Review: The skill, passion and dedication on display in Masterchef: The Professionals reminds you of what we have been missing

Lockdown has been pretty rubbish, frankly. I know we have to do it – to protect others, if not ourselves – but having to check the rules before doing anything has been wearing thin lately.

Friday, 13th November 2020, 6:00 pm

It’s been bad for us, how awful must it be for the cafe owners, chefs and restaurateurs who have seen their businesses struggle – and sometimes fail – through no fault of their own?

And now here’s Masterchef: The Professionals (BBC1, Tue-Thurs, 9pm) to rub salt in all our wounds, reminding us of the joys of eating out.

I always arrive at this version of the popular BBC cheffing show prepared to hate it, mainly because of Gregg Wallace, and his incessant gurning, grinning and ‘grr-phwoaring’.

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Victor cooks up a storm in Masterchef: The Professionals. Picture: BBC/Shine TV

But Masterchef: The Professionals is different, only partly because Gregg disappears in a puff of Parmesan dust after the first round.

This show is good because it’s remarkably satisfying watching incredibly skilled people doing something they love with pride and dedication. Whether it’s Victor and his lovely, brick-red spiced harissa sauce over pink lamb, or Dave’s blushing beef with a snail and marrow sauce, you just want to dive through the screen and do backstroke in the gravy.

But most of all, it reminds you of what we’re missing. Actually ironing a shirt to go out; looking through an unfamiliar menu; going to a favourite neighbourhood curry house where the waiters know you and ask how you’re doing; not having to wash up.

We can all remember brilliant meals we’ve had, with friends or family, new flavours, new cuisines. Masterchef: The Professionals is a hymn to that joy. So when all this is over, I’m going to support my local restaurants – I hope you do too.

New drama Industry (BBC2, Tues, 9pm) was a little cold and antiseptic at first, but I gradually warmed to a This Life-style tale of graduates trying to make it in banking. I’ll persevere with it.

Cornwall with Simon Reeve (BBC2, Sun, 8.10pm) was one of this highlights of the week, as empathetic, curious Simon went behind the West Country’s tourist facade. An excellent show.

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