Marcus has had the new Adele album on replay all week.
Haven’t you heard? Spoons are the new fish slices.
For Marcus’s Skills Test we delved into that knife edge of a horror show: Fishmongery, which is only one step less terrifying than the guaranteed massacre that is two chefs being surprised by very small chickens – can you tell I’m still recovering from The Poussin Incident?
The first to attempt to juggle filleting a sea bream, adequately cooking some couscous and making a mayonnaise was Andy, who is apparently known as “Poodle” because he used to have long, flowing curls before he, like everyone else, had a complete breakdown in Lockdown Numero Uno and scalped himself
so naturally, just to mock his newfound hairlessness, they put him on in the same week as Ryan Whomst We Stan
Have you ever seen a more glorious human? Sorry Dan and Liam, I’m solidifying Ryan as The Honorary Series Boyfriend.
Now that I’m done objectifying the contestants, Andy got on mostly quite well with the challenge at first, or at least he made a very lovely red pepper mayonnaise before proceeding to fillet the sea bream in the most heavy handed way he could possibly manage
it might have honestly been kinder to do it with his bare hands.
It didn’t get a great deal better when it came to cooking the fish either, but after the previous episode I’m just glad it wasn’t a compeltely dry pan
sure, he didn’t even so much as sneeze some salt onto that fish but at least there’s oil?
His handling of the fish in the pan was just as heavy handed as his use of spices wasn’t and for some unknown reason other than that he was potentially possessed by that errant ice cream machine poltergeist, he was using a tablespoon instead of a spatula, a fish slice, anything with a large flat surface – GREGG’S HANDS WERE RIGHT THERE
and just to add insult to this poor fish’s indignity in death, he gracelessly spooned it out of the pan, tattered skin and all, dealing Marcus immense psychic damage in the process
it was not his finest hour and the final dish certainly wasn’t much beyond what you might expect from a Civilian MasterChef quarterfinalist who didn’t expect to get as far as they had and was having to raid BBC Good Food for recipes
we appreciate the valiant effort to hide the ripped skin with a garnish.
Also having a go at Marcus’s skills test was Jake who got off to a much better start than Andy, mostly because he actually acknowledged the existence of the 3 different spices that had not very subtly been put next to the couscous and dried fruit all practically screaming “MAKE A WHITE PERSON’S MOROCCAN COUSCOUS!”
he was also significantly cleaner in his fish preparation as well as his cooking of it, although apparently spoons are the new fish slice
are professional chefs ok? Do we need to switch them on and off again?
Jake’s only real error was with his mayonnaise, which was admittedly very well seasoned, it just wasn’t the correct texture because he used olive oil to make it instead of vegetable oil, so it was a little runny looking, however I don’t think it ruined the dish
Personally, I find the true texture of mayonnaise to be distressing, so this is a welcome error in my books.
For her Skills Test, Monica had assigned Thom and The Afforementioned Ryan the task of making crepes with Chantilly Cream and that classic component everyone knows how to make: Nutella. And given that Monica’s “hazelnut spread” looked like THIS, I didn’t have much hope for the pair of unfortunates
There’s “I like a chunky spread” and then there’s “I like a lot of very sharp hazelnut fragments loosely bound by chocolate”, Monica.
Neither Thom or Ryan got on particularly well with the spread making, how dare their shared classic French training not teach them the fundamentals of the Ferrero SpA recipe book.
Ryan’s error came by letting his hazelnuts cool down too much before blending them meaning they didn’t release enough of their natural oils thus ending up with a thoroughly unspreadable spread that at some point everyone just started calling “a paste” and even that would imply more of a liquid than his hazelnut putty
and while Ryan committed these crimes against hazelnuts, Monica had to sit there in silence watching it all pan out
little did she know it was indeed about to get slightly worse as in his panic to save his Not-Nutella (Notella?) his pancake making went to the dogs
but he did get three generously-described-as-rustic pancakes onto the plate, along with toppings of wildly varying structural stability
which is more than Thom managed as he seemed fully dedicated to being as stingy as he could possibly be throughout this challenge, starting with roasting but a handful of hazelnuts for his spread
which looked even more meagre once he had blended them
nobody was more furious about the utter lack of hazelnuts in his hazelnut spread than Monica
that’s the face of a Victorian factory orphan about to start a civil uprising over gruel quantities.
But don’t worry, he was apparently only making 2 crepes so there was just enough of his… lightly hazelnut-flavoured melted chocolate to share between the two of them
and it is thoroughly damning that the most praise he gets for all of this is the fact he put his Chantilly cream in the fridge for a few minutes.
Coming in to this round it was undoubtedly Ryan and Thom who had the most catching up to do and Ryan was doing everything in his power to atone for his Hazelnut Sins with a Chocolate Cremeux dessert finished off with toasted hazelnuts, a salted caramel sauce and a barnet of spun sugar modelled after his own
it gets absolutely rave reviews, to the point of Marcus Wareing describing it as “faultless” and falling just short of crying a single tear of dumbfounded awe.
His main course of pan-fried turbot got similarly rave reviews, particularly for its clean presentation and it is a very tidy looking edible Stonehenge diorama
he did take a bit of a risk by cooking the fish off the bone, mostly because if there’s one thing Marcus says every single time someone cooks a turbot it’s “I hope they’re cooking it on the bone.” but he cooked it perfectly and Monica did promptly demolish the plate, leaving only a polite Victorian dinner party morsel
which was probably for the best because her next main course was going to be Thom’s chicken dish which in most cases looked like this
however apparently Monica ordered “extra loveage oil” and ended up with her pan-seared chicken breast and celeriac puree residing in Shrek’s swamp
WHAT HAPPENED? Did he run out of the chicken jus, panic and just dunk whatever liquid he had left, knowing full well that his chicken was INCREDIBLY dry.
The dry chicken aside, they did very much appreciate his celeriac puree, pickled shimeji mushrooms and mercifully not cooked pears – they’re still recovering from that particular salad incident.
Things didn’t markedly improve for him when it came to his dessert which was largely his own fault for thinking a dessert consisting only of fennel and strawberries was going end well for him. The fact the dish looked like his main course dropped from 100 feet in the air only adding insult to injury
it very much came across as a dish in the early stages of development and desperately in need of a focal element and probably at least 3 less servings of fennel.
As for the fish filleteers, neither of them were returning to the artform and were instead focusing on big ol’ chunks of meat. Andy going for the ever risky Lamb Loin and only adding to the risk factor by cooking it on the bone, which didn’t end up coming to bite him in the ass despite the fact he opened with “I’m quietly confident that I’ll get everything done.” which is usually the deathknell for lamb cookery. It didn’t all go quite to plan though, with the incredibly thick layer of fat on his loin not rendering properly
they do spend a lot of time making sure we all know that the fat wasn’t *uncooked* it was just very, very alarmingly pale and squishy looking. There was absolutely no way they were going to eliminate a man that they can call “Poodle” before at least a quarterfinal and because of this, I’ve never heard three runner beans get quite so much praise before.
His lamb fat wasn’t the only thing with a squishy texture; for dessert he was also making a Chocolate Cremeux (we’re going to be seeing a lot of these, aren’t we?) and if there’s one thing a cremeux lives and dies by, it’s how well it sets and Andy’s looked like it was trying to crawl out of its own corporeal form
Honestly, relatable content.
So when it came to his dessert, it didn’t look a million dollars
but my God does a Dark Chocolate Cremeux with Brandy Cherries not sound like a corker of a dessert, and the judges love it, they’re just a little bit disappointed by the emotionally troubled cremeux.
Jake was going for a main course of Beef Sirloin which he had marinated in stout and served with a smoked potato salad, burnt leeks and even burnter leeks which he had cremated and scattered atop his dish as is the customary allium funeral rite
the dish would have been raved about as much as Ryan’s turbot if it hadn’t been for the fact the potatoes in his potato salad weren’t cooked properly because everything else is absolutely perfect. I fear for civilian MasterChef with scatterings of ashes being very highly praised in this series.
Jake’s dessert was a very ecclectic dish with a seemingly never ending list of components including: Chocolate cremeux, Salted Caramel, Strawberry Lapsang Jelly, Strawberry Crisps, Pine Meringue, and Vinegared Strawberries. And yet despite making the Technicolour Dreamcoat of Slightly Poncy Desserts there is not a single texture to be found, but there is an ominously green pine powder
MY KINGDOM FOR A BISCUIT.
They do rave about his Strawberry and Lapsang jelly and how well it goes with his chocolate cremeux – they also rave about the presentation of it which… I can only imagine it looked more intricate in person because on TV it just looked like a hurriedly stacked array of kindling for a bonfire that is about to go VERY wrong.
A Signature Dish Ranking
- Ryan’s Hazelnut Self-portrait
- Ryan’s Turbot in a Prayer Circle
- We Assure You That Andy’s Fat Was Edible
- Jake, Let Down By Potato Salad
- Andy’s Existential Cremeux
- Jake’s Biscuit Exiling
- Thom’s Oxymoronic Dry Chicken Swamp
- Thom’s Fennel From a Height
Having perfectly cooked his turbot and redeemed himself in the eyes of The Pastry Chef Massive, Ryan easily sailed through to the next round
it was pretty obvious that Thom was going to be ditched having done considerable damage to his French reputation with bungled crepes and then serving up a pair of dishes that both felt thoroughly ill-thought out and so the agonising decision of whether you put Andy through for The Bantz™ or Jake because he might cook more interesting food. And if you thought they’d go for the more interesting food when Gregg Wallace has a hand in the decision YOU ARE VERY NAIVE, and so Andy gets to cook in the quarterfinal
I think they should have taken both of them and done an elimination after the first round of the quarterfinal to be honest.
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