Review: Jay Rayner's Ten (Food) Commandments

November 22, 2018


Sometimes, food rules feel like the Red Sea - one minute you're floating gently, thinking you've got it all sussed, the next a wave of new dos and don'ts rolls over you, leaving you disorientated and feeling like you're drowning.

In a bid to provide guidance for the hapless voyager, restaurant critic and sometimes jazz pianist Jay Rayner, has written The Ten (Food) Commandments, his own food rules which contain a lot more common sense in an attempt to part this Red Sea. Now he has turned it into an interactive stage show and taken it on the road.

And last Friday, the show came to the Royal and Derngate in Northampton, where he brought his book to life in front of a select and 'discerning' audience.

Sadly, Children in Need on the telly and Sarah Millican in the auditorium next door meant there weren't as many in the audience as there could have been. Shame, because they missed an excellent show.

Having interviewed Jay a couple of weeks ago for the day job - you can read the interview here I had to go along and see his interactive one man show for myself.

Anyone who has read his restaurant reviews in The Observer and online knows he has a wit so sharp you could cut through tomato skins with it and it was the same on stage. He took the audience through his Ten Commandments from eating with your hands through to honouring thy pig, accompanied by a series of slides and video appearances from some well-known chef friends.

The show also entered the realm of politics, challenged preconceived notions of food (superfoods don't exist) as well as providing some eye-raising moments (in the form of a slide featuring Jay and pork scratchings, American Beauty style - you can thank the guy on Twitter who gave him that idea later).

Audience members were asked to come up with their own food commandments and, during the intermission, tweet them to Jay, which included 'Thou shalt not serve me tiny plates of British food and call it tapas', 'Always live near the Co-op' and one from me, 'Though shalt not spiralise a vegetable and call it a viable alternative to carbohydrates' which I am pleased to say got a number of cheers. This lead to Jay remembering, not fondly, being forced to eat spaghetti squash grown by his mum Claire when he was a child. Apparently it's vile.

Then it was time for Jay to be grilled by the audience. Indeed he was by the first questioner who asked why they could only use cash, not card, to buy his book from the theatre bar. Everyone waited for the answer with bated breath...

Other, slightly more challenging questions included whether he'd always planned to be a restaurant critic (he hadn't), where in Northampton he'd eaten that evening (grapes, an apple and a pork pie were on the menu for later), to explain his 'train picnics' and which chef was better, Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay (neither).

Ten Food Commandments has two more dates this year: in York this Friday, November 23, and Norwich, next Thursday, November 29 (this show has sold out). He is also performing My Dining Hell in London next month. You can find out more about the shows, and his jazz quartet, on his webpage I highly recommend catching one of his shows if you can.

FoodIssues, GoingOut, reviews, StageShows

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