MasterChef The Professionals Recap: Marcus Wareing, The Mustard Baron

Nothing to see here, just Santosh neatly disposing of his competition.

Finals Week has begun, and it’s an episode of reinvention and reinterpretation of classic dishes like everyone’s favourite The Baumkuchen!? And that restaurant staple Rabbit and Mustard Sauce – am I going to the wrong places? I’ve literally never seen this on a menu. EVER.

For the first round of Finals Week they 6 chefs have been split into groups of three and they will have to reinterpret a classic dish through their own personal cookery style and techniques. The first group are Alex, Dave and Bart which means the second is Philli, Santosh and Jono.

All Your Bouillabaisse Are Belong to Us

Alex, Dave and Bart find themselves having to reinterpret the classic Southern French dish, The Bouillabaisse with a Rouille – a sort of glorified garlic mayonnaise. Because it’s a bouillabaisse the main component everyone focuses on is the sauce – bouillabaisse literally being a word compounded of the French words for “to boil” and “to simmer” which means there is an excessive amount of shots of crustaceans being crushed and boiling away in a hellish red foam

It’s all a bit Heironamous Bosche meets Lovecraft.

The most “out there” in terms of their reinvention is definitely Bart, mostly because he has never made a bouillabaisse before but he does know what it is and how it should taste but Marcus and Monica are slightly concerned when he tells them he is “deconstructing the bouillabaisse” and I’m slightly confused because I literally thought that was the challenge??? As it turns Monica and Marcus needn’t have ever been worried because Bart’s Pan-seared Sea Bass and Crispy Mussels with Marinated Celery and a Basil Butter Enriched Bouillabaisse Sauce with Sourdough Toast with a Potato Thickened Rouille goes down an absolute storm

Also, the importance of the single chive can not be overstated.
Apparently crispy mussels are a new one to Monica, and yes she probably meant in terms of being involved with a bouillabaisse but it did sound weird coming from the woman who literally made 2 chefs, ONE OF WHICH WAS BART, cook tempura mussels in a skills test. Obviously the insane amount of butter in Bart’s sauce appeals to Marcus, because lest we forget

The man loves his butter. Not as much mustard, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Bart is just so thrilled by his praise that he just about skips back to his work station and pulls this delightful face

I will DIE for that man.

Alex and Dave both went much more traditional routes, both with their presentation and cooking and in doing so I think lost any sort of personality to their dishes.
Alex did his best to recreate the “hearty and warmy” feeling of a bouillabaisse (I’ve finally learned how to spell it without needing spellcheck – go me) with his Pan-fried Pollock and Gurnard with Shellfish with a Saffron Rouille and Bouillabaisse Sauce with a needless Fennel Puree that gets washed away in the sauce

Oh and there’s Gruyere Croutons on the side

They may have added texture but they certainly don’t taste of gruyere – which Marcus is oddly pleased with – the man’s priorities remain a mystery to me. His sauce is heavily praised for its strong peppery notes but his Rouille is lost amongst its strength. I don’t really know what possessed him to serve it in the bowl and not on the side like a normal person – although it may have been because he was pressed for time because he spent much of his final 5 minutes picking herbs and making an awful mess pouring things, truly giving Bake Off Laura a run for her money.

While Alex become a slightly flustered mess Dave had found a certain inner peace and state of calm – as one does before a disaster. He has made many a bouillabaisse in his time and is feeling ill-advisedly confident because in his Bouillabaisse creation the only thing they can praise is his single crouton

His reduced sauce is so overly reduced it’s mainly just salt. But do you know what Dave? At least you can make very good fancy toast.

Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit. Run! Run! Run!

Deciding to dabble with the 60 odd complaints they got for featuring the lifeless, skinned corpses of rabbits last time they did it the chefs once again find them selves staring down at a leporine crime scene from the all rabbit remake of Dexter

Some of them take it better than others, Jono has obviously seen weirder things, he’s Jono. But Santosh looks like he has just opened the box and gazed upon Gwyneth Paltrow’s severed head

Well, now we know why MasterChef is firmly behind the Watershed.

Marcus is chiefly invested in how much mustard everyone can pack into their dishes and I genuinely never new someone could be so invested in mustard – and he’s been so generous and so offer the chefs a multitude of mustards

Marcus. That’s three mustards – even the my local Tesco Express stocks six different kinds. One of which is hotdog mustard so maybe we don’t count that one.

Despite his visible repulsion to the rabbit Santosh still has a pretty good understanding of how to cook it because they do eat them in Nepal, he’s also fairly familiar with the alleged classic Rabbit and Mustard Sauce (when did you last see it on a menu?) because he currently works in a French Brasserie so he combines these two fairly disaparate worlds and creates a pretty spectacular Mustard Marinated Rabbit Leg, a Spiced Pork Mince Saddle Stuffed and a Garam Masala Offal Pie finished with a Dijon Mustard Mushroom Sauce

The severed finger that is White Asparagus does also feature but I’m trying to block it out. Marcus HATES the presentation and sure it looks a bit like a murder scene from Watership Down but I’ve seen worse things done with a pigeon legs

As ever Santosh’s spicing is pitch perfect – the Garam Masala Offal Pie steals the show for sure but the mustardiness of his dish in inescapable and so Marcus is satisfied.

Similarly strong was Philli who shied away from her usual Indonesian and Japanese techniques and flourishes and rather wanted to focus on the butchery lessons she had just before the show in which she learned how to butcher a rabbit – it’s a little sus.
She serves up a purely European affair of Pancetta Wrapped Rabbit Loin with sautéed Cabbage and Onion and a Rabbit, Black Pudding and Shiitake Mushroom Hotpot finished with a Mustard and Cider Sauce

It comes across as a little basic to me? I feel like I could cook this at home – nothing really sings “Professional MasterChef” to me – and I’m sure it tasted great but, and this is going to sound VERY pretentious, I don’t see Philli on this plate – and I don’t mean that because it’s not some appropriation of Japanese food – her food is usually very sophisticated to look at and this is just… a rabbit sausage and sauce with a VERY MISERLY LITTLE RABBIT HOTPOT

My prison name would be Little Rabbit Hotpot.And how did they not call her out on that?
The judges love it despite the simplicity, or because of it, and Gregg is particularly enamoured with Philli’s loin and tells her “your loin is beautifully textured” and now I don’t want my ears anymore.

Having less of a fun time is Jono who is using by far the most rabbit with several different pieces going into it including panfrying the hearts and kidneys and making a liver faggot and serving it with a rabbit loin that he sous-vide in a mustard and honey sauce as well as a rabbit leg terrine, a few prunes and a raisin and a caper puree for good measure

In terms of showing off Jono’s classically trained background, I think it’s a success. They love the presentation of the dish, personally I have an issue with chefs using big plate for ostensibly very small dishes because it all begins to look a bit bit-y – there’s no reason this couldn’t have been on a starter sized plate.
What Jono does very well is balance his sweet and savoury notes because with the prunes, the madeira and the raisin-y puree this could have easily gone very sweet but he managed to pull it back. It’s just a pity that Marcus Wareing, The Mustard Baron found it to be lacking in a mustardy heat. This royally pisses off Jono who is all but holding in his contempt for the judging and justifying his light mustard sauce – and honestly I agree with him on many of his points but part of the show is just giving Marcus what he wants and what he really wanted was to be punched in the gut by the power of your mustard. Although I still would have put Jono through for the sheer spiciness of his eyeroll and the visceral incredulity that anyone would want strong mustard flavours with rabbit

With all six chefs having cooked the judges come to the decision that the safe chefs are Philli and Bart. I think Santosh honestly should have been the safe one from the rabbit course but I’m too busy watching Bart be a goofy delight to worry too much about it

If he doesn’t want to be a chef anymore he could be the Dutch Ambassador at the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Your Bonus Round is on Classic Desserts

The remaining chefs have to cook for survival by reinventing a classic dessert of their choosing – a classic being defined as something that has been around forever so unsurprisingly we get a Black Forest Face Off between Alex and Dave! There hasn’t been this much German turmoil since…. Nope. Not finishing that joke.

Alex is taking inspiration from that time he was trapped in Germany and having to earn a living by cooking in a restaurant he couldn’t communicate with anyone – which isn’t dissimilar to the story of Pixar’s Ratatouille. He doing this by making his taken on a traditional German Baumkuchen (don’t tell Hungary that, the dispute it HEAVILY). The word “baumkuchen” literally means “tree cake” because of its layered rings – and traditionally it is cooked on a spit so when finished does literally look like a very thin tree

That is if your only exposure to trees is by Duplo.
The most skilled baumkucheneers manage 25 layers, Alex is merely going for 7 and then doubling it over to make 14 – YOU BRING DISHONOUR UPON GERMANY WITH YOUR CHEATING. In order to actually bring the Black Forest Gateauxiness to his pudding he’s topping his FrankenKuchen with Chocolate Cremeux, Chantilly Cream and a Crème Fraiche Ice Cream and serving it beside a rather worrying looking cherry stain that looks like Sauron’s evil spreading through the lands of Mordor

It’s also on a tree stump if you were really managing to miss the Black Forest of it all.
It’s an incredible amount of work for the 90 minutes when you consider how often he had to take out and re-layer the cake to achieve the layered effect and more importantly it’s a very good reimagining of the Black Forest Gateaux and I finally feel like I’m seeing Alex’s food – he really excels at desserts what with this and his Peach Melba.

Dave’s take on the Black Forest Gateaux was much less successful and once again his glaze falls short and only makes his Cherry Glazed Cherry Mousse look like the egg of a Doctor Who alien

That is going to hatch and destroy us all. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE DAVE!
In what can only be a panic to try and add some sort of redeeming visual he decides to serve it atop dry ice

Bless him completely missing the dry ice bowl and pouring the puree inelegantly into main bowl <3
Except because there is chocolate soil on the bottom of the bowl, it fuses to the dish and Marcus has to furiously try and mine it out like he’s some poor sod in mid-1880’s California

It’s not Dave’s finest hour and the Dave Hype Train is rapidly running out of steam but Gregg is still there to cheer him on because he likes it at least.

Also opting for both a concerning ovum of a dish and a very strong fruity theme is Santosh who grew up in Nepal and only ever had rice pudding for desserts and is reimagining it with a grain called Kodo – which is a major flour source in certain Nepalese regions and can be fermented to make a beer known as Chhaang – which according to legend is very popular with the Yeti, I hadn’t realised the Yeti was a drinker, I wonder what Nessie drinks? Nothing but scotch?
His ode to Rice Pudding is a Kodo Millet Pudding and a Mango Snowball filled with Mango Mousse and garnished with Sechuan Pepper Shortbreads and some Facy Fruit Roll-Ups

Honestly? Crown him for the fancy fruit roll-ups alone.
Santosh’s plating methods may need a little work because he THREW that snowball at the plate – seemingly entirely unaware he was being filmed and then was very embarrassed about what he had just done

While there was a lot of things going on in his dish, especially the overwhelming mangoiness of it all, he managed to squeeze a Nimbu Paani Sorbet onto the side of it all

Nimbu Paani (Hindi for Lemon Water) being a version of lemonade from South Asia and serving as a perfect palate cleanser after you’ve seared your tongue off eating your way through the 7 mangoes that went into making Santosh’s dish and it really pays off as a resounding success of both textures and flavours.

While everyone gets on with making their fairly standard MasterChef desserts (depending on how you feel about baumkuchen) Jono is at th back selecting his ingredients with a blindfold and a dartboard and thus ending up with a Sticky Toffee Pudding, normal so far. It’s served in silver leaf which makes it look like it believes in vaccine conspiracy theories

I’ve seen more questionable uses of gold and silver leaf on this show before.
Of course a Sticky Toffee Pudding needs a sauce, Jono isn’t *that* insane – except it’ s a Smoked Beef Fat Caramel.

I mean sure, suet puddings are a thing, Bone Marrow Creme Brulee seemed weirder and more visually upsetting. BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE! It’s that classic dish, Fish Egg Ice Cream

I’m trying to decide if this is weirder and worse than the Tobacco Ice Cream of yore – and you know what? I think the visuals of seeing tiny little sturgeon eggs in the ice cream just about clinches it – it’s that special brand of upsetting that only Jono can achieve.
ALLEGEDLY it all tastes very nice – the cake could have used more soaking and the Caviar Ice Cream is interesting – it’s a lot like a salted caramel and doesn’t hit the fishy notes one would expect. I still never want to see it again.

After all that the only cut and dry elimination is Dave and then it’s a tough choice between the other three – each of whom has a multitude of points in their corner and I thought they would play yet another Wicked Wango Card and decide to take all three, unfortunately the producers have taken their Wango privileges away and they are forced to cut Jono, which feels like a hate crime against me specifically.

He has managed to bring a level of unhingedness to the show that we have never seen before and because of that he certainly goes down in the MasterChef History Books as an All Star – and God I hope he’s on TV more after this – PUT HIM ON GREAT BRITISH MENU AND MAKE HIM SERVE THE QUEEN A SQUID INK CHEESECAKE.

Long live the Rock and Roll Hobbit.

2 thoughts on “MasterChef The Professionals Recap: Marcus Wareing, The Mustard Baron

  1. jillsleight

    That shot of the whole rabbit just lying there with three jars of mustard next to it will haunt me for some time. Also, Jono would be right at home on GBM given how unhinged some of those dishes get – I’m working my way through the series from earlier this year and I’m… scared? Of some of the dishes?

  2. Ariadne Griffin

    oh, the dishes on Great British Menu are such a bewildering combination of pomposity and gimmickery – it’s a dangerous combination! The surgical horror of the Harry Potter themed pudding still haunts me.

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