Celebrity MasterChef 2021, Episode 13: The Anatine Unknown

And thus The Su Pollard MasterChef Experience was perfectly captured in a single screenshot.

I cannot believe that in the year of our lord 2021 someone got eliminated from MasterChef over a sandwich. Although, it was a broccoli sandwich.

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

While Covid may have mercifully killed the Professional Kitchen PR Stunt Challenge, sadly it couldn’t take down the Teamwork Relay Challenge, I just don’t see the point of it – it doesn’t really test anything and is mostly just thrown in to give them some extra footage for the promotional trailers – see also the Over The Kitchen Wall Challenge. Just make The Generation Game again YOU COWARDS.
Anyway… My Gripes aside, the celebs were split into two groups of four and were going to have to hopefully make a two course meal using a duck for the main and pears for the dessert by the end of a hellish 60 minutes that frequently devolved into panicked animalistic vocalisations.
The two teams were:

Blues: Bez, Melanie, Kadeena and Dion.
Reds: Su, Kem, Megan and Joe.

Stir (frying) The Pot

I’m going to recap this by teams, starting off with arguably the more composed of the bunch, or at least the team that was somewhat on the same wavelength, which is worrying considering Bez was kicking off the proceedings. His immediate gut reaction was to make a stir fry with the duck and then vaguely put the pears and some other ingredients in a neat pile so that Kadeena, the newly dubbed Queen of Puddings, would make a crumble.
As they were given a whole duck, Bez did have to butcher the damn thing himself and before you say “Oh no, this is going to go the same was Megan and the trio of lobsters.” – apparently Bez’s hobbies involve regularly butchering a couple of pheasants

someone dig up the patio.
John was a little concerned about the decision to do a stir fry, Bez’s logic being “Chinese food is quite common these days.” – I think John’s hang-ups were more that someone was cooking a stir-fry on MasterChef and using a whole £20 duck to do it with.

Kadeena came in and took over Dessert Duties, deciding against the crumble because I think John might have retired if they had done both a stir-fry and a crumble – the absolute lowest effort meal combo you could possibly think of. Instead she was going to make a sort of Apple and Pear Cake by pouring a vanilla cake sponge over a base of unpeeled apples and pears

and in an effort to signal to Melanie that she should go on to make some sort of custard she just left the cake mixer mixing away the custard mix which caused Melanie more of a minor heart attack than anything else

Melanie didn’t really have a lot to do other than start the beginnings of The Hell Custard considering all the veg had been sliced and Kadeena had managed to get the cake in the oven so she spent most of her time walking around the larder with Su Pollard like two particularly inept contestants on The Crystal Maze. Then she just cleaned the workbench

which is probably a real sign that THIS CHALLENGE IS BAD, STOP DOING IT.

It was up to Dion to get everything together, meaning he had to stir and fry the stir fry, his chosen method being The Tired Parent on a Wednesday Night Method by just chucking everything into the wok at the same time, regardless of cooking times – the end result being decently cooked duck, very nice peppers and bean sprouts begging for the sweet release of death

both Gregg and John do enjoy it but very politely tip-toe around the fact that between the four of them they made a stir-fry with a portion price of about £8.

As for dessert, the cake was mostly fine bar from the fact Gregg didn’t appreciate having bits of fruit peel stuck in his teeth but the custard went HORRIBLY wrong as Dion furiously tried to sieve a mixture that was 90% lump and looked like GRR Martin’s viscerally gross and almost 3 page long description of gruel made corporeal

But at least it was a very well made sponge, so Kadeena’s title as Queen of Puddings at least remains in tact. Dion and Melanie however have to stay at least 200 metres away from custard for the rest of the series.

Seeing Red

Kicking off the Red Team’s journey into The Anatine Unknown was Kem who couldn’t tell if it was a chicken or a duck, let alone which was the front or the back and so spent most of the first 10 minutes gentling bathing the poor dead bird and playing with its limp, wildly flapping pygostyle

and with no clue what to actually do with it and fully knowing he lacked the poultry butchering experience Bez, he just coated it in everyone’s go-to Chinese seasonings before whacking it in the oven where it would gently roast for the entire remaining 45 minutes as everyone steadfastly refused to acknowledge the bird’s existence.
As for what he wanted the others to make to go alongside the duck, he chopped up some vaguely Mediterranean vegetables and then piled together the ingredients to make poached pears on the side for Joe Swash to hopefully know what do with them. Joe Swash did not entirely know what to do with them and basically just sat the pears in the such a meagre amount of wine that it might actually count as a hate crime against Dionysus

and then furiously tried to whip his cream by hand while John watched like a parent watching their child repeatedly walking into a glass door

I don’t entirely blame him for not trusting the electronic kitchen utensils considering the roaming poltergeist that still hasn’t found its home.
The poached pear idea didn’t last very long as Su Pollard stormed into the kitchen in a frenzy of mostly just looking at the workbench and naming everything on it like she was trying to memorise the conveyor belt of prizes on The Generation Game. Not wanting to leave it as “merely a poached pear” she decided that she would turn it into tart but literally just putting the cut up poached pears on a disk of pastry. No frangipane. No other filling. Just wine poached pears and plain pastry – like a very fancy communion wafer.

Megan was the last in and first of all, I admire her courage to cook while wearing an oatmeal cardigan with bishop’s sleeves

Braver than the troops.
Megan’s main obstacle was trying to identify what everything was, believing that the duck was a chicken up until the moment she cut into it and revealed it’s stone grey meat

well that’s £20 down the drain.
She also realised that there was no saving whatever Joe and Su had done to the raisin-laced couscous and in an attempt to maybe salvage the plate made an extra side dish of fried green beans. And because obviously the whole thing needed a gravy or a sauce, Megan saw the saucepan of very little wine on the hob and just assumed it was a jus for the duck rather than the leftovers of the Could-Have-Been-Poached-Pears and in order to discover what she was meant to do with it she sort of just mushed the remaining pear into the sauce

Megan McKenna stop barbarizing food challenge.
As it turns out, she did actually manage to make a decent sauce and plate up the dish in a way that was more aesthetically pleasing than the couscous and worryingly coloured duck deserved

the couscous is waterlogged beyond saving but the raisins were quite nice – am I the only person who didn’t think that adding the raisins to the couscous was that big a crime? It made sense to me, but I am also The President of the Pro-Raisin Committee.

As for the dessert… well…

it’s very dry and that cream has more stability than my mental health but flavour-wise, apparently it was quite nice.

The Sarnie Army

Given that there was once upon a time three professional chefs who failed to serve Marcus and Monica a decent grilled chicken sandwich, we were always destined to revisit the artistry of sandwich making, I just didn’t know it would be helmed by Max Halley, a man who I am almost certain might actually just be Milton Jones doing an Alan Partridge bit

and if the BBC doesn’t commission a Lucy Worsley style documentary series called The History of The Sandwich hosted by him within the next year I will eat mine and everyone else’s hats sandwiches between far too big a piece of ciabatta.
And Max really set the tone for how this would be going with his mantra that a sandwich should be sweet, sour, crunchy, soft, hot and cold – the pinnacle of this apparently being a spring roll sandwich

Je téléphone à la police.
With everyone needing to make sure they had those 6 componets in the sandwich, we were of course dealing with doorstop, sky scraper sandwiches that they insistently filmed everyone trying to eat

Maybe… don’t?
Everyone got a little hung up on the crunchy element and because the production team showed no mercy and didn’t give them a multipack of Walkers crisps to work with, everyone was kind of forced to contend with the deep-fryer again, a battle that Joe Swash was mostly losing

his inspiration being to make a sandwich based on the fact Stacey used to work in a fish and chip shop and definitely not because fish finger sandwiches are an elite level food item that don’t get the respect they deserve. And Joe being Joe was doing it in the messiest way he possibly could, within seconds of starting causing absolute chaos with an over fizzed beer and seemingly just politely dropping his capers

Melanie unfortunately did not have the time to spare to tidy up after him.
Joe’s Fish and Chippy Sandwich wasn’t really anything you haven’t seen on a gastro pub’s menu in 2012 but he does deserve some praises for being the only person to implement the Salad Leaf Barrier to successfully preserve the crunchy component of his sandwich

the judges describe it as “authentic” and sadly do not lambast him for putting mushy peas on it – just the thought of mushy peas going anywhere near a sandwich is a little bit off-putting to me.
Joe wasn’t the only doing a Chippy inspired sandwich, he was up against Bez who was being arguably fancier by doing tempura whitebait and then making his own poached egg – an idea that Max Halley was particularly enamoured with. Personally I was more taken by his sandwich blueprint

Hang it in The Louvre – it must be preserved so that future generations can too be inspired to make a tower of beige

it truly is a British Fish and Chip Shop in sandwich form and the judges love it and even go so far as to get a bit bleary eyed over it. Which is personally where I draw the line – we’re not crying over sandwiches guys, I don’t care how inspiration the pickled egg is.

It is one thing to put some deep-fried cod on a sandwich – although personally I’ll side-eye anything that isn’t a Bird’s Eye Fishfinger, but it is truly a whole other (excuse the pun) kettle of fish to just whack a rollicking great big tandoori cod fillet onto a sandwich as Kadeena did

and unfortunately for her, it didn’t even taste very much of tandoori because all of the spices were left in a delicious crozzly layer on the bottom of the pan

shout out to which ever crew member got to peel it off and snaffle it – you lucky sod!
The judges did really enjoy the concept – although quite what the sauerkraut was doing there is anyone’s guess.

I was mostly interested to see how Megan would get on with the challenge considering her last showcasing of a sandwich (sound off in the comments about whether burgers are sandwiches or not) she just completely dismissed the concept of bread and served a patty wrapped in lettuce – which is definitely not a sandwich. A little part of me hoped that she was going to do the same thing here just to see Max’s face. However, production had gone and brought in a gluten-free tiger bloom (Tiger Bloom for Drag Race UK Season 4) so she was guilt tripped into using bread – HOW DARE THEY.
While her previous not-burgers were a showcase of her traditional trips to Nashville, her this-time-real-sandwich was a spin on her family tradition of apparently making a chilli con carne on Boxing Day. That’s the real War on Christmas right there – if your Boxing Day tradition isn’t getting mardy because someone drank the last of the Bailey’s without telling anyone else you’re not doing real Christmas.
As well as putting chilli con carne in her sandwich and everyone somehow having the restraint to not say “chilli con sarnie” – she was also, as well as just about everyone else, whacking a load of chips in there for good measure

the sandwich was missing the apparently all-important crunch factor for a variety of reasons, the main one being that she basically made a lightly spiced sloppy joe and somehow NOBODY mentioned that.

By this point we had all realised that this challenge was mostly about creating a sandwich that was completely impossible to eat without losing your dignity, but Melanie being a woman of refinement, and favouring the more normal bacon butty, basically just made a panini from a very polite Harrogate deli

Honestly, I’m just relieved to see normality – or at least as normal as a turkey escallop (a fun thing to eat, apparently!) coated in breadcrumbs and anchovies can possibly be. They of course gripe about the ungenerous portion size, although your nan would still only manage half and take the rest home for dinner.

While Melanie stuck to her usual pattern of fairly boring food (escallops are fun!) Kem was still sticking to his Turkish arsenal of flavours and making a lamb kofta sandwich featuring a particularly divine sounding sumac mayonnaise

and if you’re wondering what that is perched atop the koftas, those are deep-fried gherkins which everyone at least mercifully didn’t call “frickles” because I was already on the verge of calling the police and that might have done it.
Kem’s was the first sandwich they tasted and he certainly set a high bar with the well balanced smoky flavour of the whole thing and his masterful taming of the crunch factor. The fact this series has very rapidly boiled down to a two horse race between Kem Cetinay and Bez Just-Bez absolutely thrills me – nothing but respect for my Kings.

The most ordinary sandwich of the bunch was from Dion who was just making a steak and onion sandwich – it’s not a great sign when your exact idea used to be on the Nando’s menu before getting removed BECAUSE WHO WAS GOING TO NANDO’S FOR A STEAK SANDWICH? While Dion’s sandwich may have been a little lacklustre, the cooking of the beef was immaculately mouth watering

It’s almost a crime that it’s in a sandwich.
I do a little bit wish that Dion had gone ahead with his original plan of just making a meat feast sandwich

but I’m also glad he didn’t because there are a trio of militant vegans that lurk in the MasterChef hashtag and basically send death threats to anyone that dares compliment a sausage – this is indeed a Chris Major call out post.

And lastly we come to Su Pollard who realised that this challenge was to make a garbage pile of a sandwich and proceeded to make a flaming garbage pile of a sandwich featuring, but not limited to: Ham Hock, apricots, tomatoes (no plums), a fried egg, kimchi, hunks of celery and, possibly most offensively, broccoli which she appeared to boil in the same water as the apricots

and it was at this point that I realised that Su was absolutely trying to be eliminated on purpose because she was beginning to hate the entire experience, mostly because her glasses fogged up any time she so much as glanced at the oven

which might also explain why the sandwich didn’t even look like a discernible sandwich

which to be fair, might have met the brief better than anyone else’s offering.
Everyone absolutely hates it and the entire thing is more of a punishment than it is a novelty meal. It is, in no uncertain terms, the most iconic sandwich ever made. Apologies to all Chip Butty loyalists out there.

A Ridiculous Sandwich Ranking

  1. Melanie’s Normal Deli Sandwich
  2. Kem’s Turkish Delight of a Sandwich
  3. Bez’s Emotionally Charged Whitebait Sarnie
  4. Joe’s Bridesmaid of a Chippy Sandwich
  5. Megan’s Sloppy Joe in Disguise
  6. Dion’s Resurrection of The Nando’s Fino Menu
  7. Kadeena’s TanDON’T Sandwich
  8. The Su Pollard Experience

with Su practically on her hands and knees begging to be dumped, they looked upon her with mercy and did indeed give her the boot

If they aren’t all wearing opera necklaces in tribute in the next episode then someone needs to have a stern word with production about that missed opportunity.

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