Making restaurants display calories on menus ‘impossible’

MasterChef judges Dylan McGrath and Nick Munier say forcing restaurants to display calories on menus is a stupid idea and impossible.

Health Minister James Reilly warned earlier this year that he will legislate to force food outlets to display calories on menus if there was resistance to the move.

Mr Munier, a restaurateur and maitre d’, who has worked with some of the world’s best chefs, said it was a stupid idea.

Mr McGrath, one of Ireland’s top chefs who won his first Michelin star at the age of just 29, said it would be impossible to have calorie-counted menus in fine-dining establishments.

“You would not eat anything if you were to read all that on a menu — it would put you off your food. Fine dining is an indulgence, a pleasure,” said Mr McGrath.

“Calorie-counted menus will make a restaurant very clinical. We don’t all want to know that stuff,” said Mr Munier.

The minister has said he was quite happy to continue a consultation process to see if progress could be made on having calories displayed on menus. He warned, however, that those who refused to co-operate would be named and shamed.

The two MasterChef judges were speaking at the launch of the search for the next MasterChef champion in Dublin. The first series of MasterChef Ireland, which saw Mary Carney from Waterford win the title and begin a full-time career in the food industry, attracted an average audience of 322,000. Executive producer Larry Bass said they received around 1,500 applicants for the first series within a two-week period.

“MasterChef 2012 launches tomorrow and applicants again will have just under two weeks to apply to take part,” he said.

“Last year’s standard was incredibly high and I think the standard this year will be even higher because people will have seen the first series and know what they will be expected to go through to become the MasterChef champion.”

Mr Bass said there would be a different set of tasks and a different elimination process this year.

Mr Bass said it would have been impossible to pick out Ms Carney as the overall winner on day one.

“She completely fluffed it in some of the tasks. This is a show that is unforgiving each day but also offers candidates a real chance to redeem themselves.”

Mr Munier said he was hoping to see exceptional cooks that operate by instinct and have a natural flair for taste and flavour.

“This could be a life-changing opportunity for the winner and I want to find someone with the determination and drive to succeed, regardless of their background,” he said.

Mr Dylan said he believed more people would be encouraged to enter the competition having seen the first series. “I think what makes MasterChef interesting is that we have normal people who have this strange passion for cooking.”

MasterChef 2012 — a series of 12 episodes, will be screened on RTÉ 2 in September. Closing date for applications is May 28 and more details are available at www.RTÉ.ie/masterchef.

Meanwhile, TV3 announced the plug was being pulled on The Apprentice programme which featured businessman Bill Cullen.

Mr Cullen and his wife Jackie Lavin said “we like to think that we have given a lot of people some important business tips and some hope”.

A TV3 statement said: “TV3 had four successful series of The Apprentice and had decided not to renew the series for a fifth year.”


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