Tonight’s first course: fine dining. “It’s got to taste good but it’s got to be refined and look really pretty – like a picture,” smiled Natalie, as she set her duck to sizzle.
Sadly, Larkin wasn’t listening. He knew dessert would be his downfall. He was wrong: it was his butter-fingers. One false move and suddenly it looked less like a soufflé in a mango, and more like somebody had regurgitated breakfast on a mango.
In walks Marcus Wareing (aka Gordon Ramsey’s protégée who makes his old boss look like a pussycat). Suddenly Larkin looked he wanted to regurgitate breakfast, whether there was a mango handy or not.
Saira was the first casualty. She chewed her lips. Her soup wasn’t chunky enough; her millefeuille wasn’t fruity enough. “Lovely,” “lovely”, reassured Gregg, realising that no more Saira means no more curry on the menu.
Only Natalie escaped a roasting. Gregg didn’t. Wareing coolly informed him that her oozing chocolate fondant needed no adornment. Gregg chewed his lips.
Saira got off lightly. Dale thought he was cooking langoustines and razor clams. What he hadn’t realised – until Wareing enlightened him – was that langoustines and razor clams are the nectar of the gods. Worse was to come: he’d poisoned the nectar of the gods. By the time Wareing turned his nose up at the chocolate tart, the Welshman was sniffling like a chastised schoolboy. You know it’s bad when you need a hug from Gregg.
But Dale was merely the amuse-bouche. “Why are you apologising?” Wareing asked Larkin with quiet menace, warming to his role as long-suffering teacher. The pork and langoustine dumplings quivered.
John played the role of disappointed parent to perfection: “I don’t understand this, Larkin. You know what’s really difficult for me? I’m standing here with Marcus Wareing standing next to me questioning my ability to be able to judge you.”
It was time for the regurgitated mango. I chewed my lips. John and Gregg gulped. Wareing dished out the ultimate insult: he refused to taste it. Ramsey would be proud.
Did I say my money was on Larkin? I don’t know about him but I need a stiff drink.