July 2004
 
Felix Hunt - a guide to etiquette

Hell's Kitchen? Simply heaven my dears. I am particularly drawn, as you may know, to the world of thespianism and to see so many darling actors expressing themselves with pots and pans was simply wonderful. Big, butch James is such a sweetie and darling Amanda with her charming vagueness, half moon glasses and hair like an explosion in a wig factory is simply to die for. I wasn't at all sure about that big chap, Al Murray, apparently a barman in real life. He seemed too knowledgeable for someone who normally reheats baked potatoes and slathers (such a lovely word, it's Nigel Slater's favourite you know, in fact I think he invented it, such a show off!) baked beans all over the top. Incidentally I must have a word with dear Nigel about his use of the word 'supper'. He seems to think any meal eaten in the evening is supper. Obviously he is trying to 'counter jump' as my dear old nanny used to say, but he won't get far like that.

Ah yes Hell's Kitchen. I went, you know. Gordon simply insisted. He said if Felix wasn't there he'd simply not bother cooking that night. So what could I do? Charming Mr Deayton met me at the door and although it's true he seemed a bit sniffy (!!) he does wear a lovely suit. His barbs of sarcasm masquerading as wit I turned aside and his comments about my personal appearance I ignored. An excellent table not entirely behind a large pillar was found for my party and we sat down for some drinks. Some time later, for some inexplicable reason I found myself feeling pretty strongly on the subject of bullying in the kitchen and made my way to the pass to let Gordon hear a piece of my mind. Well, my dears the language was shocking! Gordon said he'd never heard anything like it, and he's been about a bit.

A rather large man assisted me back to my table and feeling rather restless I wandered off to the Gents. Standing shoulder to shoulder with a man in jeans (jeans!) I made the comment that my food had still not arrived and that I was feeling quite faint with hunger. This chap tapped the side of his nose knowingly and swallowing back another excellent Angus Deayton joke, I followed him around to the back parts of the building. There laid out was the most enormous feast - a fabulous choice of hot and cold dishes, crates of wine, piles of fruit, platters of cheeses. A cornucopia of riches. My new friend indicated that I should help myself and I did, lavishly. I enquired of some of the other burly men sitting at table how this food came to be and, removing a spoonful of caviar from the central mound, one of them explained to me that this was the standard meal for production and camera crew as laid down in Union rules. 'It's not bad,' he conceded. 'Better than that stuff the guests are getting outside. You wouldn't want to eat anything that Abbi Titmuss had cooked. You don't know where her hands have been.' He paused and looked thoughtful, 'well, actually you do know.'

Replete and merry I made my way back to my table to find my companions had left - hunger having driven them to eat elsewhere. As I contemplated Ramsey's kitchen - people crying their eyes out, Edwina tossing knives at the wall, Matt (or was it Luke?) Goss staring lovingly at his reflection in the chrome, I asked myself what sort of society have we become when minor stars of stage and screen are forced to humiliate themselves for money?

Back next month when I will tell you how I got on in Papua New Guinea in this season's 'I'm a Celebrity.' Apparently they have a special dish lined up for me and I can hardly wait