Celebrity MasterChef 2021, Episode 2: Vague Italian Ancestry

If you’re not cooking while dressed like a Victorian dowager in mourning then are you truly cooking?

If there’s one thing we’ve all had more than enough time to do in Lockdown it’s familiarise ourselves with cheeses, so I have to say: I aced the surprise cheese quiz.

Say Cheese!

The first challenge of the episode was essentially split into 2 components with the first being a pop quiz about cheeses in which the celebs had to identify 4 different kinds of cheese – Halloumi, Stilton, Camembert and Gruyere – the latter of which John was convinced everyone would think was Emmental and how naïve he was because three quarters of the celebs thought it was cheddar and Su Pollard invented… cooking cheddar? Which wasn’t even her weirdest guess and she just wrote off the Halloumi as “sheep”

and then tried her best to claw back some brownie points by spelling Halloumi for Gregg, which he congratulated her on when in fact she had spelled it worse than I imagine Bez would have

Someone send an apologetic muffin basket to the Cypriot embassy, please.

Bez got the closest to Gruyere with his guess of Elemental, I truly cannot wait for Bez’s debut cook book in which nobody is allowed to spellcheck anything and you the reader has to do their best to work out his strange and illusive cipher. Good luck barbecuing your humus!
Rita also got 3 out of 4, once again being tripped up by the fact she dubbed the Gruyere as Gouda and then Duncan James proceeded to eat all the cheese despite being mildly lactose intolerant and only got half of the answers correct for his agony. I hope it was worth the gassiness.


The second half of the first challenge involved the celebs having to cook a fresh pasta carbonara with them being granted the mercy of having pre-made pasta dough made for them, all they had to do was contend with the complexities of the, in Duncan James’s words, Pasta Mangle™. And much like the Frickadeller Fracas from the last episode, there were many a rogue ingredient on hand – the main one being the jug of cream sitting there like some sort of dairy pit trap waiting for its unsuspecting victim because as Gregg will have you know 7 times in this episode: “THERE IS NO CREAM IN A CARBONARA!” – if this was 2012, this would have been remixed by Cassette Boy and played endlessly on Radio 1 by Scott Mills.
The only celeb not to use cream was Bez who used to make carbonara for his kids because it would only take him 10 minutes, I can only imagine the chaos of Bez trying to make anything in under 10 minutes. Despite his history with carbonara, it doesn’t mean his kitchen etiquette is particularly polished as he started stirring his pasta with a rolling pin

and then decided to make life inexplicably harder for himself by mixing the whole thing in the deepest pot he could possibly find

Bez is an anthropologist’s dream, there is so much to unpack about his thought processes.
His carbonara was at least a carbonara though

a very eggy carbonara but a carbonara nonetheless!

While Bez couldn’t quite believe his luck at being given a dish he had experience with, Su’s reaction to being told to make a carbonara was just to have a genuine panic attack

this did however quickly pass as she became one with the Pasta Mangle™ and had the absolute time of her life and is largely the reason for MasterChef’s Watershed timeslot

the resulting carbonara was mostly very good, the only real issue being that her pasta was a little too thick

and given that she loved the Pasta Mangle™ so much, it’s a pity that she could have gotten another two turns on it.

Rita and Duncan pretty much had the same carbonara journey with them both struggling with the engineering of the Pasta Mangle™ and then both churning out a pair of perfectly acceptable if entirely too creamy carbonaras, Duncan’s featuring significantly more sauce splatters around the edge for ~artistic flare~

I think my favourite part of the whole challenge was Duncan proudly boasting that his father was half Italian right before he uttered the fateful words: “I’m going to add the cream now.” thus insulting his entire vague Italian ancestry.
Over all, it’s another apologetic muffin basket on order for the Italian embassy. Who knew that Bez would be the only to not risk an international pasta related emergency?

Mowgli & Mayhem

Seeing as the celebs can’t go and visit a pro-kitchen, this being the one good thing to come out of the whole pandemic (which I hope the producers have realised), the celebs will instead have to each cook 1 dish from the restaurant chain Mowgli and John and Gregg will be joined by owner Nisha Katona for the day

a decision she might have regretted seeing as the success rate for this challenge was somehow worse than Su Pollard’s cheese guessing.

Kicking off the proceedings was Su who had been given the task of making Chole Bhatura – a curry made with tea-soaked chickpeas and served with a deep-fried bread and a medically toxic amount of cloves if you’re Su – the experience of eating her curried offering being met with grimaces, pained croaks and Nisha drinking a glass of water in the most pointed fashion you could possibly imagine

no part of the dish was particularly successful, the curry was basically an anaesthetic and her bread wasn’t a bhatura so much as it was a poppadum, although not entirely unpleasant to eat

none of this particularly stopped Su from unabashedly celebrating and joyously exclaiming that she cannot wait to serve the curry at a dinner party – so RIP to all of Su’s friends who are about to all succumb to poisoning via cloves.

Following Su was going to be a hard job for anyone, not because she was particularly good but because everyone’s tongues were now suffering from severe stupefaction, which might have actually aided Duncan seeing as he became victim to the fact the recipe seemed to be written in the most confusing manner possible – Category is: Paul Hollywood Realness! His dish was Gunpowder Chicken and 2 accompanying chutneys

I can’t help but feel that cutting the chicken into tiny little nuggets was not the right choice here? Nor was cooking them for about 4 minutes too long and essentially giving them a visual similarity to dog kibble but his chutneys were excellent if entirely undemanding to make, so maybe there was a reason they wrote the recipe out like a piece of Vigenère coding.

While Duncan blended up some herbs and spices and fried chicken, Rita was saddled with making a 3 dish thali including an okra curry, a sweet-and-sour beetroot and carrot concoction and a turmeric spiced mixture of potatoes and cauliflower – the latter component causing her the most issues as the cauliflower refused to cook and Nisha watched on in slight anguish as Rita proceeded to cut the cauliflower smaller and smaller and add a lot of water in the hopes of steaming it all

in all honesty she’d possibly coming to the realisation that maybe this wasn’t the great publicity stunt for Mowgli that she thought it would be.
And while we’re here we might as well check in on Rita’s status as Rice Queen

this somehow isn’t the worst thing she does to rice this episode.
Even with the fact Rita had an almost unfair amount of extra work to do what with having to wrestle 7 different vegetables and a whole 10 spices, one of which was not cloves because Su stole them all, she got everything done reasonably successfully

she’s mostly praised for the fact her okra is actually cooked well and not overly slimy but despite the fact she tried her best to get her cauliflower cooked, it’s all still a little bit hard. Hey, 6 out of 7 vegetables successfully cooked is a solid performance!

And bringing it all to a close with a duo of desserts is Bez with the tricky task of making both jalebi and gulab jamun meaning he was going to spend a lot of time contending with the deep fat fryer and in all the years of MasterChef I cannot believe that this is the first time we’ve had this sort of a disaster

this did of course mean he lost nearly all of his jalebi batter to the bottom of the basket and so could only offer up this paltry offering that looks a little bit like the bottom of a well cultivated petri dish

there’s not really much to critique seeing as though everyone got what essentially amounted to a lick of the plate so his hopes of successful largely lay with his attempt at the gulab jamun which looked, in no uncertain terms, utterly ruddy horrendous

I feel like the greatest achievements on MasterChef are often the dishes that look like they could feasibly be seen in the text books of a university veterinary student. And props to the judges for actually eating them, especially after Gregg established that he had literally glued them onto the plate with what was meant to be a syrup but actually might have been the recipe for Gorilla Glue

PATENT IT IMMEDIATELY, we could build buildings with it!

A Mowgli PR Disaster Ranking

  1. Rita’s Extra Workload
  2. Duncan’s 60 Minutes of Blending
  3. Su’s Entirely Inedible Curry
  4. Bez’s Duality of Dessert Disasters

The Spice of Life

Seeing as the celebs had just spent a round butchering Indian food into an almost unrecognisable cuisine, the subsequent round obviously has to be a challenge focused around what the celebs learnt about using spices (In Su’s case it’s mostly DON’T USE CLOVES, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD) and they have an hour in which to put together a dish highlighting their newly… attempted learning about spices.
Surprisingly Bez doesn’t bring out a whole sheep that he plans to try and cook in the time, instead opting for the MasterChef favourite: The Scallop! And he was being a little adventurous this time as he was taking us to South America for an Adobo Sauce and… sautéed lettuce? The Adobo Sauce being a chilli sauce made usually using Ancho Chillies, which I thoroughly suggest anyone try using sometime, they have a really unique fruity taste to them, they do however look a little bit like bat wings

Truly the spoopiest of chillies.
And for Bez, the presentation of the dish was actually very, very good

considering his past efforts of Mashed BFG Face and What I Can Only Delicately Describe As Deep-fried Gallstones – this is practically art, even if it does look a little bit like the Confused Face Emoji when you add googly eyes to it

Bez really needs to learn not to serve two round things on a plate, because I will do this EVERY time.
His scallops and sauce get rave reviews, as does the entirely raw salsa… The only real contention is over the fact he made the inexplicable decision to fry his lettuce in an almost offensive amount of oil and salt – the culinary stylings of one Bez From Happy Mondays remain a mystery that I feel like is my destiny to solve.

The only other savoury dish came from Rita who had decided she was going to attempt to make Jerk Chicken and Rice, and we should have been in safe hands considering she is The Rice Queen. How’s that title going for you Rita?

Well Rita’s UFO of Rice can safely join Michelle Ackerley’s Rice Bludgeon in the Unforgivable Things Done To Rice Hall of Fame

Rita’s hopes now lay entirely in her chicken, which she had beautifully cooked and seasoned but for some reason, imagineably because a lack of sauce is always John’s main gripe, she decided to make a sauce out of whatever she could scrape from the pan mixed with maple syrup of all things, the result essentially being a re-enactment of the BP oil spill

if Twitter hadn’t been so focused on Love Island discourse last night, I can guarantee you that Rita Simons’s crimes against rice would have made her the main character of the day. #RitaSimonsIsOverParty.

Duncan and Su both went with desserts and both went similarly boring by just poaching fruit, although Duncan tried to jazz his up a bit by changing the expected pear for a pineapple and then almost inexplicably deciding that alongside the aniseed, cumin and coriander in his syrup he was going to also use miso and soy sauce – which I’m sure in some degree would work, however he got the measurements very wrong and didn’t help much that the poached pineapple looked distressingly like a removed organ

you could easily convince me that Holby City uses poached pineapples as props for a yeeted liver.
Also, might I add that Duncan’s decision to just add coconut yoghurt, pistachios and pomegranate and passion fruit seeds on the side instead of putting any modicum of effort into actually cooking anything is inspirational. Sir, that is a glorified Gwyneth Paltrow breakfast.

Su wasn’t quite as adventurous with her dish and fully admitted that she chose this recipe because it only had about 5 different ingredients – mercifully none of which was cloves. Instead there was copious amounts of saffron (RIP the budget) which did turn the whole thing a rather unapologetically ugly shade of yellow

and yet somehow it is the dish of the day, although rather unsurprising given the attempts at Carbonara and the full-bodied assault on Mowgli’s menu that proceeded this moment.

A Spiced Dish Ranking

  1. Su’s Sunny Savannah 5 by Dulux Rice Pudding
  2. Bez’s Scallops and Adobo Sauce
  3. Rita’s Jerk Chicken Pieces
  4. Duncan’s Potential Breakfast
  5. Bez’s Decision To Fry Lettuce
  6. Rita’s Unidentified Flying Carbs

Given the inexplicable tumultuousness of this episode and the dishes cooked, it really could have been anyone sent home – rather bafflingly Su passes through without question for the success of her rice pudding (apparently Sheep Cheese counted for absolutely nothing) and sadly it’s the guillotine for our Rice Queen as Rita becomes the second celebrity to be eliminated which she probably deserved seeing as though you could part her rice like Moses parting the Red Sea

Well, there goes the Uncle Ben’s ad deal she was hankering for, better luck on Strictly 2022, huh Rita?

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