MasterChef The Professionals Recap: Ichthyoid Frankenstein

Just take a moment to appreciate Marcus Wareing’s Lockdown Locks. An icon is born.

It’s back and there have been some changes (no, Gregg is still here, cool your jets), there will only be 2 contestants competing in each of Marcus and Monica’s skills tests and we’re down from 44 chefs in the competition to 32. Also Marcus and Monica will be spending a lot of their time sitting in a pantry shouting at a TV screen. I feel very attacked.

Monica’s Duxelles-filled Tortellini

The first of our skills tests is set by Monica who wants the two chefs to make her some tortellini stuffed with very thinly sliced mushrooms – the thinness is paramount as they need to get as much moisture out of them lest their tortellini rupture. They’ll also have to make an accompanying sauce out of any of these ingredients:

Sadly my prayers for a parmesan nd honey brain fart don’t come to reality. It should be noted that Monica literally just made a cream and marmite sauce so we’re not looking for culinary delights here. They also only have 25 minutes, luckily their pasta dough is made for them already.

First up is Philli

She’s spent a significant amount of her fledgling career working in East Asia and feels most comfortable around Japanese cuisine, which is apparent from her face when they tell her she’ll be making tortellini

She gives off a strong Prosecco Army kind of vibe and just about has Live. Laugh. Love scrawled on her arm:

It’s a reminder to her to Taste. No Waste. Smile. And to her credit she never stops smiling.

She has a very strong start and certainly knows her stuff, not faltering for a second on what a duxelles is, how to shape tortellini or what sauce she needed. However as the clock ticks down she gets increasingly frantic, her chipper and chatty demeanour starts to waver as she becomes more and more like a deer in the headlights and she makes a few basic mistakes like over salting her sauce and getting her ravioli in just that scooch too late, but hey at least she made tortellini…

Sammy was next and well, him being a contract caterer at a crash test dummy site really set the tone for the fender bender he went on. He at first seems relatively unphased by it all – that is until he just runs his duxelles under the tap because you know, that’s the best way to get rid of all the moisture. And it’s only downhill from there are while making his pasta he dares to rip it with his hands

THE ABSOLTE HEATHEN. Monica very nearly has a fit because of this

Sammy doesn’t stop there though as he careens further and further down the road to ruin by making ravioli, failing to seal it properly and serving up a far too bland affair.

If you have been affected by any of the scenes seen on tonight’s show feel free to contact the NSPCP: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pasta.

Marcus’s Devilled Butterfly Mackerel

Oh here we go – you know it’s about to get bad when they have to fillet their own fish. Marcus asking them to debone and butterfly a mackerel whie also making a mayo made Monica’s mushroom tortellini look like a cake walk! And Marcus has given them only 20 minutes.

Both Andrew and Kuljit had many of the same problems – their butterflying was a bit messy and they made the error of trying to tweeze out the bones of a mackerel, luckily Andrew realised this was a fruitless endeavour and resorted to trimming them out while Kuljit mutilated his poor mackerel:

They also both negelcted to make a devilled paste for their mackerel instead just rubbing the fish in various spices, or if you’re Kuljit you give it a delicate sprinkle:

Mate, even Paul Hollywood could handle that much cayenne! And paprika made him sweat buckets. It only gets worse for Kuljit as for some reason he decides the bisect his butterfly and when Gregg points out to him that he is now serving 2 mackerel fillets he says “I’ll put them back together” and then tries to literally force his mackerel back into one piece like he’s some sort of Mackerel Miracle Maker

Obviously this doesn’t work, but more importantly is that it backfires entirely and he ends up with a rather sad pile of flaked mackerel

The Mackerel Gods are a cruel sort. And now his only option is to make the whole dish into a salad while Marcus looks at him like this:

Andrew also buggered his fish up a fair bit but it was at least still visually on the same level as Marcus’

Signature Round

With all of the chefs having at least a little something to prove (some more than others) they were all going to have to go big or go home and my God did they really go all out – there’s no scallops and pea puree here!

Philli really could have relaxed, she was clearly the front runner after yesterday but once again she found herself racing around like a blue arsed fly because she’s given herself 101 things to do for her Japanese cabbage pancake and Big Boy Prawn

And if you thought Kuljit mutilating a mackerel was going to be the worst thing you’d see done to a piece of seafood you’re wrong because Philli is stuffing that prawn’s head with Nduja sausage, quite why the sausage couldn’t be on the side and the absolute necessity to cram a prawn’s head full of the stuff is a mystery to me – but this is still not the worst thing done to a piece of seafood today.
For dessert she is making a deconstructed, reconstructed grapefruit cheesecake which she is serving thusly:

I love to go to my favourite restaurant and order a whole grapefruit on ice. I would say that serving food in a hollowed out fruit is grounds for instant elimination but she at least managed to make it interesting by marinating her grapefruit in mirin and pepper which went down very well with the judges.

It’s not really a surprise that Philli sailed on through given she was up again Andrew who introduced his HUMBLE dish as “Chicken, carrots, pickled carrots and goat’s curd.” which isn’t so much a dish as it is a list of ingredients and his dish just looked as you would expect:

Humble Andrew is giving you very humble portions of very humble chicken. And for dessert it’s the humblest of fruits the apple. I don’t know about you but I’ve met an apple who was a bit of a cox. His dessert is much more successful, even if it did look a bit like an alien nest site:

And speaking of aliens, Kuljit made this mutated space tortoise:

How have we strayed this far from the light and how do we get back? If you were to ask me what the above dish was I’m not sure I would ever have gotten to it being a deconstructed fish pie, but there are more horrors below the surface of that pastel potato fa├žade as Lord of the Mackerel Kuljit, seemingly obsessed with the idea of stitching fish back together again like sort of ichthyoid Frankenstein is threading salmon through his halibut

And it was somehow only more downhill from here as his mythical flummery failed to set and sort of dissolved into what I believe is just a Petit Filous

Tell me again about 11 promotions Kuljit?

Having the redemption arc that Kuljit failed to make happen is Sammy who knocks it out of the park with a very good Chinese duck dish:

It’s slightly too bloody for Marcus but he gets over it and even liked the addition of the pineapple that everyone was slightly sceptical over. I’m still not emotionally ready to allow pineapple onto my savoury dishes but good for Marcus.
It’s Sammy’s dessert of a dark chocolate and cardamom delice and macerated strawberries that truly shines though and even maybe steals Dish of the Day from Prawnhead Sausage-Brains

It’s rich, clean, simple and you really couldn’t ask for more.

After all that it’s a pretty cut and dry decision to axe FrankenFish and VERY HUMBLE Andrew with Philli and Sammy going on together and maybe starting a CBeebies show together, “Philli and Sammy” has that kind of vibe to it.

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