Thursday, 30 October 2008

Ze Restaurant - the final

Well, what an utter travesty. Put-upon Russell and the inane smiley woman? You want to “urpen a restaurant wiz them” Raymond? REALLY?
The whole of last night’s programme – nay the whole series – seemed edited to get us onside with James and Alastair as everything on their Orient Express task went tickety-boo, apart from some exceptional fusspots objecting to being served an overcooked lobster thermidor (look, at least they spelled it right!)
We’ve been with them on the lows (various hospital emergencies, scaloops) and the highs (impeccable Orient Express service). Only for Raymond to inform us at the last they’d lost out to the Not Terribly Cheerful Souls.
As we’d thought, we spent most of last night wanting to smack Michele. Murder on the Orient Express? We wish!
Michele: “Russell, Russell. I’ve bought these gifts and I’m not sure which paper to wrap them in. Should I choose black-and-white or tissue paper? I just don’t want it to look too girly!”
Russell (through gritted teeth, up to his eyeballs in grapefruit): “Haven’t really got time for this now dear”.
Michele (on board the train): “Russell, Russell, I seem to have left the musicians at Victoria Station.”
Russell: (through gritted teeth, smashing biscuits against walls) “You’ve done WHAT love?”
Russell, meanwhile, seemed to have designed his menu especially so Michele could fling it over passengers. Champagne? Soup? Melted sorbet? Coming right at you! The only thing that didn’t fly in the poor diners’ direction was red wine, for the simple reason Michele hadn’t thought it necessary to bring any. Perhaps she’d thought the musicians could enjoy it on the station platform.
Yes, James and Alastair’s food probably wasn’t up to its normal standards. But they did, at least, work as a team.
Was it just our imagination or were they holding hands under the table as Raymond announced his verdict on who would be his new business partners?
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. We give Russell and Michele’s restaurant five months. Five months, that is, before he snaps and goes for her with a roll of wrapping paper. Or tissue paper. Something not too girly.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Russell said, in conclusion. A rollercoaster ride? On a reality show? Oh, you don’t say!


scharabo said...

First keep in mind when this series played on BBC it was an hour long (no commercials). BBCA cut 15-20 minutes out of it for commercials. Thus, it was double edited, once by BBC and then by BBCA. Why sometimes the preview didn't fit what was shown nor the voice over to what happened.

Perhaps Michele's problem was in trying too hard. Did she call Russell because she really needed help making a decision or because she wanted to demonstration coordination between kitchen and FOH? They (at least she) wanted to win so badly I think she was afraid of making a mistake which would cause them to lose.

You somewhat need to put the Season 2 results in context of Raymond's experience after Season 1. There he selected Jeremy and Jane, who lasted in the new Eight on the Thatch for about six months before quitting - leaving him stuck with the restaurant. From what I can tell Raymond assigned a sous-chef and assistant FOH from one of his other restaurants. While Jeremy's theme in the series was the eight course tasting menu, apparently he was not allowed to implement it, being allowed to add only two dishes to a menu given to him. According to Wikipedia apparently there were 'heated debates' between the two of them. Plus, Jane had a baby and they were far from their families.

From their blog site (just do a Google search on Michele Russell restaurant) they are being allowed to prepare their own menu (subject to a item-by-item approval of Raymond) and to hire their own staff.

With Ali and James, I suspect he eventually would of had another Jeremy and Jane situation - or at least to assign full-time nannies. I think he simply felt more comfortable going with the safer team of Michele and Russell as business partners.

Russell is more of a 'technical' chef than James and perhaps that better fits a brasserie style restaurant (which, from what I can tell, is somewhere between a pub with food and fine dining).

James simply blew the OE dinner. Lobster at something like $15 USD pound. Then it was overcooked and served with bitter baby turnips (lobster and turnips?). Russell went for a more safe menu and his grapefruit sorbet was apparently a real accomplishment with no on-board refrigeration.

While Russell's menu may not have been as daring as James's, it was apparently far more cost efficient - which is one of Raymond's standards. And, while not shown, apparently the wine flowed freely in Ali's car.

Ali's disposable camera and cheese platter was, at least to me, out done by Michele's gifts which were in keeping with the area they were traveling through - called The Garden of England. They were a gardener's hard soap and lotion and chocolate from a speciality shop.

I can see the logic of only serving white wine as it was in keeping with their garden theme.

Michele, more so than Russell, made mistakes, but they were relatively minor (inexperience) than those of Ali and James (blunders).

I suspect Raymond (and the other judges) identified M&R or A&J as the likely winners about mid-series. While he seemed to be particularly harsh on Michele, he was likely testing her. With A&J I suspect he wanted them to win, but they just kept fustrating him with their blunders. "A cat may have nine lives but you have used up all of your's". "I already have two children, I don't need two more." "If you have any business sense it is well hidden."

M&R were the restaurant of the week three times, compared to none for A&J. They were also the most profitable weekend a couple of times. I doubt A&J were even once.

And, he didn't just throw out Ali and James. After the final BBC airing they were given a three month apprenticeship at his flagship restaurant. I can't find what happened to them afterwards, but suspect both are now working in a Michelin star restaurant, but perhaps not together.

I suspect James has the potential to eventually be a Michelin star chef. However, I don't see Ali as anything more than a head waiter or matre-d (sp?) at a high-end restaurant.