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Kitchen nightmaresThe kitchen can some times be a dark place! Inanimate objects can come alive and unimaginable things can go wrong. Disaster can strike at any time making any chef or enthusiastic cook go weak at the knees . . . enough to make a strong man use the F word or need a stiff drink to steady the nerves.

Below is one of those kitchen nightmares! Many thanks to Master Chef contestant David Hall who contributed this one.

Kitchen Nightmares of David Hall:

Entering Master Chef Goes Large for the second time in a year, there was only one thing on my mind by the time I reached the final four . . . to win!

After spending a whole summer cooking every dish under the sun, experimenting, tweaking here and there as well as sending my family up the wall with my food obsession, I settled on the dish that was going to take me to the final three. Practiced a hundred times, each time an improvement on the other, my roast sirloin dish followed by pear and ginger steamed puddings was the choice of champions. Or was it just another Sunday dinner?

Deciding to try and win the show with good old British food was always going to be a difficult one when one of the judges is an Australian. No matter how much Gregg Wallace loves British food, John Torode was always going to be the major decisive factor. After all, he is the professional chef.

Things had gone really well for me. They loved my leek puddings. They loved my ginger cakes. They loved my style and take on tweaking with British classics. There were no issues at all until the last couple of days when they started to comment on my dishes being rather 'unrefined'. This had me worried. Refinement was not my strength. I was on the show to try and improve that side of me; surely they would not eliminate me on that basis?

On the day of the decisive Critics Meal, a day where we had to produce a two course meal for two professional food critics as well as a competition winner, something in my bones was telling me that things were not right.

On the Friday, I finished a particular task and then had to get the train back up to Yorkshire as the next day I was best man for my friend at a lavish wedding ceremony . . . so a late night of travelling, then trying to dust myself off to look smart for the big day. After a day of speeches, tears and little alcohol drinking, I then had to drive all of the way back down to London at 4:00am on Sunday morning to get back for the critics meal. Talk about doing things the hard way!

Arriving exhausted, with only two hours of broken sleep, but putting a brave face on, for the first time in three weeks of filming I really started to feel the nerves. When they wheeled us into the studio, things got worse.

David HallFirst of all, one of the major ingredients I was using, kale, was not there. As a replacement I was given an old cabbage that had certainly seen its best days. Then the oven was not pre-heated. Then the ice cream maker would not work. And where were the bay leaves and fresh thyme? Then I noticed that as I was the last competitor to cook, and as we were cooking in fifteen minute intervals in order to roll the meals out, there was little space left for me to work in. Postage stamp more like.

At this stage, I resembled a rabbit caught in the headlights. Gone was the happy smiling and confident Geordie of earlier rounds. In its place was a shaking, sweating wreck that proceeded to overcook the beef then slice it into doorstops. Then burn the chicory. Then fail to reduce the sauce to the desired consistency. Then spend fifteen minutes trying and failing with my shaking hands to tie string around my pudding moulds, which were steamed to sloppy delight.

All in all, the dishes that I had deliberated on for months and had every confidence were going to turn out amazing, turned out to be dishes that I would not serve to my worst enemy. I even uttered that out aloud. At one stage, I looked up and the whole TV crew and my fellow competitors were looking at me in silence with varying looks of sympathy, horror and surprise.

All I could do was embarrassingly work on in the knowledge that I was churning out some horrendous food. I knew what the critics would say before watching the television. And Kate Spicer confirmed it to the on-looking nation . . . it was just "another Sunday dinner".

I chose this as my kitchen nightmare as it was filmed and watched by over 5 million people. Make a mistake in your own kitchen, or even a professional one, and there are ways to pretend it did not happen. The camera never lies. And anybody that watched me dripping sweat from my purple brow into my food on Master Chef Goes Large can vouch for that. The competition did change my life but not without its consequences. Mine was this kitchen nightmare that will never go away. Enjoy the DVD!

David Hall ~ chef and former Master Chef Goes Large contestant

. . . there are more to come!

If you have a kitchen nightmare to contribute then email info@hub-uk.com

Published 19 July 2007

Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com