The First day of Spring (doing!)

Ain’t it always the way? The more successful a person is, the easier they are to talk to, be with, listen to and appreciate. And so it was with Anton Mossiman. For the last five years we have always had our Christmas lunches in his restaurant. His bread and butter pudding is legendary – I always have at least five portions. I snap them up while the suits are discussing budgets.

I have found out from my notes that his place is a club – an eating club. If you have £500 and come with a recommendation, you can eat there and be wined and dined in style.

And Mr. Mossiman certainly has that. He has style and discipline:

  • He runs every morning for thirty minutes.
  • He has a bow tie for every day of the year.

Today he wore a shiny multicoloured affair that matched his shiny mono-coloured head. He has just celebrated his 60th birthday – 300 guests including heads of state ate with (and for) him. When I’m 60, which will be in 18 months time, I’ll be lucky to have 30 people visit me, of which not one will be a head of state.

Mr. Mossiman is very, very, clean with a relaxed manner, though don’t be fooled – he’s in there at the coal face and ready for anything. He leads my example. Pristine, Swiss, gentle and firm.

He cured a salmon – no it wasn’t ill – by marinading it over night in a simple combination of luscious lemons and botanicals. Then he sprinkled crabmeat, green herbs, and a few more essential elements on it before Lesley Waters, Wayne Collins and I attacked it. It was lovely.

Any food left over goes to the crew. The joke is that they all have forks in their back pockets. The food is always second to none on the show and if I haven’t scoffed it, they do. Smoked salmon is Sooooooooooooooo me that there were only a few slivers left for anybody.

We have four cameras, but a rolling gang of operators: Cutesy, Dan the Man, Biggy Small, Gaylord Hauser, Sherry Sherry, Biggin Hill, Pat, Nick, and of course Saff who has just moved to Tunbridge Wells. We used to have five cameras, one hand held that we called RON so that we could get Ron to run. But over the five years we have been bled dry.

Am I bitter?

No, more upset.

We make a really good programme on a shoe string. And if the crews weren’t so brilliant, we wouldn’t have a show at all. The gallery is a tight ship with an aston operator, who write the words you see on your screen: Christina Aguilangus and her brother Dave; producers; the PAs who do all the calculations and shout in my head: Horny Bee, Little Lettuce and Micheline Star; the lighting guys John, Paul, George and Ringo; and the sound genius’ The Boss and his cohorts.

The studio is run by the floor manager, Uncle ‘Eo – so called because his niece could not say Leo. He and I throw carrots at each other to keep us keen and when he’s not in I miss him dreadfully. He is my memory and my guide. So, why the need for nick names? Well, it helps me remember everybody but more importantly it gives us a sense of identity. At least, I think it does. I may be deluding myself but it is a happy place, although now there is a sad cloud hanging over us.

I don’t know how the kids keep coming up with the programmes, and I don’t know how I keep coming up with the gags but my body is beginning to give out, and now I am counting down the days. It’s dreadful but how else do I do it? Each show has to be the best and our best is often not as good as it can be cos we’re all knackered.

I hope I don’t sound bitter. I don’t mean to. I am trying to be philosophical about it. All good things come to an end, but this good thing doesn’t want to. Cu2morrer.

25 thoughts on “The First day of Spring (doing!)”

  1. Jeni, you’re fantastic. I’m sure you’ve taken a look at the threads on the GFL messageboards. All your fans are devastated at the loss of our favourite programme and presenter.
    I for one am really going to miss the show. You have inspired me over the past couple of years. I now cook for myself every day (often re-creating my favourite dish that day) and am now able to entertain friends with confidence.
    You’re such fun, that I would love to see what you’re like after a couple of glasses of wine! Haha.
    Andi Peters was great the other day. He echoed the sentiments of all of us.
    Don’t be away for long!!!
    Rob, Cornwall.

  2. Hi Jeni
    I just want you to know I am devasted GFL is finishing. The program is educational and entertaining, the perfect combination! I think you are brilliant and you always make me snort with laughter! I have watched GFL since it started and it has inspired me (and many others) to cook, I have learned so much over the past 5 years and I am going to miss the show and your sparkling wit a great deal.
    The show is unique and by far the best cookery program on any channel. I hope you take some comfort from all the support messages on the GFL message boards. I wish you and the amazing crew all the best, and I hope you won’t be away from our screens for too long.

  3. Both myself and my sister watch your show nearly every day. We will miss seeing you and your colourful clothes. Hope to see you on the box soon.

  4. Dear Jeni
    I shall miss you when the programme comes to an end. Your chefs have inspired me, you have made me laugh till I cry, the lads and lasses with all the nutritional information have made me completely rethink my diet. No other cookery programme can match GFL for sheer entertainment value.
    God bless and I hope someone soon snaps you up for another equally brilliant programme.

  5. Please Jen and all the team -dont go, you have millions of loving followers as can be seen from the UKTV food chat pages who will be suspended in an unending void when GFL is no more…..6 o’clock will never be the same again.

  6. Dearest Jeni
    So unhappy that you and the gang are leaving our screens (look at the messageboards there are people chucking themselves off bridges!!).
    I eat at the lovely Nutter’s restaurant (we go every New Year’s Day) and have spoken to him about the demise of GFL. Gutted.
    On a purely personal note the show (but more specifically you) got me through a really bad bout of postnatal depression in 2004-5 and I have been glued ever since. Will miss you immensely – please do another show!!!!
    loads of luv and best wishes
    (ps i’m kazwilkie on the forum)

  7. I have just found your site and its funny, moving, positive and interesting.
    You are just about the best and most original thing on TV and we hope (my husband and I) to see a lot more of you in the future.
    If people can’t ungerstand why you are so popular then there is no hope for good broadcasting!! More power to you!

  8. Jeni,I had the pleasure of being on YOUR show when they used to allow the great unwashed into the studios on a Friday! What a fab day I had with you, Ed, Michel Lamoine, Susie Barrie and the lovely Paul Young who helped me get my hands all choclatey on TV – and, yes, ALL the family have copies of the DVD (well, that was my 15 mins of fame!). I’m so sorry and sad that the suits have made such a bum (could use worse word) decision but maybe someone like Andi Peters will snaffle the format and we’ll see you back on TV in the not too distant future. Whatever you do, Jeni, it will be a success and you’ll have a huge fan base to follow you. All the best and thank you for being so fab. Warmest regards, Sally Ballard

  9. Dear Jeni,
    I’d like to wish you all the best and to say thank you very much for being such a fantastic host on GFL for these past few years. It’s such a shame that the show is ending as it is one of the main shows that got me interested in food and cooking in the first place. I have loved coming home from university everyday and watching the show, as it has often helped me to wind down and has always given me some fantastic ideas. As a 20 year old student, I often find it hard to keep a healthy diet (shocking, I know!) but GFL has offered some wonderful advice that has pushed me in the right direction! Again, you and the team have been a joy to watch and here’s hoping we’ll see you again soon!

  10. Jeni – even in times of despair you seem to rise above it all like the phoenix. GFL is obviously a team effort and in this case the ‘jockey’ as you put it is one the best there is. Your bubbly enthusiasum is the key to the genuine entertainment that ensues. I ‘skwished’ the other day when Master Peters told you how wonderful you are – your reaction was so moving. My thanks for all the days and/or evenings when thru watching you (armed with a perfect pour Vodka, Canadian & ginger juice with lots of ice) I settle down getting my ‘dose of Jeni’. I am unravelled from a stressful day. I have learnt to be more adventurous with my diet, healthier with the produce I use and left smiling – there isn’t much TV that does that. I will eagerly look forward to your next TV challenge and hope you stay in the field of food presenting – my most favourite moments are those when you taste the cullinary delights served up – here’s to your future – you remarkable person. fondest wishes
    JohnnyD x

  11. I have watched GFL from the very first show and would just like to say how sorry i am that it is too end. It has helped me through the loss of my daughter and death of my mother. I wish you much luck jeni. x

  12. Dear Jeni,
    What can I say that hasn’t been said already either here or on the UKTV Food message boards? Just like everyone I am soooooo going to miss my daily slice of GFL (and, of couse, when I say GFL, I mean you!!!)
    I was lucky enough to be with you in the studio on one Friday (I was one of the priests in the audience on the day you had all the sailors in) and this really crowned a great week for me, as a couple of days earlier my friend and I had been on one of Paul Young’s chocolate courses. I was speechless. I still remember the day in Wandsworth like it was yesterday. Thank you for making it so special.
    Thank you for making GFL so special, and PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, tell us all that you are going to brighten up our tv screens again very soon. The day just won’t be the same without my daily dose of Jeni
    with love and prayers
    Fr Andrew Waude

  13. Jeni, I’ll be so sorry to see Gfl end, there are times when you have literally made me snort my coffee through my nose with laughter!!
    I’ve been watching since the very beginning, and I’m really going to miss you all, daytime afternoons just won’t be the same.

  14. Dear Jeni,
    Im just adding my 2 penn’orth to what has already been said, and Im the other Priest who was there on that Day With Fr Andrew and all the Sailors. I’ve been a fan from day one, and am going to sorely miss you and the gang (especially you!!)
    Come back soon PLEASE!!
    All love and Prayers
    Fr Alex Lane xx

  15. Hi Jen,
    You know some smart soul has started an online petition to save the show. We’ll all sign of course. But I wanted to let you know that watching your show has brightened by day and helped eased the loneliness. For ninety minutes/an hour (I’ve been watching a long time) I’ve felt part of your gang. God, how I’ll miss you all…the chefs. the experts…and your lovely production crew. They’ve always been so kind to me when I’ve contacted the show over the years…in particular Nicky and Elaine have gone out of their way to answer my questions and dig out recipes for me. I don’t think the people at the top realise how you can build a day around a TV programme, especially when there’s not much else going on.

  16. Have spent today posting my comments on the sad facts of losing GFL and Jeni. Have just read your comments about Anton M. I posted today on UKTVFood messageboards to say what a gent. About two years ago I had the pleasure via a gift to attend Anton’s cookery school for a demonstration and then a meal at his club afterwards. I did not expect that he would be there and to my great surprise he did the demonstration! He was great and everything that I had expected from the Master himself. He came after the demo and signed a book and had a chat with me and a friend. We spoke about the fact that he of course was probably the first chef to do a reality prog. We then left and went to his club for lunch – it was marvelous and unforgettable. The food and service was fantastic and to our delight the man himself turned up once again to chat and see if we had enjoyed our day. He sat with us again and discussed where he lived (just across the way) and how he felt that in his world that you did not have to shout your way through life to get reaction and achieve. In his own quiet and very gentlemanly way he has achieved lots more than many others in his field. He also employs young people on behalf of the Princes Trust and explained to us that the success rate of their placements is fantastic. Long may he cook and well done to Jeni and GFL in having him as a guest chef, it was a treat!

  17. You know what somebody needs to start a campaign aimed at the suits on GFL to make them see sense if that is possible to keep Jeni on…….does anyone realise that the show that is replacing Jeni will have four or five presenters so surely it can’t be that Jeni is too expensive, which is after all what the suits care about.

  18. Jeni, I really cannot add to what has already been said, but feel I have to say something! I have only been watching GFL for about 18 months and am – as far as 2 children allow – absolutely adicted to it. I became a cook out of necessity and conjouring up 7 family meals a week, week-in, week-out can become extremely monotonous. GFL has inspired me to try new recipies, be more creative and take more pride in my efforts. I enjoy everything about the show and am always disappointed when the hour is up. I normally have to wait until the 10pm edition – which is hard going when you’ve been up and on the go since silly 0’clock (sometimes following a disturbed night) as any parent will appreciate – but sometimes I just can’t resisit putting the baby in his highchair in front of the TV at lunchtime! Jeni – what can I say? Find a new home!

  19. Jeni it really is a shame that such a unique, educational and funny show is ending! As two young Australians GFL helped us create our first Christmas lunch away from home and I can honestly say, even without family, it was one of our best ever! Good luck for the future and we hope to see you on our screens again soon.

  20. Hi Jeni, One of the main reasons I got Sky was to watch your show – I am addicted to cookery programmes and was so frustrated to find that most of the uk tv food channel is repeats, repeats, repeats! I do hope that you and your gang can find a way to re-invent yourselves and get back on our screens before too long. You are truly inspirational and I have learned so much from watching you. Brenda xx

  21. Dear Ms. Barnett,
    Simply, thank you again. (q.v. my letter to you at the studio). Mike H. gave hope (for a brief moment) I might get to thank you personally, but was not to be.
    Take care – the T.V. will be a sadder place.
    I trust that you will post your next assignment here in large bold letters!

  22. Dearest Friend Jeni
    I have just sat and read your posts, and all the others posted by your friends, and am now in floods of tears. I cannot believe that we are losing you and the team. You are an inspiration to us all, and the faceless cowards in suits should wake up and smell the coffee. We will all really miss you, and when you have had your much needed rest, please come back to us, I’m sure someone, somewhere recognises a good thing – especially if they know they have a ready made audience. My days will never be the same again, this really is like the death of a loved one.
    Take care and love to everyone on the team (and of course Jim)
    Jeni xxxx

  23. Just when I reach the age where I start to sound like a grumpy old man, yet another justification for my grumpiness comes along…the inexplicable demise of GFL. Jeni, you are a star in our household, the show is wonderful and has managed to ignite in me an interest in cooking that has long been dormant. Until We Meet Again…

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