« More on Fairtrade | Main | Smoked brisket »

27 May 2007

UKTV Food, getting better

I've always been a bit ambivalent towards UKTV Food, the UK's answer to The Food Network. I have snobbishly dismissed much of it as far too populist, their positioning of James Martin as a hunk first and chef second is evidence of that. Nonetheless, I regularly sneek a peak and watch some of the re-runs, especially Rick Stein, Gary Rhodes and Nigel Slater's early stuff. However, some free time over the past couple of months has given me more chance to watch it and in particular get hooked on Heaven's Kitchen at Large and Market Kitchen.

Heaven's Kitchen follows chef-patron Mike Robinson as he sets up his gastropub, cooking school and outside catering business. Mike's pub, The Pot Kiln, is focused on providing great food, especially game, and good quality beer to the punters. With UKTV food making and showing the programme, it is less concerned in the drama that reality TV shows on terrestrial channels hanker after, instead, the programme simply follows life at the pub and seems to be insightful as a result. One thing that comes across particularly strongly in the programme is Mike's love of game. As a result he is often shown shooting and gutting various furry animals - on one show this week he got so excited gutting a hare that it's blood ended up on the camera lens. i find it interesting that there has been none of the teeth gnashing there was when Jamie Oliver killed a lamb on TV. No doubt this is because Mike Robinson is not a household name and that the show does not go out on a terrestrial channel during prime time. It's a shame this doesn't have a higher profile because it might help educate people to have a bit more respect for what ends up on their plate.

Market Kitchen got my attention because it is co-hosted by Matthew Fort, who has to be one of the UK's most knowledgable food writers and Tom Parker-Bowles, who's enthusiasm for food is catching. Some of the segments of the show can be pretty dull, such as which is the best griddle-pan on the market, but their cook-offs between chefs and the presenters can be quite good. Each week they have a guest chef, last week it was John Burton Race. He came across, as usual, as a grumpy git but cooked up some proper cheffy dishes. It wasn't watered down TV food. Similarly, Matthew Fort didn't pull punches when he cooked and simply hearing him talk about food is a pleasure. It is still early days for the programme but so far, I'm enjoying it. My dirty secret is that I have set my Sky Plus machine to record the show daily.


If for any reason I edit a comment, I explicitly say so. I only edit comments if they are rude, abusive etc. I reserve the right to delete comments if I think they're unduly offensive or constitute spam.

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My boyfriend is fed up with me watching endless cookery programmes on UKTV food. I particularly like Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver, Nigella and Delia. I only tend to turn over when it's those insufferable prats on masterchef goes large. I agree it ca sometimes scrape the bottom of the entertainment barrel but there is some good stuff.

Market Kitchen is dire. It's just so condescending and boring. Great Food Live was much better, though it probably needed a refresh.

Well on further watching I have moderated my views slightly. I still think the Matthew Fort / Tom PB combo is good. Tana Ramsay and the other bloke is bleeding awful, I'd agree.

But, I don't think it is particularly condescending, other shows are far more guilty.

I also quite enjoy seeing different chefs cooking every week.

The comments to this entry are closed.