And for my next trick, I’m going to make this entire dessert disappear!
The sweet scent of garlicky sabotage!
For the penultimate Skills Test, Marcus was bringing out The Second Biggest Guns and asking his two chefs to prepare and roast a pigeon – this of course only being second in The MasterChef Disaster Stakes to the Woodcock Test in which the chefs were required to pierce the bird’s flesh with its own beak for the sake of tradition – there was a reason it was done once in 2013 and never returned.
Tiny Little Bird Butchery™ doesn’t usually go very well on MasterChef, luckily for us, the chefs doing this skills test were both highfalutin industry chefs that travel the world cooking for the rich and famous and not some guy from a garden centre café who mostly makes soups and toasted sandwiches and got pushed into this by his boss – David, I’ll never forget you!
Ollie, of cooking for the Formula 1 teams in Mexico fame, was first and did very well, butchering up his pigeon in a matter of seconds and going about the whole process with a good amount of confidence. He did seem to regard the Madeira Sauce side of the challenge with an air of suspicion, fully in the belief that the pigeon trimmings were a conspiratorial trap set to scupper his chances
thus forcing Marcus to coax him into adding the bones to make the sauce taste slightly less like neat Madeira because Ollie seemed to determined not to add much to it, and while the sauce could have afforded to be richer and more flavoursome, he still managed a good plate of food
he’s lucky he had enough time to quickly flash fry the pigeon that had come out of the oven gently cooing though.
Marcus’s second chef was Mathew, of cooking on a boat that costs more money than I’ll make in a lifetime fame (eat the rich with a madeira sauce), he didn’t do quite as well as Ollie, but he did still seem to know what he was doing and mostly made little mistakes because he was very nervous. Although, I’m not entirely sure how “little” a mistake serving up undigested bird seed in a pigeon’s gullet is
well done Mathew, you’ve unintentionally made the worst thing we’ll see on MasterChef this year – I’ll send your deeply upsetting trophy in the post.
The fact you could tell what the pigeon’s final meal was wasn’t exactly helping with the unappetisingness of a piece of meat that was visibly bleeding everywhere because he tried to sauté one of the livers in the last minute of the challenge, which had not worked out for him
the whole thing is a glorified murder scene from Sherlock, I half expected Benedict Cumberbatch to turn up and explain to us exactly how the pigeon died and why Mathew was the murderer. Although the biggest murder of the whole thing was Marcus drinking the sauce straight out of the pot because, in his own words, “there’s too much blood on the plate”
at that point you might as well just crawl into the pantry and scream like you’re Anna watching someone trying to butcher pork chops.
Swing and a Mille Feuille
For the competition’s last Skills Test, Anna had set Charlie and Theres the task of putting together a Tropical Fruit Mille Feuille, but it wasn’t just any old Mille Feuille, it was a Vegan Mille Feuille so the puff pastry had been replaced with Filo and they were using coconut cream instead of cream or creme patissiere. With Charlie and Theres both having only a little experience in the pastry section, I think the changes to it really threw them off. Although I do think Theres was a lost cause in this challenge regardless, but for now we concentrate on Charlie, who it turns out is the culprit behind the asparagus dish in the opening titles that looks like an alternate Bulbasaur evolution
sadly his asparagus skills were not going to save him here.
He did at least know how to handle the filo pastry and prevent it from curling, unfortunately he slathered it in so much oil it looked like it was about to compete in a bodybuilding competition
and it very much seemed like he just wanted the whole chalenge to end as he barreled through the whole thing, plating his Mille Feuille up with 5 minutes to spare
and that 5 minutes could have been better spent trying to get a little body whipped into his coconut cream, but (and this does sound like damningly faint praise) his Mille Feuille was rectangular and layered – like MineCraft Shrek
unfortunately for Theres she had no frame of reference for a Mille Feuille and spent most of the challenge nervously giggling while Gregg described the vague concept of a Mille Feuille to her and Anna made this face
before sinking deeper and deeper into despair with every new attempt Theres made at Milleing the Feuille
needless to say, they did not end up with a Mille Feuille so much as they did an edible model of the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku
which is a bit generous considering it also looks like a scout failed to get their tent building badge, am I roasting Theres or Zaha Hadid? You’ll never know!
But it wasn’t only the Mille Feuille’s architectural stability that had issues because the general lack of sugar in the whole thing did mean that it was basically a glorified breakfast.
The Asparagus Gods may not have been able to help Charlie in his Mille Feuille Skills Test, but they were certainly coming in handy for his Signature Menu, his main course of which was a piece of Turbot (wrapped in an all important garlic leaf, this is important for later) served alongside a lot of Asparagus
Marcus loved the presentation, I personally thought there was something a little bit bottom-of-the-fridge-I-refused-to-use-at-university about the whole thing – especially with the burnt toast scrapings, but clearly Marcus doesn’t have the same University Halls emotional baggage that I do. It was unanimous praise for the dish though, which was on to a winner the moment he flopped the massive turbot onto the bench and Anna looked like she had fallen in love with it
and that’s why she’s not allowed back to SeaWorld.
Charlie’s Lemon Tart was similarly successful (and ash covered) and would be something I would instantly gravitate towards on a menu
the almond sponge layer was an inspired touch that elevated it from your average tarte au citron, and Marcus was prepared to slather the curd all over a piece of a toast, but only after he’d scraped the burnt bits onto his asparagus.
The only chef to go for a non-fish main course was Ollie, who had opted for a saddle of lamb which he was creating a little gravy pool for
I did love the fact the shady editors were back in full force because Ollie proudly proclaimed he had ingeniously brought in a record player to help him pipe out a perfect circle of pea puree
followed IMMEDIATELY by this footage
at least he got there eventually – and for the most part the judges loved his dish, Anna having a full on Ratatouille moment over his Lamb and Pancetta Sauce
the only component that wasn’t entirely convincing everyone was his white asparagus which just needed to be a little better prepared, and I’m sure it wasn’t helping that they were tasting his after Theres’s own Cod and White Asparagus dish
if the judges’ reactions are anything to go by, Theres could have won the entire series based off of this one singular dish, and she wasn’t letting up with her Steamed Meringue and Macerated Strawberries dessert that looked remarkably similar to her main course
her Mille Feuille suddenly makes a lot more sense – she just really likes little lumps of things.
Again, everyone raves about it and the fact she’s doing things nobody has done on the show before, including being the first person to split a custard with oil
split sauces have peaked now, wind it up everyone, show’s over.
Gregg was particularly pleased the dish, both demolishing it and doing a little dance for Theres in case she had any more of her Sorrel Herb Sorbet in the freezer
perhaps his Strictly journey would have gone better if Aliona had made him steamed meringues before his routines.
As for Ollie’s attempt at a dessert, it was a little hit and miss – Gregg and Marcus were both happy with his Panna Cotta based riff on Rhubarb and Custard
but Anna thought the rhubarb was a little undercooked and sharp for the rest of the dish – but the Panna Cotta had a decent wobble to it, which has been the undoing of many a chef in the past.
Lastly we have
Boaty McBoatFace Mathew whose menu was starting with a dish of Sole, Clams and Beef Dripping Potatoes, all served alongside the obligatory caviar laced sauce of the episode
it wasn’t a bad dish at all, the potatoes lacked a little bit of seasoning but it was a very classy bit of cookery that perhaps bordered a little on the clinical side, and given everyone else’s dishes this was not the episode to be making things that feel like you could make them while 100 miles out to sea.
Mathew’s dessert however was much more ambitious with so many elements and time essential components that he was running around the kitchen like a hive of bees in a flesh suit and generally abusing the microwave that was trying to cook his Basil Sponges as fast as it could
he also had grand plans of setting his Strawberry Mousses into the shape of strawberries – setting things at all in MasterChef is a tall order, let alone a shape as specific as that, which unfortunately didn’t happen and his Strawberry Mousses looked like partially gestated cloning experiments
that’s the most upsetting sentence I’ve ever written.
But, when not closing up on the strawberry-flavoured MewTwos, his dish did look… pretty? It’s trying a bit too hard to be ~aesthetic~ but I can’t deny, the tuile flower is quite impressive
unfortunately The Other Flowers caused a bit of an issue as Mathew thought he was decorating his plate with Elderflower which were actually Wild Garlic Flowers – WHICH HE TRIED TO ARGUE WITH ANNA OVER
I think the person you should be arguing with was the only person with wild garlic on their bench…
it was Charlie in the Kitchen with the Wild Garlic Flowers!
A Signature Menu Dish Ranking
1. Where Theres Has A Will, Theres Has A Hay Smoked Cream
2. Look Ma! I Ate All My Sorrel Sorbet!
3. Charlie’s Amped Up Lemon Tart
4. Charlie Just Really Likes Asparagus
5. Ollie’s Main Ring o’Lamb
6. Mathew’s Slightly Soulless Sole
7. Ollie’s Renovated Rhubarb Crumble
8. The Garlic Flower Mystery
With Mathew being an unstoppable force of chaos, there wasn’t really much debate over him being eliminated and while it was still pretty obvious that Theres and Charlie had the strongest showings, Ollie’s dishes weren’t bad, but they just fell that little bit short, so our final two Quarterfinalists were Theres and Charlie
it’s going to be a tough decision this week because both Lucy and Nikita from the last episode were incredibly good.
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