Well, I found this week’s potential arsonist.
I must once again warn you about Bad Egg Gifs before going in to this recap.
Breaking a Few Eggs
In an attempt to recapture the lightening in a bottle disaster that was The Cod Cheek Omelette, Marcus’s Skills Test this time was for his chefs to make a Prawn, Avocado and Green Pepper Omelette with an accompanying Prawn Oil – which genuinely sounds like the sort of nightmarish brainfart of a dish that someone whips up in a panicked Mystery Box Test and everyone is just thankful they didn’t also put the strawberry jam in it. The main stipulations for Marcus’s omelette were that it had to be cooked (dream on babe), folded in some way (sadly nobody whipped up an origami boat omelette) and there should be absolutely no browning on the surface of the omelette.
The first up to the plate was Allwyn, who just so happens to be a chef at a seafood restaurant and I must admire his restraint at not tearing his own hair out the moment Marcus told him he had to put those beautiful tiger prawns inside an omelette. He did however take out his frustration on the prawns
his tactic was to save at least one of them from their eggy prison and serve it as a needless side prawn, Philli’s legacy lives on!
Allwyn can at least take pride in the fact his needless side prawn was cooked to perfection, as for the tiny little chunks of diced prawn that were banished to the omeletteverse, well they suffered a fate worse than death as Allwyn’s omelette making tactic was to mostly just harry the eggs into submission
and then just push it into the corner of the pan when they finally admitted defeat
which did indeed have Monica going The Full Alarmed Meerkat in the pantry
to be fair to Allwyn, his omelette wasn’t exactly unappetising looking
it is however mostly just a great big doorstop of scrambled egg, admittedly well seasoned but not an omelette according to The Collins Guide to the Omelettes of Europe.
The second chef to have a go at making the second most cursed omelette was Robbie and he was at least kinder to his prawns
the same could not be said for his omelette etiquette
it’s the slices of nearly raw pepper slowly emerging like the fingers of some sort of eldritch beast clawing its way through an eggy tear in the fabric of our reality that really gets me.
Given that his omelette was apparently home to a nightmarish cosmic entity, it didn’t look *terrible* once he plated it up, he was however hiding the rift beneath his avocado and generous herb garnish
the interior prawns are unfortunately overcooked and sadly he didn’t have the forethought to make a redemptive side prawn. Rookie error.
For Monica’s Skills Test we move away from the deceptive simplicity of the humble omelette and look towards the Middle East with her challenge to make Chicken Koftas accompanied by both a flatbread and a cucumber salad. I did find it rather funny that some of the best poultry butchery we’ve seen thus far this series was for a challenge in which the chicken was going to processed into meatballs anyway. Well, that was the theory at least.
First up was Yasmine who prides herself on carrying around a notebook and writing down dish ideas every 5 seconds, I mostly just appreciate her panna cotta doodles
My girl, you’ve just drawn a Starbucks Granola pot.
Like many chefs when it comes to a skills test involving multiple items, Yasmine got off to a bad start by prioritising the component that would’ve taken the least time and so started by making her bread which she didn’t do entirely correctly as instead of trusting her mixture, added water to it but underestimated the strength of the MasterChef faucet and nearly drowned her dough meaning she had to waste time remedying that situation and so by the time she had minced her chicken and subjected her cucumber to a very yoghurty death
she had but a few minutes to form and fry her Koftas and cook her flatbread, with Monica offering the advice of “just make one big one” – clearly talking about the flatbread, Yasmine however seemed to apply this advice to her Koftas
and I have never seen a more disappointed look on someone’s face than when Monica realised she was absolutely not going to be eating a Kofta within the next 3 minutes
because sure enough, despite banishing them to the oven in shame, Yasmine cut them open and they were very much just clucking mince
and so all she could serve was the flatbread and her cucumber flavoured yoghurt, which is very The Vegan Menu in 2015
given that she had waterboarded her bread dough, it’s actually a pretty good flatbread, however, as Marcus said “this tells me absolutely nothing about you as a chef.”
Monica’s last hope for some Koftas lay in the hands of Samuel who at least knew to start with getting his Koftas made, unfortunately he didn’t put the mincing machine on the fast setting and Marcus was VERY smug about the fact Samuel was making the world’s slowest chicken mince. It just seemed weirdly petty because Marcus kept mentioning it and it really couldn’t have eaten into his time *that* much.
But once he was out The Slow Mince Quagmire, he could get to making his flatbread, which he was very dedicated to making as round as he possibly could
and then once it was cooked he trimmed it again
“I don’t have a round cutter so I have to improvise!” he cried in frustration as he got increasingly baffled looks from Gregg and Monica
They might not have given you a round cutter for a reason, mate.
Meanwhile, over with his Koftas and things were going rather similarly to Yasmine as with but mere minutes left he chucked a great big log of loose chicken mince onto a very dry pan
and I think we all knew where this was about to go
Alexa, play Bring Me Back To Life by Evanescence.
So with his Koftas unservable, all he could do was offer the judges the world’s roundest flatbread and an improvised herb salad
which admittedly they do rave about, but I suppose there was just a desperate, yearning need to eat something. ANYTHING, SOMEONE PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD FEED GREGG.
With just about everyone, ironically, making a meal of their Skills Tests, it really was all to play for with all of them in need of one hell of a redemption. Undoubtedly having the best time of it was Yasmine who was cooking a pair of dishes she designed for her final university exam so they had at least been tried and tested – but considering I got a 1st for my extremely cringe erotic period drama screenplay dissertation about the art scene during the French Revolution (available for commission *wink*) – I wouldn’t entirely trust that these were sublime dishes going in.
Her main course showcased the underused Brill which she was serving with Spring Vegetables and a white wine sauce which had of course been split with a dill oil to look as alarmingly swamp-like as possible
I think the fact the dish is very monochrome makes the sauce distinctly more aesthetically pleasing but I am going to need everyone to reconsider the split sauce trend.
She gets lauded for the crisp and clean cooking of her dish which is night and day to Koftageddon. Given that she didn’t feed them very much in the Skills Test though she could have perhaps been a little more generous with the portion sizes – I’m going to have to die on this hill aren’t I?
Her dessert of a Caramelised White Chocolate Mousse with Blood Orange Jelly and an Orange Sablé Breton Biscuit, I liked in theory, in execution I don’t think it looked particularly interesting
I think it just needs a pop of colour or a different plating to make it a truly interesting dessert because the reviews suggested it tasted incredible and both of her dishes show she’s clearly very thoughtful when it comes to balancing texture and flavour.
Allwyn was also turning his hand to fish cookery and given that he works in a seafood restaurant the expectations were high, and even higher because he was cooking £80 worth of a halibut which he was topping with very delicately sliced Okra and then sous vide-ing. Unfortunately his fish did not entirely cook in the tepid waters and so the final few minutes of the challenge were a bit of a panic to try and cook the very expensive fish both respectfully and urgently which very unfortunately resulted in it being overcooked and the okra having gone rather slimy and gungey looking
I love it when my okra gently foams at the mouth.
Alongside his fish he was serving a potato rosti and a Goan Prawn Curry Sauce, none of which really looked like it belonged on even remotely the same dish
and while the fish was overcooked, his potato rosti is underdone and Gregg has to gnaw his way through some very raw potato. As for the sauce, well it completely dominates the entire dish which is a bit of a problem, mostly for Marcus who has to put on a brave face and pretend his insides aren’t burning from the spice level as Monica just wolfs it down and raves about its richness.
Continuing his theme of wanting to champion the flavours of Goa, his dessert was a Bebinca which is a cake cooked by layering 2 different batters, one light and one dark, to give it a layered effect similar to that of a German Schichttorte. It’s an incredibly time consuming dish to make and probably not the wisest one to attempt in a timed MasterChef Challenge and unfortunately his effort rather came to nought as because he had added pistachios to his light layer and not enough caramel to his dark layer, the definition was non-existent
and even with the lack of caramel, it’s deemed far too sweet for Marcus and Monica, who did at least like his Orange Yoghurt and Bee Pollen Sorbet
I do indeed regret to inform you that Bee Pollen is back with a vengeance.
While Allwyn’s main course rosti was a bit of a write-off, Samuel was at least on hand to give them the grated potato cake they all craved so desperately, his being laced with lemon and Szechuan Pepper to match with his spiced duck and Kichap Manis fried Pak Choi
Kichap Manis being a very sweet soy sauce that ultimately might not have been the best of ideas considering his dish also featured a Duck and Cherry Sauce.
For the most part the judges do like the dish, it is all a bit little sweet if you got too much of the pak choi’s glaze but Marcus’s main gripe is with the presentation which I didn’t think was that bad considering Samuel was running around the kitchen like a blue-arse fly in the dying minutes of the challenge.
His dessert however redeemed any issues with balancing sweetness and aesthetic woes
as far as panna cottas go, I’m intrigued by his Lapsang Souchong infused one, it does make a nice break from the usual vanilla offerings and the judges all rave about it and how the slight savoury smokiness of it married perfectly to his burnt honey syrup and the slight crack of black pepper running through his granola – it’s just nice when a dish feels genuinely original.
While Samuel managed to perfectly capture the smokiness of tea in his panna cotta, Robbie wasn’t quite so lucky with his Wagyu Beef that had been oak-smoked
it’s a very pretty looking dish, if not entirely original – if you told me someone was serving Wagyu, pea puree and some very small potatoes, this dish would immediately come to mind – edible flowers and all. He had at least cooked the wagyu beef perfectly so they didn’t have to forcibly remove him from the kitchen for that crime. He had however burnt some of the morel mushrooms, which aren’t the most attractive things and I don’t think the dish really needed them beyond trying to make it sound a little fancier.
Continuing his twist on classics, his dessert was all about Strawberries and Champagne as we reach peak MasterChef with “textures of sparkling wine” – you made it into a jelly and compressed some strawberries in the stuff, calm down Robbie. Call me when you’ve invented a solid bar of prosecco.
Once again his dish was very pretty and it’s nice that someone managed to arrange a ring of strawberries in such a way that doesn’t make me immediately think I’ve gazing into an infernal gateway
Robbie hasn’t met an edible flower he wont scatter to the wind.
The only real contention is with his Strawberry and Basil Ice cream and its rather upsetting complexion
I’ve seen less brown coffee ice creams.
At least they liked how it all tasted and the fact it wasn’t overly sweet with the strawberries being mellowed by the sparkling wine.
A Signature Menus Dish Ranking
- Samuel’s Stealthy Breakfast Panna Cotta
- Yasmine’s University Fish
- Yasmine’s Bowl of Beige Circles
- Robbie’s Strawberry Circle
- Samuel’s Sweet Duck Panic
- Robbie’s Smokeless Beef
- Allwyn’s Disparate Halibut
- Allwyn’s Layerless Layer Cake
Having fully redeemed herself from The Kofta Incident of 2021, Yasmine is put straight through to the last of our quarterfinals
and largely by the strength of his pudding, accompanying Yasmine to The Critics’ Chamber is Samuel
that big old grin to camera really got me.
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