Celebrity MasterChef 2021, Episode 4: Carbohydrate-based Democracy

There is truly only one way to drink champagne.

A new batch of celebrities and only marginally less chaotic than the last!

A Touch of Cloche

Once again we return to my new favourite round of the competition and after the first time they clearly didn’t think that they ought to balance out the difficulty level as Penny Lancaster is given a pile of lemons while Megan McKenna (who is apparently not Ferne McCann) was greeted with a whole unfilleted trout and its lifeless eyes

and only figured out it was trout after Gregg told her, prior she had only referred to it as “definitely white fish” and then went on a whole journey as she discovered that fish do indeed have bones, many, many bones. It was a bit cruel that they made her fillet the fish herself but given the fact she had never done it before she did remarkably well and the dish was a competent offering

I think I’m mostly shocked that someone birthed forth from TOWIE would be caught dead cooking carbs on TV so soon, it usually takes a good three rounds of Gregg moaning about their portion sizes.
Her fish was indeed beautifully cooked and the only real detraction is the fact the paprika roasted potatoes were a touch scorched and her sauce was very acidic but the right texture, by which I imagine Gregg meant wet and pourable.

While Not-Ferne got on very gamely with her surprise trout, Melanie Sykes had to deal with a pile of pears that she spent a significant amount of time staring at like they were a pile of dead bodies

I mostly enjoyed that they just credited Melanie Sykes as being famous for a 90s beer commercial and did not even mention her ousting from Pottery Throwdown – GIVE ME THE DRAMA.
Her dread of the pears came from the fact she’s apparently not a dessert person, fortunately she didn’t decide to go savoury and cause us to relive the horror of Crissy Rock’s Unlawful Marriage of Fish and Pears, LEST WE FORGET

instead she set about making a pear crumble, which is thankfully at least one degree of difficulty higher than a poached pear. And she also had the foresight to serve it in its dish and not free-standing like Bez last week

she had mixed it in with some plums and star anise making a rather divine sounding crumble that Gregg described as being “wine-like” (Note To Self: Wine Crumble, yes?) She had also attempted to make a custard, the result being more of an environment hazard than anything else

A valiant attempt, I suppose.

Also dealing with a pile of fruit was the aforementioned human embodiment of Waitrose: Penny Lancaster. Personally, I would have gone for a dessert with the lemons, some sort of lemon cake, posset or tart but Penny was hellbent on going savoury as she grabbed the cod, which is actually white fish. Her tactic from there was mostly to just douse everything in a liberal amount of lemon and serve it garnished it with a similar quantity of lemon

You can’t really say that lemon isn’t the star of the dish when everything tastes of it.
The main failing of it is that the fish is extremely overcooked, the editing of the show seemingly suggesting she cooked it for anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes.

Also struggling with cooking times was comedian (and my new favourite person) Nabil who was lumped with a cauliflower, a vegetable he has never so much as eaten before, and who could blame him for spending a lifetime avoiding the sad, depressed broccoli? Maybe we all should. This blog is officially a Cauliflower Exclusionary Zone. What he is familiar with is Thai cuisine and so his approach was to mostly just make a prawn curry flavoured with lemongrass, star anise and chilli and hope to God that the cauliflower fitted in alright

as it turned out it was the prawns that did not belong, mostly because he cooked them for about 15 minutes longer than the poor little buggers deserved. The biggest mystery is the fact that he served the dish with a garnish of three raw cauliflower leaves and neither John nor Gregg said a single thing about it despite it absolutely being the most unhinged culinary decision of the episode. At least his rice was perfectly cooked, so his reputation on Black Twitter is still very much intact.

Rounding us out with another dessert is Patrick Grant who rather disappointed everyone by not showing up in 3 piece tweed suit and instead opted for a lurid yellow jumper that I can only imagine he mugged from a children’s TV presenter

which is to say, I personally love it.
His mystery ingredient was chocolate – you can probably tell that after the previous attempt at this round Gregg was rather hankering for some desserts. There’s a lot you can do with chocolate, Patrick’s grand plan? Fridge Cake filled with fruit and pistachio nuts, which he did rather sheepishly admit was the sort of thing a five year old makes and then looked thoroughly embarrassed as the whole thing refused to come out of the tin

it did eventually come out and despite his attempts to fancy it up by adding a ginger cream on the side, it’s rather unavoidable to acknowledge that what Patrick has served up is absolutely just a glorified chocolate bar

and so simple that John had to desperately scrabble for a compliment, finally offering up “It’s not sweet because you’ve added no sugar and the nuts taste… nutty.” – so props to whichever production member bought the good quality pistachios, at least 40% of the dish’s success is on you.

An Under the Cloche Dish Ranking

  1. Megan McKenna’s Trout-related Fluke
  2. Melanie Sykes, Professional Pear Wrestler
  3. Penny Lancaster’s Lemons and Not Much Else
  4. Nabil’s First Time In The Cauliflower Rodeo
  5. Patrick Literally Just Melted And Reset Chocolate FOR AN HOUR.

You’ve Been Bánh’d

For this week’s Street Food Extravaganza we’re heading to Vietnam where the celebrities are tasked with identifying the ingredients within Bánh Xèo – a stir-fry filled pancake

I think this is a great deal easier than last week’s Frikadeller challenge, at least in terms of identifying the ingredients as everything is mostly raw or whole – although this didn’t stop Megan nibbling mint and loudly pondering why it was so minty, so rather unsurprisingly she had completely disassociated by the end of the taste test, the realisation that she was probably going to have to cook the damn thing rapidly setting in

Can we just take the time to acknowledge the perfectly timed zoom-in that perfectly synced up with the pout? Cinematography at its best. GIVE THEM A BAFTA.
She was right to be worried though, considering her approach to cooking a pancake was to basically deep-fry pancake batter

and lo and behold her pancake turned out looking like some sort of tuile-crepe hybrid that never asked to be born

and yet somehow this wasn’t the worst of the pancakes to be brought kicking and screaming into this world, behold A Gallery of Pancakey Horrors

the main point of failure for everyone was the fact the pancakes should have been cooked more like an omelette than a pancake with the stir-fry filling being added while the pancake was in the pan and then folded over so everyone was very confused as they tried to fold a series of overly crisp pancakes that rapidly fell apart

the only celebs to really even vaguely pull off a decently folded pancake were Nabil and Penny

Nabil’s being deemed the best one because Penny’s was slightly too raw in the middle yet somehow still crisp, unlike Melanie’s whose Wet Ass Pancake got rudely waved around like a makeshift surrender flag

not that there was actually much pancake to waft around

not that Patrick was much more successful with his stir-fry essentially just wearing a little pancake hat

“The sauce is good” offers John as though managing to put garlic and chilli in a dip made from fish sauce and lime juice was in anyway a difficult culinary achievement, although considering Megan had to give a warning ahead of her sauce because of the sheer amount of garlic she had managed to squeeze into the little bowl, maybe he did deserve some praise

and Megan looking thoroughly guilty and ever so slightly proud of the monstrosity she had made

TOWIE members on cooking shows are nothing but a blessing, I mean she stir-fried her cucumber!

An Unofficial Bánh Xèo Ranking

  1. Nabil’s Mostly Discernible Pancake
  2. Penny Being Second Is an Indication of the Level of Failure
  3. Patrick’s Little Pancake Hat
  4. Megan Stir-Fried Cucumber
  5. Melanie’s Pancake Surrender

Dinner Party Hard

We once again return to see what sort of cursed dinner parties our favourite celebs are likely to host, and unsurprisingly it takes Penny Lancaster all of 10 seconds to drop that she has a private chef do all her catering

she does however have a few of her own dishes up her sleeve and was also using this moment to try and apologise for the fact she severely overcooked her cod in the first round by doing sea bass this time. Alongside it she was serving a Ratatouille with a twist! And what was this twist, I hear you ask? In the most middle class fashion she could possibly manage, she leaned in close to tell them her secret ingredient is cumin, which is like everyone’s dad claiming that celery salt is the secret ingredient to their Bolognese. WE ALL KNOW DADS, STOP PRETENDING WE DON’T. Not happy with just roasted veg and her fish she was also planning on doing sweet potato fries, a concept she seemed to think was incredibly novel and I’m beginning to think Penny Lancaster might be stuck in a 2007 time loop, constantly reliving her Strictly past.
She did manage to redeem her piscine crimes with a pair of very successfully prepared and cooked fillets of fish

and her secret cumin is extremely overly praised – the sweet potatoes much less so and are rightfully maligned for not truly belonging as part of the dish.

With all of Penny’s crowing about having a private chef, you would expect she’d have come in with the poshest dish going but Melanie slyly came in, talking it all up about how she doesn’t do dinner parties and would rather have her mates around for a take-away before revealing that she would be cooking cod’s cheek! Immediately my interest was piqued because, as I am want to remind everyone at any possible moment, my favourite MasterChef disaster of all time was when professional chef Jordan decided that he was going to serve Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing a Cod Cheek Omelette

I think about him every day and I hope he’s well and thriving.
Melanie, thankfully but also sadly, wasn’t serving her cod cheeks in an omelette but instead had a rather massive and sinister amount of lentils to try and cook

she described the dish as “hearty” and I’m not sure that white fish, lentils and a salsa verde could ever be described as “a hearty meal”

she at least cooked everything correctly – it would have been quite something if she screwed up lentils and a salsa verde but she deserves some praise for her cooking of the cod cheeks. It’s a fine dish that doesn’t get any rave reviews because it lacked that little something special.

While a lot of the others played coy about hosting dinner parties, Megan was eager to flex on everyone else with her tried and tested dish of Champagne Chicken with honey-glazed carrots, broccoli and thyme new potatoes

it really does look divine and the chicken is supremely well cooked and she thoroughly redeemed her sauce making abilities, managing to perfectly balance the Champagne and Brandy Cream Sauce she served alongside it.

Wanting to show off his interest in Brazilian cooking Nabil decided to make Moqueca de Peixi – a fish stew consisting of a richly spiced coconut sauce and any fish you can get your hands on, Nabil opting for mussels and tilapia. Alongside it he was serving fried plantain and Brazilian Rice, which does happen to involve putting what I’m sure weren’t Pepperamis but I’m just going to say were Pepperamis in it

it’s been one hell of a year for putting sausages in side dishes, maybe the woman from Coventry on Come Dine With Me who put a sausage in a trifle was on to something?
The final dish was one of the most accomplished we’ve seen so far and has me pretty dead-certain that we’ll see Nabil in the final

and his dedication to rice architecture is astounding, we do not see enough moulded rice piles these days. And it was perfectly cooked – we’re all agreed that we have retired Rita Simons as Rice Queen and have democratically elected Nabil Abdul Rashid as Rice King, yes? good, great, I’m glad I could usher us into an age of carbohydrate-based democracy.
John and Gregg rave about the dish and I imagine it’s exciting for them when someone cooks something that we don’t often see on the show, I can’t imagine how many kilograms of pan-fried sea bass the two of them have eaten in their MasterChef lifetime.

Seeing us out with another of his pudding ideas is Patrick Grant who was committing the cardinal sin of deciding to deconstruct a cheesecake as though this was 2006 all over again. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE SHOW, TAMAR? Besides the multitude of red flags popping up the moment he mentioned “deconstructed cheesecake” – the look on Gregg’s face being the primary one

and the others being the fact he was flavouring the cheesecake with plums, feta and star anise in what I can only fathom as a Rachel Green-style sticking together of the pages of a recipe book. Plum and Feta Cheesecake does have the ring of a Beef Trifle.
If you do make the foolish decision to deconstruct a dish, then your success is going to largely pivot on how well you present it and you would usually do it so that all the components are visible on a plate. Patrick however had other plans and was just going to pile everything into a glass dish that looks a bit like something your grandmother only uses at “special occasions” and that she definitely nicked from an ice-cream parlour called Scoops in the 50s

there is something extraordinarily disconcerting about the green colour of the glass with the all too visceral texture of the plum compote. I think I may have had too high hopes for Patrick’s culinary abilities, which are absolutely rock bottom, as John and Gregg have to take at least two mouthfuls of a dessert they describe as “needing sugar and all too salty” while Patrick looked truly gutted

he has absolutely served this to his family and they definitely lied to him that they loved it.

A Dinner Party Dish Ranking

  1. Nabil, Come To Brazil
  2. Megan’s Coq au Vin Champagne
  3. Penny’s White Fish Redemption
  4. 60% of Melanie’s Dish Was Just Lentils
  5. Patrick’s Ode To Beef Trifle

It felt a little bit inevitable about where this was all going because truly Patrick was the weakest link and was of course the first to be eliminated, but he accomplished so much in his one episode and he gave us this gif that Horny Twitter greatly appreciated

and if he wants to invite me to one of his Dungeons and Dragons evenings, I will accept. I play an Aarakocran Bard.

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