Michele Hewitson: Foul play in the ad breaks

By Michele Hewitson

EXPECT to see Mark Simmons, the Top Chef boy from Invercargill, on an ad for Marmite some time soon. Well, maybe. The competitors on Top Chef are allowed to take along $200 worth of their favourite secret ingredients. He took Marmite. "In the right hands it can move mountains," said Mark, nonsensically.

Nah, mate, despite that valiant attempt to be the face of Marmite, I think you've blown it.

And, honestly, deconstructed duck a l'orange? Well, he is from Invercargill where a deconstructed duck a l'orange probably means picking the shot out before serving your dead duck. This is not a criticism of Invercargill cuisine.

"You don't have duck a l'orange in, aah, Kiwi?" asked one his competitors.

"No, we just say orange, mate," said the boy from Invercargill.

Mate. You should have stuck with duck in Fanta. That might have got you an ad.

"Vegemite," said the guest judge, Rocco Dispirito, getting it almost right, "I can't think of a more foul flavour and it turned out to be very delicious."

This was not a pun, but Mark's fowl in orange turned out to be foul. "It came off as silly and pretentious," said Anthony Bourdain who used to be a chef and a writer and now comes off as the Simon Cowell of foodie telly talent quests - which is what Top Chef is.

The competition for talking nonsense is fierce but Mark is holding his own. "We have a spicy tomato sauce ... just because it [Chicago] is the Windy City."

Has he been sniffing the Marmite?

I don't see the attraction of Top Chef. It has girls but it is relentlessly macho and relentlessly American despite our Mark. Everyone is out to kick everyone's else's butt. No one seems to have any fun. Said Dale: "You have to say to yourself, 'I'm better than all you [rude word]'." There are so many rude words what passes for dialogue goes like this: "Beep, beep, beep".

Despite the flurried cooking and swearing, Top Chef is a food show with no flavour. Its host, Padma Lakshmi, has about as much personality as a turnip and looks as though she exists on carrot sticks. "Please pack your knives and go," Padma intones gravely when the loser gets sent home. But it sounds just as silly as a deconstructed duck a l'orange.

Marco Pierre White will be the bastard in the kitchen in Hell's Kitchen from tonight. He is being sold as the man who made Gordon Ramsay cry. How very macho. This is where old Michelin-starred celebrity chefs go to make arses of themselves by humiliating other celebrities.

Why do they do it? Money, presumably (haven't they got enough?) and profile (haven't they got enough?) I won't be watching. I've had enough of humiliation telly, with the exception of America's Next Top Model, of course, because those girls are so stupid they get what they deserve.

I thought I might watch the Olympic closing ceremony but I didn't. I couldn't take it.

Earlier in the day TVNZ put together a montage of Olympic moments which involved teary athletes. They played Into the West while the athletes bawled. It was enough to make you weep. It was enough to make me turn the telly off. I wasn't going to watch the Olympics at all, except for the gymnastics and the gee-gees, but the TimeOut editor made me. That wasn't the torturous bit. The torture was watching the in-between bits: the ads. I haven't seen ads for years because we've had MySky. I could have done without seeing Nigella, yet another celebrity chef, looking sultry and trying to make a cup of tea sexy. Now honestly, she must have enough money. And if you're a super celeb, can't you get in a classy ad? Stephen Fleming is on an ad for cheese. Oh, no, hang on, it's not for cheese, it's for a real estate firm. I hope he got paid a lot of money for that one.

None of the people in the Novus glass repair ad are celebs. The catch phrase is: "Show us your crack." Thank God the Olympics are over.

- NZ Herald

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