MILLION POUND MENU REVIEW

''You're fired!''  I mean, ''I'm out!''  I mean, ''cooking doesn't get any tougher than this!''  What I really mean here is that MILLION POUND MENU is a brand new show but it also kind of felt like it wasn't if you get me? It felt like The Apprentice meets Dragons' Den meets MasterChef!

Even though it was not the most original programme that I have ever seen in terms of its format, as food programmes go it was a pretty good effort overall.  I liked it being set in Manchester rather than London.  I like the sharp editing and emotive background music(much in the style of The Apprentice), and I genuinely found myself being moved by it as the ending credits rolled.

MILLION POUND MENU BBC2

In a very crowded genre, it did not do enough to massively stand out from the rest of them, but at the same time it was not that bad either.

At the beginning of this first episode presented by the famous-ish Fred Sirieix (First Dates), the format of the show was outlined for us.  Set in the food capital of the north, Manchester apparently (you're twisting my melons man), we were then briefly introduced to the all important restaurant investors.  Two groups of two investors were then self assigned to a potential restaurant business opportunity.

The business ideas presented to us were one called ShrimpWreck (Ewen) and the other Epoch (Emily and Ruth).  The former was cheap and cheerful seafood sandwiches with a twist, whereas the Epoch idea was all about strictly British high-end fine dining.  They were set three food challenges based over three days, in what was their new temporary given restaurants.

Firstly, the contestants had to prepare an evening service for the public.  This was the bit that was very much like Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, ie Epoch had a bit of a nightmare with their service.  Whereas with ShrimpWreck, it was the food being deemed too salty by one investor in particular that proved to be his undoing.

After meeting and talking with the potential investors, the contestants then had to open up their restaurants for lunch with the investors amongst their guests.  Again, it was pretty formulaic stuff that we have seen more than a million times before on television cooking shows such as this, ie we saw the tension filled successes and failures of the service.

Next was the climax of the show as it all went a bit Countdown on us, what with high tension focused on the ticking clock.  Sat alongside the reasonably competent and enthusiastic throughout presenter Fred, the two teams each sat in their restaurants waiting to see if they were going to get any life changing investment offers from the two investors.

Call me an old softy here, but as we got a happy ending with Epoch getting investment, as the tears flowed then so did mine.

Before I knew it the ending credits were rolling and I had a big smile on my face.  An original programme it was not, but it was very much a watchable one.  I liked it and intend on watching episode two.

- Aired on BBC2, May 17 2018.

Andy Lloyd

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