In the Audience for Market Kitchen

This morning I was part of the small studio audience for Market Kitchen. I don’t know how many of you know/ watch this show; it’s on every weekday on UKTV Food and I probably catch it once a week or so. Part of it’s filmed inside a studio and other segments are filmed outdoors at Borough Market.

I’d applied to be in the audience a few months ago and have been receiving email invitations for a while now, but finally received one for a date I could make (and a guest chef I was keen to see: Michael Caines).

My first surprise was that the studio is in Kentish Town whereas the show always gives me the impression that it’s all located around the Borough Market area. Optomen, the producers, are squirrelled away in a quiet residential area about 10 minutes walk from the tube station.

We were invited to have a croissant and coffee soon after arrival and then sign the contract saying they can do whatever they like with the footage, before being taken up to the studio.

Matt Tebbitt was joined by Simon Rimmer as the guest presenter and Michael Caines and Maria Elia were guest chefs. Oh yes, and Rowland Rivron.

We were made very welcome not only by Scott, the audience researcher (who sorted the invites/ guest list and managed the audience positioning during the show) but also by the rest of the crew, the presenters and guest chefs and the two men manning the coffee station and serving coffee, fruit juice and the most lovely hot chocolate regularly during the show. (The South African one was really gorgeous, try and catch a glimpse of him on the show!)

Rowland Rivron was on to present a few DIY easter egg kits for kids. I’m really not a huge fan of his in terms of TV appearances, but he seemed a friendly enough chappy. As I was sat on the sofa at the back corner of the studio for that segment so couldn’t see anything anyway! That said, when they wrapped that segment up, I did go up and have a peek and a little play with the car egg toys for a few moments!

They also had on these two posh guys that make up “architectural jelly mongers” Bompas and Parr. These two were posher than Harry and William and when one of them claimed that what they’d done was “so wild” I nearly snorted with laughter! Oh and, to celebrate Easter, they were dressed in white body suits with a yellow circle on the fronts – to look like eggs apparently. OK then. Still, they are very successful and rather in vogue at the moment, certainly I’ve come across news reports of jellies in the shape of landmark buildings commissioned for big sparkling events.

None of us in the audience could really see much of anything during this segment as it was filmed at a large table in the corner of the studio, on the opposite side the audience tables. The guests and presenters had their backs to us and the camera men and crew were between the them and us too. The strident duo presented various jellies made in shaped moulds and then some fruit jellies set inside real fruits. They’d taken oranges, made a small hole in the bottom, scooped out all the flesh from that hole and then poured jelly inside, in layers, first orange, then a white layer and then orange and so on. When they cut the oranges in half they were full of stripes of jelly. Looked rather faffy and pointless (and really couldn’t catch more than glimpses) but I’d quite liked to have seen these up close and tasted them but they seemed to miss that out, though they did indicate earlier that they’d do an audience tasting for those.

To be honest, I was quite distracted during this entire segment as from where I sat, as I said, I couldn’t see the jellies very well, but I could see a huge swathe of Simon Rimmer’s bright pink underpants!!! (And yes, I did discuss this with him later!)

Michael Caines’ segment was the best for me, not least because I think he’s great but also because I was sat in a great position and could see what he was doing more clearly than I could see the action in other segments. It still wasn’t ideal as one is sitting in regular chairs peering upwards at the action on a tall kitchen surface so I’m sure I’ll get a better view when I watch it again when it’s aired. But it’s more about being there and watching the filming process than seeing the cooking process as clearly as one does on TV. Caines cooked a John Dory dish with aubergines, tomatoes and courgettes and I was one of those asked to record a little vox pop, possibly to be aired on the show. Of course, although everyone’s chatting when they bring the camera over and it all seems manageable, as soon as the producers shouts for quiet during filming, the focus of the room switches to the subject of filming. I’m a trainer, and so I’m used to speaking to strangers in public, and yet I found it so embarassing that my cheeks were hot and my hands clammy! But my table mates said I did very well, so who knows, maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought and I won’t cringe too badly when I see it! My comment mentioned growing all the vegetables in the recipe in my garden and that I hoped to make it with my own produce later in the year. At least, that’s what I meant to say, who knows what garbled rubbish came out?

Simon Rimmer’s segment was great too, he did a light steamed sponge inspired by Simnel Cake but much lighter and fresher. The chocolate and caramel sauce he made to serve with it was wickedly wonderful! He really is a professional presenter; a one take kind of guy, as opposed to Matt who tended to have to redo his segments quite a bit!

The presenters and guest chefs had a great rapport going at all times and all 4 seemed to enjoy themselves. With the exception of Maria, the gents were all pretty good at chatting to the audience between filming too, which made things more interesting for us.

Maria Elia first did a little interview with Simon about a traditional Easter greek-cypriot bread called Tsoureki before filming her recipe for a savoury baklava. The bread was rather nice, like a dense brioche, and I found it quite moreish, nibbling on it as they recorded her making the balkava. The baklava recipe name lists tomato, feta, almond and dates but the main ingredient was onion and far too few layers of filo for my tastes too. I really didn’t like it at all, so I was glad they didn’t ask me to film any comments about that one. I did enjoy the tzatziki served with it.

Anyway, I’m really glad I went on the show to see how things are done. I was surprised by how much faffing goes on though. Mind you, one of the other ladies in the audience had been on previously fairly recently and said there had been more cooking and less faffing on her first visit so maybe it depends on the guests and contents…

I’d like to go on again to see different guest chefs, so will keep an eye on the invitation emails over coming weeks/ months.

Oh, and you don’t have more than a few morsels of food during the show, so I went down to china town for some lovely dim sum for lunch afterwards!

PS “My” episode will air on the 9th April, if anyone does want to watch!

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