MasterChef: The Professionals 2021, Episode 2: The Asparagus War Table

Relatable content.

Well at least not every episode is going to be torn in twain and its pieces scattered to the winds of fate, where they land in the TV schedule being up to the televisual Parcae only. Let me know if my numbering of the episode titles is confusing and I’ll try and adapt it though.


In a complete departure from making two people cook him bangers and mash, this time Marcus was challenging his victims to prepare and pan-fry some scallops served with a cauliflower velouté, some croutons and a curry butter sauce, which in true Marcus Wareing style is just butter seasoned with curry powder. At this point he’s doing this just for me to make fun of him.

In a rare instance on MasterChef neither of the chefs cause any wanton harm to the shellfish – Budiono, who is the Blair Waldorf of MasterChef

races through them at a rate of knots and impresses everyone with his skills. While his direct competitor John, who really wants us to know that he is British and cooks British food, gets the job done but with a knife holding technique that has Monica turning to Christ

it’s unclear as to whether she was praying for John or the scallops’ wellbeing – either way, both survive John’s slap-happy swordsmanship and it was Budiono she should probably have been praying for because despite a very pretty, very herbaceous plate

the scallops are all a bit Lisa Faulkner’s Worst Nightmare™

and it’s not even like they’re a little bit raw, it looks like the scallops have somehow barely even touched the pan. And it’s extremely unfortunate because the rest of his dish is exceptionally well cooked so he can at least rest safe in the knowledge he didn’t burn his croutons

if you’re going to burn toast, you might as well burn fancy toast.
John’s scallops were cooked perfectly though and his plate was a good looking plate of food, and significantly less of a herb garden

the only real issue they have with the dish (besides the cubes of burnt toast) is the fact he made a cauliflower puree instead of a velouté and quite frankly how dare he? 1000 years in Cauliflower jail for John.

Swiss and a Miss

Well, as it turns out wanton violence was reserved for this pair of poor unfortunate Swiss Rolls as Monica’s Skills Test called for Rhodri and Anthony to make a chocolate crème patissiere in order to fill a Swiss Roll sponge that had mercifully been made for them in advance – she’s not a complete monster!

Rhodri was on quite the backfooting in this challenge, having only been training as a chef for the last 6 years and seemingly having only met a crème patissiere in passing and exchanging but a curt nod with it. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when he went wrong just about immediately and started cooking his crème pat by the power of a bain-marie alone

and all Monica could do was watch the whole ordeal play out with the same facial expression that Nadiya has every time she and Dan Walker survive a public vote

meanwhile Marcus, trapped in his pantry prison, was similarly flummoxed by Rhodri’s insistence that he would be able to cook out the flour and thicken his crème pat over a gently simmering bowl of water

I do have to at least admire Rhodri for steadfastly continuing down the road to crème pat ruin despite the almost palpable sense of culinary anguish consuming the kitchen and Gregg asking this very pointed question

Once he was done gently heating his chocolate soup the panic did clearly begin to settle in as he realised he was going to need to cool it down pretty quickly and so began the ice water’s tour of the kitchen as Rhodri kind of just moved it from one counter to the other before decanting it into a baking tray

His reign of terror wasn’t just reserved for his creme pat though, no he went at that swiss roll sponge like Lauren skinning a monkfish

and even after the guided tour of the kitchen and late-stage decanting his creme pat still hadn’t cooled down (or really cooked to be honest) and promptly made a bid for freedom the moment he began rolling it

The fact he saw that his crème pat had the consistency of a hot chocolate and still though “Yeah I’ll put some whipped cream in this baby too!” is one of the greatest MasterChef brainfarts of all time.
And what little amount of crème pat and panicked cream was left in the Swiss Roll by the time he had at least managed to roll it correctly was promptly melted out because he made the choice to pour a warm raspberry sauce over the top of it

The fact his dessert looks like someone have a dish sponge the ol’ Marie Antoinette treatment is nothing short of a delight – Rhodri, I love you, you’re an absolute gift of a man, long may you reign in Dessert Chaos.

Anthony didn’t have much more success in his crème pat making endeavour but it was certainly less unhinged, his greatest error being that he hadn’t realised all of the ingredients had been pre-weighed out for him and he should have used all of them. I can’t really blame him for being slightly suspicious of it, we do after all live in The Age of Bake Off Technical Challenge Vaguery. Also Anthony probably should have waited until after seeing how his crème pat turned out before dropping that he was half French, they might have gone easier on him for it being the texture of marmite and having a density that defied science

also, brave of him to then serve an absolute mammoth amount of his osmium filled Swiss Roll to the judges

Glad to see Murder Desserts seems to be catching on as a culinary artform.
The problems with it are obvious and it’s mostly that that particular crème pat exists at all but he at least knew the method, he just shouldn’t have tried to eyeball everything.

Signature Menus

Coming in to the Signature Menu round, Rhodri was going to need one Hell of a miracle to get him through and unfortunately for him a meteorite did not tear through the kitchen and wipe out the other three chefs and so his hopes had to lie in his main course of a Spinach and Pork Mince stuffed Leg of Rabbit with Pommes Puree, Pickled Fennel, a Fennel and Mustard Sauce and the rarely sighted erect asparagus

given that nothing on the plate goes down particularly well with the rabbit being dry and Marcus coming across something ominously described as “veiny”, they could have at least praised him for the asparagus balancing act – with circuses all going animal-free, poised vegetables might be the future.
So with his main course being a write-off and God still refusing to send a projectile from the heavens to aid him, Rhodri’s dessert was going to have to basically tastes like the gates of heaven themselves. This, hopefully, heavenly dessert was an Earl Grey Sponge with a Baked White Chocolate Coating and a distinctly ungenerous amount of crème fraiche

the judges do at least like the taste, they’re not exactly seeing Saint Peter but it was nice enough, their main issue is the lack of a sauce, a liquid, a syrup or anything moist really. But I can’t really blame Rhodri for being a bit nervous of anything non-solid in nature, lest we forget

oh well, at least there’s always plan B – TO THE ASPARAGUS WAR TABLE!

We attack at dawn from the west and we’ll decimate Budiono’s culinary infantry!

Rhodri’s fellow Crème Pat tormentor, Anthony, had a much more successful redemption arc, starting pretty strongly with a dish of pan-roasted Turbot with an almost distressing amount of courgette and a scoop of caviar because this is MasterChef: The Professionals after all, there are standards

the star of the dish does end up being his Champagne Sauce and Lemon Verbena Oil though because his turbot was ever so slightly overcooked – not quite enough to make Marcus yeet him out the kitchen for ruining £80 worth of fish though.
While Rhodri shied away from trying to set chocolate ever again, Anthony was determined to show that he could do the thing, this time making a chocolate ganache that he was infusing with hibiscus and blackberries

and it goes down phenomenally well and doesn’t run the risk of sealing your mouth shut the moment you chew it! We love to see improvement.
It’s a very well thought out dish with the crumb topping bringing the necessary texture and the milk ice cream on the side mellowing it all out and still begging the question as to when ice cream is not milk ice cream but I’m just going to let Anthony have his success.

Budiono and John both found themselves once again facing off, this time both of them were cooking duck and the outcome was rather similar to The Scallop Skirmish with Budiono’s Balinese Spiced Duck being a little erratically cooked

they do at least stress that it was delicious and could be eaten, he just hadn’t rendered the fat down enough so it was all a little bit gummy which detracted from everything else that didn’t get much critique.
John’s duck however was beautifully cooked

it still wasn’t quite without fault though, needing just a touch more seasoning and the steamed rosebay willow herb on the side being a little too sad to enjoy eating. But his fondant potatoes were absolute perfection and his carrot… well he had flavoured it with coffee grounds which Gregg described as “tasting like I had stirred my espresso with a carrot!” and John just didn’t know how to react

if there’s anyone that’s going to be broken by this show it’s going to be John and his I’m a Very Special Forager Soul, it’s Jono 2: Foraging Boogaloo with slightly less ants.

There was quite a bit of catching up to do for Budiono and sadly his dessert just didn’t manage to quite hit it right with the judges and it was going to be a tough ask him considering he was only using two flavours: coconut and Kobacha, a type of Asian squash used in both savoury and sweetdishes. He was using the Kobucha to make a panna cotta while the coconut featured as a mousse, a caramel and as jam, and yes, I can confirm that “coconut jam” is indeed a distressing sight to behold

like damp sawdust.
Gregg of course loves the dessert because 90% of it is just a sugar syrup

Marcus and Monica however aren’t particularly keen on any of it with his kabocha panna cotta having too much gelatine and the coconut elements just not tasting much of anything beyond sugar.
John’s dessert was similarly reduced in terms of a flavour profile with the main focus being on Beetroot

at this point putting beetroot in a dessert isn’t actually that unique, we’ve seen it a few times and after a series where two separate chefs made mushroom tiramisus it earns barely a shrug from me. This is not a challenge to try and make celery the new dessert vegetable.
The highlight of the dish for Marcus is the beetroot sorbet, quite why we’re serving a cheesecake with sorbet I don’t really know but I’m glad they liked it. And most of the dish goes down well with everyone, the only issue for Gregg is the whole chunky little pieces of beetroot but it’s a resounding success for the White Chocolate Cheesecake.

A Signature Dish Ranking

  1. John’s Beetroot Bonanza
  2. Anthony’s Chocolate Ganache Redemption Arc
  3. Anthony’s Sauce Saved Turbot
  4. John’s Duck Was Cooked Nicely
  5. Rhodri’s Moistureless Dessert
  6. Budiono’s Erratically Cooked Duck
  7. Rhodri’s Carefully Balanced Asparagus
  8. I Cannot Legally Allow Coconut Jam to Exist

As the only one of the 4 to have two very strong rounds it was very clear that John would be sailing on to the next round

as for the other three, as much as I think Budiono had more to offer in terms of variety and personality in the competition, his dishes just fell that little bit short whereas Anthony’s, albeit more predictable offerings, were pretty spot-on, and Marcus Wareing is never going to send someone who’s classically trained in French cookery techniques home before at least 3 rounds, so Anthony joins John

and Rhodri wasn’t even momentarily considered, God bless his soul.

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