MasterChef 2022, Episode 17: Christmas Cake Puree

I will protect the goldfish dumplings with my life.

I don’t know how much time passed between this episode and the last one, but John Torode seemed well recovered so I’m assuming it was long enough for him to have a lengthy stay at the Ritz.

What Came First?

After last week’s baptism in the fires of John Torode’s own personal Hell, the show returns to the safe haven of the Invention Test, this time the twist being that their dish had to either feature Chicken or Eggs, and I am delighted that Gregg got to unveil the egg because it’s giving me Jared Leto at the Camp Met Gala

in order to make the challenge sound somewhat varied John highlighted that they had been given “a variety of different chickens to choose from” and I got very excited because I thought *maybe* they’d got those really cool goth chickens in

but alas it turned out they had just got them a choice between a regular chicken or a littler chicken poussin and everyone frantically raced to grab the regular chickens so that they didn’t have to join John Torode in his assault against the French language by trying to say the word. Ioan did however end up with a Poussin and was planning on roasting it and serving it alongside a cassoulet and Patatas Bravas – which Gregg thought was pretty straightforward and wondered why Ioan wasn’t putting a twist on it and Ioan looked thoroughly taken aback because “a twist” was explicitly not a part of the brief

thankfully Ioan stayed firmly on track with his cassoulet and didn’t decide to do something awful like cure an egg yolk in brandy or sacrifice a chicken’s liver to whichever ancient Greek deity would grant him a reprieve

and it mostly worked out for him – the littler chicken poussin was slightly dry but his cassoulet was rich and well flavoured and the patatas bravas were crunchy, soft and well seasoned. And of course they liked his mayonnaise which was handmade and not shop bought.

I had thought that if anyone was going to combine both the chicken and the egg into a dish that paid tribute to ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch who was pondering whether the chicken or the egg came first long before it was cool to have an existential crisis, that it would be Pookie. However, PLOT TWIST

sadly this did not involve Sarah carving a bust of Plutarch out of hard boiled eggs and instead she was making a Sweetcorn Custard topped with a fragment of chicken skin and some crispy and pickled shallots

I admire the bravery to go with something that appears so simple – there’s not a lot to hide behind when 90% of your dish is a potentially very divisive savoury custard but it worked out for her with the judges appreciating the smooth texture she had managed to get by spending the time dehusking most of her sweetcorn – and she had balanced the sweetness very well because it could have also easily skewed towards being an accidentally very cursed dessert.

Pookie meanwhile was, well…

she couldn’t really do another chicken and egg dish after she made a diorama of a bowerbird’s nest in the last round

so Pookie was trying to get as far away from the chicken and egg imagery as possible by creating goldfish shaped dumplings which were filled with chicken and served with fish roe and Tom Yum Soup

the fact she just whipped these up in 90 minutes like it was no big deal is honestly iconic, and doesn’t surprise me considering she’s worked in a beauty salon so she’s used to doing intricate details and working quickly. Of course there’s constantly talk on Twitter about how she must be some sort of secretly trained professional chef which honestly just reeks of misogyny because there’s men, past and present, who are cooking and have cooked as well as her and have also made very elaborate dishes but as soon as a woman shares flare and talent it has to be ~nefarious~… The show is about finding undiscovered talents so just let her cook and wear fabulous coats guys

it’s literally just food, take off the tinfoil hats and enjoy it. Maybe give making goldfish-shaped dumplings a go, who knows maybe you’ll discover something new about yourself.

The only person to create a solely egg dish was Radha who was trying to make her dad’s favourite egg curry which she had never made before so much like her experimental crumble she was having to kind of work backwards and extrapolate how her mother may have made it like she was Sherlock Holmes solving a culinary murder. It does also mean that she continues to add to her portfolio of vaguely round things in sauce

as well as the Gregg curry she had made an onion bhaji, a bhatara bread and some cumin seed yoghurt which is quite a lot of work for 90 minutes. John did wish that she had maybe gone bolder with the spices but they enjoyed her crispy onion bhaji and her bread.

Obviously after the last round Thomas on notice and in order to claw his way back into John Torode’s good books he was hoping to show another side of his culinary experience by cooking what he called “Spanish Chicken” which mostly seemed to earn the title by including Chorizo in the dish, we call this Jamie Olivering. Somehow he was stuffing chicken wings with chorizo and then his sauce featured chorizo and every dried fruit he could possibly get his hands on including apricots, raisins and orange peel to make what essentially amounted to vaguely chorizo-flavoured Christmas Cake puree which Gregg was making no attempts to make friends with

it’s a shame because his chicken and crispy noodles were great so literally ANY OTHER sauce could potentially have saved the dish

but Thomas wasn’t the only one having sauce woes as James had taken on the task of making Katsu Curry and committed the crime of serving John a lumpy curry sauce instead of straining all of the vegetables out of it – which is fine if you’re making it at home, but in MasterChef you’ve kind of got to go a little more authentic

and then it didn’t help that his chicken was a little dry and unfortunately his rice had more of a texture and stability than the crispy coating on his chicken

at least it wasn’t the full Rice Bludgeon .

Eddie was back to his classic French cookery with some roast chicken breasts that he was serving with sautee potatoes, an assortment of vegetables and a tarragon cream sauce as well as a very interesting sounding Charlotte which was stuffed with chicken and a madeira sauce

obviously the presentation has all the flare of me piling everything I can get my hands on at a buffet to minimise my table-to-buffet journey times – but there is also a certain Pride Rock energy about it, or at least I could see a pride of lion holding a coronation on that Charlotte

aside from dinging him for his presentation, John and Gregg only had compliments for him – and particularly the Charlotte which he should probably start putting a patent on because I can see the Michelin vultures circling.

And lastly we have Olayemi who perhaps played it a little bit too safely with her spiced and roasted chicken thighs that she was serving with some couscous

John and Gregg do at least like the flavours of her chicken but Gregg was slightly disappointed that with so much of the flavour being on her chicken skin, that it wasn’t crispier and John wanted more flavour in her couscous. But if you were wondering where her obligatory Scotch Bonnet was, it was in her tomato chutney

Found it!

A Chicken or Egg (But sometimes both!) Dish Ranking

  1. Pookie’s Goldfish Pond
  2. Sarah’s Narrowly Avoided Cursed Dessert
  3. Eddie’s Coq au Pride Rock
  4. Radha’s Dedication to Spheres
  5. Ioan’s Untwisted Chicken
  6. Where’s The Scotch Bonnet?
  7. James’s Chicken and Sliced Rice
  8. Thomas’s Christmas Cake Chicken

It did seem very harsh to eliminate 2 people off the back of an invention test but apparently John was just out for revenge after the last episode and we lose 2 thirds of the Dessert Service From Hell, with Thomas and James being eliminated

and if you want to see what James goes on to do, you can follow him at SilverFoxCooks – and then Thomas does not have Instagram account so I shall sit in anticipation of his culinary memoir that I alone am trying to will into existence.

Monarch of the Glynn

For the second challenge of the episode the contestants were once again going to be running a kitchen service, this time catering for a dinner honouring the centenary of the Royal British legion. However, instead of John, they were being overseen by human blender Glynn Purnell

and John Torode was having a wonderful time in the dining room with his corduroy suit

to be fair that dessert service did almost become a global conflict so perhaps he deserved to be honoured too.

They also weren’t going to be making their own dishes and instead had Glynn showing them how to make some of his Michelin star plates. I do kind of wish they had started the episode with this challenge and just added a fish course, just to give everyone the opportunity to redeem themselves after that last round – and then it would have made eliminating two people after an invention test seem a little less harsh because they could have based it off both rounds.

The contestants had been split into teams to cover all three of the courses with Ioan and Olayemi on the starter, Pookie and Eddie doing the main course and Sarah and Radha contending with the dessert.

The starter was Masala Spiced Scallops served with curried lentils, a vegetable pakora and coriander sauce – this did mean that Olayemi and Ioan were having to prepare 60 scallops, which they did very well especially given that Olayemi hadn’t ever prepared scallops before, or at least Glynn Purnell didn’t seem to have to step in and take over at any point. And while Olayemi showcased her newfound fishmonger abilities, Ioan was seeing how many thumbs up he could pull in the space of three seconds

There’s a Guinness World Record in there somewhere.

Ioan and Olayemi worked really well together – I’m sure it helped when you got the opportunity to work with someone that you went through the earlier heats with, I also imagine it helped that you could take any stress out by whacking a few coconuts with a massive knife

but as much as Olayemi and Ioan could prepare things in advance, both their pakoras and scallops had to be cooked to order at the last minute which meant that their timings had to be absolutely bang on, which they managed to keep to and not a single one of them kept repeating “Two more minutes!” every 30 seconds

and everything was very well cooked – I always have a slight issue with this round in that a lot of the compliment John and Gregg give are about how clever the dish is or ingenious some of the flavour combinations are – which always feels more like gassing up the professional chef that took a day off work to have the BBC make an unofficial advert for their restaurant than it does a compliment of how well the contestants cooked the dish. This was a little more glaring with Pookie and Eddie’s main course where Gregg gave a Shakespearean monologue about Glynn Purnell’s use of liquorice

and then didn’t say ANYTHING about how well cooked the venison was, because the two of them really had done a very good job with their plate, a little part of me wishes that Glynn had just taught them how to make each of the components and then let them design how the plate should look, if only because I fully believe that Pookie’s notebook is just full of sketches of venison presented to look like a pirate ship or the skyline of Birmingham

you could’ve had duck shaped medallions of venison if you’d only asked Glynn.

And if preparing 30 fillets of venison wasn’t enough, they also had to contend with onions the size of Pookie’s head for their Pomme Boulanger

and Eddie was at one point banished to pick exactly 60 sprigs of marjoram, which sounds like a punishment inflicted upon someone by Athena in Ancient Greek myth

and with his penance paid in full, the two of them managed to plate up 30 perfect plates of their venison main

I will take issue with the quenelle of lightly blitzed peas being described as a “pea salad”, but that’s between me and Glynn Purnell.

And lastly Sarah and Radha had to make 30 portions of Glynn Purnell’s Creme brulee that he’s been plating up in some form or another since Great British Menu in 2011

but to be fair it is kind of an iconic dish and I’m sure is something of a trickle down effect to having inspired Pookie to use the eggshell for her presentation of the Thai Basil Chicken in the last episode. And Radha was very worried that they were going to have to prepare 30 egg shells to fill with creme brulee

CAN YOU IMAGINE? I would have walked out and told them to bring Farokh back.

Sarah took on the role of the overseeing the making of the Creme Brulee, having just made a custard, she was at least better practiced – which meant that Radha was left to join Eddie in very specific punishments by having to hull 3.5kgs of strawberries, as well as lose a fight against the ice cream machine

meanwhile Sarah was also having a little bit of a rough time because her first batch of honeycomb hadn’t worked and did look a bit like the site of a nuclear disaster

and because Ioan was hogging the big knife and coconuts, she was coping with the stress of having to stay on time and give soundbites to the camera by gentling excusing herself from the camera and going to work 6 feet away, still in plain view of the camera

I always love it when someone goes rogue and doesn’t comply with the parameters of the tv show they are filming – I wouldn’t have thought Sarah would be the rebel though.
Thankfully her second batch of honeycomb worked just fine and Radha had managed to coerce her sorbet out of its chamber which just meant that she had to try and quenelle it which she just couldn’t get the hang of. It is a weirdly hard thing to do though, it looks so simple and then you try and it’s the most unnecessarily difficult task because EVERYTHING seems to resist being made into an oval. Glynn was very nice though and just let her use an ice cream scoop without making a big deal of it and it did mean that Radha was much happier because she was making proper spheres again


It’s not like the shape of the sorbet was going to affect the taste of the dish which they finished to a very high standard

and with the dish having an 11 year legacy there was a lot to live up to and everyone seemed very happy with it – the custard was set, the sorbet smooth – and this man was particularly pleased with it

so there’s you challenge Glynn.

Thankfully they weren’t eliminating anyone else, I’m worried that they’re just offing them like flies because as far as I’m aware there’s 24 episodes and we’re already down to 6 chefs and 7 episodes to go, so I hope they calm down soon?

If you’ve enjoyed this recap of MasterChef 2022’s second semi-final episode and would like to support the blog you can donate to my Ko-fi account HERE!

Leave a Reply