Top five TV picks of the week: Chef hunts for raw material

Check out five shows that will keep couch potatoes glued to their screens over the coming week.

Sean Connolly tries his hand at being a hunter-gatherer. Photo / Richard Robinson
Sean Connolly tries his hand at being a hunter-gatherer. Photo / Richard Robinson

Pick of the week: On The Grill

Australian-based English-born celebrity chef Sean Connolly, whose The Grill opened in Auckland last year, has joined the wave of famous cooks taking a camera crew to rove the country to find where his ingredients come from.

The onetime Australian Chef of the Year, who hosted his own show, Family Feast across the Tasman, had the cameras on him for Under the Grill last year following the development of his carnivore-friendly restaurant at the SkyCity Grand Hotel. That series was something of a marketing exercise.

Now, a year later, Connolly is back with something meatier. On the Grill sees him heading off around New Zealand to play hunter-gatherer, as well as demonstrating his flame-cooking techniques.

"The boy in me wants to go hunting, finding and foraging to bring back the food," he says of his surf-and-turf safari. In the first episode Connolly heads by chopper into the bush of Raukumara Ranges, north of Gisborne towards the remote East Cape, to hunt for red deer.

After some shooting lessons, Connolly takes off for a spot of heli-hunting.

"I've got butterflies in my stomach, sweat on my palms," Connolly says. "I'm really nervous because I'm a lover not a fighter.

"Quite frankly I don't think I've got much chance of hitting anything."

However, Connolly does pot a deer. It's a reality check for the chef, who isn't used to being on this bloody part of the supply chain. However, it compels him to make sure none of the animal goes to waste.

So using everything from the liver to the blood, he creates a menu for farmers to try before heading back to The Grill to cook a venison feast for a celebrity gathering.

Venison is not regularly on the menu at The Grill, so it's a challenge for Connolly's staff, who will prepare and test his new recipes, ranging from venison carpaccio to something called a Deer Hunter's Breakfast" (working title: "Bambi for Brunch". No, not really).

Like Al Brown and Steve Logan's long-running Hunger for the Wild, this is a cooking show that really taps into the male psyche. And it looks like there won't be many vegetarian options in forthcoming episodes.

When: Saturday, 7pm
Where: TV3
What: Yes sir, the chef guarantees the venison is fresh

Horror pick: The Walking Dead

You know the world has gone pretty topsy-turvy when you're looking to get inside a prison in order to find safety and salvation - particularly because there are zombies chasing you.

In the first episodes of season three of the comic-based undead post-apocalyptic cult hit, it's eight months later and our band of survivors, who have been constantly on the road, find refuge inside a penitentiary they hope will keep the "walkers" at bay, and worry about other things, including Lori's impending childbirth.

Another new development is the arrival of a ruthless character dubbed "the Governor" (David Morrissey), who rules his own zombie-free town.

When: Wednesday, 10.30pm
Where: TV2
What: Surviving the plague

Drama pick: World Without End

With 12th-century miniseries The Pillars of the Earth concluded, World Without End picks up a new story and cast 200 years on.

Also based on a Ken Follett novel, with a big budget and large ensemble cast, World Without End goes into the 14th century to follow the inhabitants of medieval Knightsbridge as they fight for survival amid plague and war.

A feisty young woman named Caris (Charlotte Riley) is determined to create a community that confronts and discards any affiliation with the church or crown. With a cast including Cynthia Nixon, Miranda Richardson, Ben Chaplin, and Peter Firth, World Without End takes its characters on a perilous path to freedom and enlightenment.

When: Sunday, 8.30pm
Where: SoHo
What: Chasing freedom and enlightenment

Doco pick: The World According to Lance Armstrong

The story of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is a gripping one.

This ABC documentary looks into the allegations surrounding his career, talks to people who worked and rode with him, and others who raced against him. It also features exclusive footage of Armstrong's testimony during a 2005 depositions hearing which also saw New Zealander Stephen Swart, a former teammate, give evidence.

The fallout from his lifetime ban continues to roll on with the news that the years he won the tour - from 1999 to 2005 - will not be awarded to other riders, making an even bigger farce of the world's greatest cycling race.

When: Sunday, 8.35pm
Where: Prime
What: What made him do it?

Nature pick: Arctic with Bruce Parry

In his new series, former Royal Marine turned adventurer and doco-maker Bruce Parry travels around the Arctic taking a look at the lives of people who live in this extreme environment and the changes they are experiencing.

During the five-part series, Parry - best known for his 2008 series Amazon - meets the Inuit of Greenland, Alaskan whalers and gold-diggers, and Canadian oil-men in remote drilling spots.

In the first episode, it's summer solstice in Siberia, which is a time of endless daylight and festivals. He journeys to meet the Sakha horse people and to an encampment of reindeer herders in the remote and wild Verkhoyansk Mountains.

When: Friday, 7.30pm
Where: Prime
What: A trip to chillier climes

- TimeOut

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