Well, if there was a character that Gregg Wallace was born to play, it probably was Homer Simpson.
We start our second round of heats with Pasta Confusion, Pesto Disrespect and Kirsty, the Lady Jane Grey of MasterChef.
And That’s Your Lot-i
This time we’re kicking off with a Skills Test from Monica who wants her victims to make her a bowl of agnolotti stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and burrata cheese accompanied by a pea and mint pesto.
First up was high profile events chef whose spirit the show will break, Jamie and His Cheekbones
who at least knew what an agnolotti was, he’d just never made one before which is why he ended up with a sort of Ravioli/Agnolotti hybrid
while he may not have ended up making exactly the desired pasta shape, his skills were extremely good but he did work slightly too slowly meaning he had less than 3 minutes to make his pesto, which had Marcus tutting in his pantry over the lack of respect shown to the poor sauce which ended up with a texture more akin to a guacamole
the distressingly firm pesto aside, his pasta was mostly good if a little too strong on the sun-dried tomatoes – personally I don’t believe such a thing is possible but too much sun-dried tomato to the detriment of cheese is a real Catch 22.
The second chef to take on Monica’s Pasta Challenge was Kirsty who came in all smiles and cheer
and then was told she had to make agnolotti and The Deep Dread set in
she at least knew that agnolotti was a filled pasta but had no idea what it looked like so very quickly said “fuck it, I’ll just make tortellini” and I regret to inform you that, while on brand for our newly crowned Queen of Chaos, she is an incorrect pluralizer
if this blog achieves nothing else, I would just like it to end the essing of tortellini and ravioli.
Much like Jamie she decided to kind of fob off the pesto but while Jamie’s was overly firm, hers looked like the sort of thing I imagine Gwyneth Paltrow has for breakfast
but to linger Kirsty’s pesto is to misplace your attention because in her rising panic and clearly thinking the dish can’t just be pasta and a pesto, that would be too simple! She decided to… just started frying a blob of burrata and her pasta which has incredibly drunk student at 2am energy
NOBODY HAS MARCUS.
Her pasta did at least try to make a valiant escape from Kirsty’s brief reign of pasta terror
and if they thought Jamie gave them too much sun-dried tomato, Kirsty clearly thought she could hide all of her sins with the stuff
Quick Kirsty, just leave North Hampton, change your name and flee to Papatowai in New Zealand, this pasta shame will blow over eventually.
You Only Liver Twice
For Marcus’s Skills Test, his duo of chefs had to pan-fry a Calves’ Liver and serve it with a Potato Cake as well as a beurre noisette. The first to have a go at it was Eddie who very quickly established himself as this year’s LADS!LADS!LADS! Friend For Gregg by revealing that in lockdown he made a living as a pie delivery man – he’s literally Gregg’s perfect man, wedding hats at the ready!
Eddie suffered a lot from nerves in this round and frequently came to a grinding halt the moment he left the safety net of making a potato cake – he does after all pride himself on “no nonsense food” – he said as he created a miniature Stonehenge out of potato cubes in his introductory VT
but his decision to breadcrumb the potato cake was the best decision he made all day because the rest of his plate was… not great considering he ran out of time and we very suddenly cut to his rapidly haemorrhaging liver
The sanguineousness of his liver aside, it was at least well cooked and they do appreciate the Breaded Potato Cake of the Gods but the Beurre Noisette isn’t so much a Beurre Noisette as it is just a puddle of melted butter, which honestly I take issue with Marcus having an issue with, you know, considering…
so well done to Eddie for at least finding Marcus Wareing’s butter limit?
So if the second chef, Charith, wanted to win this round all he had to do was not blood-let a cow on plate, a simple enough challenge that he definitely rose to! Because he may not have cooked a liver for about 5 years but he certainly knew the process and literally did everything Marcus did, ending up with a plate of food that was remarkably similar to Marcus’s
there are some mild issues with it, mostly the fact the liver is ever so slightly overcooked but he also forgot to put the walnuts in the beurre noisette and apparently wasn’t thrown the same bone as LADS ON TOUR! Eddie
but Charith also wasn’t showing any signs of floundering so maybe I understand the lack of charity afforded to him.
As usual, the chefs were given one last chance to redeem any unnecessary culinary violence they committed during the Skills Tests, or you know if you’re Kirsty you could just commit the same sins all over again
and if nothing else, at least we got an explanation as to quite what Kirsty thought she was doing when she started frying cheese and pasta together like a 2nd year computer science undergrad with the munchies at 1am
at least there was a liquid to poach them in this time?
Her pasta was significantly improved because her Bacon and Chard Tortellini were the highlights of her main course
which is a little unfortunate because it probably should have been the hake but sadly she’d burnt the skin. As for her Crab and Langoustine Bisque, it’s a bit of a write-off with it being called both “watery” and “lumpy” due to the fighting forces of the wilted chard and the use of brown crabmeat in the sauce.
So Kirsty’s final hopes lay both in her dessert and the fact there were two chefs tempting The Lamb Curse, but it was probably safer to make a good dessert and her Chocolate Cremeux with Salted Caramel Foam and Some Tuiles Because Oh God I Forgot About Texture went down remarkably well
it doesn’t strike me as a particularly complete dish, those tuiles aren’t nearly enough texture to off-set both a cremeaux and her salted caramel foam, loathe as I am to invoke The Singular Crumb, it probably should have been invited to the party. But they love the flavour of everything and the smoothness of her cremeux is a pleasant surprise given that she had frozen it to an impenetrable block with only minutes left to spare
overall, I think Kirsty can be happy with what she put out and she certainly proved that she as a lamb farmer can cook more than lamb, which I wasn’t aware was a pigeonhole that we expected of lamb farmers but everyone has their own insecurities.
As for the aforementioned Battle of the Lambs, it was between Jamie and Eddie, neither of whom came out of it particularly successfully, for extremely different reasons. Jamie, as is to be expected from somebody that namedropped The BAFTAs within seconds of appearing on screen, got a little lost in the style of dish – the first sign of which was him saying that his lamb would be served alongside “a variety of alliums”
I am pleased that everyone subsequently called them onions and leeks while Jamie internally seethed at the disregard for the integrity of his pretentions.
He was cooking a loin of lamb and had coated it in a eucalyptus and mint rub, which prior to cooking did mean it looked a bit like he had fished it out of an autumn gutter
but his final dish ended up looking pretty as a picture, and I’m sure BAFTA ready
unfortunately it was all a little bit style of substance with the onions being visibly raw and his single drop of Oyster Emulsion not being nearly enough for Marcus’s love of an oyster
but God, did I love the loving close-up of that tiny, tiny drop of the stuff.
Eddie’s Roasted Lamb Rump was meanwhile being accompanied by so many elements he briefly forgot he was meant to be making a pecorino and pinenut puree stuffed morel mushroom and I kind of wish he had forgotten he was making a pecorino and pine nut puree stuffed morel mushroom if only to be spared the close-up of the beast
sometimes we just don’t have to get so close to something, you know?
With Eddie giving himself so much to do, both with his main and dessert, he very quickly ran out of time and had to forsake presentation for just throwing everything onto a plate like gastronomic scapulimancy
which you know, might have given him a heads up about his imminent elimination.
Nothing about the dish goes down particularly well, particularly the lamb which hasn’t had its fat rendered properly and as divine sounding as his Potato, Anchovy and Pecorino Croquettes sound, they’re very much overcooked and nearing the colour of Mars
I think if he’d just skipped doing his asparagus three ways and cooked it like a normal person he’d have had a much cleaner dish by the end of this.
His dessert however was a triumph, both in flavour and design
it looks delightfully like a Dimetrodon on Minecraft
It is hard to go wrong with the flavours of a Black Forest Gateau though but I did love that in amongst the praise for the cremeux and the kirsch soaked cherries, Monica raved about the quality of the brownies – there’s just something delightfully disparate about a professional chef making brownies and getting eulogised for it.
As for Jamie’s dessert, he was doing his chef-y thing and was showcasing salsify – a vegetable usually reserved for savoury dishes – as the core component of his dessert and treated it as you would a poached pear. So, I do have to apologise for wishing poached pears away on the Monkey’s Paw, I hadn’t realised they’d be replaced by poached salsify, I’ll learn my lesson eventually.
As to how he was presenting his dish, he teased it as “a mille-feuille with a difference” and that difference just so happened to be gravity
I’m not sure horizontal mille-feuilles are about to catch on anytime soon. However, poached salsify might because the judges all rave about it – Jamie is a very talented chef, I think he just needs to get out of this overwrought presentation mentality that I’m sure is all part of high profile event catering where it does kind of lean to being all about the clout your diners can get on Instagram.
Lastly we have Charith who was championing the food of his native Sri Lanka, starting with a main course of Yellow Curry Cod with Ceylon Tea Pickled Radishes
which goes down phenomenally well, but the real praise is reserved for his side dish consisting of a roti stuffed with Nduja
quite frankly I’ll take a truckload of them, but only if Sean Pertwee never says the phrase “spreadable sausage” ever again
For dessert, Charith had made a Watalappan, which the show described as “a Sri Lankan crème brûlée” but is probably more akin to a crème caramel as it’s a sort of set custard made with coconut milk, jaggery and eggs
it ends up being quite a divisive dessert, as seems to always be the case whenever somebody makes a dessert from South Asia or South-east Asia – a trend I think speaks to the fact that as much as I like Marcus and Monica, we do perhaps need to add a little more palate diversity to the judging panel if an Asian dessert is always going to be met with quite so much disdain every time one gets served.
Gregg at least loved the flavours of it, but it is also 90% palm sugar so… that was kind of to be expected.
A Signature Dish Ranking
- Charith’s Revelatory Roti
- There was also a Cod Curry, I guess?
- Eddie’s Cherry Dimetrodon
- Jamie’s Gravitationally Challenged Mille-Feuille
- Kirsty’s Incomplete Pudding
- Charith’s Divisive Watalappan
- Jamie’s All Style BAFTA Dinner
- Kirsty’s Tortellini 2: Crab Bisque Boogaloo
- Eddie’s Chucked Lamb
It was a pretty easy decision as to who should stay and who should go with both Charith and Jamie sailing on through to the second quarterfinal
while it’s goodbye to our short reigning Queen of Chaos, Kirsty and a shock boot for the LADS!LADS!LADS! Candidate, Eddie.
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