Snackmasters, Channel 4, Review: A Pleasingly Spicy Clash Of The Kitchens

Two culinary worlds collided as the new series of Snackmasters challenged a brace of Michelin-star chefs to recreate a spread of KFC chicken treats. Gastronomic gladiators Tom Aikens and Alex Bond vied to crack the mystery of KFC’s spicy flavourings in an hour of television that went down like comfort food.

Watching the duo obsess over paprika and mayonnaise consistency had a weirdly zen quality. Yet, while the clash of the kitchens premise was a hoot, it suffered slightly from over-enthusiastic presenter Fred Sirieix. The First Dates host seemed thrilled to be there and kept crowbarring in Gallic lingo, as if under the impression Channel 4 viewers had never previously encountered a real-life Frenchman.

But if Sirieix’s presenting style had been left too long in the oven, the duelling chefs were a study in contrasts. They had been asked to rustle up their versions of KFC’s Zinger Burger, Original Recipe Chicken and Super Charger mayonnaise.

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Aikens, the youngest chef ever to receive two Michelin stars, was introduced as a former bad boy, notorious in the 90s for his Gordon Ramsay-style outbursts. Now he came across as more low-key nutty professor as he spent hours at home trying to replicate the KFC burger bun.

The producers must have been relieved Aikens got into the spirit of things. Initially he had come across as vaguely disinterested: in one scene he casually checked his email as his staff slogged in the kitchen. Later, Sirieix appeared genuinely miffed when Aikens turned up more than an hour late to film a segment.

Bond, a relative newcomer to high-end dining and proprietor of Nottingham’s Alchemilla, was more enthusiastic. And in the final presentation to KFC executives, his chicken burger shaded it. He was throughly eclipsed, however, by Aikens’ fried chicken, which was agonisingly close to Colonel Sanders “11 spices” secret recipe.

Aikens’ reward was a comically huge trophy, though judging by his expression the real prize was no longer having to spend every waking minute thinking about chicken burgers.

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