Coming Next Spring: Celebrity Mario Kart.
The word “Croquembouche” shall never be the same again.
For their first big challenge of Finals Week, the celebrities were having to cater an Afternoon Tea celebrating the BBC’s centenary for an array of guests including Anton du Beke, Clive Myrie, Tony Robinson, Anita Dobson and Su Pollard; naturally dressed like a Matador who had got dressed at a car boot sale
and she would be making the most of the free champagne.
For the most part each of the celebrities were going to be responsible for two items on the menu which did make everything that much more stressful because both their items were really rather process heavy – nobody got lucky by getting Cucumber Sandwiches despite the fact I think their a protected characteristic of the Afternoon Tea. But some of them coped better than others, or found ways to vent their rising frustrations such as walking into the freezer and just having a little scream
it was that or succumb to the temptation to just down whatever was left of the gin after John asked how far along you were for the 11th time in 20 minutes
which would have significantly upped the difficulty of ferrying everything across Alexandra Palace at breakneck speeds using the wobblies trollies like you were trapped in a 90s kids gameshow.
Mel and Cliff were in charge of the savoury dishes – Cliff having to make Arancini Balls and Miniature Yorkshire Puddings stuffed with Roast Beef and Horseradish Sauce while Mel was making Asparagus Tartlets and screaming at some smoked salmon blinis
which could be why they were a little feeble when it came to serving them
there’s nothing worse than a blini succumbing to consumption.
Her Asparagus tarts were much more successful though and Tony Robinson couldn’t diagnose them with a single ailment
and they were particularly impressive given that she’s never made her own pastry before.
Cliff had quite a few struggles in the kitchen, not helped by the fact he may have been suffering from a hangover
the major issue was that fact he hadn’t dried out his risotto enough, having just gone on autopilot and made a normal risotto, not really thinking too much about the fact that he was going to have to roll it into balls and he looked like he wanted to dissolve on the spot when Gregg pointed this out to him
despite his effort to remedy it, the risotto was still a little bit too wet to roll into balls so he was having to handle them like explosives lest they join Mel’s Sickly Blinis in the infirmary but he did get there in the end
they were flatter than expected but nobody complained about them and they enjoyed both the arancini and his arrabiata dipping sauce.
That was a bit of a theme for Cliff, his cooking process would be a little bit of a disaster but the final result would be perfectly fine – but it was a good thing that John was on hand to point out that he had taken out his Yorkshire Puddings FAR too early
but he at least had time to put them back in to cook a bit more so Tony Robinson couldn’t diagnose them with pneumonia and order them to take a 3 week trip to the South of France for recovery
Cliff however would gladly take that trip for them
sadly they hadn’t brought the MasterChef Therapy Couch along for the Afternoon Tea.
On Pre-Croquempocalypse duty were Danny and Lisa. The latter having to make a Gin and Tonic Tartlet and Chocolate-filled Doughnut and Danny having to make two different coloured macarons for no real reason at all AND Butterfly Cakes because this was a very serious and posh event and definitely not a 7 year old’s birthday party
it would have been rather embarrassing if he had cocked up the cakes that are basically Baby’s First Bake. The Macarons were a lot more tricky but at least they were both filled with the same chocolate and jam mixture, which only made their different colouration that much more needless
there had been a bit of an issue in that he hadn’t greased the tray before piping them on, at which point John Torode looked like he was about to climb into one of the industrial ovens himself
but there was no real harm done and everyone was pleasantly converted to the macaron darkside.
Lisa struggled a little bit more with her items – the doughnuts being a particular nuisance because the first lot that she had cooked were quite literally still batter in the middle when she opened one up
thankfully from there she managed to get into the rhythm of it but while the doughnuts were cooked she struggled to get the chocolate and hazelnut filling into them so everyone was just a touch disappointed
my money is firmly on Greg James being roped into next year’s Celebrity MasterChef – it’s him or Tony Robinson.
Ending the whole event was Kitty who was having to make a Croquembouche and in what was to become foreshadowing of its own destruction she was hellbent on mangling the word into as many different forms as she could manage
and she never did get there in the end
shout out to whoever wrote the subtitles because they were having the time of their life.
Having a less fun experience was John Torode who, upon Kitty leaving the kitchen with three quarters of a choux bun tower to her name, discovered that she had somehow misplaced an entire bag of choux pastry
and this naturally meant that there just wasn’t enough structural integrity to support the croquembouche and it collapsed in on itself, much like the BBC TV schedule last week
and while John Torode was checking if that was burnt toast he could smell, Gregg was trying VERY hard not to laugh at the whole thing
but they still had a Cock and Douche to serve and she did her best to give it some height with a ball of caramel sugar that really only accomplished the effect of making it look like she had rendered Boris Johnson in choux buns
Cock and Douche is right.
But by this point everyone was 6 glasses of free champagne to the wind and thoroughly enjoying themselves so Kitty didn’t actually get any complaints in regards to her choux buns.
For their next challenge the celebrities were having to cook a dish that was inspired by their childhood – the only person to go with anything really decided retro was Lisa Snowdon who was doing her take on Toad in the Hole, the main worry for John being as to how she was going to present it in a way that looked MasterChef-y enough for him. Lisa however had absolutely no qualms
in order to elevate the dish though she was adding some more refined accompaniments: an onion and red wine gravy, some roasted kale hearts and some garlic mash with at least £75 worth of Lurpak butter on it
there were no complaints to be heard and to her credit, it did look rather magnificent once you plated it all up
I’d sacrifice my carotid arteries to eat nothing but that for a week.
Everyone else was trying for a much more sophisticated style of dish and presentation – nobody trying harder than Cliff Parisi who, as a nod to being taken to an Italian restaurant as a treat as a kid was making…. nothing Italian, so here’s a Steak with a Béchamel Croquette and whatever flowers he could yank out of the hanging baskets on his way into the studio
God bless him, he really tried and thought he was doing something very refined as he carefully adorned the plate with very small chunks of cherry tomato like he was a contestant on All That Glitters bedazzling a brooch with rubies – and despite the praise for his cooking he did take the fact Gregg and John didn’t like his ode to Willem de Kooning very personally
everyone does have to accept that their newborn baby is a bit ugly though.
For her dish, Mel was making French Fish Soup inspired by her childhood in France when she and her family lived in a fishing village while she had an operation to help treat her Scoliosis – Gregg treating finding out Mel’s mother was French like a grand plot twist worthy of Brian de Palma
but he does treat the revelation of anyone’s familial background with the same shocked gurning so at least he’s equal opportunities weird.
The thing with soup is that you’ve got to work quite hard to make it into something significant enough to impress anyone in a competition setting but I do think building a cheesy crouton bridge across the top of her soup was pretty ingenious
and John and Gregg were both suitably impressed – praising both her crouton engineering and the depth of flavour that she had managed to get into the soup without getting any of the bitterness that a fish stock can often have.
While Cliff went with the Jackson Pollock approach to presentation and Mel went with something slightly minimalist and refined, in order to display his Butter Chicken off in the best way he could, Danny used Batman’s dinner set which John and Gregg were very taken with
and to be fair, it does show off the colour of it really well – and if you want to know how he got his butter chicken so shiny, there was one super special secret ingredient
I WOULD NEVER HAVE GUESSED.
Kitty was out for Choux Pastry redemption by making Rhubarb and Custard Eclairs, largely inspired by her Mr. Blobby jumper of which I am incredibly envious
unfortunately, her Choux Woes weren’t about quantity this time as sadly they never quite managed to puff up
but I do think her salvaging of the situation by making them into sort of Demi-Mille-Feuilles was at least making the best of a bad situation
so at least she managed to get the pink, campy aesthetic she wanted and the flavours were all bang on but there was no escaping the fact that she was the only one to have major issues with her cooking in this round.
A Childhood Memory Dish Ranking:
- Lisa Snowdon’s Toad in the Whole Block of Butter
- Mel Blatt’s Cheesy Bridge Over Troubled Soup
- Batman’s Butter Chicken
- Cliff Parisi’s Garden of Steak
- Kitty Scott-Claus’s Eclair Jenga
By this point in the competition Kitty was a little bit on borrowed time and in order to stay she was going to really need to pull something out of the bag, but alas, she did not and was eliminated – but not before she gave John one last little taste of the Kitty Experience
I’m really glad she made it this far, I’ve found her thoroughly entertaining and I can only hope we see more of her in the future because I think she’s just fantastic television.
And so, we have a Top 4
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