Ainsley's antics

Chef Caro has a chuckle as the famous chef has a ghost in his kitchen.

by: Caro de Waal: Food24 | 04 Jun 2009

The Good Food and Wine Show came and went in a blur and we have much to tell. It was huge and hot and a hive of foodie activity. Note to self, don’t take a jacket to the convention centre even if it is freezing outside.

My most prized experience of the entire show was a decidedly entertaining ‘Chefs in Action Theatre,’ with the famed Ainsley Harriot.

Firstly we were cut down at the knees by the loud mc -guy. We tried to exercise a little media VIP-ness, by sneaking in at the back, but were soon fushia red when he boomed ‘hey, no no no, you can’t do that, you must wait in line like everyone else’. Oh dear god, sear me on hot coals and roast me in the oven. Thankfully it was dark.

The entrance
We settled into the packed theatre craning our necks, in anticipation of the man himself. Suddenly, on Ainsley charged with much fanfare and bellowing by the loud mc-guy. He’s tall and bald with a fabulous pearly grin, and a huge presence.

He dove right in and ruled the stage, chatting and laughing away. He has an infectious, and at first, rather alarming high pitched giggle.

Shy guy
Ainsley glided to the audience and asked ‘who would like to assist me?’. A barrage of hands burst up and Ainsley deftly selected his lucky helper. A middle aged man slowly got up, and, with an embarrassed smile got rigged up by the sound team. Unfortunately for all, the chosen one was extremely shy and very slight of voice. We couldn’t hear a thing, and it seemed he hadn’t cooked a day in his life either. When asked by Ainsley, ‘SO TONY, what do you like to eat?’. ‘Meat’ he replied flatly. And so ensued a string of mousey one word answers. We were all cringing.

Ainsley tried his best to suck some personality out of ‘Tone’ as he sweetly abbreviated him to, and carried on with his high energy performance.

Dangerous cooking
The food was looking great and starting to take shape. Ainsley whirled around from the centre island to put something into the oven directly behind him. And, ‘BANG!’, he kind of smashed against the wall, with the hot pan flying awkwardly out of his hands and clanging onto the ground. He whooped with surprise but managed to stay on his feet. He had slipped!

‘Wow’ he shouted, ‘that was unexpected’. We were all laughing out loud, and he took it in his enormous stride and carried on with only a whisper of hesitation. His head was, however, beginning to shine wetly, as he chopped and sizzled, talking all the way and trying to include poor ‘Tone’.

Kitchen poltergeists
Round he twirled again to check the contents in the same oven and ‘SMASH!’ At first we couldn’t see what had happened. Never in my whole life of working in kitchens and cooking, have I seen this happen before. The oven door had shattered!

Poor Ainsley, quite stunned, stood for a long moment, eyes on stalks and mouth gaping. His microphone almost fell clear off his sweaty head and he didn’t know quite what to do. ‘That’s really thrown me’ he turned to us,’ did you see that!’ he exclaimed.

The camera man was equally confused, as he panned from shocked Ainsley, to the fractured and falling glass. The brand name on the oven was also large and guilty in the zoom lens. Fantastic.

What next? Tone tried to help by passing him basil when asked for sage, and cracking whole eggs when asked to separate them. Ainsley was starting to lose it, and laughing really loudly at just about anything. I have it on good authority that he is an extreme perfectionist, and quite pedantic about his demonstrations. Whoopsidaisies.

But soon he had produced three gorgeous plates of food. Tone’s wife got to taste them and we gave him a roaring round of applause, with much bellowing by the loud mc-guy.

Ainsley could at last mop his brow with a lappie, and beamed with relieved delight.

So, who says it doesn’t happen to the best of them?

- None


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