MasterChef: The Professionals 2022, Episode 12: The Greggorian Scale

Neither Leyla nor Jimi bought Jay’s attempt to cover up his fart.

Theres has never met a single dish she wouldn’t set ablaze.

The Sweet and Savoury Life

For their Invention Test, the final group of Quarterfinalists had to create a dessert using traditionally savoury ingredients which I think is by far the most difficult Invention Test they’ve done so far, hence why everyone looked like they were in a therapist’s waiting room by the end of it

Charlie doesn’t think he needs it

Nikita realised she turned up an hour early for her appointment

Lucy is trying to work out if she can get away with just saying “I’m fine.”

Theres has a two week rant about her family pent up inside her just waiting to come out.

But given that, nobody did *that* badly, especially considering Marcus was trying to sign post them to disaster by falling just short of lighting up the bacon in neon lights reading “Maple Bacon Pancakes!”

instead most of them launched themselves at the sweetest vegetables they could get their hands on, or went with a miso Hail Mary.

The star of the round was Charlie who was using butternut to riff off of the timely American Thanksgiving favourite, Pumpkin Pie for a Butternut Panna Cotta – which does kind of sound like something off of the fabled Starbucks Secret Menu

it was certainly the only dessert that looked like a proper dessert – the others all had a very distinct “I had to come up with this in like 10 minutes, please be kind” look to them, which is understandable. But it also tasted very cohesive – again helped by the fact he was basing it off a pre-existing dessert so he kind of had an idea for what spices and flavours the dessert would need. It was a very clever approach, with a very good outcome.

It was a shame that Nikita had to redo her mousse at pretty late notice because her Parsnip Mousse dessert could have given Charlie a run for his money

as the judges pointed out, there’s a very solid idea there and you can tell what she wanted it to look like, but the mousse was too soft to give it the necessary structure. As for the taste, she hadn’t quite managed to get quite enough of the parsnip flavour into the mousse, but it still met the brief in terms of being a dessert with a savoury touch to it, so with a little more tweaking and experimenting she could have a really great dessert, so I hope she doesn’t feel as bad about it now as she did on the day.

I was a little surprised more of them didn’t go for the obvious Sweet and Salty aspect to it and even more surprised that Lucy, who was using Miso Paste, didn’t go for the expected approach of Miso Salted Caramel, instead putting it into the Chocolate Ganache filling for her Choux Buns. Speaking of her Choux Buns, in an effort to get them baked in time, she had had to bake them while her choux pastry was still warm so they had puffed up to comedically large small village pub Yorkshire Pudding sizes

and Anna’s eyes were out on stalks

the last time I saw her looking at anything like that she was falling head over heels for a turbot.
So Lucy did have a bit of an obstacle to overcome in terms of trying to present her “overly excited” choux buns, but I think she did quite well

don’t worry Lucy, it happens to everyone.

The Greggorian Scale wasn’t the only thing that was off about them, as the sweet-to-salty ratio was a touch unbalanced with both her miso ganache and peanut cream fillings leaning a little too much into the salty side of life, so a caramel may have been in order, but she deserves some kudos for going with something as risky as choux pastry on the fly.

Lastly we have Theres, who I thought would be quite at home in this challenge given the flavours she used in her dessert for her signature menu, but at the same time she had The Mille Feuille Incident hanging over her head, which we didn’t get quite a repeat of because her dessert still looked like a dessert and not a pile of things from a continental breakfast

her Fennel and Caramelised Apple Tart didn’t quite live up to her signature menu effort though, with the fennel and pastry case being a little undercooked, and the apple kind of taking over the show but they made sure to praise her for the fact there was a good dessert in the idea, clearly realising this challenge may have been a little misguided.

A Sweet and Savoury Dessert Ranking
1. Charlie’s Butternutter Cotta
2. Nikita’s Passable Parsnips
3. Lucy’s Mi-so Salty
4. Theres vs Pastry, An Ongoing Struggle

The Critics’ Chamber

This week’s Critics were Jay Rayner, Leyla Kazim and Jimi Famurewa

which might be my favourite critic line up at the moment, so if they want to just take them captive in that dining room and force feed them a neverending conveyor belt of MasterChef-brand chaos, they might not be too happy about it, but I would be.

Kicking off the process was Charlie with his Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese starter, which needed to be unabashedly excellent given that it’s a very basic flavour combination that undoubtedly the critics have had A LOT of

but he did very well, the mixing of the wasabi into the goat’s cheese foam and the crispy wasabi leaf on top were a great twist and you know, it’s always fun when your dessert ends up looking like a massacre by the end of it

we are unfortunately back to doing Vegetarian Food Is A Risk Discourse™ because they had the same discussion about Theres’s Jerusalem Artichoke main course

one of the nicest meals I’ve ever had was a plate of roast Jerusalem Artichokes (Cornerstone in Sheffield, if you’re ever in the area) so I would probably order Theres’s dish if I saw it on any menu, but unfortunately for her the artichokes were a little underdone for everyone but the flavours were good, and as ever, mostly very smokey having served the dish with an ignited branch of Juniper

if the MasterChef Kitchen ever goes in flames guess who the first suspect is.

Theres’s Main Course was also slightly up against it because it was having to follow her Scallop starter which had of course been cooked in an arson attack

but the dish still looked quite pretty

I would have been both a little disappointed and relieved that most of the Roe Mayonnaise was a mere skidmark across the plate, but I imagine the plate only needed a little bit of what can be quite a pungent flavour. It was unanimous praise for Theres, who certainly served up the most interesting dishes of the round.

Charlie hadn’t continued the vegetarian theme into his main course, instead opting to serve up a dish of Veal and various oyster elements with some artichoke crisps, in what was the fanciest plate of Surf and Turf ever committed to a plate

the cooking of the veal was a little hit and miss with Jay Rayner being the unfortunate soul to be deemed The Gregg of the episode and being given the only overcooked piece

but he, and everyone else, still found the dish to be quite enjoyable.

My personal favourite sounding dish of the episode and the one I would gladly dive headfirst into was Nikita’s Prawn Masala starter

it’s the sort of plate of food you can almost smell and taste just looking at it and my only complaint would be that it might be one hell of a prawn, but I could do with about two hell of a prawns, you know, as a treat.

In an effort to de-pigeonhole herself as only cooking Indian food, as this show tends to have a problem with doing the moment anyone of Indian descent enters the kitchen and so much as mentions a curry, Nikita’s main course was a more classically European dish of Roasted Duck Breast with a Cherry and Pistachio Salad and Port Sauce

the cooking of the duck had caused her a little bit of trouble, with it only just quacking it’s last quack when she had to serve it – I think a lot of people would be very hesitant about eating it, but it certainly wasn’t raw.
Everyone seemed to enjoy it and was pleasantly surprised by the balance of the flavours given their worries that it would all be a little bit too sweet, what with the cherries and port.

Lastly we have Lucy who was also committed to depriving the critics of a pudding – clearly the trauma of the invention test was a lingering presence for everyone. Her starter was a Cured Mackerel dish with various apple and cucumber elements – which at this point in the MasterChef Oeuvre is a difficult dish to make seem interesting, and the most interesting thing about it might have been the presentation

circles are very popular right now, it’s like everyone’s suddenly Amy Adams in Arrival (2016)

as expected it was met with a general air of… whelmed – nobody hated it, nobody loved it, nobody saw it on the menu and thought “that sounds fun!” because Lucy’s menu was sitting beneath Theres’s menu which was basically just this gif

it’s a tough act to follow.

Lucy’s main course garnered a similar reaction, there’s just only so much you can expect from Lamb and a Ricotta-stuffed Courgette Flower

it feels a little dated – 5 years ago and this would have probably got everyone’s attention but in the year of our Lord 2022, I’m afraid you’ve got to Guy Fawkes a scallop to really stand a chance. Lucy had also slightly struggled with the cooking of the lamb, the meat having not so much as touched a pan by the time she had served her starter

so it was a little undercooked and could have done with a stronger seer to get more flavour out of the meat.
I think it was just a misjudged menu and I for one blame Lucy’s husband entirely

that’s a week of thawing hot dogs in the sink and sleeping on the sofa, Sir

Justice for Lucy!

A Critics’ Chamber Dish Ranking
1. Nikita’s Hell of a Prawn
2. Gunpowder, Treason and Scallops
3. The Best Goat’s Cheese and Beetroot in Christendom
4. Charlie’s Extremely Fancy Surf and Turf
5. Nikita’s De-pigeonholing Duck
6. Burn Baby, Burn! Artichoke Inferno!
7. Lucy’s Lambageddon
8. You Can’t Win Friends With Mackerel

This was a difficult round to judge because Charlie had easily cleared the bar and was through to semi-finals week

but Nikita and Theres both had two standout dishes in their starters, but then both had main courses with some pretty glaring and basic errors in them – and the show was clearly very invested in both of them as chefs – so they did eventually decide to split the difference and take both of them to the semi-finals

Unfortunately meaning Lucy was the only one going home, which is gutting for her and I did really like her as a chef and personality on the show – she had a very calming energy about her so hopefully there’s big things for her in the future.

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