Everybody else talking about how prestigious the MasterChef quarterfinal is and then Thomas comparing it to Pizza Express is my highlight of the series.
This week the Quarterfinal dares to ask the question “When is a Posset not a Posset?”
A Two Course Race
The group of previous champions that this week’s quarterfinalists cooked for were Dhruv Baker who rolled the dice and decided he was going to be nice this time
Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed whose funereal glam blouse I need to own IMMEDIATELY
and Thomas Frake who won in 2020 AND YET
I think we can all agree that we completely blacked the entirety of 2020 out of our collective memories, right? Sorry to this man indeed.
Up first was Bhavina, who was the only person not making a dessert this week so her menu started with a Chilli stuffed with Keema (which is minced lamb) and then wrapped in pastry – and Thomas read the word “chilli” and immediately had concerns about it being too hot and Saliha could only look at him with a look of slight pitty
I really appreciated Saliha being on the panel this week because she mentioned that Bhavina could go with either a very powerfully spiced and hot Keema, or something more subtle and fragrant – and didn’t disparage one or the other.
Every now and again there’s a dish on MasterChef that just makes me incredibly hungry and Bhavina’s stuffed chilli is very much one those dishes
I would order double portions of this in a restaurant – I think it’s a really clever and interesting dish. As for what the judges made of it – they did like it, they just needed the minced lamb too have slightly more flavour because Bhavina went a little delicate on the spicing but it didn’t however stop them from eating the entire thing
and while the Champions deigned it “not spicy enough” – Gregg was on a very different page
it’s like they roll a dice to decide what their spice tolerance per episode is. And if anyone wants me to DM a MasterChef themed Dungeons and Dragons campaign, let me know.
For her main course, Bhavina was serving Tandoori Salmon, which she was taking a bit of a risk on by pan-frying what were really quite big salmon fillets
Alongside her Tandoori Salmon she was going to serve Mashed Potato, Broccoli and a Coriander Oil – unfortunately for her she didn’t have time to do the broccoli, which was left to sit in a pan of partially melted butter
so her final dish did look a little incomplete, even despite her valiant attempt to fancy it all up by scattering almonds over it
the flavouring of her tandoori salmon was certainly met with more praise than her spicing of the lamb mince, however the success of it all is somewhat overshadowed by the fact her salmon could probably be released back into the wild if you so much as said “BOO!” to it
it’s giving me The Indian Sushi Incident of 2016 of which I have still not recovered from.
The Shady Editors were really going for it this episode because they immediately cut from everyone saying they couldn’t actually eat Bhavina’s salmon to James shoving a meat thermometer into his cod fillets
and sure enough, they were perfectly cooked – the only issue with them being the ominously ambiguous “Green Crust”
it was probably a bit of a mistake to leave the crust so nondescript because if I read “green crust”, I would just assume it was going to be a mix of breadcrumbs, parsley and a bit of parmesan if I’m lucky. James however had other plans and was including smoked salmon in the mix, which did make it look a bit like he was freshly turfing a lawn while he made it
the Champions, who were not in on the salmon surprise, were not convinced by its sponginess, John and Gregg who were privy to the shenanigans, were much more complimentary. But at least they could all commend James on perfectly cooking the fish and for serving up what I think might be the first successful Fondant Potato of the series. Someone get the man a bottle of champagne.
He was also tinkering with the classics for his dessert, which was a Lemon Posset topped with Cinnamon Apples because his son apparently loves Apple Crumble and this was the only way to get him to try Lemon Posset. I have to admire the bravery of someone going on MasterChef and, with their full chest, admitting that what they’re making is a dish they make to trick a child
if a MasterChef producer ever reads these, first of all, give me a job, and second of all make the Tricking a Child Round a core component of the semi-final, thanks.
It’s always a risk taking on something as classic and well known as Lemon Possets and Apple Crumbles, and John did look like he was having to smile through the pain as he watched James make a Not-an-Apple-Crumble-Lemon-Posset
John Torode having done this show for almost 20 years and still not mastering the art of the fake smile, I hope he never changes.
The Lemon Posset was a mostly successful dish from James – everything tasted great together – the only thing it lacked was a little bit of texture – some sort of a ginger or almond biscuit I think would’ve been great and complimented the apples.
I did worry that Evy was going to join Bhavina in Raw Doom the moment she said she was cooking a lamb loin for her main course, but it came out perfectly cooked without any need to whack it back in the oven for another 2 minutes of emergency cooking time
the only issue with Evy’s main course was the fact it maybe wasn’t the most inventive or unique plate of food – try as she might to make “roasted potato cylinders” sound like the carbs of the future
but at least she can safely say everything was well cooked, it did just suffer from the recurring issue of being a little under seasoned and the flavours were not as well balanced as she usually manages, with the parsnip puree, the shallot puree and the Lamb Jus all together making the dish slightly too sweet.
With her lamb dish being met with a lukewarm response, her hopes largely rested on her dessert which was a Poached Pear
I’ve said my bit about Poached Pears, I at least appreciate that she was doing something a little different by using a sweet white wine but ultimately it is a fruit salad with status
it gets the same sort of response as her lamb dish – it’s all very nice but nothing that really makes you go “Wow, I’ll remember that!”.
And speaking of “Wow, I’ll remember that!” Thomas was creating my ideal menu with Prawn and Tofu rolls as a main course followed by a very generous brownie as a dessert. It did mean that there was a lot for him to do, with his main course being particularly process heavy so Gregg did have some concerns
Thomas’s absolutely deadpanned delivering of that “No.” was so funny to me and reminded me SO MUCH of Violet Chachki during her critique of the Season 13 runways
The centre piece of Thomas’s main course were Prawn and Tofu Rolls which he was also serving with some fried prawns, pickled leeks and wood-ear mushrooms
It’s not Thomas’s most beautiful plating – I for one personally blame the wood-ear mushrooms, they are a crime against aesthetics
but it still goes down incredibly well with it unanimously being declared perfect and John comments how it is all “hot and purposeful” which is how I describe myself in my dating profiles.
It was going to be a hard task following his main course, but if anything could do it was going to be a Hazelnut and Sesame Brownie, which he was serving with a Blackberry Coulis and these “blackberry candies” which might just be frozen blackberries?
again, a great way to trick a child into eating fruit. It’s a candy *wink*.
It’s the first dessert that Thomas has made and he was certainly back to top form with his stylish presentation
the last minute addition of the shards of excess tofu skin he had deep-fried and dipped in honey were a truly inspired choice. And again, the judges unanimously love it – Dhruv does describe the brownie as “crumbly, but in a pleasant way” which does somewhat imply it was slightly overcooked but it’s a triumph of flavour and with it not being overly sweet, it did feel like a very grown-up brownie.
A Quarterfinal Dish Ranking
- Thomas’s All Star Prawn Stars
- Thomas’s Mature Brownie
- Bhavina’s Chilli Appeals to Me
- James’s Biscuitless Posset
- James’s Astroturfed Cod
- Evy’s Unexciting Lamb
- Evy’s Poached Pear By Virtue of Bhavina’s Raw Salmon
- Bhavina’s Pan of Unmelted Butter and Raw Broccoli
- Bhavina’s Raw Salmon
This was a really tough round because I think they all had qualities that would have made them excellent semi-finalists – Bhavina cooks really interesting Indian food, Thomas is perfect and nobody can say otherwise, James is basically genetically engineered to have MasterChef Semi-finalist in his Instagram bio and Evy genuinely feels like she’s on the cusp of really being able to succeed as a fine dining chef with a little more guidance.
Sadly there was only room for two, and because of her main course being mostly inedible (even though her starter was God Tier IMHO) Bhavina was the first to go
and if you, like me, are waiting for her to drop that keema-stuffed chilli recipe, you can follow her on Instagram at BitesByBeebs.
Thomas was easily sailing through to the next round – and criminally he does not have an Instagram account, so I might have to set up a stan account for him. So it was now a decision between James’s adventurous side or Evy’s aspirations for fine dining with the decision ultimately being to take James through to the semi-finals, and it was goodbye to Evy
I really liked Evy as a contestant and I was quite invested in her goal of achieving that fine dining dream so I’m sad to see her MasterChef journey come to an end before we reach the stages where we could see her in those environments, and if you want to see what she goes on to do, you can follow her on Instagram at EvysMenu, or just go wish her luck because she seems to be cooking a lunch for 16 people.
And congratulations to James and Thomas, our penultimate two quarterfinalists
and if you want to follow James on Instagram, you can find him at SilverFoxCooks.
If you’ve enjoyed this recap of MasterChef 2022’s fourth and somehow not final Quarterfinal and would like to support the blog you can donate to my Ko-fi account HERE!