Cooking It



Jun Tanaka


Voiceover: Frances Barber


Radar for Channel 4, 10 October to 14 November? 2006 (6? programmes)


Jun Tanaka thinks that you can forget about paying £80 a head at Gordon Ramsay's, just get thee down to Asda and help yourself to ingredients that will allow you to rustle up cordon bleu cooking in less time than it takes to "ping!" a frozen shepherds pie.

The formula of each episode is the same: (1) Find willing victim who can't even cook toast; (2) Go to the supermarket and buy really mysterious-looking ingredients like spring onions, duck and a lemon; (3) Get victim to make a complete hash of it; (4) Show victim how it can be done; (5) Show another dish to victim to cook; (6) Surprise victim with friends/family who have to be fed that day; (7) Show victim a "schuzzed up", Michelin-star version of the same dish plus an all-new starter; (8) Enter victim in a competition with two other chefs of 5+ years experience; (9) Hope for the best.

Although its parent programme Faking It was a hit with the chattering classes, the leaden plotting (e.g. end of Part 3 = "Oh no, I've broken my foot/lost my voice/fallen down a well and the competition's tomorrow") and the drearisome one-hour running time caused it to become an albatross rather than a golden goose in Channel 4's schedule.

Thankfully, Cooking It's zippy two-parter 30 minutes is much more like it, and neatly balances the mix of on-screen cookery tips, entertainment and a competition. Jun is especially good at being friendly, encouraging and not assuming even the slightest detail. You can tell he owns a cookery school.

Only one thing gripes with this version, something that Faking It was also guilty of - the reveal of "I'm not really a chef" is done terribly in an eggy, low-key manner. A producer behind the camera tells each judge individually and that deprives us of a nice moment of surprise to everyone in the room that could have been done much better just after the competition result is announced.

See also

Faking It


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