Food based television shows are incredibly popular and one such show was Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook. It’s a note of personal sadness that its no longer on the BBC. Perhaps they were afraid in these litigious times that someone would get food poisoning or something. The basic premise of the show was genius as most simple ideas are. 2 members of the public who had absolutely no interest in cooking or any degree of skill in it whatsoever were put in front of one of the Celebrity chefs Kevin Woodford (on the Tuesday and Thursday shift, Ainsley Harriot (taking Monday and Friday) and Lesley Waters in the midweek) and presented with a dish to cook. They were nominated by a long-suffering partner, wife or friend who was presumably sick to the back teeth with having to cook every night or be faced with a takeaway or microwave meal when they didn’t want to. It was the Chefs job to get these incapables to try and create the dish following along with them careful in the kitchen. It should have been pretty easy for them to master it over a Lincat LMR9 6 Burner Gas Range Oven like the ones that you see at https://www.247cateringsupplies.co.uk/catering-appliances/commercial-ovens-and-ranges/commercial-ranges/lincat-lmr9-medium-duty-6-burner-gas-range-oven . Although some of the more dim-witted ones forgot to even turn the oven on
The contestants were then prepared to try and cook the dish. To there credit the chefs never included anything too difficult. “This week were going to be cooking Lobster thermidor in the Provencal manner with a light pudding of sugar spun topped crème brulee and cappuccino foam” did not come from the lips of the chefs. Instead it was nice little curries or simple Spanish dishes or a light French classic. The idea was to inspire the non-cooks that with a little practice and a good try they might become enthused and cook a bit more. Surprisingly humiliation was not the name of the game in those day.
The carnage that ensued was legendary with the mock anger of Kevin and Ainsley adding to the joy of the show. Some of the Legendary mess ups were when Kevin said they had to stop completely when the non-chef happily poured a load of sugar into a savoury dish or when Ainsley had to come and turn on the gas when one asked him why his chicken wasn’t frying like his was. “let um cook! Let um cook!” Ainsley would scream as the contestant took them off the heat after a scant few minutes. Things got burnt, accidently mashed or mixed into the wrong part of the recipe even though everything was all laid out. So many catchphrases came out of the show. “Tickle those taste buds and “Lets Rattle those pots and pans” being Kevin and Ainsley’s favourite although Ainsley’s slightly suggestive insistence that Percy Pepper always needed to go over Suzi Salt and vice versa sticks out in my cooking now.
A really great little show. I wish they’d bring it back.