Monday, June 08, 2009

GFWS 2009 -the good, the bad and the downright sexist

If you love big exhibitions, buy those supermarket-chain food magazines and watch programs like Masterchef – you will love the Good Food and Wine Show. However if the term “foodie” gives you heartburn and you find the cult of the celebrity chef distasteful this event might not be your thing.

As for me, I left the GFWS feeling a tad queasy.

The Good

Most exhibitors were generous with samples. You could more than recoup your entry fee on the wine tasting alone and after work on a Friday and that was what a fair few people seemed to be doing in the grog enclosure.

Food-wise two products stood out and both involved people doing things with real food. One exhibit did a great job of demystifying quinoa from cooking it in vegetable stock as a base for a casserole, to creating a delicious salad. The second standout was an avocado promotion. The smoothies made with pineapple, avocado, honey, orange juice and a little desiccated coconut was so good we went back for seconds.

We were given currency to use in the restaurant enclosure. Four chefs devised a simple menu with an entrée, main and dessert each. Of them, Gordon Ramsay’s simple and healthy offerings were the only ones fitting my criteria. Just as well because his salmon was a standout. It was while we were polishing off an early meal we were approached by an employee desperate to give away tickets to Ramsay’s next show in the kitchen stadium. We said no at first, neither or us a fan of the man though when we heard he’d be demonstrating how to cook the salmon we were sold.

The Bad

Product warning! Later in the year a Tasmanian company will be launching their Australian grown and canned tinned salmon. I wanted to like it but to be honest, I suspect there are cat foods on the market that taste better. I am their target market, with a stack of Wild Alaskan tinned salmon in my cupboard but the local product was so unbelievably foul I shudder just writing about it.

Speaking of cat food, as always there were far too many exhibits devoted to off theme products – pet consumerables, wash cloths, really pushy Asian massage hawkers that created a kind of visual and aural spam.

The Ugly

Gordon Ramsay doesn’t have a pretty face (even if it may or may not have been made less mobile thanks to botox). But that is not what makes him unattractive. I don’t own a single cookbook by a television celebrity and unlike the women whooping loudly in the front few rows – I am not a fan.

We rocked up to the half-full “Celebrity Theatre” just as the show was getting underway. The person seated next to us whispered they’d been sold out last year. Had Gordo lost his mojo with the GFC, infidelity and all? We endured the never ending warm up segment where audience members willingly humiliated themselves in the hope of winning show bags, until finally the man himself arrived with only moderate cheering from the audience and not a single pair of knickers thrown on stage.

Oh boy, what a big disappointment. Minute after aching minute of woman-hating rhetoric in the name of comedy spewed out of his mouth. He continually dissed Tracy Grimshaw, Susan Boyle and womankind generally to lukewarm response. For a man so keen to rub his genitals against the opposite sex, his blatant disrespect for the gender was from a different century.

With over half the allocated time now wasted he finally started cooking and attempted to redeem himself. Yes the man can cook. He knows how to dumb down a recipe for the public and what he created ticked all the boxes for simplicity, good produce and even health.

But the man himself, like the canned salmon left me feeling quite nauseous.

Disclaimer: I attended the show and ate at the restaurant courtesy of Stellar Concepts. Entry prices for Melbourne and Sydney are $27.50. The Ramsay Salmon dish with a glass of wine is available for $24.

Tickets to Gordon Ramsay ($47.50) were provided independently, by the event management on the day.

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Anonymous Lucy said...

Thank gawd you wrote this review. I've been thinking about how we both had to shove chocolate in our mouths immediately after eating the tinned salmon from the creepy Salmon Cave...shudder...

As for the smoothie, I made one yesterday and forgot the honey. Do not forget the honey - it's nice without, but much better with.

And to Gordon, a piece of advice. If an audience does not laugh, then you have to tell said audience - repeatedly - that 'it's a joke, people' then, I'm afraid, it's not a joke, nor is it funny. The tahini dressing over radishes was genius, though. Thank so much for inviting me along as your partner in crime.

Lovely Alistair MacLeod, though. Energetic and giggly.

10:29 am  
Blogger Johanna said...

ok, now I don't feel so bad about not going to this - it is sad that gordon ramsay's fame has been about his personality (which has never seemed anything to be proud of unlike his cooking).

I like the word foodie but to me it is not all about people pushing their products at me and the silly shenanigans they call masterchef - to me it is about loving food rather than being a celebrity!

The smoothie sounds excellent - I must remember to try it.

10:52 am  
Blogger jamesbluntknife said...

i had the misfortune of being dragged to this by a friend that had never been. it feels like every year it gets worse, but then again maybe my tastes have changed - i first went to a gfws 5 years ago, and i remember a lot of small produce people selling organic fare.

nowadays, it just seems that the major manufacturers use it for a test bed.

overall i was left with a bad taste in my mouth, and i didn't even try the salmon cave tinned salmon!

the quinoa was good though :)

9:27 am  
Blogger docwitch said...

I find Gordon generally repulsive, (and it's not the swearing or I'd be a bloody hypocrite).

That's such a shame about the salmon. It would be so great to have a good local product of that nature.

Those smoothies sound awesome (have to use that word now and again). I wouldn't have thought to use that combo of ingredients. Maybe you could make up a recipe and post it?

2:38 pm  
Blogger Wendy said...

Great review. Thanks for posting.

And Ramsay is a knob. Pure and simple. :)

4:56 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Wendy has summed it up nicely: Ramsay=knob.

Though the Prime MInister has got involved so he's now a state-declared knob, which made the BBC news overnight.

Doc Lucy's searched the website where the recipe was meant to be to know avail. Biggest ingredient of the smoothie is OJ, then pineapple, avo, honey and in a big blender it was only 1-2 tsp coconut. (from memory)

Johanna glad you feel like you haven't missed out :)

8:27 am  

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