Oxhill News

www.oxhill.com / www.oxhill.org.uk

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

June 2005


This months News
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005


Coventry Cathedral
July Issue
Cover Picture
Chernobyl's Children
Hell and Back
Nature Notes
Service Times
Festival Choir
PCC Meeting
The Jephsons
Scarecrow Weekend
Parish Council
Plant Stall
Car Boot Sale
Garden Club
WI Report
Shipston Deanery
Volunteer 2005
Old Fire Station
Compton Verney

Back ] Next ]

Journey to Hell and back

Wednesday 27th April at 3 p.m. my mobile rings.  A voice at the other end says ‘Hello, this is Molly from Hell’s Kitchen.  You are on a shortlist for a table for two in said kitchen’.  I should explain that I had texted in the night before and answered the following question: ‘Which of these comes from a pig’ a) Escalope of pork b) Escalope of veal c) Escalope from Alcatraz?  I trust you know the answer.  Molly then explained that she wouldn’t know for another hour if the booking was to be confirmed.  As it was my birthday the next day, I told her I couldn’t think of a nicer treat and yes we were available.  The curry house could wait.  30 minutes later the table was ours and the production staff swung into action.

Thursday 28th April, my birthday.  Two train tickets arrived, Banbury to Marylebone.  We togged ourselves up and took an overnight bag and went off to catch the train.  Arriving at Marylebone at 7.30 p.m. my mobile rang ‘Hello Ray this is Hell’s Kitchen, your car is waiting outside for you’ and sure enough it was.

We were whisked across London to Brick Lane E.1 and eventually turned into a back street that you wouldn’t walk down in the daytime, never mind the night.  We then turned through high wooden gates into a compound presided over by a huge warehouse in front of which sat a marquee.  Car doors flew open, overnight bags disappeared and we were ushered into the marquee and plied with champagne, white wine etc. not forgetting the sponsor’s sherry.

The hitherto unseen Molly introduced herself and ran us through the dos and don’ts of Hell’s Kitchen.  Don’t look at the camera’s, don’t read the autocue (apparently its obvious to the TV viewers when customers read Angus Deayton’s autocue as they stare up in the air).  We are to pretend we are real customers who are paying £150 each for this meal and we were encouraged to criticize or send the food back if it wasn’t to our satisfaction.  You must fill in the verdict card at the end and you must not leave the restaurant until 11.30 p.m.  Can’t have empty tables on TV, can we!

At this point Channel 4’s racing loudmouth John McCririck arrived with the Booby, his wife, carrying a Fortnum & Mason hamper.  ‘I’ve seen them being carried out on drips’ he roared ‘So I’ve bought my own food, in case the chefs get all temperamental and close the kitchen’.

Our time had come and another production assistant arrived clad with microphone and earpiece ‘Mr & Mrs Dagg, table 15 is now ready for you’.  Out through another exit across the red carpet towards the famous HK doors, which were opened to reveal the interview area where we had to wait for a minute whilst Nicole Appleton finished interviewing some Hollyoaks babes, who I must confess I didn’t recognise.

Up the stairs and into the restaurant we were escorted to table 15 by Laura the Maitre’d, not as I had thought behind a pillar or near the toilet, but to a raised lit floor right in front of Gary Rhodes kitchen.  Wow, what a result, like being in the front row of the stalls.

We settled down and if you didn’t look up, it felt like a real restaurant.  If you did look up 30-40 feet to the ceiling, there were lights and camera’s everywhere.

Our wine waiter, Warren regarded it as a personal challenge that we couldn’t drain our glasses before he could fill them!  The radio DJ ‘Kid Jenson’ arrives with his daughter and is shown to the table next to ours.  A very pleasant man who was amazed to find out how we had arrived here.  Apparently, every night 100,000 people answer the question correctly on HK.  There are two tables for two, on average, on offer.  Odds of winning 50,000 to one.  How lucky were we?

In turn, I had the cheek to ask him how he got his table.  He was rung 2 weeks ago and agreed to come because he wanted to taste Jean Christophe Novelli’s food, ‘Are you under any pressure to come?’ I asked bearing in mind the place is full of C to Z list Celebs every night.  ‘No’ he replied adding that he didn’t do much work for Granada.

On to the meal.  You have to choose the same kitchen for everybody on the table and as Lin and I had seen several blue chefs perspiring all over the food, we decided to go red and support Gary Rhodes.

50 minutes and several wines later our starter arrived.  Lin had Smoked Haddock Rarebit on a bed of Tomatoes.  Pan fried Sea Bass on a bed of Black berried shallots served with Hollandaise sauce was my choice.  As instructed we wanted to complain, but it was nectar on a plate and we would have paid £150 for the starter alone!  10 minutes later the main course arrived.  We had both ordered Fillet Steak (medium) on a bed of spinach with a small oxtail pie, served with pureed potato and red wine jus, gravy to you and I.  Again we wanted to complain but we couldn’t.  It was out of this world.

We decided to complain about the sweet.  Lin had Gary’s infamous Bread & Butter Pudding and I had Rhubarb Mousse served with steamed Rhubarb Coulis and vanilla custard.  I don’t know whether it was the atmosphere or the copious amounts of wine we had drunk, but the dessert too, was heaven.

We had failed; we couldn’t find anything wrong at all!

Mc Cririck could.  He came to Gary’s kitchen and said his scallops were fabulous but the potato was instant smash.  Gary assured him it was all fresh and he then turned to JC’s kitchen, but before he could complain, Jean Cristophe said to him he was a pig and disrespected women and his wife and told him to go away.  McCririck replied ‘I’m glad I didn’t order your rubbish or we would have been poisoned.  Some Z list celebrity called H, apparently from ‘Steps’ pop group complained loudly that his table had waited 1½ hours and his steaks weren’t cremated.  The steaks duly cremated were re-served and H and his table marked Gary at minus 10.  Such is Hell’s Kitchen.

As we left at 11.30 p.m. a brief conversation with McCririck revealed his hamper had contained potted shrimp, smoked salmon and half a lobster and he had eaten the lot before his starter arrived.  How the other half live?

Outside the car was waiting to take us to our hotel.  Breakfast the next morning and the usual call at 10.30 a.m. to say our car was waiting and we were back to reality.

Total cost – £1 for the text

Hell’s kitchen – more like Heaven on a plate.  Next series get phoning, you could be lucky.

One complaint.  No Souvenirs.  Apparently last series everything with HK on it disappeared every day and they ran out of crockery.  Not this time.

Ray Dagg

This site is maintained by villagers of Oxhill for the benefit of the community and those interested in the history, news and activities that make the village such a pleasant place to live.

Send mail to the editor of the Oxhill News at news-editor @ oxhill.org.uk.

©2005 Oxhill Village (Terms and Conditions of use)

Last modified: May 30, 2005