Karen Ross talks about ‘My Greatest Dishes’
Managing Director of Sidney Street, an Endemol Shine UK company, talks about a delightful new cooking show for UKTV, ‘My Greatest Dishes’ which beautifully explores a chef’s culinary past as they recreate four recipes from significant moments in their life.
I love how the show blends an array of mouth-watering dishes with personal stories from the star chefs who created them. How did this idea come about?
We loved the idea of Dessert Island Dishes – if you were a chef with a repertoire of thousands of killer dishes, could you possibly bring it down to the four that have meant the most to you in your life and your career. Turns out they had no problem doing this.
What was the selection process in finding the chefs?
It was less a selection process and more an availability lottery. As I’d made MasterChef in the UK for close on 14 years, and Mary Berry for the last 6 years, the relationships were already in place. The channel had some requests and I had a wish list. We found our kitchen and set our filming dates and luckily so many of our absolute favourites were around to do it. (It helps to film chefs in January post their Xmas crazy season.)
The whole narrative from each of the chef’s stories seems so off the cuff and natural on the show, can you explain how you guided them through this process in telling their stories behind each dish?
Chefs love to talk about their food and they are really good at it. It always amazes me how they remember details from decades ago if it centers around a dish. But to help with the more personal stories we kept the set small and intimate and gave them time and space to tell the darker sides to some of their dishes.
Tell us how the pitch went at UKTV?
We went in with an idea for a food series based around Christmas and walked out with a kernel of an idea for this. We went off to develop it and the commission followed very swiftly.
For someone looking to adapt this show for their local market, what advise would you give?
I think it’s a brilliant show to make if you already make MasterChef in your territory. You will have that little black book of chefs that you and the channel love and I promise they will have stories about their food – they always do. A kick-ass home economist team is essential as we shoot an episode in a day and the food can be complicated. Add that to a beautiful simple kitchen location and you have all the ingredients you need to make it.
What trends do you see in cooking shows currently?
I think the era of prime time chop n’ chat is almost over for main stream channels. Weekend morning slots, Instagram, recipe sites and YouTube now dominate where we go to learn how to cook. I think the other food we watch is now for pleasure, and is personality led with stronger aspirational travelogue aspects to it. Obviously food competition still has its place in so many forms, but many of the newer ones can’t break through in the same way as MC, GBBO and MKR. We have reached saturation point perhaps? I still think no one has cracked a format that buys into the insta obsession with food or other millennial food trends.
What was your favourite moment on set?
Obviously tasting all that food!
What are you binge watching these days?
My guilty pleasure is the genius, dark and sadly addictive ‘My 600lb Life’, the wonder that is ‘The Repair Shop’ which is such a breakthrough format, the US comedy ‘Better Things’ which the BBC showed, and Ricky Gervais’ ‘After Life’. A great lover of brilliant fact entertainment I can always tune in to ‘Long Lost Family’ and Tattoo Fixers – and with a science obsessed 11 year old we also watch a lot of Steve Backshall, Chris Packham and Brian Cox in their many guises!