THE DISH: Of cooking shows and pastries!

Tuesday July 31 2018

I love cooking shows, especially those that teach you what to look for in terms of flavour and presentation. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH


I've been watching this pretty great series called “Sugar Rush”. It's about baking, and it's a competition with a time limit on it.

There are three rounds and four teams; one team gets eliminated after each round. The rounds consist of making a cupcake, making a confectionery, and then making a cake.


Why am I watching it? Because I love cooking shows. And I've watched a bunch. Everything from the more traditional types like “Siba's Table” and the “Barefoot Contessa”, to fictional shows about chefs like “Kitchen Confidential” and “Young and Hungry”, to documentary shows like “Chef's Table”, which for some reason I find painful to get through, to three-minute Jamie Oliver clips and five-minute Tasty ones”, to my absolute favourite genre – cooking competition shows.

I've done “Chopped”, of course, “Master Chef”, “Iron Chef”, “Hell's Kitchen” and its variations...I'll watch anything where someone is getting yelled at, or eliminated. There was another show called “Nailed It” on Netflix, which, for some reason, I can't stand because it's such a bad joke.


A chef at work. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH


I'm not watching cooking shows to watch amateurs do terrible creations. There's enough bad cooking in this world. I didn't even get far enough to watch the “Queer Eye” crossover. That's how bad it was. I love “Queer Eye” but even when I heard that they were on the show, I couldn't watch. Go figure?

“Sugar Rush” is hosted by Hunter Marsh, who has done a bunch of other shows for Netflix. The judges are cupcakes queen Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson (she of the cupcakes vending machine fame) and Australian pastry expert Adriano Zumbo (I am watching his show next, “Zumbo's Desserts”).

There's only one season out, but as this one gets warmer, the host gets more comfortable, and the judges get into their groove, the show gets better. Hunter keeps making up nicknames for Zumbo, like the Dark Lord of Pastry, and the Mad Hatter of Cake Batter. And then it's over! Eight episodes in.

I like shows that kind of teach you what to look for in terms of flavour and presentation. By the end of the season I felt like I could judge a pastry show, hehe. All I would have to say about cake would be, you know, 'I need a little more salt in this, to bring out the flavour. It was a bit too sweet for me' and 'The cake is so moist, which is very important, and your buttercream is so silky' – things like that. I'm sure it isn't that easy, but wouldn't it be great to be a judge for that show?


Anyway, now that I am deep into my feelings of self-importance, every time I see something that is edible that looks like a great deal of design went into it, I judge it in my head – whether it is food or drink or pastry.


Smoked Virginia Sour cocktail served at 88 Lounge and Restaurant, Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi. The drink is made using Virginia black whiskey, simple syrup, egg white and a dash of angostura bitters. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I've been treated to two things this past week – one was a drink I had at Villa Rosa Kempinski's 88 Lounge and Restaurant. To be honest, I didn't like their food as much as their alcohol, but this is only the second time I've been there so I'll have to go a third one just to be sure. But the presentation of the cocktail I had! It was a variation of a whisky sour, and they presented it in a cut glass with a slice of lemon floating at the top and pink luminescent edible pearls sprinkled on the top. I was impressed.

Another really cool feature I saw this weekend was – my birthday cake. I have a thing for Bruno Mars, particularly his last album (the days of Grenade lost me, then I started warming up around Gorilla. Now I'm a full-fledged fan).

My friends, knowing this, found a pastry chef called Little Cake Girl, and she made a Bruno Mars inspired cake – down to the signature white cap on the cover of his album, colourful Versace shirt with detailing, and black and gold theme with a golden chain!


The Bruno Mars-themed cake. PHOTO | COURTESY | LITTLE CAKE GIRL

I was floored, and not just because it was my birthday, but because I love when a little thought goes into whatever someone is making for my mouth. one – it's more of an appreciation for the beauty food can bring to our lives.

Also, it might be time for an exciting Kenyan cooking show, yes?


Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.