It was THIS big, I swear!
Look upon my single carrot and weep, mortal.
In order to decide which four chefs get to cook for the critics, they had to survive an invention test in which they had to come up with a brunch dish and because this is MasterChef: The Professionals nobody thought to just make a really good Eggs Benedict or a stack of novelty pancakes and instead everybody way over thought the whole thing – all except Parminder who upon hearing the word “Brunch” was just completely no thoughts, head empty
and from there just sort of made the closest thing to a brunch in his repertoire and threw a slice of Brioche toast on the side of it because that makes everything seem more brunch-y
and good for him, I’m not entirely sure I agree that broccoli or aubergine have any right to be anywhere near a brunch menu but I can’t say the marinated salmon and aubergine salsa didn’t sound like a really lovely dish.
Anastasia was in a bit of a panic mode because she’s not like other millenials, she’s a cool millenial and doesn’t waste her money on eggs and avocados (enjoy your three bedroom semi-detached house, I guess) and had also become trapped in the gravitational pull of the biggest aubergines I’ve ever seen
eventually she decided she was going to make a spin on Mushrooms on Toast using her trip to Asia to put a bit of a twist on it. “Where in Asia did she visit?” I hear you ask – we don’t know, apparently we’re back to referring to Asia as a homogenous 44.58 million km² continent defined almost exclusively by a use of soy sauce. We’ve been set back 10 years of MasterChef discourse.
In the end her dish was a sort of Mushroom and Aubergine Puree Kebab which they then had to start calling Middle Eastern
despite Anastasia’s resistance to the challenge, they did really like her dish and combination of the salty, umami mushrooms with the tahini laced Aubergine puree. Also a big fan of Anna reaching into the MasterChef Book of Food Descriptors and calling the pomegranate seeds “dancing jewels” – she’s well and truly ingrained in the franchise.
The closest we got to something within the Eggs Benedict family was from Owen who topped a piece of toast with some Poached Haddock, a poached egg, bacon, a Truffle Hollandaise and some pickled Asparagus
and the egg was BEAUTIFULLY poached
but as well cooked as it all was, the pickled asparagus was just that little bit too overpowering and he would have been better off not pickling it.
There were high hopes for Jonny because he works in a Deli and really all Marcus wanted from him was a sandwich but unfortunately what Marcus was going to get was “the elements of a sandwich” which is a very covert way of saying “I am deconstructing a sandwich” featuring beetroot done 4 ways and very much all just looking like someone had dropped a sandwich on the pavement
and while a city pigeon would have been perfectly thrilled with it as their meal for the day, Marcus had demolished it in about two mouthfuls – the remaining scrap basically looking identical to the full dish
it’s certainly one way of avoiding too negative a critique if they can’t taste it more than twice
they did at least like the fleetingly ephemeral beetroot though.
While everyone stayed very much in the realms of savoury (BOO YOU COWARDS) William was pushing the boundaries by combining sweet and savoury elements with sweet puff pastry, a tomato salad, bacon infused whipped cream and a Berry and Port Sauce
oh, and for good measure, an artfully whittled strawberry
and it all seemed to be going well as Anna lavished praise on the sauce, the pastry and the bacon whipped cream (a phrase I do not like one bit) before she fired a killer blow at the completely innocent tomato salad which is arguably the most normal thing on the plate
I for one will die on the hill that William’s chaos should have instantly been inflicted upon the critics but ALAS, bad decisions were made and William was sent packing
I loved you, you little culinary chaos demon.
A Brunch Dish Ranking
1. Parminder’s Brioche Brunch Qualifier
2. Putting The Asia in Anastasia
3. Strong-armed Asparagus
4. A Sweet and Savoury Goodbye
5. A Pavement Sandwich
Everyone’s A Critic
For the first Critics’ Chamber of the series, the remaining quarterfinalists were cooking for Jimi Famurewa, William Sitwell and Tom Parker Bowles – and kicking off the proceedings was Parminder with his take on the Indian street food staple, Chaat – his being mixed with deep-fried sweet potatoes and paired with a tamarind chutney, fresh apple, kohlrabi and finished off with a toupee of crispy parsnips
it was a good start for Parminder with the dish being praised for its refinement and sophistication – little did the critics know that Parminder was having the worst time of his life in the kitchen, and it was all catching up to him as he just about had to throw his tamarind ribs and khichdi at the plate from across the room as he ran out of time to plate things properly
it didn’t receive quite such rave reviews, except for the bowl of cheesy peas which are the distant cousin of Jonny’s Parmesan and Lamb Tartare Taco and while the critics critiqued the food, Anna and Marcus were busy organising a disaster relief fund in the wake of Hurricane Parminder
shout out to whichever production assistant had to clear it up, imaginably eating the dregs of the cheesy peas while they sobbed over the compost bin.
You would think that after getting lambasted for serving up two mouthfuls of a very sad sandwich, that Jonny might have gone bigger with his portions AND YET
you can *kind of* get away with it in a starter, especially when it’s langoustine ceviche that probably cost about £22 per insipid mouthful anyway, but it’s unforgivable when your take on a roast chicken dinner looks like you ate half of it on the way to the pass
Mate, that is a carrot (singular) and two potatoes that you drowned beneath some truffle to disguise the portion size.
Thankfully everyone did call him out on it, although I am loathe to admit it was worth it to make William Sitwell this upset
his tears make up for the lack of additional carrots.
Anastasia was also starting her menu off with a shellfish dish, hers being an entire Crab Tartlet and not a quarter of one as I’m sure Jonny would ration everyone to
it’s a very pretty looking dish which thankfully wasn’t disguising a bland flavour, as I think these very fresh crab dishes can often do – the critics all loving the combination of the mixed brown and white crab and the yuzu gel, which I’m not sure are as original and groundbreaking as they claimed but I’m all for everyone gassing up a female chef, so I’ll allow it.
It was a good start for Anastasia and she managed to keep the momentum going for her main course, inspired by her time in Argentina – South America being allowed to be separated into its separate countries while Asia is divided into The Ambiguous Middle East, India and then *gestures at the Far East*. It was of course a steak and Chimichurri dish with the obligatory fries
that steak is STUNNINGLY well cooked and the fries were appropriately crispy – as for the chimichurri, they all loved it – I can’t say I love the fact it’s served on a bone that looks like your dredged it up from a swamp but each to their own.
Lastly we have Owen whose menu was starting with a Thai inspired dish of Satay Cod in a Coconut sauce
on paper, it’s a dish I would order in a heartbeat, I personally think it looks a little bit clinical and unexciting but they were all charmed by it and the cheffiness of the flavours and techniques on show – I for one applaud him for hiding the puffed rice under the pak choi so that I didn’t have to feel like I was looking fishing bait.
His main course was a very sudden departure from his Thai inspired starter, with a more standard Masterchef dish of roasted venison and a good old Pommes Anna accompaniment that Anna was very excited about
I’m choosing to believe that the restaurant made a specific Pommes Anna Station just for her because her name was Anna – they bought a sign and everything.
Venison dishes are two a penny (IN THIS ECONOMY? I don’t think.) on this show so it had to be really good to impress anyone, and it certainly looked good
I’m always grateful when things on a plate actually touch one another so it was a good start and the dish seemed to hold up to the scrutiny of the critics, the Pommes Anna maybe needed a little more seasoning but they liked the dish as a whole
A 2 Course Menu Dish Ranking
1. All Aboard The Pommes Anna Express
2. Steak and Swamp Bones
3. A Whole Crab Tartlet
4. Thanks Tess, Good Chaat
5. Clinically Clean Cod
6. Parminder’s Flung Ribs
7. You Don’t Win Friends With Ceviche
8. One Third of a Roast Dinner
I would really have loved to see Parminder going through to the semi-finals, I loved the sound of the last two dishes he made but sadly the pressure of the studio kitchen didn’t seem to suit him so he lost out on a place in the semifinals along with Jonny Half-portions, meaning our first two Semi-finalists are Anastasia
if the next round involves playing hide and seek with a beetroot, he’s got this nailed!
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