Say hello to the new Salt Bae.
The Penultimate week of quarter-finals is upon us which means
4 3 new chefs are here to showcase both their skills, knowledge and ability to not absolutely lose their rag at Marcus. ALLEGEDLY.
So this was a wild start to the show and certainly set the tongues of Twitter a wagging as to what happened to The Missing Chef. There are an abundance of theories:
- They told Marcus to “go fuck himself”
- There was a serious injury making the Crepe Suzette
- It turned out they had lied about having taken a Covid test.
- A history serious crime came to light a la Sherry Pie.
- They went full Cannibal Holocaust and ate a man.
Everyone is leaning towards the first option because someone on Twitter said that their mother’s friend, who is a camera operator on the show, said that;s what happened. But on social media that’s about as reliable an anecdote as one from The sister-in-law of the receptionist-from-your-mum’s-work’s butcher’s mother.
Who knew MasterChef could bring the intrigue, drama and scandal of RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Monica’s Smoked Trout and Celeriac Remoulade
The first of the skills tests is Monica’s still intact 2 person assessment in which they they have to fillet and smoke a trout and create a celeriac remoulade, which is essentially a coleslaw on a power trip.
The chefs are Guillaume, who looks a bit like he could be a circus strongman:
And who I am both slightly in love with and wary of because of the alien egg he hatched on national television
As well as whatever this candy striped piece of fish on a pizza slice is:
It’s very Pizza Hut via Andy Warhol.
His direct competitor is Burhan who may be slightly confused about what show he is on because after plugging his Instagram account he talks exclusively in bon mots from The Apprentice and even has a Lord Sugar-esque story about that time he bought and cooked a lobster at the tender age of 9. I like to think it was Home and Mr. Pinchy type scenario and he cooked it and then forced the rest of the family to watch him eat it alone as he cried
Neither of the two chefs have ever operated a smoking machine before – and we say “machine” but it’s a just roasting tin with a wire rack, wood chippings and baking a tray over the top – it’s not high tech. They remain remarkably calm during the whole process though – their knife skills are incredible with not a single piece of the flesh damaged during the filleting or the deboning. Guillaume does slightly ruin his precision by then covering the fish in an entire ocean’s worth of salt
Which he washed off 5 minutes later so served no purpose whatsoever – after rinsing his trout he doesn’t dry it and because of this he steams his trout more than he smokes it but because Burhan used so few wood chippings, his trout also lacks a smoky flavour.
It’s the remoulade that really sets them apart, with Guillaume apparently having an advantage because you can buy remoulades in every French supermarket – YES MARCUS, BECAUSE IT’S A COLESLAW. Guillaume does the correct thing of julienning his celeriac and creating a mayonnaise strong enough to bind it all together so he can twirl it around his Macgyvered fork made of 2 spoons
Which begs the question: “Why not just use a fork mate?”.
Burhan has a bit of a ‘mare with his remoulade, opting to just shave his celeriac and then making less of a mayonnaise and more of a dressing so his ends up as a more of a disappointingly dressed ribboned celeriac
But his skills within the kitchen are so precise, I think they were willing to forgive some quite glaring errors.
Marcus’ Crepe Suzette (Again.)
Am I dreaming, because I am positive they have made them make crepe suzette before? And if we are repeating challenges I eagerly await the mutilating of the woodcock again – I still see that beak piercing the flesh of a woodcock when I close my eyes at night.
The lone chef competing in this round is Scott, a delightful ball of human error and mildly embarrassed chaos
I fully believe he probably knew how to make a crepe suzette but when asked to by Marcus Wareing and a whole camera teaming watching you – it was a brainfart central. From the rushed segmenting of the orange to cooking pancakes like you’re making omelettes – I did appreiatng him pulling off several successful flips in order to gain back the crowd he was rapidly losing because he was making the suzette sauce by just burning sugar and chucking a handful of orange segments onto the Hell hot pan
He does thankfully bin the first attempt, I think he eventually got the message from the way Marcus was staring daggering into his soul
He only had 5 minutes to do the second attempt to it’s no wonder that we end up with a batch of rather anaemic pancakes covered in boozed up orange segments and not a drop of orange juice in sight – for which everyone rips him to shreds over and he leaves the room looking like he might have told Marcus to go fuck himself
With Burhan and Guillaume running it neck-and-neck they really had to set themselves apart from one another and Guillaume was going to quite the extremes with his Lobster and Thai Bisque with White and Purple Carrot Purees which looked a bit like the flag of a Caribbean Island nation
But weirder still was the creation of a rather baffling Lobster Doughnut:
It was a bit of a disappointing dish – the doughnut only weighed everything down and his carrots purees were purely for aesthetics – which makes them doubly unsuccessful because a dish that looks like the uniform of a local county football team isn’t exactly the luxury lobster deserves.
His dessert was similarly intriguing and unsuccessful – a series of FrankenStrawberries involving olive oil and a timut pepper syrup all on top of a pistachio creme pat:
The strawberries lacked in any flavour other than strawberry, his creme pat was silky smooth but it was the biscuit that was truly a beffudlement – for some reason he had decided to make a biscuit out of the leftover doughnut dough. I’m no chef by any stretch but I don’t feel like that would ever work? And it’s no wonder that he had to try and crisp it up on the pan to give it a semblance of texture
He’s full of ideas and clearly has a lot of practical skills but I’m not sure how much he’s done dish development before, because it came across like he was just winging it and praying for the best. Which is a fine tactic if you’re up against 2 Scotts, but Burhan was over there pumping out two dishes that on paper could sound a bit expected and reductive – but managing to put a twist on them that just elevates them to that new height, like his Pan-fried Rainbow Trout with Cauliflower Puree, a Fennel Salad and Beurre Blanc Sauce:
It’s a dish that could easily be on the menu of any restaurant and yet there’s something about his presentation and methods that just make the dish sing. His Chocolate Ganache and Hazelnut Caramel Sauce dessert was no different and absolutely stole the whole show, I mean LOOK AT IT:
That’s a God Tier dessert ratio – it’s flamboyant, a little gaudy and just oozes richness – Burhan is a very exciting, young, modern chef and I very much look forward to seeing more from him.
And then we have poor old Scott who didn’t improve much on his Skills Test and if anything made more of a palaver of it all, with a main course of Lamb Rump, Fondant Butternut and a Whiskey Bordelaise Sauce:
And if you’re thinking “Well that’s just three things on a plate?” you would be WRONG because there’s also a superfluous basil powder delicately dusted over the plate like he’s trying to ward off evil spirits
The cooking of the lamb is an absolute nightmare – for some unknown reason he was possessed by the idea to sous-vide it and then just flash fry it at the last second – so while the lamb is cooked and very pink the middle there’s just thick ribbons of grisly fat everywhere because Scott, YOU BOILED A LAMB RUMP. He had grand plans of having a black-garlic ketchup, a dukkah of sorts and “potato paper” on the dish but failed to get them made because he was too busy making a nonsense dessert that he also didn’t finish making.
That dessert being Profiteroles filled with Banana Meringue and Miso Caramel:
Of which the most interesting component, the miso caramel, is absent but don’t fret, there is banana paper:
It’s just a tuile. You can’t just rename something to something silly and expect us to go along with it. Weirdly he had actually made the miso caramel, there just wasn’t enough time to put it in the profiteroles, which begs the question: “Why not serve it in a jug, mate? Gregg loves a jug of caramel.” And oh boy did his profiteroles need a sauce, cutting them open looked like someone dissecting the husk-like corpse of a cicada beetle
And if it wasn’t obvious enough that Scott was on his way out of the competition, Monica BRUTALLY let’s him know that “This is not really a dessert”. NURSE.
So it really was a cut and dry decision that despite Guillaume’s disappointing flavours – he did at least make everything he set out to make and had a clear point of view as a chef while SCOTT BOILED LAMB. So Burhan and Guillaume go through: