MasterChef: The Professionals 2021, Episode 9: There Is No Sole In Brixton


This quarter-final has it all: Colour! Magic! Souffles! Monica Galetti on the verge of fighting a man!

Colour Me Surprised

Kicking off the the third quarterfinal we of course have the Surprise Challenge Round and given that we’re now apparently 14 series deep into the show and rapidly running out of ideas the secret challenge is…

cold remedies? Dishes invoking the mortifying embarrassment of a sexual health clinic? INTENSE SADNESS?

No, there was more:

Dishes inspired by the agonising boredom of watching a 9 year old performing magic tricks at a school talent show? The hanky code? British Naval meals?

NO. The objective was to incorporate as much colour into the dish as possible, sadly they didn’t go for maximum chaos and just hand each of them a monochromatic box of ingredients like this was a Drag Race sewing challenge

the thought of a grape, aubergine and red onion salad fills me with such fear because you know there’s one lurking around the corner waiting to be served any day now.

In many ways I think this was a challenge that was absolutely trying to goad the chefs into making a dessert – the stacks of fruit standing front and centre in specially painted boxes sadly went completely ignored and we were not treated to a single questionably yellow banana panna cotta. Instead we did get a veritable fuck-tonne of pickled beetroot and parsley puree. This show? Getting stale? Never.

Andy and Ryan both immediately went for the beetroot which meant in terms of their protein they basically had two choices: venison or pigeon with both of them eventually settling on venison. I can’t really blame them, someone else is paying you might as well cook the expensive deer while you can.

Ryan’s approach was to go for maximum colour and pair his with pickled beetroot and yellow courgette and hope that a plate that looked a bit like a tangled mess of party streamers might see him succeed

It turns out the plate that looked a bit like a tangled mess of party streamers did not see him succeed.

None of his vegetables are particularly well cooked – Monica could be heard chewing the braised red cabbage three boroughs over and his yellow courgette may have looked like fresh, crisply drawn motorway markings but they had zero texture and everything is rather flavourless. At least he cooked the expensive deer pretty well though?

While Ryan set about making his ode to Cadbury’s Chocolate Eclairs, Andy was busy finding the easiest way to weasel his way out of this challenge, or at least his sneaky side eye of the door suggested as much

Having decided against making a runner like The Chef Who Never Was last year, he bravely and unblinkingly said “my dish is inspired by the colours of the woodland.” and then proceeded to make a dish we’ve seen a thousand times before on this show

it’s the 5 (five) salad leaves hurriedly chucked on to desperately add an ounce more impact to an otherwise very bland looking dish for me.

The most exciting part of the dish is the cherries coated in a reduced beef stock, the rest of it I’m just a touch bored of and yet Marcus and Monica rave about it. I’m sure it tasted wonderful but when the challenge is “colour” and you largely go for neutrals, it doesn’t really feel like it fits the brief. Can’t believe I just invalidated brown as a colour, sorry to those woodland mushrooms.

The only chef to not cook meat was Liam whose immediate thought process was “making something black and green” – largely because vegetable ashes seem to be very en vogue right now, a development we must do everything in our powers to curtail IMMEDIATELY.

The main component of Liam’s dish was a piece of celeriac, a very, very small piece of celeriac

I can only assume he works in a restaurant where everything is part of a tasting menu?

I quite liked the presentation of his Butter-roasted Celeriac with Black Garlic Puree and Parsley Emulsion, I think it’s simple and effective. I do get that it was very small and he probably could have done a few more components to really drive the whole green and black colour scheme home though but I found it much more aesthetically cohesive than Andy’s beige woodland floor.

Lastly we have Ollie who spent most of the beginning of the challenge clearly having been told by the director to “act like you’re thinking very hard about your dish.” and then doing it with all the convincing technique of M Night Shyamalan in one of his cameos

give him a BAFTA!

While all of the others went for quite defined colour schemes, Ollie just wanted the full gay pride rainbow – with the omittance of purple because Ryan and Andy had taken all of the beetroot, but he was going to make up for it by cooking rainbow chard… That’s not even a joke on my part, that was his joke and Monica just let it DIE – no reaction, just a curt nod. And despite listing off all his ingredients and what colours they represented… the dish didn’t strike me as particularly colourful

maybe we just accept that in terms of the culinary world, green is kind of just a neutral colour.

The judges however were pleased with his visual take on the brief, as for the flavours, his salmon was well cooked and everything was well seasoned, quite what had possessed him to dowse the thing in oil and call it a sauce is beyond me, especially given that salmon is such a oily fish already. Whatever it was, it looks like that MasterChef Therapy Chaise is about to get another outing for Ollie

it only took 3 rounds to completely break him.

A Colourful Dish Ranking

  1. Liam’s Morsel of Celeriac
  2. Andy’s Woodland Floor
  3. Ollie’s Anointed Salmon
  4. Ryan’s Tangle of Party Streamers

The Critics’ Chamber

With nobody truly excelling in the colourful dish challenge, it was still all to play for as they cooked two dishes for this week’s critical trio: Jay Rayner, Grace Dent and Tom Parker Bowles – apparently we’re not letting William Sitwell out of the broom cupboard this week.

Ryan probably had the most catching up to do considering his previous dish wasn’t even technically well cooked; his attempt to redeem himself lay in the hands of a pair of very classical dishes – his main course being Sole Veronique. And if you’re wondering what Sole Veronique is, BUCKLE IN, WE’RE GOING FOR A HISTORY TRIP. It was originally designed by famed French chef Auguste Escoffier, who also so happened to be the original maker of Peach Melba – his MO seemed to be to create dishes inspired female performers. I think I’d be a little more flattered if I were Nellie Melba and got a Peach Melba than Mariette Sully, who got the steamed fish and grapes for playing Veronique in the operetta… Veronique. I can only imagine she didn’t want her name permanently tied to fish’n’grapes and who could blame her? Imagine potentially having your entire operatic career eclipsed by everyone wondering why this man put raw grapes and Dover sole on the same plate and why your name is attached to it. Belting out an aria and the front row whispers, “She’s the fish and grapes weirdo.”

Usually Sole Veronique is served with your kind of bog-standard white wine sauce, Ryan however was wanting to add a touch more luxury and was going to be swapping this out for a champagne and caviar sauce, STICK THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IS ESCOFFIER. This did immediately fill me with immense dread as I remembered how often this sauce was made last series and how awful caviar looks floating around in an off-white liquid

So I was at least a little bit pleased that Ryan had learned from the mistakes of his MasterChef: The Professionals predecessors and cooled it on the caviar front a little

the critics aren’t wild about the whole dish, mostly because Sole Veronique is already a very odd dish that almost feels like a practical joke Auguste Escoffier was playing on the London diners he designed the dish for. There is a slight disconnect with it too, it just felt a little stuffy and formal, which when served up by someone like Ryan who looks like he might own a cereal themed cafe in Brixton, just doesn’t seem natural or authentic – apparently there is no sole in Brixton.

For dessert he was attempting the ever risky Souffle so of course Monica and Marcus spent a good few minutes wittering about whether it would rise or not and when it rose rather spectacularly, Monica and Marcus of course had to do a whole Kenneth Williams bit

the dish also worked as a rather nice redemption of the previous challenge with the muted green of his pistachio souffle and his raspberry and lemon verbena sorbet coming together to create a colour palette pulled right from a 70s wallpaper

much like his main course, it gets a muddled reception with the critics admiring the technique but not finding much in terms of flavour to latch onto, mostly because the sorbet was a little overpowering for them. Marcus and Monica however rave about both his main course and his dessert and at the end of the day, they’re kind of the ones you really have to impress here.

Minimalism was certainly the call for the day in this challenge – it’s series 14 and they’re finally learning not to try and cook a full roast dinner and a dessert in 90 minutes, I’m a very proud mother. And then of course you have Ollie, who started well with his bowl of Scallops with Asparagus and a Smoked Roe Sauce

The fact it was served in a bowl, truly blew the critics’ minds – you’d have thought they’d just discovered the next da Vinci. Marcus and Monica however are not fans and think he burnt the scallops and his sauce wasn’t roe-y enough going so far as to say it was “badly executed.” which seemed a touch harsh, and maybe better applied to his trash heap of a pork chop main course

MY DUDE, WHAT HAPPENED? It’s like when you go to a buffet and they give you the tiniest plate and you have no choice but to pile chicken wings atop spring rolls atop chips atop token salad atop tiny little cocktail sausages atop more spring rolls.

The most horrifying part of the whole thing was the moment he decided that instead of serving his sauce in a pot on the side like a normal MasterChef contestant, he was just going to tip it all on top of the already stacked food heap

I have never seen Monica’s fight or flight response kick in quite so quickly, she was going to fight that man and his sauce.

And the dish is only met with contempt, none more strongly than from Jay Rayner who seemed to be trying to push it out of existence with his mind alone

it’s just not a competition dish and I’m not sure pork chops ever will be but it really didn’t help his case that nothing was particularly well cooked with the carrots being too salty, the caramelised apple being a thoroughly confusing affair and the chops being dry. They did like the sauce though, just not the lardons inside it.

It is quite impressive that Ollie managed to create a food heap as large as he did and yet still not have a single potato anywhere on that plate, but this is MasterChef: The Professionals where apparently there’s an unspoken moratorium on carbohydrates so when Liam served up 3 (three) whole Jersey Royals on his plate of food it seemed almost overwhelmingly generous

you do however only get a single piece of lamb and a solitary spear of asparagus. This was a main course… but don’t worry there was a pot o’offal on the side to fill you up

by all accounts, it all tasted absolutely delicious but I do wonder if they’re ever going to address that these are essentially incomplete plates of food – even beyond the lack of a potato anywhere, they’re just small and measly, you can still have a fine dining aesthetic and you know… feed your diners.

As for what he had cooked for his starter…

am I the only person on this Apple and Mackerel Are Not a Classic Train? I feel about fish and apple being paired together how Monica feels about someone dunking an unsightly sauce on top of their food


As for what his Apple and Mackerel dish was, there was of course the obligatory tartare, some roasted mackerel, the apple afront to your’s truly and some distinctly Lovecraftian Beetroot

oh yeah, powders will continue to be A Thing. I imagine we’ll get to the point of someone using a black plate and making a rice powder and we’ll have to acknowledge that it looks like cocaine and then nobody will ever do it again.

It is a very striking dish, and it certainly works better as a display of colour than his green and black miniature celeriac dish did. But the flavours are also all well received and Grace Dent takes the time to really mention that she loved the “squidginess” of the fish, which she did stress was a compliment despite sounding thoroughly unpleasant.

Lastly we have Andy who was very excited to cook the sort of food he loves and admires… I hope he never watches this back because everyone went on to describe his food as kind of basic and not very imaginative with his main course of turbot receiving the rave review that is… “He didn’t ruin the fish.”

I just can’t get over the fact this is a single piece of fish, some green vegetables and a white wine sauce that he tried to fancy up using a yellow wine, which everyone except Marcus did love. This is just a fancy 20 minute midweek meal – (I assure dear reader, I do not eat Turbot on Wednesdays, it’s clearly a Thursday fish.)

His dessert didn’t get much more praise as the show suddenly went from Andy Is King of Bantz And We Love Him on Thursday to ANDY IS GARBAGE AND MUST BE DESTROYED by Friday – that’s what happens when the Gregg Wallace Banter Barrier is let down, but also maybe not unwarranted given quite how much vinegar he had poured over his Camomile Set Cream

I wont lie, the jump from Monica saying “He’s using a cabernet sauvignon vinegar” to Tom Parker Bowels saying “this tastes like chip shop vinegar” made me SCREAM – but I do also suspect that Tom Parker Bowles’s local chippy probably does have cabernet sauvignon vinegar on tap. Should’ve just gone with the cheap balsamic stuff mate.

A Critics’ Chamber Dish Ranking

  1. More Expensive Sole Veronique
  2. Ollie’s Nouveau Scallops
  3. Justice For Ryan’s Souffle
  4. Apple and Mackerel Continues To Mock Me
  5. Liam’s Questionable Portion Sizes
  6. Andy’s Predictable Turbot
  7. Ollie’s Dumpster Fire Pork Chops
  8. Would You Like Some Tea With Your Vinegar?

Given the rave reviews his dishes got, despite there not being a lot of the stuff, it was clear that Liam was the winner of the episode and therefore easily advancing to the semi-finals

and on the other end of the spectrum, Andy was ditched almost immediately for making production spend so much on fancy wine and fish and then not doing anything interesting with them, meaning the final choice was between Ollie and his emotional dependence on the therapy chaise and Ryan and Ryan’s Hair. Ultimately deciding that Ryan was the safer bet

I think it was the right decision but I did really like Ollie and I feel like he could have a very good career as a TV chef, he has that very nervous Saturday kitchen energy where they’re a very likeable person but you do feel like they might say or do something awful at a moment’s notice.

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One thought on “MasterChef: The Professionals 2021, Episode 9: There Is No Sole In Brixton

  1. Pam

    I remember someone combining fish with Apple a few years ago in the Masterchef kitchen (may even be back in the Michel Roux Jr days) and almost being chucked out, because it was such an ABOMINATION! So the mackerel and apple combo confused me greatly.

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