Celebrity MasterChef 2021, Episode 1: Food Poisoning Medusa

Time for another game of MasterChef or Medical Emergency!

It’s back and it’s more chaotic than ever, which is to be expected when you mix a boyband member, Su Pollard and a Twitter comedian.

Cloche of the Titans

While Civilian MasterChef circles ever closer to becoming as complexly dramatic as its antipodean sibling, Celebrity MasterChef is throwing it back to the days of yore with a mystery ingredient round, except this time there is a glaring level of unfairness as everyone mostly gets either some sort of protein or a vegetable and poor old Munya Chawawa gets a bunch of mint

which is probably what he deserves for being dubbed a Twitter Comedian, says the snarky blogger to the kettle.
It also didn’t bode well for Munya that he thought the mint was spinach for a good while – and really what is there to do with mint? You have 2 options: lamb and mint sauce or a mojito and the MasterChef Larder Table had a distinct lack of white rum and soda water

so poor Munya and his enviable eyebrows were left to take on the behemoth of a challenge that is cooking lamb on Masterchef and it went about as well as you can expect

it is worth noting that there is not a single shot of Gregg or John eating any part of this plate of food because merely looking at it is to risk salmonella, like a food poisoning Medusa.

Also risking it all on a roast dinner (kind of) was Su Pollard, who as expected had come dressed as a sentient car boot sale

my kingdom for a flower crown of bejewelled dewy roses!
She got given a Poussin which she promptly stuffed with as many lemons as she possibly could and buttered it in the most incompetent way she could manage

and you might think that to accompany what is essentially a roast chicken you might do some nice roasted potatoes, maybe some honey glazed carrots if you’re feeling particularly ~chefy~ but this is Su Pollard we’re talking about so naturally she decided that the best accompaniment to this just about bursting chicken was to roast some tomatoes and plums. Together. At the same time. Which you would think was as bad as this dish would get but then Su went at that poor little roast bird like a hyena

this is almost as distressing as that time they made the professional chefs prepare woodcocks, part of the process involving shoving the bird’s own beak through its chest, John was of course AGHAST

the resulting dish was however worthy of being placed on The Fourth Plinth

the chicken, for what it’s worth, is very well cooked, which in this particular heat basically meant she was winning, the roasted tomatoes and plum concoction is treated with suitable disdain and contempt.

Every now and again there’s a celebrity who comes along and you’re POSITIVE that they’ve done the show and I’m still not convinced that Duncan James hasn’t done this all before – and he may well have with a different face because, as is evident, he’s had some work done and his cheeks are so jollily plumped that he does look a bit like an off-season mall Santa

it’s a cheerful aesthetic and we love this journey for him.
His mystery ingredient was an aubergine and I’m not sure if he struggled more to cook with it or pronounce it, starting off as “Over-Jean” and slowly and surely getting to the correct pronunciation, so if he learns nothing else, at least he got that! Having never cooked an aubergine his method was mostly to just cover it cheese and do as the Good Lord says in PhileManchego Chapter 3, verse 7

he does, despite the odds, manage to pretty successfully cook a few discs of the aubergine by frying them in Marcus Wareing amounts of butter, topping them with parmesan and then making an unholy White Wine, Garlic and Cream Sauce with some panicked asparagus on the side to make him feel better

the judges really like it, obviously doing their best to have as little of the sauce as possible and you can’t really blame them given the alarming texture and massive whacking great big bits of garlic lurking within. I might have to stan? I just love an unapologetic use of garlic.

Rita was similarly unapologetic in her approach, except this time with copious amounts of habanero chillies

which John tells us is “the hottest chilli in the world” – a fact that isn’t even vaguely close to true, it ranks as roughly 300,000 on the Scoville Scale meaning it is very hot but considering there are three categories of higher heat going right up to 3,000,000+ for The Ghost Chilli and Dragon’s Breath, it’s still a pretty commercial chilli pepper.
Despite Rita’s liberal use of chillies, her star ingredient is prawns which she spends A LOT of time just gagging over as she peels them and generally hating every seconds she had to spend in their company

much like Duncan her approach was mostly just CHEESE, a strange decision considering prawns and parmesan isn’t a combination encountered anywhere on this Earth of ours and she was doing it with a side of rice, dubbing herself “The Rice Queen” which is brave considering the popularity of Online Rice Discourse.
Her plating wasn’t anything to write home about, it was just a bowl of cheesey prawns and rice with enough chilli to make John Torode sweat even at a 6 foot distance

John does sweat at the mention of Paprika though, so take that with a pinch of salt (and a glass of milk if necessary).
Her prepping of the prawns is incredibly good, especially given the fact she was doing it very begrudgingly and she cooked them well, they claim the rice is perfectly cooked, Black Twitter will have you know otherwise. I know who I trust on all things rice.

Seeing us out with his best attempt at a dessert was Bez, who came to the studio looking like she was wearing the pelts of two Teletubbies

I’m more excited for his fashion journey than his culinary one.
His be-cloched ingredient was Rhubarb, which he loves and uses quite often and went the very easy route of making a Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble and then making things inexplicably more difficult for himself by baking it in a springform cake tin and trying to slide it off the pan in one clean disc, the result being foreseeably grim

it’s like a scene from The Thing, I think it’s all down the unnervingly slightly fleshy colours and gloopiness of it all. He does manage to claw back some of the points he lost for the lack of aesthetic efforts by having made a custard from scratch though

and he earns this limp effort at a compliment from John Torode: “You understood the basic principles of a crumble.” <3

An Under The Cloche Dish Ranking

  1. Duncan James’s Avoidance of Aubergine Innuendos
  2. Rita Simon’s Scoville Scale Taste Test
  3. Bez’s Crumbled Crumble
  4. Su Pollard’s Chicken’n’Plums
  5. Munya Chawawa’s Gambolling Lamb

We’re Having a Meatball!

Another new challenge that is essentially a revamped older challenge as the celebrities have to taste a popular street food from a different country (expect this challenge to get problematic real quick) and then write down the ingredients they believe were used to make the dish – this exercise proves a little pointless as Duncan earns praise mostly for writing down any and every herb that he can possibly think of

and after just frantically writing the ingredients down, they’re given a table of the correct ingredients (with a few rogues) and are just allowed to use any of them. It really should have been that they can only use what they wrote down because I would really have loved to see Su Pollard making meatballs out of only lamb and oregano and a sauce out of Red Wine and…. Wine

I love the ominous cliffhanger that is “I would add…” WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO ADD SU? WHAT IS IT?
As it turns out the “I would add” was just general chaos as she completely lost control of the challenge the moment she started stuffing whole sprigs of thyme into the middle of her pork meatballs

and then served the whole thing up with a sauce so dark you could see the Gates of Hell in it

and it was suitably bitter, although it was her red cabbage that drew the most ire as it just about turned John Torode inside out the moment his tongue so much as touched it

I hope they somehow drag Su to the final, I don’t care about the shenanigans or riggery, it’s what she deserves!

The meatballs caught the most people out as they were meant to be made from a mixture of veal and pork mince. Everyone decided to avoid the veal mince, imaginably because of the general problematicness surrounding the consumption of veal when in reality the rogue mince was the chicken. The only person to think to mix their minces was Bez – well, Munya did too expect he just made a batch of chicken meatballs and a batch of pork meatballs and served it in the most phallic looking style he could accomplish

big props to John for highly praising the presentation.
Munya was also caught out by the gravy, as was just about everyone because none of them seem to have ever made gravy in their lives? Once again, I think Rita was the only person to correctly just use the red wine while everyone else either just went with white wine or insulted every sommelier in existence and mixed red and white wine while John watched on in pained annoyance


Duncan’s was the most appetising looking plate of food

even if he did mix his wines, the consistency and thickness of his sauce was at least correct!
Rita on the other hand wasn’t so successful as she made her meatballs so big that she cremated them on the outside and left a gungy looking Trichinosis laden centre

at least her mash was good?

Bez did really well in this challenge though, even if he did use white wine and chop his onion to roughly there were massive bits sticking out of the meatballs making them look like Cynthia from Rugrats

and he also somehow came to the decision that the gravy should have white wine in it…

A Frickadelle Ranking

  1. Duncan Despite The Wine Mixing
  2. Bez’s Lost Veal
  3. Munya’s Segregated Minces
  4. Su By Virtue Of Not Risking Food Poisoning
  5. Rita’s Trichinosis Balls

Dinner Party Panic

For their final challenge the celebs had to cook a dish that they would be happy to serve at a dinner party, the catch being that they only have an hour to do it in which is just a masochistic challenge to put any dinner party host under. Some saw this as an opportunity to go overwhelmingly simple and then you had Bez who decided the ideal dinner party meal was mutton chops (the meat, not the beard), hogget mince sauce, some unGodly-sized potato fondants and broccoli covered in anchovies, which took 60 minutes for him to try to pronounce

fourth time’s the charm!
It’s a very rustic sounding dish (although you try to find me anyone in rural Somerset that’s putting anchovies on their broccoli, I just wanna talk to them) and it was always going to be a challenge to plate it up in any way that was even vaguely aesthetically pleasing and while I didn’t have grand hopes for it, I think he could have done better than The BFG after 3 rounds with Mike Tyson

and just because I can, here it is with added googly eyes

I think it improves it.
It’s not much of a surprise that it was a bit of a mess on a plate considering that Bez seems to leave a trail of chaos wherever he goes

if only Monica Galetti judged this series, she’d have handed him a broom within seconds of those peels hitting the floor.
As far as the flavours of his dish go, it’s all praised and very well done, it just could have been better if he had had more time. I mostly look forward to him bringing in a haunch of venison when they tell him he has 30 minutes.

Rita went decidedly more simple, knocking out that MasterChef favourite of risotto and not even bothering to flavour it with anything other than parmesan, which is a very disappointing dinner party meal and I’m almost 100% sure production pulled her aside and told her that she was just serving rice and cheese and needed to jazz it up a little bit. The solution? Chilli scallops and wilted spinach, meaning that YES, she was essentially serving up cheese, chilli flavoured shellfish and rice again

It’s good to have a brand, I guess? Watch out Uncle Ben.
She does perfectly cook the scallops, which is one Hell of an achievement with this lot, let’s be honest! And as far as risottos go, she served it up as best you can, there’s really not much to say IT WAS A PARMESAN RISOTTO.

There was a bit of a Fondant Potato Battle going on, Bez’s aforementioned mammoth offering but Duncan and Munya were both taking on the challenge, to varying degrees of success. Munya’s were being served alongside a fillet steak and creamy leeks as a nod to a dish the chefs in a restaurant he worked at used to make, and it was mostly successful save for the fact the steak was slowly bleeding all over the plate, which Aaron from MasterChef 2021 will have you know actually constitutes as gravy

his steak is beautifully cooked though but that’s where the good points end because his potato fondants are rock hard and John is in desperate need of a sauce because apparently the creamy leeks and blood weren’t enough! Some people just want everything.

Duncan’s fondant potatoes meanwhile were extremely good and he pulled an almighty flex on everyone else by pan-frying duck breasts which he then hid beneath a scaffolding of root vegetables

it’s not a wildly original dish (the celeb versions never are, are they?) but the duck is perfectly pink and the red wine jus certainly makes up for his vinous concoction in the previous challenge.

And then that leaves us with culinary chaos demon, Su Pollard who was using Pollock exclusively because it sounds like Pollard and because Duncan spent the entire budget on four duck breasts so she couldn’t get monkfish. She was wrapping it in prosciutto and then doing as anyone does when wrapping fish in bacon and serving it alongside far too many roasted vine tomatoes. She was at least trying to jazz it up a little with some orange braised fennel and it begged the question: when does the orange braised fennel become fennel braised orange?

the quantities were a little off in the final dish but the most upsetting part of it was the fact her potatoes were still rather hard

she should probably have just kept them off entirely, she didn’t really need them! But at least the fish was well cooked and flavoursome, so there were some positives!

A Dinner Party Dish Ranking

  1. Duncan’s Generic Duck’n’Tatoes
  2. Rita’s Rice, Cheese and Shellfish 2: Electric Boogaloo
  3. Bez’s Assault On Aged Sheep
  4. Su’s Pollarded Pollock
  5. Munya’s Unforgivable Steak Puns

As is inevitable someone has to be eliminated and in a group of people who might be the most chaotic and stressful mix of people we’ve ever had on the show, a massive achievement considering there was an episode where Gemma Collins made an orange liqueur curry and made another contestant hate her so much they refused to work with her in a subsequent challenge – truly a landmark series. The unfortunate victim this was time was Munya and his enviable eyebrows

it’s what Twitter comedians deserve and considering he served raw lamb in the first round, mixed wines in the second and then had the weakest potato fondant in the third, it probably was a mathematically correct decision.

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