Mini MasterChef at King’s Prep, by Saffron

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” ~ Martin Buber

King’s school kids all wear the same clothes.  It is called a uniform and I think it is very smart.  The only problem is that they all look the same so I often think my big brothers’ are everywhere and I need to take a sniff to  actually find them.

I have been lucky enough to spend the last two weeks at the school.  We have been running a Mini MasterChef there and I have been able to sense the sheer adrenalin as I wake each morning.  The boys are scooted out of the house so quickly, as Vanessa is tearing down the stairs with my crate, bags of food, lunch boxes, a hand bag and her indispensable cell phone.  The rush is thrilling. Loud voices, scrambling of bags, shoes and socks in hand as we all charge for the car.  Yay, I think to myself – back to school 🙂  Often I take one last pee on the carpet just to make sure I mark my territory.  It seems to create an extra buzz that would be lacking if I hadn’t succeeded.

Once at school, there is a parting of ways.  The kids disappear into a stair well – they must get as much pleasure as I do running up and down those stairs because they are gone for an awfully long time.  I am lucky because I sometimes get to hang out in the kitchen.  There is so much activity in there first thing.  There are vegetables being chopped, sauces being poured, meat being rolled, dishes being washed and a lot of coffee consumed.  It is pretty cool watching everyone eagerly set up for the classes of kids due to come and cook their sliders.  The parents chat a lot about how the kids have been doing.  It sounds as if the cooking skills have surpassed expectations.  There have been outstanding plates of food, presentation, creativity and flavours.  I can’t say I have ever been allowed near the judging table though – very disappointing as I suspect I would have been fairly easy to please!

Once the real competition commences I find myself settling in quite nicely to the plushness of the front of house.  I have two lovely companions there who seem awfully fond of me, and I know when this whole caper is over I will really miss them.  I slowly obtain a full complement of toys and have become quite proud of my training regime within the school.  I naturally don’t wish to transfer this to my home environment because I still need to ensure that Vanessa knows I would have preferred to have been more involved with the Mini MasterChef.

Once those 420 boys have cooked up their sliders, the action doesn’t cease.  Indeed, the Semi Finals are a whole new game.  There are big guns coming in to help judge these rounds and I am rather put out not to crack a single introduction.  The Chefs arrive and exclaim admirably over the outstanding production of chicken stirfry.  Height in presentation, perfection of cutting evenly sized pieces, and a balance of flavours are all paramount at this point.  Of course, it is essential because we are all going to be on TV at the Grand Finals.

The big day finally arrives and whilst I was hoping for some beauty sleep, I get rudely awoken at 4.45am.  It is pitch dark outside and I am stunned to see the boys are up and ready to depart.  Paula has also appeared from Nelson and she is up bright and early too – what on earth are we all doing?

The school is lit and it’s all abuzz when we arrive.  I am discarded over to the side but I get a good view of the band of children gathered to cook ‘breakfast with a twist’ for Sam the Weather Man.  Everyone seems super happy and excited. The loud voices are almost sing-song and there is a buzz of cameras as the team pull together on each half hour to create a scene, for the switch to Sam and the weather for the day.  All the boys have cooked delicious egg and bacon dishes.  They smell really enticing and I am so looking forward to getting some morsels.

It seems though, I am vaguely forgotten after that.  Everyone departs from the dining hall and vanish across the driveway into another building.  Meantime, I am bundled up into the front parlour again.  Now, whilst I really am quite cosy in there, I am left wondering who is planning to feed me my breakfast!  I am also concerned I may be missing something really riveting.  It seemed to me there was more to come.  There were other stars yet to arrive and a bigger event taking place.

I can hear it.  I know it is happening.  Simon Gault has arrived, I am sure of it, and Sean Armstrong too!  It is mighty quiet where I am and no doubt that’s because everyone has taken to the Hall.  The four finalists will be cooking their omelettes by now.  I would kill for an omelette but I bet those judges eat them all.  I hear a roar.  I wonder who has won.  Or maybe they have just been told to step away from the bench.  Hard to tell when you are stuck in a crate away from the action 🙁

I can tell though that it has been a week of love and laughter.  The two weeks of cooking with kids has been priceless.  Enthusiasm has been boundless and the children have been ecstatic about their cooking (and about seeing me in the school daily!)  Even the senior staff seem to have taken a shine to me and I am sure they will miss me when I am not pottering around their reception halls.  I think I will really miss that grass by the Chapel too.  From there the vista of the school was magnificent and the aromas from the Dining Hall have been exemplary.


Ahh, Mini MasterChef at King’s Prep.  Let’s do it all over again! Woof……….

Click here to see the Final Cut!!!!!!!!!

Mini MasterChef with Weather Man Sam TVONE

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