I haven’t watched much Kitchen Cabinet. When searched online, I was mostly met with websites selling kitchen cabinets, and the Wikipedia description of what one was, specifically. Prior to this search, I had never thought about the title much. It was all a bit overwhelming. In a panic, I asked my sister whether she had ever thought about this. She looked disappointed in me, but maybe more so after five solid hours of finishing an Architecture assignment. Have I asked too much of her? Yesterday the UWA Politics Club screened their version of Kitchen Cabinet: Guild Election Edition, four episodes featuring each presidential candidate, cooking a meal and making conversation.

I go to the Tav an hour early. I thought it would be necessary to get a good table. But then I choose a shit table of my own will anyway, and shouldn’t have bothered. There’s something unsettling about bar tables. The height. What are these proportions for? Anyway, vibe for the day: lots of people in suits. I think they are here for something rugby related, they are standing around the entrance, and I walk through a crowd of them. It feels like forever, like I will just continue walking past people in suits for the rest of my life. But I don’t!

Because I am so early, I spend a lot of time watching these people carry jugs of beer from the bar. But this also allows me some time for noticing things, like a really large table of Launch affiliated people. Chad Bensky enters the Tav and sits at this table, his hair is looking really good. Michael McKenzie enters the Tav wearing a dark red puffer vest. The puffer vest seems proactive, serious. Possibly important. He approaches the aforementioned table and a sound leaves body that is unmistakably “woo!” The table applauses. Whoever the hype person is for this party, incredible. Can this somehow happen for me, one day? I don’t wear puffer vests so I am unsure, the thought leaves me feeling cold (instead of just cold on my arms like a puffer vest would).

Independent OGC candidate Ivan Roncevich enters carrying an entire pizza. I didn’t know you could bring food into this establishment. His outfit is good. My friend voices concerns about an identity crisis. He thinks Ivan’s style is too similar to his own. I do think the concern is warranted, but am here for more important things (sorry). We don’t talk about the matter again. I SEE Brad Griffin, Pelican’s 2016 Politics editor. He is wearing a shirt with pelicans on it, and I mentally thank him for the unspoken support.

Unnoticed by me in the now filling Tavern, Scott, Megan and Caleb arrive. They do not shout “woo” into an emptier Tavern which will be met with applause. It is perhaps, for the best. Observations as follows:
1) I really like Megan’s pants. They are white, and seem effortless.
2) I like Scott’s jacket. Soon after, I realise I like his entire outfit. He really has a knack for cohesive dressing.
3) Caleb’s pants are an ideal length. The length that should technically be achievable but never is. Like the lead singer of Methyl Ethel. I spend a lot of time thinking about this. It keeps me awake at night with a stress headache.

The screenings begin and Sophie Harwood (UWA Politics Club President) begins with a beautiful speech. Katie McAllister (Kitchen Cabinet: Guild Election Edition host) notes that the purpose of the series was to engage more students in guild elections (though I would argue, pre-screening based on nothing, also cooking shows). The candidates draw straws on stage to see which order the segments will be screened (in what is apparently test one: getting the candidates to work together, as stated by either Katie or Sophie. I can’t remember who, but I laughed).

Before I begin my review of each episode, I feel it necessary to state that I will not be reporting on policy/party related conversation which features in the episodes. As the campaigning blackout period has ended, you can find policy information for each party on their social media pages, profile pictures (if you are friends with the presidential candidates on Facebook, or maybe they have public profiles? I am only friends with Megan and Michael at current so can only comment on these candidates regarding elections related info from these sources. Caleb and Scott, should we be social media friends? Let me know) or watch the Kitchen Cabinet: Guild Election Edition on Facebook which are soon to be released. You’re welcome.

Caleb is first (Yes for Marriage Equality presidential candidate). He cooks chicken, the recipe for which is apparently River Cottage related? I love this commitment, and genuine inspiration from the show. I am personally fond of River Cottage. As the first screening, it introduces the format of the episodes. There are subtitles. And often, an interesting soundtrack. I don’t know the exact song but it’s quite hip and seems like it could be played by the people at the EMAS table often in the Ref courtyard during common lunch hour.

The projector screen showing the episodes is above the door of the Tav. Each time someone walks in, they look apprehensive and immediately turn around to find out what everyone is looking at, clearly concerned. Sometimes people in suits shout, or make hand gestures when standing in the doorway. But always, eventually they leave. This is not their scene, perhaps.

Michael (Launch presidential candidate) cooks a teriyaki lamb stir fry. My friend points out a San Pellegrino in the background. I thank them. The end of this episode is very good. Michael and Katie say their goodbyes, and Katie is shown walking away before Michael takes a bite of a dessert food item (I think a cupcake). I begin to wonder whether Katie kept walking somewhere while everyone else packed up the production, or whether she walked back, like it was acting. I like to imagine the former. Apparently filming for this episode went for three hours.

Megan (Star presidential candidate) cooks veggie burgers. I think the rolls she is using are tiger rolls (I have seen these at Baker’s Delight but nowhere else). My mum used to buy this bread at all possible times. I was not fond of them in my childhood and thought the continued purchase was a strange, unexplainable event. As I have aged, I think I have grown to appreciate them. At the end of the video, the burgers are not finished. Were these eaten post filming?

Scott (Left Action presidential candidate) cooks pasta with avocado pesto (apparently his specialty). I have never heard of this before, and experience shock for the entirety of the episode. What does it taste like? Why have I never heard of this? Mike, current Pelican Politics editor, tells me he has heard of it when I tell him I haven’t. Looking for support on the topic, this was not an ideal result.

Kitchen Cabinet: Guild Election Edition definitely lives up to the premise Katie mentioned prior to the screenings. In five minute slots, I feel that the episodes lose the main allure of Kitchen Cabinet which is a more personal interaction (but it is likely this is also a luxury that comes with thirty minute or more episodes). However, with the knowledge that these videos have been made to engage more people, they act as an effective and innovative idea concerning wider student engagement. They also provide a new platform for the presidential candidates to discuss their policies and reasons for running. For people who really like food and only have some interest in Guild elections, you are better off watching the Food Channel if you are only watching these for the cooking aspect. Know yourself.

After the final viewing I need to use the bathroom and find someone has thrown up on the floor. Thrown down. As I leave the Tav, I see Sophie Harwood and talk life. And by life, I mean Kitchen Cabinet: Guild Election Edition because Sophie was involved in the entire production, and I just watched it. So it’s important to us both. Sophie tells me: making Kitchen Cabinet: Guild Election Edition was agonising. I tell her to have a good night, and leave the Tav.

I walk home and eat a tub of icecream. This morning, I plan to go to Layup but make breakfast at home. I overcook tomatoes which are in the oven. I try to get iced coffee from Tenth State but they close at 12pm on Saturday. I get an iced latte from Typika and while I wait for the ice to melt (creating a perfect flavour) clean out my housemates car. I watch an episode of Kitchen Cabinet (the one that doesn’t cover Guild Elections) and when I finish the iced coffee is warm and undrinkable. This evening, it rains.

Words by Bryce Newton.

Send cooking show recommendations to pelican@guild.uwa.edu.au