Take me home please

'Ready, Steady, Cook' 21.02.08
Season 2007-2008

Many members are noted for their extracurricular activities, but in keeping with the club’s sensibilities, I shall not mention them. Unlike those of the club itself; for, although we rigorously adhere to our tri-weekly meetings in devotion to the Pie’n’mash experience, we also like the occasional foray into other fields. Feb 21st 2008 was no exception, for that venerable televisual entertainment, Ready, Steady, Cook, was allowed to meet our members. An approach from the programme's producers resulted in eight of us travelling to Wandsworth, an area of London noted for something, to the studios where we were to be filmed.
 We fielded a strong team: The lovely Levancia, doyenne of royalties; the fragrant Rachel (who is in an interesting way); Jamie Tanner (the famous one, not the chef); our very own man of mystery Rikk Lucas; Eddie ‘Eddie’ Mosse; Tony ‘TC‘ Chung (who is also in an interesting way); Mr Eel himself; and finally the superstar who stole the show, our very own 'Stattus', Mr Nick Evans, of whom it has been said.  What japes!
 We were surprised by the honour they bestowed on us. Unlike the ordinary people of the audience, who waited in a marquee in the car park, we were ensconced in a hospitality suite of modest sumptuousness that included a mini bar, before being led by a nubile TV personette to our very own reserved seats, while the rest of the audience looked at us as though we were special. As we were.

For those unfamiliar with the age-old format of the show, the first part consists of 2 personages of alleged celebrity status offering up ingredients to two watchable chefs, who then create a few superb dishes in 20 minutes, all under the watchful eye of Ainsley Harriot. On this evening the celeb's were Pete Waterman, a railway engine driver who also runs a rock empire, and a DJ from the radio once known as ‘Doc’ Fox, although as he has never been on R3, he was quite unknown to your scribe. And the cooks were James Tanner (the Chef, not the famous one) and the funny Italian; not that he is funny because he is Italian, but he is actually a humorous and witty man. He ought to be on television.


Surprisingly, especially to an old cynic such as your scribe, they do create their dishes in only twenty minutes, and they do a good job of it. Which poses the question, why do some restaurants take all night to serve a prawn cocktail? But I digress.
 Interesting though this first part was, it was the second bit that provoked our real interest. First Mr E was interviewed by the great man himself. Ainsley, (for it was he), asked pertinent questions concerning the pie’n’mash club, to which Mr E replied eloquently, despite the intense media pressure. Then the goody bag was taken up to the chefs for a quickie.
 Mr E’s contribution of smoked eel, leek, cream cheese, filo pastry and cherry tomatoes was passed over with the plea for an eel pie, the Holy Grail of pie’n’mash. The chefs proposed their ideas and the audience chose 'The Italian Job' - although all three chefs became involved in actually producing the dishes. And in just the allotted 10 minutes, nice treats were made! True to the programme formula, Mr E actually ran on to the set for his 15 seconds of fame; yet again he remained cool in the intense glare of the studio lights, which glinted off his facial metalware as though he were an armour-clad Champion knight of old, defending our time honoured traditions against the forces of oppression. He spoke with such authority that those attending club members decided he ought to be the next presenter of the show.

After the filming, we pie’n’mashers removed to the canteen to taste the Chef’s work. A mousse, a salad and a pie sound too prosaic for the palatable goodies we had. The mousse of cheese and eel had a quality of mousseness about it that lifted it above the bruscetta on which it had been placed. The filo pastry tart of eel, leek, and cream cheese had 'a lot of flavours going on' (©Nick Evans), while the salad of tomatoes and herbs in balsamic vinegar was a salad. Still, you cannot expect too much in ten minutes.
 We still enjoyed.
 All too soon we were escorted off the premises (some of us are more used to that than others) and tripped lightly to a local hostelry for a convivial and well earned tipple, surrounded by Wandsworth locals.

A banal experience some of you might think. Perhaps. Yet, and for just one afternoon, those who watch daytime TV shared a moment of real joy and uplifting spirituality in meeting the Pie and Mash Club. And for those few who still have curiosity, and who might be tempted to go and try a real pie and mash lunch, it will be a life changing, shatteringly empowering experience.
 The show was allegedly aired on 13 March (around the Ides, actually. Spooky, huh?). But I missed it.

Graham Darlow aka 'Mister Eel'