Celebrity MasterChef 2021, Episode 11: Pure Distilled Himbo

Well, that’s certainly one way of getting through this episode.

Well, we could only hold off The Nice Man Curse off so long.

Spicy Hot Takes

For this week’s knowledge test the celebrities were having to guess the identities of 4 whole spices – Star Anise, Saffron, Cardamom and Turmeric

and much like the dragon fruit of last week, Cardamom is apparently also an undiscovered wonder of the world and not something on every spice rack that dares venture beyond mixed herbs. Although saying that, only Kadeena and Gavin accurately guessed it, Kem knew it but couldn’t say its name like it was [REDACTED POP CUTURE REFERENCE] and then Johannes just didn’t bother to name any of the first three but knew raw turmeric on sight because his mother and sister use it for face masks

knowledge is knowledge, I suppose.
Meanwhile Kem had an internal struggle as to whether it was turmeric or a dirty carrot – he did sadly decide against writing down dirty carrot, which I am stealing as my new band name. And in true Love Island style he took one sniff of the star anise and declared “It smells like sambuca!” but because he wrote down aniseed he only got 1 out 4. Kadeena would have got a full house had she not written Tamarind instead of Turmeric despite obviously knowing it was turmeric so I’m willing to rewrite history and decide she got 4 out of 4. We’re all in agreement? Good, grand, lovely. Also, I just don’t want Gavin to be the only one to get all of them correct.

Snap, Crack, Flop

As for the skills test, well, if you thought the Car Crash Carbonara, The Calamari Calamity or the Poached Egg Palaver were an utterly unhinged series of events, they truly have nothing on the Brandy Snap Snafu. The celebrities were asked to make a pair of brandy snaps, each with a different filling – the first a Clementine Cream and the second a Ginger Buttercream. First of all, it’s morally wrong to fill a brandy snap with buttercream, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TORODE? 1000 years in jail.
Second of all, most of the celebrities had never even so much as heard of a brandy snap and so there was a very obvious point where they had had to be told how to make them or else all Gregg would have been given to eat that morning was a series of incredibly badly made buttercreams. Sadly the brandy snap intervention meant that we weren’t treated to Kem trying to make a cocktail out of these ingredients as he heard Brandy Snaps as Brandy Schnapps

Somewhere in a divergent universe, Kem Cetinay spent 15 minutes furiously trying to dissolve brandy snap dough into cream and vanilla extract before forcing John and Gregg to drink from a glass garnished with a clementine segment and a ball of stem ginger. And I hope everyone in that universe realises how lucky they are.
That’s not to say we weren’t treated to unbridled chaos as he went about making his clementine cream by just dumping whole clementine segments into his cream and beating them. Realising his mistake, he then just proceeded to squeeze the juice into them while John looked on in fascinated horror

for the record, they were indeed meant to just use the rind.
His buttercream making didn’t go particularly smoothly either has he dumped an almost literal gallon of vanilla extract into the bowl of butter

once again, has Kem ever met food?
Naturally the entire thing was completely inedible, unsightly and remained on the counter looking like someone had created a bowl of The Dead Marshes

HOW? How is that even scientifically possible? It’s like he’s discovered a new state of matter. We must consult CERN immediately!
The buttercream wasn’t the only thing that had to be abandoned as he had to leave behind one of his brandy snaps because he had entombed the metal tube mould within a crispy prison. I think we also all abandoned any sense of hope at this point. And so only one sad, dripping and ever so slightly too phallic brandy snap was wrought into existence

there is absolutely nothing to praise here, there is only death. RUN, FOOL! John does his best to reassure him and tells him “You learned a skill today!” – I’m not sure he did?

Kem was far from the only one to have buttercream related woes as Gavin for some reason decided that the best way to make a buttercream was to heat butter and stem ginger syrup in a saucepan like he was making a jus, at which point Gregg just gave up on the living world

in the immortal words of Kay Burley: Sadness in his eyes.
This did not work, obviously, and he was left with some slightly curdled butter and some whole stem ginger sadly lurking in a saucepan

he did actually manage to make a clementine cream though and his final two brandy snaps were really quite good

which is something of a miracle considering he started the challenge by stating “I think brandy snaps are like spaghetti, yes?!” and then just wrapped a thin strand of the dough around the metal tube

any guesses on what he had mixed brandy snaps up with?

The nightmare does not stop there though as Johannes decided to partake in the Ginger Buttercream Fever Dream and furiously tried to beat a whole piece of stem ginger in with his butter and sugar

why are they all like this? Also, put Johannes on Celebrity Bake Off IMMEDIATELY. Have a Strictly special : Him, Oti, Katya and Aljaz. I’ll let you have that one for free, Channel 4.
The buttercream, understandably, did not work and despite it looking like someone had left scrambled eggs in the sun for 400 years, he served it anyway and it sat there, slowly oozing out of the poor brandy snap it had been crammed within

unfortunately John and Gregg both knew better than to sample the forbidden ooze, but at least the clementine cream was good and his brandy snaps, for all of the chaos he caused, did look passable!

And with all of that said and done, it was Kadeena who once again provides some sweet relief as she doesn’t turn making buttercream into some sort of Homeric impossibility. Her only real sin being the fact she piped her buttercream straight through the brandy snap

which in all honesty is just a little bit impressive.
And while her brandy snaps were distinctly overdone, there was at least two, differently filled and entirely edible offerings

and John got *a lot* of fun out of smashing them to pieces.

In a Bit of a Rushmer

The last of our gratuitous PR stunts is with Alex Rushmer who has transformed from Castaway to Might Own a Fairly Pretentious Café with a slight shave and a hair tie

as his restaurant is entirely “vegetable focused” (the rebranding of vegetarianism continues, apace) the celebs will only be cooking vegetarian food, which thankfully doesn’t get treated like they’re all Vasco da Gama discovering the sea-route to India. Johannes does however proudly admit to never cooking vegetables to Gregg Wallace, a greengrocer

first they don’t serve him a single decent brandy snap AND NOW THIS?
Johannes’s dish was a celebration of cauliflower (because of course) which he was having to cook two different ways (because of course) one of which was a puree (because of course.) The whole point of the dish was to show that cauliflower could be cooked like chicken in butter and yeast and still taste phenomenal, which it apparently did because Gregg DESTROYED it

not that that is really much of an achievement considering it was three pieces of cauliflower, some puree and an ungenerous amount of Chinese Artichokes on a plate

it’s hardly Geraldine Granger eating 4 Christmas dinners. Or Vicky Pattison ploughing her way through 6 full portions regardless of their ever decreasing quality.

You might have thought that Johannes’s dish was “just a few bits and pieces on a plate” but Kadeena’s dish was quite frankly just three things on a plate with no consideration for aesthetics – which is not Kadeena’s fault as they were cribbing from pictures!

“A celebration of beetroot” Alex proudly calls it while it looks less like a celebration and more like an minimalistic diagram depicting the lifecycle of an amphibian.
The main issue Kadeena faced during the whole thing was the fact she loathes beetroot but because Kadeena is just an effervescently joyful person, this hatred didn’t seep out into a complete mutilation of the poor root vegetable and in fact is highly praised for “raising the beetroot to royal status.” and I would just like to point out that one of those beetroot components is a dressed salad. I think we’re getting carried away here.

Gavin and Kem both had much more involved dishes with Gavin having to make 12 tortellini and Kem having to be educated on what a risotto is

The scepticism in his eyes as he realised what risotto is – it’s pure distilled himbo.
And despite his utter lack of knowledge of a risotto and the fact he pronounced ladle as “lad-ill” he turned out a reasonable looking dish

and the judges spend most of their time highly praising the flavours of the dish – which is all Alex’s work really and mostly not enjoying any of the cookery side of it, which is all Kem’s doing. But they appreciate his enthusiasm as they had him a gold star to stick on his shirt.

Gavin was granted the small mercy of not having to make his own pasta dough and instead just had to roll it with Alex on stand-by to make him roll it thinner and thinner. Which you thought might have helped it cook but Gavin still served up slightly undercooked butternut squash (the hand grenade of the vegetable world) stuffed tortellini

I wonder if they’re Floridian?
He too is highly praised for the flavours of the dish and having a good crack at it as a first time pasta making virgin. I’m mostly just impressed that he used the correct singular

has someone been reading the blog?

An Alex Rushmer Vegetable PR Dish Ranking

  1. Gavin’s Grammatically Correct Tortellini.
  2. Johannes’s Cauliflower Dyad.
  3. I’m sorry, it was three things and one of them was barely a salad.
  4. Kem’s Risotto: An Educational Journey.

Vegging Out

Continuing the theme of vegetables, for their final challenge before the quarterfinal, the celebrities had to design their own dish based around vegetables, which does prove that after the piscinic hate crimes that poor Mitch Tonks witnessed they very quickly diverted to a non-fish themed round in episode 5.
As was to be expected the Disciple of Carnivorism, Johannes, was the most out of his depth and was hoping that an aubergine stuffed with rice, blue cheese, kale and peppers alongside a Chakalaka Sauce containing baked beans was going to see him safely through this round

Stranger things have happened, I suppose?
I will campaign until my dying day for someone to have the rights to make burritos on MasterChef, I do however have to draw the line at baked beans. BAN THEM IMMEDIATELY. And 1000 years in jail for anyone that puts them on the same plate as blue cheese! That being said, the blue cheese laden aubergine boat does actually look fairly appetising but John and Gregg both think the rice is overcooked, a sentiment I am pretty sure Johannes didn’t agree with based on the look of utter disdain he gave both of them

it’s the use of a slightly low angle that gets me – he looks like a supervillain that’s about to destroy an entire city. And I would follow him into war.

Johannes wasn’t the only one stuffing vegetables as Kem went about making that mass catering challenge favourite: The Stuffed Pepper – the biggest struggle for him being trying to get the damn thing to stand upright – a component that was apparently very important to him

The frustrated flailing awoke my maternal instincts like nothing else ever has.
He did eventually get is standing by chopping off the bottom of the pepper, or standing as much as it could

We call it The Leaning Tower of Pepper.
Alongside the stuffed pepper he was serving a Turkish liquor known as Rakı, which he very quickly helped himself to a glass of within about 3 minutes of the challenge starting

it’s a miracle we got anything more than a Tesco pizza cooked for 20 minutes too long considering the visibly tipsy state he was in by the end of the episode

as for the pepper, it was all a little bit raw and had been presented in a way that made it look a bit like some sort of Satanic ritual, the slow zoom into the pepper only adding to the Ari Aster vibes of it all

the pepper is played by Toni Collette.

While Kem wanted to showcase his Turkish heritage, Kadeena was creating a celebration of Jamaica with her dish of Pulled Jackfruit in a Jerk Sauce, Ackee, Callaloo, Rice and Gungo Peas – and very much kept to Alex Rushmer’s aesthetic of serving everything in slightly architectural but very separate piles

at least she dared let them touch.
It was a dish very close to her heart and she had clearly put herself under a lot of pressure to get it all done, so thank God she managed it so successfully, I wouldn’t have been able to handle an upset Kadeena Cox – we must protect her at all costs. It was also nice to see the dish only referred to as Jamaican rather than the usual catch-all of Caribbean because while the show has got so much better at finally differentiating between the countries of East and South East Asia, there’s still much room for improvement everywhere else in the world with the Caribbean being a prime example. The dishes and culinary experience differs as much between the countries and islands there as it does anywhere else and while there will be similarities, it is equally important to acknowledge the differences and celebrate them. </soapbox>

Gavin’s celebration of vegetables was based on the food of Korea, which he has not been to but he has been to Koreatown in Los Angeles. What he was serving up was a bowl of fried tofu, a chilli oil sauce known as Rayu, a fried egg and some coleslaw made with homemade kimchi

and I’m sure it was all lovely but the dish, to me, feels like someone went to a bibimbap bar and didn’t understand how the menu worked so just ordered 4 toppings and no rice and the staff are bemused and judging you for it.
John and Gregg both loved it and Gregg offers this rather illegal compliment

Nope, I don’t like that.

A Vegetable Showcase Ranking

  1. Kadeena Cox 4 Jamaican Prime Minister
  2. Gavin Esler’s Bibimbap Misunderstanding
  3. Johannes’s Sinking Cheesey Boat
  4. Kem’s Vertical Peppers

I was fully preparing myself to lose The Himbo Prince, Kem because… the man failed to cook a stuffed pepper and nobody else was really that bad, even if Johannes had put blue cheese and baked beans within 6 feet of one another. And there was the undercooked risotto and… whatever he had done to those brandy snaps and buttercream and yet somehow John and Gregg tallied it all up and Johannes, King of My Heart was the one sent packing

I’m choosing to believe the filming schedule somehow clashed with the advanced filming pro-routines for Strictly 2022 because I cannot find another way that this makes sense. At least he went out with a twirl

I will not let him be so obviously robbed on Strictly, let it be known.

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