MasterChef 2021, Episode 6: Man-shaped Puzzle Box

I don’t know why I’m offended by William Sitwell wearing grey trainers with a blue three piece suit but I am.

It’s the second quarterfinal and this time there’s an extra cook and a fire – these two things aren’t connected.

For this week’s quarterfinal the cooks have been given the task of creating a dish inspired by a specific holiday that they’ve been on. The setter of this challenge? William Sitwell

Amazingly this challenge didn’t turn into 5 different variations of fish and chips and nor was there a single dish inspired by a disappointing pizza they had on a Butlins holiday when they were 8. No, everyone went much classier than that. COWARDS.

We do somehow end up with a battle of the ducks between Michele and Mike. Michele and her Victorian funereal sleeves

are taking us back to her wedding in San Sebastien and a meal where she had pear and duck paired together for the first time – it’s an important moment in every girl’s life.
To recreate this dish she’s poaching a pear in rioja and and pan-frying her duck breast and serving them alongside mashed potato and buttered cabbage

I think she could have afforded to serve the pear slices and only given each plate about a quarter of it, but also mashed potato and pear is completely breaking my brain.
Her duck is sadly overcooked and the general consensus is that the pear tastes like a dessert has crash landed onto the plate, which could have potentially been saved if she had managed to really reduce the rioja sauce down to a thick, sticky consistency.

Mike’s duck dish inspired by his trips to Hong Kong was a much more successful offering with perfectly cooked duck and looking like you’d eat it on the 5th floor of the city’s fanciest’s restaurant

I’m curious about his lemongrass roast potatoes, mostly because I don’t trust them, but I do want to know just how lemongrassy they are. William Sitwell is completely enamoured with the dish and wishes he could take the duck bonbons home to share amongst his friends, which might just be the most Waitrose brand mental image there is.

I had thought Stan was onto a sure fire hit with his Honeymoon inspired Thai street food medley of Chicken and Prawn Lettuce Wraps, Coconut Pork Skewers and a papaya salad known as Som Tam, an originally Lao dish meaning ‘pounded sour ingredients’

unfortunately for Stan the only part of the dish that garners much praise is his salad with the other two lacking flavour and the pork bits being too big for John Torode’s delicate little mouth.

I had fully thought Katy would once again sail through the round with utmost of ease and it was looking good, she had her Three Cheese and Walnut Tortellini all ready to go for boiling and then disaster struck as she realised she had put her metal baking tray on top of the induction hob and thereby setting her poor tortellini on fire

Once Katy and found her way out of the smog of her cremated pasta she only had 15 minutes to sort her life out and immediately decided that her best option was to try and make as many new tortellini as she possibly could, which as it turns out wasn’t enough for the full three servings so she had a few burnt ones bobbing around in there

Is there anything sadder than a scorched tortellino?
The final dish complete with the Artichoke Puree and the Basil Puree looks better than something that had literally been through the flames and made in 15 minutes or less than it probably should

it’s like a delightful little Disney swamp.
The thickness of her pasta is a contentious issue with John saying it’s far too thick while poking possibly one of the thinnest pieces of pasta I’ve ever seen

and then he has the audacity to lecture her on how she has to come into the kitchen knowing her skills as though she literally didn’t make her own noodles and fold 12 perfect dumplings in the previous round. The only thing she’s guilty of not knowing is how an induction hob works!
If it’s not obvious enough I will be seeking divine and bloody justice for Katy.

And now we come to my new favourite human being and an enigma I must decode, Stefan. He’s drawing his inspiration from holidays in Innsmouth Portugal and as such is going to be doing squid in so many ways that it genuinely begins to seem cruel. There’s Squid and Ham Pate (Yikes already), a Squid Ink Tuile, Deep-fried Baby Squid and then the baffling amalgamation that is a Squid and Bone Marrow Risotto served beneath a piece of Sous Vide Squid atop some more of everyone’s favourite Squid and Ham Pate. And to really give it that fun seaside edge he is plating it up as an ode to the Prestige Oil Spill of 2002 and yet also somehow looks like a character from Adventure Time

Again it really just begs the question: What do the buildings he designs look like?
As with most of his dishes there are moments of brilliance with his baby squid and the squid ink tuile but then her craps it all up with something like his sous vide squid which looks and sounds like a risotto stuffed condom

One day I will understand Stefan. One day I will decode the mysteries within this man-shaped puzzle box. He is my white whale.

It’s disappointment for Katy and Michele as both have a pretty shocking round – I’m sad for both of them, they deserved better than this. Mike is obviously sailing through and then it’s just a toss up between the fact Stefan is on the verge of becoming the BBC’s biggest meme or Stan who is a solidly dependable cook with not too many highfalutin tendencies. In the end they decide to once again embrace chaos and drag Stefan through along with Mike

I truly cannot wait to see how much further Stefan can push the boundaries of what I truly am beginning to feel is an elaborate trolling of John and Gregg.

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