Great British Waste (of Time) Menu

Having watched all 90 excruciating minutes of Great British Waste Menu last night I feel compelled to blog, mainly as catharsis. What a shocking waste of time for anyone unfortunate enough to sit through it. I really feel strongly that the BBC’s public service remit is not being served well by such a frivolous and pointless load of excrement. What was so wrong with it, why has this riled you so much, I can hear all five readers of my blog asking me? OK, here goes.

Why is waste bad? Ooh, we waste all this food, it’s terrible. Well that’s a hypothesis, now prove it. Common sense tells us that sticking a chicken in a nasty little barn, feeding it antibiotics and biscuits for 12 weeks, killing it, wrapping it in plastic, driving it to Woking, then Birmingham, then back to Woking, sticking it on a shelf, waiting for it to be bought, taken home, realising actually you are eating out with friends the next three nights and then chucking it away, MIGHT be a bad idea. But why? I mean, WHY EXACTLY. The Moebius strip like commentary was no help, continuously looping about how waste is terrible, how we throw so much away, and look at all those nice gem lettuces getting their faces ploughed into a field, and look at all this fish, and why doesn’t anyone eat these lovely ox pancreases. Oh its terrible, there’s a lovely meal in all that rubbish. Some fucking facts please! For example, I would imagine that chucking loads of food away probably equates to a load of CO2 emissions that were unnecessary. How much? What is the impact? Is there a working solution. Remember that growing plants is also a carbon sink (you will remember that plants eat carbon dioxide and shit out oxygen and glucose). The programme at no point deemed us intelligent enough to be treated to any kind of treatise on why waste is bad. Although it probably is.

I’m really confused, what are you talking about? Half the time the narrator was jabbering on about how the chefs could make a fantastic, wonderful meal from the contents of a bin. Look at this pineapple, its been flown thousands of miles and ended up in this bin! OK, but isn’t this the same Great British Menu strand that preaches the importance local and seasonal food. Is it now ethically OK to import anything you like, as long as it sits in a bin before ending up on a Michelin-starred plate of food? I’m really confused. Similarly the narrator nearly wet himself when Richard Corrigan got a crate of slip soles. “There’s no market for them” came the tedious refrain from the fishermen who obviously haven’t looked for a market for them – I’d fucking buy them! I note that the excellent Sportsman at Whitstable also puts them on their menu. But the narrator decided to caveat that it might be a bit bad to catch and eat young fish (slip soles being little baby soles). So OK, we shouldn’t catch them, but we have caught them, so might as well make a banquet out of them.

The competition wasn’t real. All of the decent dishes were made out of food that wasn’t out of date, wasn’t necessarily going to be chucked away. “You can have this topside of beef, we probably won’t use it” is not the same as food waste. This is some kind of proto-food waste living in a kind of Schrodinger’s metaverse where someone may or may not eat it. We’ll take it just in case it is going to be thrown away then. Additionally, the ox tongues and what-not that went into Matt Tebbutt’s starter might have been sold for dog food – well that’s also not the same as throwing it away is it? Anyway, I’d happily eat some ox tongue if you’ve got any spare.

That stuff in a supermarket bin was horrible even before it went in the bin. Stop going on about “all this lovely bread” that’s going to waste. That supermarket bread was a vile abomination the day it went on sale and its no bloody better having sat in a bin for 36 hours is it? Ditto almost everything else they pulled out of the bin. You wouldn’t be getting excited about these tasteless tomatoes and courgettes when they were for sale, so why are you getting excited now they are covered in an unidentifiable biofilm?

The food safety woman has an easy job. “Oh, I’m happy with this, its sort of cold, go for it” – I suppose the worst that could happen is that Oliver Peyton and a bunch of supermarket people might come down with a diarrhoeal illness and that’s not exactly a disaster.

Supermarkets are a bit evil, but no worse than we are. All these supermarkets are apparently obsessed with uniformity and have strict specifications for products. Actually we knew this back in 1992 and it isn’t news now because Prue Leith has got involved. Prue Leith I should add being responsible for some truly awful conference catering I have had the misfortune to experience. I do have a bone to pick with supermarkets though – they spend all their time getting the perfect size, shape, colour and texture tomato but still they taste bollocks. Sort it out please.

We don’t need a cooking competition to know that Simon Rimmer is shit at cooking. This is amply demonstrated by the execrable Something for the Weekend (Sundays, BBC2) where he cooks rubbish recipes and gurns on a weekly basis. We know that Angela Hartnett is going to cook some ravioli, she always does. I do like Richard Corrigan and Matt Tebbutt seems inoffensive enough. But what’s the point of a cooking competition between top chefs who are cooking shit found in a bin? This is a pointless addition to the show. And I already pointed out its rigged because most of the ingredients are perfectly fine and were never destined from the bin. And Oliver Peyton’s now getting upset because some of the food is a bit rubbish? Who cares? Who’s bloody idea was any of this? What is going on?

What stuff got thrown away from the Great British Waste Menu? Hannah kept on pointing at the decorative bins full of fruit saying “I bet those get thrown away after the show”. What about all the food that got collected but not cooked? I counted plenty. I think they should go to the landfill, collect it and force feed it to whoever conceived this absolutely useless programme.

I’m going to stop now, this has been cathartic and its going up with minimal editing because I have real work to do.

8 thoughts on “Great British Waste (of Time) Menu”

  1. Nice rant. Agree completely. The show was an insult to the intelligence. The only half-serious point was that growers can’t sell mis-shapen fruit and vegetables to supermarkets because consumers won’t buy them. Well I would – so supermarket bosses should give me the opportunity – maybe they wouldn’t want to sell them cheap and make less money.

  2. I hadn’t thought of all these reasons for finding the programme such a crock… But I endorse everything you say. It was a con from start to… Well I was going to say finish but we turned it off halfway through.

  3. Yes the programme was itself rubbish. I kept waiting for the facts and for the ideas about change. Getting some of the guests to sign a little pledge card at the end was pathetic – although it will be interesting if there is a follow-up to see if it made any difference. Don’t agree about Simon Rimmer btw – yeah sometimes his dishes don’t work or sound good – but he is a lovely guy and real, not cheffy or snobby – a foodie with some politics!

  4. Oh, I so agree! Particularly regarding the bins of food at the banquet. I kept justifying it to myself by thinking “they’re probably full of cardboard boxes and just the few bits on the top, which will get sent back to the kitchens to be used”, but I am pretty sure I was just patting myself on the head in consolatory fashion. Still, one good thing is that the show engendered a conversation between myself and my dearly beloved, about how the problem of food waste could be addressed. Kept us from sleeping for a good hour, that did.

  5. just to thicken the plot-my fishmonger (The Sportsman in Seasalter) was the one telling Corrigan that he couldn’t sell slip sloles.We’ve been selling around 20 a day and they have been struggling to keep up with demand (some days unable to get the amount we want).They also charge £9 a kilo.Just television not allowing the truth to get in the way of the point they want to make.

    1. Apologies Stephen, I only just saw your comment in the moderation queue. Interesting, sounds like the programme makers may have been putting words in the mouth of your fishmonger in order to make their tenuous point about fish supplies? Anyway, keep up the good work, hope to make it down to your place again soon.

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