Paint me like one of your French turkeys.
I hadn’t initially intended to recap the festive MasterChef specials but then Oti Mabuse showed up and Su Pollard did something awful to fruit and I truly had no choice.
The ADVENTure Begins
Joining us for this festive episode of Celebrity MasterChef are Neil Ruddock who insistently calls himself Razor like he’s hoping somebody reboots Gladiators real soon, Judi Love (imaginably pre-Strictly Twerk-a-thon), Queen, Goddess and All Round Person That Is Better Than You: Oti Mabuse, Joey Essex who is rocking the exact haircut that got every girl Tyra Banks inflicted with it sent home on America’s Next Top Model because they couldn’t rock it hard enough in a Covergirl advert
And of course Christmassy Su Pollard
who is indistinguishable from Su Pollard in April.
The first challenge is of course the invention test, but in order to make it festive they have to choose their main ingredient from the MasterChef advert calendar
in an attempt to mitigate the damage, Judi instantly goes for the tiniest box there is – imaginable wanting to avoid the turkey that quite likely lurked somewhere on that shelf. The tactic didn’t wonderfully pay off for her as she wound up with a brussels sprout
which had Joey Essex concernedly asking “Is that all she’s got? A brussels sprout?” as though he thought she was going to have to cook with one solitary sprout like she was a street urchin from a Dickens novel. They did in fact have a whole larder to choose from and Judi decided to seek justice for herself and grabbed the nicest piece of steak she possibly could
and given that there was a whole tableux of meat on display in the larder, you might think “They wouldn’t possibly put any of it in the uninsulated wooden boxes?” well… WRONG
there’s something quite sinister about a whole, raw quail sitting inside a cheerfully painted, decorative box. It was Razor who received the quail while Oti got Clementines, which she instantly and gleefully called Easy Peelers because she is a woman of the people – and Joey Essex got a whole Panettone that he was deathly afraid of
and instantly got turned into a Bread and Butter Pudding which is pretty much the only thing you could really make with a Panettone. The making of said Bread and Butter Pudding only really took marginally more effort than him failing to balance the BBC Box of Christmas Decorations on top of his panettone
That is a man that still can’t work out why the square won’t fit the circle.
It’s probably a good thing to not give Joey too many options considering he is responsible for brainfarting The Stirotto into existence
We can never apologise to Italy enough for that but given that they won Eurovision, Whichever Big Football Thing Happened This Year and Strictly Come Dancing, we’re slowly making up for it.
Alongside the compulsory bread and butter pudding he was making his own custard and had put together a bowl of berries that he had done everything in his power to make look as much like a mass grave of mixed fruit as possible
and which for good measure he doused in enough brandy as it took for John Torode to not complain about the consistency of his custard
I also love that they specifically described the berries as having been “flambéed” and yet there is not even 1 second of footage of Joey Essex flambéing anything because I imagine it’s a health and safety risk and they were already up their necks in it with the amount of Scotch Bonnet chilli that Judi was lacing in her sprouts as she started a blood feud with all of brassica kind. And in war there are many casualties, in this case it being John Torode, a man that sweats at the mere mention of paprika
a single mouthful of her chilli laced sprout and he was gazing unto the face of God – he will never be the same again. And as John’s eyes dilated into the infinite unknown, the last thing he would have heard was Oti Mabuse’s patented scream-laugh
which I might personally request as the only noise they play at my funeral. I intend to die as I lived, stanning Oti Mabuse.
My favourite thing about the MasterChef Christmas specials is the fact they have to make every dish look festive and with Judi cooking a distinctly unChristmassy plate of Steak, Sprouts and Fried Plantain she was forced to spritz everything in glitter and a delicately arranged bauble she had nicked from the set’s Christmas tree
once you get beyond the Hell Sprouts and the temptation to lick gravy off a Christmas bauble, her steak was very well cooked
granted it did seem to be mostly due to the fact she didn’t want to be cooking a steak at all and so did it for as little time as possible but sometimes the stars align just right.
As for what Razor did with his quail, he was quite boringly good at it and had wisely chosen to roast them whole because I’m not sure galiformic mutilation would’ve made for the best Christmas television
admittedly he does cook those quail phenomenally well – the only downside to his dish being the unloved cabbage because somebody clearly whispered into his ear that he needed something green on his plate. I was mostly amazed that his gravy turned out so well considering that it started life looking like a swamp that’s being poisoned by an evil businessman dumping toxic waste into it
had a three-eyed fish crawled out of that pan, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
From the advent calender, Sue Pollard had drawn Gorgonzola and Judi was as concerned as the rest of us considering that giving Su Pollard anything that might give the idea of making a sandwich is a bad idea
it’s been several months and I still think about Su Pollard’s broccoli and apricot sandwich every day
how is Celebrity MasterChef even a real show? Every year we think it can’t get worse and then it does.
As for what Su did with her gorgonzola, she just melted it with a whole lot of brie and made a fondue, rather concerningly flavoured with Kirsch?
I can’t quite get over the lack of mention that she had flavoured her cheese fondue with Kirsch but by this point they were high off the fumes of Joey Essex dumping raw brandy on berries and calling it a flambee. [I have been reliably informed several times, in varying degrees of politeness, that Kirsch is indeed an ingredient in Swiss Fondue. As for the brie…]
Lastly we come to Oti whose approach to the challenge was to mostly stockpile sugar in as many different forms as she possibly could like she was a 17th century Dutch trader
when Gregg’s on the panel, it’s a valid approach.
John spent a significant amount of time this episode mentioning that Oti is South African and talking to her about South Africa, absolutely hoping she would put together something vaguely not-European (we should be so lucky) unfortunately there’s only so much you can do with a clementine and so Upside Down Clementine Cake and an accompanying Entire Raw Apple it was
also God bless everyone for how much they really tried to make the fact she had merely just mixed honey into yoghurt seem like some sort of culinary feat.
John and Gregg do at least mention that she didn’t need to give them the snack bag of apple like she was catering to a pair of toddlers… I think it’s very good of her to make sure that John and Gregg were getting their 5 a day.
An Advent Calendar Dish Ranking
- Judi Love’s Paleo Steak Meal
- Razor’s Boringly Good Quail
- Oti Mabuse’s 5 a Day and Side Cake
- Joey Essex’s Default Panettone Pudding
- Judi Love’s Murder Vegetables
- I Just Have Concerns About Cherry Flavoured Gorgonzola
Winner, Winner, Christmas Dinner…?
The last challenge is much like the last challenge of the festive specials always is: cook your ultimate Christmas dinner. Which most of the celebs did take as Bastardise The Christmas Dinner beyond reason. Oti however eventually caved to John’s whims and was cooking something South African. At least for her main course, which was Bunny Chow, a dish originating amongst the Indian South Africans in Durban – the defining feature of which being the hollowed out loaf of bread that the curry is served in. Oti however wasn’t going to be using a loaf of bread because the MasterChef: The Professionals trend of taking my dear sweet carbs away from me appears to be leaking into other parts of the franchise. So what Oti ended up making was… just a lamb stew and a bowl of very, very, very, *VERY* lemon-y couscous
Gregg visibly hates the dish, barely eating more than a mouthful but because it’s Christmas he has to praise it before saying “Maybe I just don’t like big flavours?” as he is suddenly rendered quaking and fearful by *checks notes* tomatoes and lemon.
As for her dessert, she departed from South Africa and made a Chocolate Orange Mousse which she had decided to top with absolute chaos
None of which is mentioned because Oti’s mousse is so thick is just about seals Gregg’s jaw shut – it is a density that could revolutionise the entire construction industry. But they do just about manage to squeeze out a compliment about how they can taste the orange.
Our first stop on the tour of Cursed Christmas Dinners can really only begin with Su Pollard who was tenderising turkey breasts in the manner of someone in an Agatha Christie novel checking to see if the person lying on the library floor is dead or not
She was making what she deemed “A Christmas dinner but posh!” – the posh side of it being that everything was wrapped in streaky bacon and being called a canapé like she was in Abigail’s Party
and despite the… “lovingly” prepared turkey, John’s favourite thing on the plate are the entirely unseasoned cubes of butternut wrapped in bacon. There was no mention of the minted peas, which had originally meant to be “creamy minted peas” and I imagine she had no cream because she realised that without her orange liqueur cream on the side, her dessert was just going to be a stack of fruit that looked more like Florence Pugh in Midsommar than it did the intended Christmas tree
if you told me that Su Pollard ritualistically sacrificed people in the Swedish alps, I might not question that fact and I think we could get away with just writing it on her Wikipedia page uncited.
And because it’s Christmas and therefore John and Gregg cannot call her a lazy so-and-so, we’re treated to 2 whole minutes of Gregg and John basically praising whoever it was on the production team that bought such good quality fruit while the camera operators are forced to film countless shots of Gregg Wallace dipping grapes into cream
I do almost have to admire the grift of collecting a paycheck for spending 90 minutes mostly just badly skewering poorly chopped fruit to a pineapple before getting bored halfway through and topping it all off with a whole, unpeeled pear like the corporealised form of a trombone slide.
While Su Pollard embraced lazy cubism, Razor was… mostly just saying the word “balls” as he decided he was going to make an entirely spherical Christmas Dinner because… That’s Bantz™ (she says as though she’s above a testical joke). I mostly did not appreciate it because it gave Gregg Wallace the opportunity to say the word “balls” far too many times. Sadly he did find out that you can’t really make a potato rosti into a sphere so in his DIY model solar system of a plate, the rosti is a flat earth
and then my favourite part of the episode happens as John Torode praises Razor’s stuffing balls to the heavens before it cuts to a shot of Gregg poking them with his fork saying they’re not cooked enough
and I am furious that we don’t get reenactment of Lisa Faulkner’s own personal scallop hell
I’m still obsessed with that entire scene, to the point where I am banned from bringing it up at what we used to call dinner parties.
He was keeping the ball theme rolling into his dessert with a trio of Ganache Bon Bons topped with coconut, freeze dried raspberries and Chocolate Sprinkles – and yes, India Fischer did have to say “chocolate sprinkles” while trying to give it an aural façade of gravitas
Never has a plate looked more like a plate of abandoned food at an office Christmas party. And if you’re thinking “ganache bon bons just sounds like he scooped cake icing into cupcake cases?” you would be 100% correct
One of my all time favourite childhood memories is of going to a restaurant on Beira Beach in Mozambique, ordering a chocolate mousse and in no uncertain terms being served up a whopping great big bowl of shop bought cake icing. I was delighted 9 year old, my parents were not.
While Razor studied meat geometry, Joey Essex had reached an understanding of the english language in which he was comfortable enough to attempt puns
That was a mean joke and I feel *very* bad about it – delete it Proofreading Ariadne, you’re our only hope. [~no~ 🥰]
As for what the Joey Essexmas Dinner Involves… he was basically just making a novelty dinner worthy of the most terrible pub by piling everything into a Yorkshire pudding. And oh the problems these yorkshire pudding caused as Joey dumped the batter into his oil and seemingly expected it to all start rising instantly and so immediately began panicking
and to which John reassured him thusly
now, there’s a lot to unpack here – mostly in that John’s delivery of this whole bit was in the manner of someone vaguely alluding to the Christian imagery of Jesus rising again which you know… SPOILER ALERT for Baby Jesus, is the wrong Christian holiday. But I do like the idea of the body of Christ being a yorkshire pudding – please inform the clergy.
As for the final result of these now Sainted Yorkshire puddings… they were certainly big and housed the glorious beigeness of a Christmas Dinner
Would I serve them to a Yorkshireman? Not unless I wanted to die a grizzly a death. John and Gregg are forced to like them though even though they are a very strange looking texture – and so thin? They’rre like the perfect middle ground of a Yorkshire pudding and a communion wafer – we really could revolutionise Catholicism.
And so to dessert, and if you thought Razor’s balls of icing looked slightly rudementary, Joey Essex perfected the aesthetic artform that is the cupcakes you made when your mother eventually trusts you to turn the oven on
the fact the cupcake cases are too big? The weirdly imprecise and ungenerous amount of icing? The hundreds and thousands all but thrown on? It’s almost proof enough that Joey Essex is indeed just two 5 year olds in a trench coat.
And if you’re wondering how John and Gregg are meant to praise this, well…
God I love the phoniness of Christmas MasterChef, it’s a delightful hug of television. 31 year old Joey essex being praised for his use of hundreds and thousands on his mediocre cupcakes? Perfect TV, wouldn’t change it.
And lastly we have Judi Love and with her comes a HUGE tonal shift as John and Gregg are mostly just thrilled to be served something that doesn’t look like a child made it
I do wonder if she was a little embarrassed that she came in and started sous vide-ing a rolled turkey breast while Su started skewering fruit to a pineapple, Razor kept saying “balls” a lot and Joey Essex went ham on some hundreds and thousands? Like that Year 9 Geography project where you spend your whole weekend creating 25 perfectly researched and designed slides about agriculture on the River Nile and then everyone else basically just reads Egypt’s entire wikipedia page verbatim. I’M STILL NOT OVER IT..
And the delight only continued into her Jamaican Black Cake and Stout Ice Cream dessert
it’s mostly up to John to give the critique because one bite of it and Gregg was completely gone – and to be fair, there was a lake of rum atop that cake
Joey’s Essex waterboarding raspberries in raw brandy was mere child’s play, as a mere sniff of the cake had Judi’s eyes were dilating like John Torode eating a lightly spiced brussels sprout
the fact everyone made it through this episode without ending up on the emergency liver transplant list is nothing short of a Christmas miracle, praise be to Yorkshire Pudding Jesus.
An Ultimate Christmas Dinner Dish Ranking
- Judi Knows Where The Rum Has Gone
- Judi’s High Effort Dinner
- Oti’s Mousse By Virtue Of It Looking Like An Adult Made It
- A Lamb Stew By Any Other Name Would Taste As Good
- Su Pollard’s Mike Leigh Dinner
- Probably Joey Essex’s Yorkshire Pudding?
- My Nostalgia For A Bowl of Cake Icing
- Baby’s First Cupcakes
- Razor’s Edible Billiards Set
- Su Pollard’s Mr. Fruit Head
I really can’t blame the people who put in little to no effort considering the trophy looked like it had been made by a harried PA 20 minutes before filming
but you know, Judi Love really, really wanted that possibly-papercraft-trophy and she wasn’t going to risk losing come Hell or high water(bath). And rather unsurprisingly, Judi Love does go on to win
everyone have some rum, I think she’d insist.
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