The Apprentice: Bognor's Phil Turner takes charge on this week's cheesecake challenge - how did he do?
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Although, it’s hard to pin the blame squarely on him. Like last week, he was let down by a team of less-than competent colleagues who bungled client meetings and tripped over their own feet in the kitchen, botching what should have been an easy win for a team with two bakers on staff.
Where last week’s challenge saw Alan Sugar’s hopefuls venture up to the Scottish Highlands to host competing corporate retreats, this week the apprentices were asked to make, bake and sell cheesecakes to big-shot corporate clients and members of the public alike.
The girls, led by 25-year-old Foluso Falade, secured an impressive corporate package; selling cheesecakes at price of over £13 pound a unit, though not without setting some improbable expectations. For the boys, it was baker-boy Paul Bowen who dropped the ball, trying to sell chocolate cheesecakes to a health conscious client that just wasn’t interested and seriously undermining the pricing negotiations as a result.
Things weren’t much better in the kitchen. While the girls’ team settled on a mango mojito cheesecake for the public and fig cheesecakes for the client, our man Phil opts for white chocolate cheesecakes for the public and, in perhaps his first serious blunder of the series so far, dragon fruit and avocado cheesecakes for the client. It’s a bit of a blinder, really, for someone so obviously well versed in the state of the industry, and it goes down a dud with the clients, who seem to have just as much difficulty wrapping their heads around the decision as we do.
Still, it’s not all Phil’s fault. He sets up a nice workflow in the kitchen and things seem to be going smoothly until Paul botches production of the biscuit base for the client’s cheesecake, leading to dodgy-tasting treats with an even dodgier foundation.
Things are even worse in the girl’s kitchen, who flounder without Phil’s organisational acumen, and finish their cheesecakes with just minutes to spare. By the time their sales team hit Greenwich market – a foodie hotspot an hour away from their kitchen – Phil and Co are already on the streets, selling some £80 worth of white chocolate cheesecake to hungry punters.
Their fig cheesecakes fail to impress a corporate client with skyscraper expectations, but recruitment consultant Flo saves the day, convincing them to pay just over £11 for a product which, to be totally honest, wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a John Carpenter movie. It’s still a bit of a price drop, of course, but it sets them well ahead of the boys, who positively wilt under the acidic glare of their own clients, unimpressed by a cheesecake with about as much culinary appeal as Alan Sugar himself.
Out on the streets, though, things are going well. The girls more than make up for lost time with an aggressive sales strategy that sees cheesecakes flying off the shelves and onto people’s plates, often to rave reviews. Phil’s white chocolate concoction goes down similarly well, but he insists on underselling, despite the advice of more experienced sales people on his team.
It’s ultimately his undoing, and the girls wipe the floor with the boys in a challenge which, on paper, should have been a walk in the park for pastry patrons Paul and Phil; both of whom end up in the bottom three, on the wrong side of Alan Sugar’s carbuncled glare. In the end, it’s Paul who goes home, having failed to make any kind of positive impact on a task which seemed to have been designed with him and Phil in mind.
A tough week for Phil, then, and certainly not his best showing, but it’s still hard not to root for him. Not just because he’s a home town hero, but because, next to contestants like Virdi – who darts around like a Jack Russell on Starbursts – he comes off almost like a normal person.
The fact he’s managed to do so on a TV show that’s designed to bring out the very worst in its contestants – to manufacture all the double-crossing drama that’s kept this show on air for well over a decade – is testament to a likeable straight-forwardness on Phil’s part; I just hope it’s enough to see him through to the end.
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