Unlike Marcus’s beef at the wedding buffet. That just made me sad. Hell, but this was a serious challenge, the only one which required a two day shoot because there was no way we could expect the chefs to take a grilling from us after the grilling they had given to everything else.
So I do not for a moment underestimate what they had to do, and there were some amazing items of food coming off that buffet: Jonathan’s chicken, Jody’s lamb, Susur’s endless parade of deserts. But it was Marcus’s beef that baffled because it played to something in the US way with steak which has always baffled me. Which is to say, the American fetish for tender beef.
When someone says the steak was so tender it was like butter, I just want to start shouting at them. WHY IN GOD’S NAME WOULD YOU WANT TO EAT BEEF WITH THE TEXTURE OF BUTTER? If that’s what you want why not just eat, I don’t know, butter? Being able to cut a steak with a spoon is not a good thing. It’s bizarre. A steak is a piece of an animal, a big one with hooves, and a snout and four stomachs and a tendency to wander hither and yon, farting as it goes. And if we bang one of those on the head just so we can eat it I want to know that what I’m eating has lived a life; that those magnificent muscles have done hard, hard work, lifting that huge body around the fields. Meat should have texture. Meat should be meaty. That doesn’t mean it has to be tough and sinewy. But it should require a little work. You should know you’re eating it.
At times I felt I could have eaten Marcus’s fillet through a straw, it was so soft and mushy. Lord knows how he managed it. And that was why, when it came to the scoring, he did so poorly. But by then Carmen had taken the bullet, and he was safe.
Still, be in no doubt. It was a close thing. And all because of a lump of fillet with the texture of cotton wool.
Jay Rayner is the author of The Man Who Ate The World, published by Henry Holt. Follow him on twitter @jayrayner1