ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lord Sugar rush

There’s something about the pressures of impending deadlines that causes a rush of blood to ones head.

The deadline for applications for the next series of The Apprentice was midnight on Sunday, and so of course, late on Sunday evening the sense of ‘window of opportunity closing’ become unbearable, and Mrs B-V and I both filled in our application forms online in the nick of time a la Indiana Jones.

Much to our amazement, we've both made it to the initial interview stage too. I’ve no idea how many candidates make the shortlist, but we’ve been invited to don suits and show up at some TV studio for three hours next week… and it’s already sounding less appealing.

Thing is, I watch the show, but I do so from the ‘what complete tossers!?!’ perspective. While I’d quite enjoy the opportunity to lend the process a personality that’s a little different to the clones that usually turn out for these things, I’ve been asking myself:

Do I really want to be stuck in a house with a bunch of duplicitous, manipulative backstabbing desperados for eight weeks?

The height of new technology...
Do I really want to be awakened at ridiculous’o’clock in the morning and be forced to wear a suit all day while people use terms like ‘target market’ and ‘bottom line’?

Do I really want to start a new business, in partnership with the man who thought the Amstrad Emailer Plus was a viable technology product, who was pretty much saved from ruin by the extremely fortuitous digibox contract with Sky TV right before they took off, and who has given money to both Tottenham Hotspur and the Labour Party?!?.

Yes, I’m sure I’d be a ‘character’ on the show, and in the unlikely event that I won, I could cobble together some kind of food/drink-oriented business model - possibly a microbrewery for schoolchildren, or some kind of Risotto consultancy, but my passion would to create damn good, tasty stuff no matter what, and that would be a sticking point I’m sure.

Sir Alan, or whatever we’re meant to call him these days, would no doubt insist on all manner of business process, marketing wank, profit margineering and sales tossership that would kill anything inspirationally delicious that I could bring to the business.

The Enemy Without

Current favourite for this series, Helen Milligan works in the ‘food industry’ – what a ghastly term – as an Executive Assistant to a very important Chief Exec, but she’s been notably quiet about the exact identity of the company she works for - probably because it's Greggs.

The same Greggs who have flooded our high streets with the most horrible, unhealthy, margariney pastry products imaginable. The same Greggs who took over and shut down the Bakers Oven chain and replaced them with more Greggs.

Cheap and nasty barely begins to describe them and, by extension, arguably, their people.

I hate the Greggs chain and everything they stand for, for the same reasons I hate InBev and Cadburys and Coca-Cola – it’s all about the business of exploiting stupid people with no taste, with complete disregard for genuine quality.

And I don't rate Greggs Helen all that highly anyway, even if Sir Alan does.

So, I might show up on Tuesday, and I might not. It’ll largely depend on how much effort it will require, and effort is far better spent on achieving a silky consistency in one's roux than in filling out forms and buying new clothes.

If I do get past the next stage, the researchers will read this blog and I’ll be instantly ruled out for online impudence towards Lord Sugar anyway.

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