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Margaret Mountford Apprentice Watch Week 2

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  Quote Bren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Margaret Mountford Apprentice Watch Week 2
    Posted: 01 Apr 2009 at 11:24

The Apprentice 2009: Margaret Mountford's Apprentice Watch – Week Two

Margaret Mountford
Last Updated: 6:29PM BST 31 Mar 2009

James dressed in a polyester "toga" while serving food Photo: BBC

Tonight Sir Alan sets the candidates a task that at first sounds as simple as making a ham sandwich. However, Week Two’s catering task is more complex than it looks.

Both teams, Empire (the boys) and Ignite (the girls), must cater for two rather different sets of clients in the City of London. First, they have to offer lunchtime sandwiches or snacks to business people, either by obtaining permission from companies to sell them inside their offices, or by accosting passers-by. In the evening they have to cater for a formal function hosted by a prestigious City firm. The teams must pitch to these firms to cater for their events and negotiate a price. But – and it’s a potentially expensive banana skin – if the clients are unhappy with the standard of the food or service, they will deduct a commensurate sum from the final payment.

The key to the task is in gauging the different sorts of food and standards of service the customers in each area of the task will expect. Thankfully both teams have candidates who appear to have the ideal experience to manage a catering operation. Rocky, who leads Empire, runs a lucrative chain of 15 sandwich shops. Yasmina, who leads Ignite, is an award-winning restaurateur. They have put their professional reputations on the line, but they’d have come in for a lot of criticism if they hadn't. Looking at Rocky and Yasmina’s CVs, one would expect both their teams to excel. But the catering task proves anything but a cakewalk.

The boys’ first problem is the theme they select for their menu, which is the 2012 Olympics. Rather than focusing on the food, the boys’ Olympic obsession becomes all consuming. Look out in particular for the preposterous sporting costumes they put on at lunchtime. James, whom we see striding round the City dressed up like Lennox Lewis, looks especially daft. I don’t think it would occur to anyone in their right mind to buy a sandwich from a man wearing boxing gloves.

However, this is just the start of the fancy dress farrago. For their evening function the boys change into “togas”, under the misconception that togas originate from ancient Greece, as opposed to ancient Rome. And I don’t think togas were made of polyester at Olympia. Indeed if the boys had gone near an Olympic flame in their synthetic costumes I hate to think what would have happened. Though the costumes certainly had an impact. The sight of the boys semi-naked in sheets would be enough to put anyone off their chicken tikka vol-au-vents – if, that is, you were contemplating eating one in the first place.

The girls don’t get into such a big pickle with their standards of service and presentation. But they do seem rather too obsessed with not repeating the mistake that scuppered them during the cleaning task. Last week they didn’t pay any attention to cost. Tonight they hardly pay attention to anything else.

Yasmina goes for a Mediterranean theme. I think that anyone who hasn’t been to the Mediterranean could be excused for thinking, after sampling Ignite’s menu, that the Mediterranean diet consists exclusively of tomatoes. The girls put tomatoes on everything.

The girls also struggle to identify the dishes they’re preparing. Despite owning a restaurant, Yasmina doesn’t appear to know what a blini – or a “bellini”, as she refers to it ¬¬– actually is. Look out too for an excruciating negotiation meeting in which Kate presents Ignite’s menu without being able to answer any questions about it. You’ll see a shot of me in the background cradling my head in my hands at the embarrassment of it all.

Then, of course, there’s the questionable quality of the food itself. Tonight’s culinary highlights include a chicken-free chicken wrap, a bold reinvention of the ploughman’s lunch – served on a stick, and an accidental addition to one of Ignite’s salads that has Sir Alan’s stomach turning in the boardroom.

With the boys’ overcooked ideas, and the girls’ underwhelming ingredients, it’s a very tough contest to call. Will Empire trip up on their polyester togas? Or will Ignite’s cut-price “bellinis” get stuck in their throats?

The Apprentice is on tonight on BBC One at 9.00pm

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2009 at 16:13
You beat me to it Bren! Can't wait for this episode tonight.

I read in a magazine this week that there won't be any overseas trips this year .... credt crunch! Instead they have to reinvent the Kent seaside town of Margate in a bid to attract tourists. They also go to Manchester and Liverpool.
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  Quote Thess Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2009 at 03:41
I'd forgotten that the ancient Greek participants inth e Olympics, competed in the nude. That may have made a bit of a difference to Empire's result!!!

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2009 at 16:13
... with spotty backs??!! I'm glad they kept that area well and truly covered!!
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