filmed and called fois gras in the end, a big hooha which i dismissed as being TV!
- Yes one spoon was dropped- holy hell broke Loose, was Dixie’s spoon, was reconstructed for photo and photo spoon used
- We made extra all the time – each time we had to make 4 spoons 1 was for photography and was always the worst spoon as nearly almost forgot about it every time
- Antony had a drink every day from the larder or what we were cooking with
- Kelly on final day got a bottle of tequila out of the larder and drank most of it!
- All the equipment on set was “allegedly” bagged and taken by the economists, runners, tv teams, etc we didn’t get anything!
- On my finals dish they thought my rabbit was beef!
- The final we had to make 12 spoons ( 9 for the judges and the dreaded photo ones!)
- Nigella once asked someone to pick a pea out of her teeth
- Anthony and Ludo both had a few hangovers
- They all smoked
- Ludo didn’t attend the winners party/wrap up and could have possibly been hungover on final day- allegedly???
Episodes 2-9 Summaries
( Full episode review and guest blog from Husband and Best friend to follow for a laugh and seeing the experience from the other side )
Watch the episodes here I’ve added a brief summary by each episode :
- Leaver this week was Barry Johnston (Team Antony) ,
- Guest Chef was Richard Corrigan
- Theme was Classics
- I got BEST DISH for Sticky Toffee Pudding Pie
- Leaver this week was Claire Continho,(Team Nigella)
- Guest Chef was Michael Caines, Theme was Comfort Food
- I won IMMUNITY with Chicken Curry Pie and then got
- Bottom 3 but was saved due to winning immunity
- Leaver this week was James Sherwin (Team Ludo)
- Guest Chef was Yottom Ollenghi ,
- Theme was Spice
- I won BEST DISH for Chicken Nam Jim Curry
This was my most emotional episode, and I am openly aggravated by anyone who cries on a game show/reality programme etc, Im one of those who said why do those people cry its only a food programme, their only cooking – I said all of this myself but this episode hit a real personal nerve, ( read on to find out why in Flashback Part 3!)
- Leaver this week was Justin Akpa (Team Antony)
- Guest Chef was Ruthie Rogers
- Theme Was Hand Me Down
- I was in Bottom 3
- Leaver this week was Raj Bahra (Team Nigella)
- Guest Chef was Eric Lanlard
- Theme was Chocolate
- Won Best Dish with Chilli Chocolate Cake with Pistachio, Salted Carmel and creme anglais
- Leaver this week was Kirsty Langschmidt (Team Ludo)
- Guest Chef was Simon Rogan
- Theme was Waste Not Want Not
- I won IMMUNITY with Cauliflower Risotto
- Leaver this week was Guan Chau
- Guest Chef was Fergus Henderson
- Theme was Nose to Tail
- I was in the Bottom 3
- Leaver this week was Kalpna Mistry
- Guest Chef was Angela Hartnett
- Theme was 3 spoons same ingredient
- I was in the Bottom 3
Caveat- This is MY personal view, thoughts and meanderings, I have omitted lots through not remembering and just stuff that I didn’t write .