The Naked Chef-Series 1 (1999)

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Released 8-Oct-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 201:29 (Case: 180)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Patricia Llewellyn
Paul Ratcliffe
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jamie Oliver
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Luke Gordon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The idea behind The Naked Chef, according to presenter and chef Jamie Oliver, is to "strip food down to its bare essentials - to prove that you don't need to dress up ingredients or buy a load of fancy gadgets to make something really tasty."

    Jamie Oliver has worked in various places including The Neal Street Restaurant and the River Café. He was "discovered" at the River Café one day when a film crew was making a documentary in the restaurant. Now he's got his own TV show, published books, appeared in TV commercials and consulted for various restaurants. Not bad!

    Each episode is just under half an hour long, and features Jamie at home cooking a number of dishes, typically for an event such as his sister's hens night, for a birthday party, and so forth. The enthusiastic Jamie prattles on continuously as he cooks and happily attacks his ingredients with gusto as he prepares the food. Thankfully, there is little "here's a dish I prepared earlier" in the programme - the food is prepared and cooked in "real time" for the most part. And, the food is clearly prepared to be eaten immediately rather than for "display."

    I noticed a tendency for Jamie to make things from scratch, including bread, pasta, mayonnaise, curry paste, and so on. It's good way to educate people as to how some of our "staple" food is made and to show us that it's not that hard to make them yourself rather than buying them prepared at the local supermarket, deli, bakery or whatever.

    The only problem I have is that the show (or the DVD) does not fully list the ingredients nor provide recommended measurements so you have to watch carefully if you want to try cooking the dish yourself. Also, Jamie seldom provides oven temperatures or cooking times during the initial few episodes, although he is better in the later episodes (maybe he got some feedback from viewers in the interim?). I guess the whole point was to experiment and not to be too reliant on a formulaic approach to cooking, but a hint here and there would have been appreciated!

    As I mentioned earlier, James is very enthusiastic and his energy is rather infectious. Expect to hear words like "pukka" and "wicked" used a lot. He also slides down his spiral staircase a lot which always worries me because it looks a bit wobbly. Occasionally, a friend would pop in to help him with his cooking. Usually, around the middle of the episode, we get to accompany Jamie going out shopping where he buys ingredients that he will use later in the programme.

    As with most cooking shows, don't watch this if you are on a diet because you mouth will start watering. I think I've put on at least a kilogram since watching this and that's bad, bad, BAD!

    The list of episodes and dishes cooked are:

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in full frame as the episodes were intended to be broadcast on TV.

    The opening titles are a bit grainy, but otherwise the transfer is excellent with only occasional pixelization (particularly in scenes with lots of fast movement) marring the transfer. There is also the usual aliasing every now and then consistent with an interlaced video source.

    Detail levels are reasonable, considering that the episodes looked like they were shot on a handheld camera. Many of the shots were quite shaky and frequently out of focus. Colour saturation is acceptable though very slightly on the yellowish side (probably due to lighting rather than a fault of the transfer).

    Each episode is recorded on a separate DVD title, and you can choose to play all the episodes one after the other or individually. If you choose the individual option, then the player does not automatically advance to the next episode automatically. For some strange reason, the chapter skip buttons have been disabled during play which is really annoying because I would have liked to be able to skip to the next dish during play.

    There are no subtitle tracks. This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL) but I suspect the layer change occurs between episodes since I did not notice it.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track on the disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

     The audio track is quite pleasant to listen to and is mixed at a slightly higher than normal level. It is intended for broadcast TV so it won't tax your amplification and speakers no matter how modest.

    Surprisingly, I did not have any difficulties understanding Jamie Oliver even though he speaks rather fast. Occasionally you hear a female voice prompting him with questions but you don't get to meet her. I assume she is the director and producer Patricia Llewellyn.

    The opening titles music was composed by Luke Gordon. Background music tends to be light and breezy and suits the mood of the episodes well.

    I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras present but then I'm not surprised given that this is a TV programme and there are almost three and a half hours of viewing material on the disc. What I would have liked, though, was maybe some text stills summarising the recipes for the dishes presented in each episode.

Menu

    The menus are full frame and include background audio. In addition, the main menu is animated. You can choose to play all episodes, or select an episode, or select a particular dish. There are a second set of "scene selection" menus that are organised by name and type of dish rather than by episode. You can count this as an "extra" if you want (the DVD back cover is, I'm not).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title does not appear to be released in Region 1 at present.

Summary

    The Naked Chef (Series 1) features Jamie Oliver cooking a variety of dishes for a variety of occasions at his home. Most of the recipes are quite easy to master, and are worth checking out.

    The video quality is okay apart from some pixelization.

    The audio quality is okay and suitable for broadcast TV.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Friday, October 18, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-A1, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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