Omelette Arnold Bennett

(photo: BBC)

‘Masterchef – The Professionals’ is back on BBC TV, the competition for professional chefs. I admit to being glued to the programme every night, and this year I’m watching even more attentively as my son is training to be a chef (and of course this proud mum would love to see him on the programme in the future….)

At the start of the competition, the chefs undergo a variety of “skills tests”, including making brandy snaps, boning, trimming and tying up a joint of meat, preparing a lobster or crab, or making the classic Omelette Arnold Bennett. For a “classically trained” chef, these tests shouldn’t present too many problems, as many of these skills and dishes are standard fare in the chef’s basic training. Of course in the TV spotlight and under the eagle-eyed stare of Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, nerves can get the better of the contestants and mistakes inevitably happen….

During last year’s contest, I enjoyed lively conversations on Twitter with pianist and writer Susan Tomes, and once again we are exchanging thoughts about the competition. One thing that has puzzled both of us is how these chefs seem to lack basic skills, skills which one would expect them to have mastered within the first few years of their training (my son, for example, who is in the second year of his diploma course, learnt to make Omelette Arnold Bennett in his first year). And it set me thinking about what the equivalent skills would be for a pianist.

So, if the pianistic equivalent of Omelet Arnold Bennett is the first Prelude & Fugue from Bach’s WTC (a suggestion received via Twitter), what other basic attainments should a pianist have, based on an equivalent list of culinary skills? I would love to have your suggestions, which I will then collate into a further blog post exploring this theme. Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments section at the foot of this post.

How to chop an onion

Make a roux sauce

How to cook pasta properly

Salmon en croute

Prepare an artichoke

Black Forrest Gâteau

Make a soufflé

Coq au Vin

Steak Tartare

Prepare oysters

Deboning, trimming and tying a joint of lamb

1 Comment

  1. Deboning the lamb = piano tuning. Theoretically, you should be able to do it, but you won’t do as good a job as a professional (butcher!)
    Soufflé = Accompaniment. Works fine when alone, but goes wrong when others are involved.
    Preparing oysters = Rachmaninoff – you’re going to hurt your hands

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