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New Discovery

New Discovery: The Mushroom Cook

Does it leave a bad taste in the mouth?

3:30 PM GMT+1 on April 11, 2024

    If you’ll pardon the pun, the Mushroom Cook has all the ingredients for success. The artwork tells you everything you need to know, with a particularly deadly looking mushroom looming over a distraught woman. You know you’re about to hear a story of intrigue about the eponymous chef and her fungi - the most intriguing of all the food groups. Clearly, tragedy is involved and we’re about to get to the bottom of whether or not that tragedy was accidental or malicious.

    That’s a great true crime episode. Doubtless it will spawn many once all is said and done. But the Mushroom Cook isn’t a true crime story per-se. This is in fact court reporting into the upcoming trial of Erin Patterson, who currently stands accused of murder. Three people died after eating a meal prepared for them by Patterson in July 2023, with another barely surviving.

    The problem with this, as the hosts freely admit, is that an ongoing trial places strict restrictions on what can and cannot be said in the podcast. Towards the end of episode one, we receive a lecture in contempt of court law from a media lawyer that, while necessary, does feel a little like the podcast excusing itself from being able to give you the juicy details you might be used to if you’re a typical consumer of the true crime diet. It’s as engaging as they can make it, which is not very.

    This is likely to warm up. Patterson is due back in court on April 22nd at which point all the build up may start to pay off. There has always been a need for good court reporting and podcasting has the potential to provide journalists with a new, lucrative outlet for their hard work. Not to mention providing audiences with the news they crave, the demand for which has been proved by the success of the Daily Mail’s The Trial. Whether the Mushroom Cook is able to replicate that success will likely depend on the strength of its story and whether the trial at the centre of it has the drama to keep audiences hooked.

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