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Too many cooks

Judges sift out contestants to find best home cook, writes Claire Brine

They cannot bring a recipe in

THE temperature is rising in the kitchen for the remaining contestants in Britain’s Best Home Cook, which continues on BBC One next Thursday (10 May). For the next seven weeks, the hopefuls will have just one goal in mind: to impress judges Chris Bavin, Dan Doherty and Mary Berry with nothing but their very best grub.

While the cooks are busy making and baking (and hoping to avoid the weekly threat of elimination), it’s the job of presenter Claudia Winkleman to follow their progress, explain the upcoming culinary challenges and offer lashings of encouragement.

In last week’s opening episode, ten cooks stepped into the house that they would be sharing for the duration of the competition. They also learnt about the kinds of challenges that lay ahead.

Judge Chris explains how the first round works: ‘The first challenge our cooks face is called “the ultimate…”, and that will change each week. We will ask them for their ultimate burger, their ultimate pie, their ultimate fish dish and so on. It’s something they’ve cooked many times before.’

After the taste test, the judges pick their favourite. Then comes the twist. The winner of the first round chooses an ingredient, which must then form the basis of a dish in round two. Called ‘cooks challenge’, it’s a test for which the contestants may need a few ideas up their sleeve.

‘They don’t know what’s in the store cupboard or in the fridge,’ says judge Mary. ‘And they cannot bring a recipe in – it’s got to be in their head.’

For the final, elimination round, the weakest cooks are asked to demonstrate their skills by following a technical recipe – to the letter.

‘The recipe is really detailed,’ explains Mary. ‘We don’t give them too much time and they’ve got to serve it up in time.’

Only the cooks who can remain as cool as a cucumber when working under pressure are likely to impress – and at the end of the series, one contestant will be crowned as Britain’s best home cook.

‘We’re looking for someone who makes the most of our wonderful British ingredients with variations on the classics,’ says Mary. ‘We don’t want fancy food or a lot of complicated stuff, no trickles or glaze on a plate or lots of piping, just simple, really well cooked food with a great style.’

It seems that Mary’s advice is to keep it simple.

But keeping it simple isn’t always that simple.

Whether we are in or out of the kitchen, there are pressures and problems that, unexpectedly, get thrown into life’s mix. We have to sift through them, pour our energy into persevering and then wait to see what the result will be. Sometimes it can be tempting to give up trying.

But if we want to create something beautiful out of life, help is available. In the Bible, Jesus teaches us how to keep it simple when life is at risk of becoming messy or overwhelming. He says: ‘Follow me’ (Mark 1:17 New International Version).

Whatever we are going through, we can go through it with Jesus. Trusting in his uncomplicated love and unlimited forgiveness can help us overcome the most complicated of situations. And when we follow his lead, we can rise to any challenge.

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