MasterChef 2021, Episode 4: Cup-a-Fruity-Omelette

Here we see a wild Gregg Wallace unhinging his jaw before consuming his prey.

After an opening week of soaring highs it was inevitable that we would eventually come crashing down with a bump – we’ve got all the classics: timing issues, raw lamb, purple potatoes and one hell of a dubious dessert.

Signature Dishes

The show has been desperate for years now that someone would come along and decide to champion vegan cooking which is why I was quite excited when Rachel, a vegan for 2 years now came along. Sadly she had other ideas and was cooking sea bass

because she “doesn’t want to be pigeonholed” – which I totally get, this show has a tendency to do that, but you also haven’t cooked anything on the show yet, there’s barely a pigeonhole with your name on it!
With her pan-fried seabass fillet she was serving Cauliflower Three Two Ways and a mango and chilli salsa

You would think the Mango and Chilli Salsa would be perfectly sweet on its own, maybe give it a squeeze of lemon or lime juice but Rachel really wanted an extra saccharine kick and decided to amp it up with a sugar syrup which as you might expect borders on dessert.
Her cooking of the fish is highly praised, as is her use of the garam masala on the cauliflower but the fact she didn’t get her Tempura Cauliflower done does mean the dish lacks texture, especially with her watery puree.

Adrian, was also opting for seafood and making Lobster Ravioli in a Vermouth Sauce (Trend Alert: retired men cooking lobsters). It was looking pretty good for Adrian, he was making his own pasta (PUH-stuh if you’re John Torode) and did a remarkably good job of it, perfectly thin and no bursting of his ravioli. The problems hit when it came to make the fish stock for his sauce as he just decided to boil the raw lobster shells

The trick to getting the most flavour out of them is to roast them first, not that 75 minutes is really enough time to get a lobster based fish stock on the go. He also seemingly decided to totally ignore the cod heads the BBC had given him like a maritime mafia threat

They buy you lobster, you better not screw it up!
He certainly hadn’t screwed up the lobster side of this dish

It is all a little pale and anaemic looking but the ravioli are perfectly cooked, it’s all just let down by a sauce that tasted overwhelmingly of tarragon and aniseed. But he did successfully make his own pasta which has tripped up even the most accomplished chefs on the show.

I’ve talked about how the “civilian MasterChef” has almost caught up to the Professional series quite a lot; enter architect Stefan who I have no doubt goes to a lot of restaurants and tastes lovely food and has thus developed quite an aspirational style of cooking, he just hasn’t mastered the art of delicacy.
He was taking on a rack of lamb which has now become more dangerous than a fondant potato and obviously once again the lamb was raw, as was signposted by John Torode’s face the moment Stefan said he was only going to put the lamb in the oven for 5 minutes after a brief pan-frying

With his lamb he was serving a Garlic Potato Puree, What-We-Shall-Generously-Call-Croutons and garnishing it with some nasturtium leaves

You might be thinking that the nasturtium leaves were laid out like that so Stefan could get an idea of which ones were the best for the plate but as it turned out that was just the roadmap for his plating style

I’m not overly keen on the presentation but John is very taken by his floral machine gun fire. It’s a real shame that his lamb is still extremely raw because had he just cooked it for even two minutes longer he probably would have been straight through to the next round and he had the time, literally the only other thing he had to cook was the Garlic Potato Puree!

Raw Lamb wasn’t the only horror story we were revisiting as Alicia was reliving Daniel’s Pork Belly Nightmare and hoping that the extra 15 minutes on the clock would allow her to cook her Jerk-Roasted Pork Belly to perfection

Spoiler alert: it does not!
While the Creamy Mashed Potato is divine and the Chicken Wing and Cider Sauce is revelatory, the amount of unrendered fat on the pork is cause for concern

but at least she hadn’t panicked and dumped it into a deep fat fryer. I think out of all the dishes made, this is the one I would be the most keen to try and it’s mostly due to the sound that of chicken wing and apple cider sauce.

As you may have noticed this round has been teetering on the edge of an all out disaster and certainly isn’t offering up the highs of the first week. Well never fear because Katy is here to turn things around with her favourite Laksa Curry and much like Adrian she is going the extra mile and making her own noodles

but unlike Adrian she really manages to pack depth and flavour into her dish

I think it’s fair to say that Katy well and truly saved the day and bless her she was so nervous while they were tasting her food

it really is looking like the Scottish are going to dominate this series.

Due to the amount of small (and some not so small) errors that littered most of the dishes the only cook to get awarded their MasterChef apron is Katy and John is very tempted to just push the trapdoor button on the rest of them and start again. DO IT JOHN.

Favourite Ingredient Redemption Stories

Bucking the trend of the previous Favourite Ingredient Rounds none of the cooks had opted for an uncookable cut of meat – I fully expect we’ll be back to the usual by the next episode.
In a joint effort to defund the BBC from the inside out Stefan and Adrian have opted to elect Wagyu Beef and Monkfish as their respective favourite ingredients, meanwhile Alicia has chosen chocolate and has been given 5 bars of Green and Black’s

Learn to play the game Alicia!

In attempt to turn her chocolate into gold Alicia decided she was going to Frankenstein together Mulled Wine and Chocolate Cake which goes incredibly well for her and the creation is deemed The Dish of the Round

Chocolate is very much still the key to Gregg Wallace’s heart.

Nestling firmly into her vegan friendly pigeonhole, Rachel was having to work with a pair of aubergines which are her go-to meat replacement. Her plan was to make an aubergine curry and serve it topped with Garam Masala Roasted Aubergine Slices and a side of plain basmati rice

It’s a perfectly fine dish, she certainly hasn’t reinvented the wheel in terms of the capabilities of the aubergine. The flavours are a little lacking and while the roasted aubergine is perfectly cooked the chunks in the curry are a battle to chew.

Back in the lap of luxury and Adrian is hacking his way through a whole monkfish like he’s trimming the hedge and it was at this point that I truly began questioning if he had ever really cooked before and then he began frying it in a very crowded, very wet pan which kind of confirmed it

whether by experience or fluke I don’t know, but John and Gregg were very impressed by the cooking of his Monkfish and the Spicy Tomato Sauce and Broadbeans

I think he could afforded to do something with a potato but I get that he was concentrating his all his efforts on making sure he didn’t ruin £30 worth of monkfish tail.

While Adrian was given the pleasure of a whole monkfish tail, his partner in opulence, Stefan was given the thinnest piece of Wagyu Beef that they could possibly find

Remember the size of the steak, it’s very important later.
With it he was planning on making Hasselback potatoes to which is approach was seemingly to mutilate the spuds beyond any recognition

And you don’t have to tell me what a hasselback potato is, I know. But those potatoes have been cut without a care in the world and it’s weird because the ones he served up are magnificent

so I’m guessing the director told him to put more potatoes in the oven because a shot of just 2 spuds roasting away would have looked silly and you know, three of them looking like Freddie Kreuger had had a go at them right up front and centre wouldn’t.
As for the Wagyu beef it’s incredibly well cooked but three fifths of it seem to have gone mysteriously missing

Where is the body, Stefan?
John and Gregg didn’t have much issue with the portion size, mostly because they were too tied up having their faces turned inside out by the sharpness of his remoulade

The classic distraction and diversion technique, a favourite of the wagyu beef smugglers.
Stefan’s presentation was at least better than his previous attempt at culinary landscaping. I think I just have to accept that his style is very much “nothing should ever touch anything else” which makes me very curious to see the houses he designs: there are no corners, only walls.

With everyone cooked and done it’s an inevitable elimination for Rachel who at least doesn’t have to worry about being pigeonholed anymore.

The Winners’ Chamber

This time the cooks find themselves cooking for MasterChef Queens Irini Tzortzoglou and Jane “The Octopus Flinger” Devonshire who must have really worried about what they had got themselves into when they first thing they were introduced to was Stefan’s Halibut dish that looked like someone had cooked a dog’s toy

My favourite part is the salad leaves scattered around that lend it a sinister wintery feel, like the opening shot of an Blumhouse Productions film. My other favourite bit are the fact the butternut balls aren’t spaced evenly at all.
You would genuinely have thought that people would have learnt not to use purple potatoes after John Torode has spent the last 3 years all but laughing in the faces of the chefs of that dared try. They did try to warn him too, Gregg pointing out that you don’t see much purple food outside of children’s television and John spent the entire protest pulling this face

and once served Jane has to do her best to hold back either tears or laughter (probably both) as Stefan describes the Pan-fried Halibut and Mushroom Sauce with Purple Potato Puree and the true brainfart of the dish: Sugar Glazed Butternut Balls. Please Stefan, we’ve only just got through the Apples and Seafood phase, LET US REST.
The sad part is that the fish and the mushroom sauce would have been a complete and perfect dish on their own but they’re surrounded by the slowly encroaching sugary potato ring that constricts everything.
I have been hoping for a disaster of a dish and truly Stefan delivered on every level.

His dessert offering was much more predictable – that MasterChef 2 course staple and a mere one step above a fruit salad: the poached pear, which as it happens is exactly what Irini and Jane both served at this stage of the competition.
He was serving his in Sauternes with a side of Vanilla Ice Cream

Sauternes being a white wine from Bordeaux that can never be pronounced the same way twice according to Stefan and Gregg.
None of it is quite done enough, the sauternes is very much still just a sauternes sugar water and hasn’t reduced as all while his pears are hit or miss, Jane’s is fine and Irini can be heard crunching through hers three doors down. As for the ice cream, it’s pretty much a liquid but he really can’t be penalised for that on the show because the studio lighting and shot schedule don’t give it much of a chance.

While Stefan waged a war against the foundational concepts of aesthetics, Alicia was having a savage battle against the very concept and construct of time as she falls more and more behind while making her Lamb Curry and Lentil Stuffed Roti which she serves up 15 minutes late

having reached the point of just about gnawing her own arm off, Irini jumps in head first and almost immediately regrets it because the curry is very strongly spiced with scotch bonnet peppers

The curry is a hit all round once they worked out if they ate a little bit of it with some of the slaw they didn’t have to sacrifice their Caucasian taste buds. But the fact she was 15 minutes can’t be ignored, which I think is possibly the latest someone has ever been? Although not happy with that record she promptly broke it.

By the time she had served her curry Alicia still hadn’t managed to get her cakes into the oven and nothing broke my heart more than the moment Gregg asked her how much longer they would need and she said another 15 minutes while crouching by the stove looking like she would very much rather be anywhere else

I honestly don’t know what I would have done, I’d probably have just packed it in and told them I’d buy them all a Boots meal deal and then never come back but she was a braver woman than I and proceeded to demould her cakes despite their obvious rawness

Which apparently wasn’t a major deal breaker for Irini who just wanted a little bit more cream with hers to cut through the overwhelming sweetness.

Providing a brief relief from total and utter insanity (believe me, there’s more to come) was Katy who was making Jiaozi, which are your classic mincemeat filled Chinese Dumplings. It’s a bold dish to go for considering she has to fold and cook 12 of them, although with Alicia pushing her further and further back I imagine it was a little easier

The judges all go wild for them and her Thai Green Curry with Pan-fried Sea Bass is similarly highly praised

Katy is shaping up to be a very serious and unflappable contender for the trophy.

Then lastly we have Adrian who for his main course pulls off a very respectable Mushroom Risotto and a Parmesan Crisp

It looks as beautiful as you’re ever going to make a risotto look and tastes pretty much as you would expect a mushroom risotto to taste, it’s homely and satisfying but not changing the world.

His take on a Soufflé though I think has changed the world and not necessarily for the better.
A Soufflé is usually made by folding the beaten egg whites into a custard-y mixture. For reasons only known to himself Adrian was bypassing the custard mixture entirely and going straight to mixing his egg whites with his raspberries and then baking it, which as you may have realised means Adrian has essentially just baked A Raspberry Omelette in a Cup

This is the Supervillain to Alex’s Ice Cream Soufflé Superhero.
You didn’t think it would get worse than the potato ring did you? Well John can barely take a mouthful of Adrian’s creation without giggling

the Cup-a-Fruity Omelette joins the ranks of the Cod Cheek Omelette in the Omelette Hall of Infamy.

Well after that… turbulent round it’s obviously Katy who was straight through

and honestly they probably should have ditched everyone else but somehow they find it in themselves to forgive Stefan for serving up a piece of Prue Leith’s statement jewellery collection and he becomes a quarterfinalist too

I personally might have given Alicia another chance and chalked it up to first week nerves – that curry was outstanding and her chocolate cake was brilliant but I can’t say I’m not excited to see what Hell Stefan wreaks on Friday.

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