Saturday May 4 2013

NTV’s Kitchen delight

Chatty chef Wanyama

Chatty chef Wanyama on his show.  

By Christine Wanjiru Wanjala

Frankly, I did not think there was still space for the traditional food show on TV anymore. Not since they begun inviting celebrities on Martha Stewart and made it all about the fun. Not to forget the food shows on Discovery Channel where the hosts more or less have fun with food. The more outrageous the better. Those seem to be all the range now. Besides I have a theory that people who have time to watch TV rarely have time to cook their own food let alone go out and look for the ingredients that make them.

The chef!
The researchers at NTV may hold a different opinion. Maybe unlike me; they got off their butts, moved away from the TV and did their research. The result is the Kitchen Delight show with Henry Wanyama as the host.

His muscle shirts may make him look more like a fitness show host than a chef, but he brings to life the recipes on screen which a proper cooking show should do, and attempts to add a bit of spice to the whole watching experience by engaging the viewers in conversation.
Does he succeed? I will put my opinions on a man holding an animated conversation while alone in a kitchen aside and say, he does come off as quite chatty. Is it a bad thing? Well here is a question for you.
Why would anyone watch a cooking show? Because there is nothing else to watch or because they want to learn how to cook. Definately not for entertainment value, we have sitcoms for that.

I think the show could do with less chit chat and more ingredients and food talk which is why I also fault the lone comment on one for the YouTube videos of one of the episodes. The person calls it boring, which in all fairness is not true of Kitchen Delight. If anything Wanyama is a lively chap even when he is talking about something as mundane as slicing cassava or crushing garlic.

I am a critic so the faults or WDT? (who does that?) moments will jump out to me more than anything. Like his choice of outfit for example on one show where he is grilling outside in Kampala heat with charcoal wearing a white muscle hugging long-sleeved sweater.

Or when he chooses to skip normal culinary lingo like garnish and instead say “beautify the meal”. And then there is the tasting his own food and axing lyrical about it. Come on, even the cooks in cooking oil adverts have someone else taste and praise the food for them. Honestly it bothers me that even when he has an ‘official taster’, he will sneak a bite and make a bigger deal of it than the guest.

So far the choice of dishes to prepare shows he takes into account the popular tastes, giving them just a bit of oomph which should serve to bring the viewers close.

Wanyama is also pretty good at making the most of a bad situation like this one episode he grilled fish and the darned thing stuck to the grill net as opposed to neatly falling onto the plate. “You do not need the skin,” he said as he scrapped it off. Cooking show is a hard sell; especially since the cooking is more often left to the help.

It is not the first one to hit out TV screens either but we can say Kitchen delight is the first one that does not look like a home science tutorial. Maybe we give it a little more time and see how it goes?