MasterChef: The Professionals 2022, THE FINAL: Lapwing Mess

They paid good money for that overly large table in lockdown, they’re not about to get rid of it now!

I’m here to absolve your pineapple sins.

It’s finally here! I apologise for the lateness, blame The Football and definitely not me apparently operating a bank account like a Shakespearean comedy of errors and locking myself out of it in every possible way you could imagine – your Honour, she’s a disaster.

This Is The Final Countdown!

As this is The Grand Final there is of course 25 minutes of pre-cooking Inspirational Family and Friends VTs during which Charlie only managed to say “Dorset” a conservative 5 times while giving us a whirlwind tour of his local haunts, meanwhile Nikita was given the Strictly Come Dancing treatment by being sent to play Mini Golf like she was a CBBC star who we had to insist had real friends in order to make them more relatable because the general public aint voting for them enough and how are they meant to become a presenter for The One Show if they aren’t your nan’s favourite?

but they did also introduce us to my new favourite dog, Dexy

and my new favourite sleep paralysis demon, Nikita’s step-dad in a Gregg mask

then Sagar went and had a lovely dinner date with his boss, the OG MasterChef: The Professionals Champion, Derek Johnstone

and they’re just friend

friends fear she’s writing MasterChef fanfiction again.

This did largely seem like the most calm and collected a MasterChef: The Pros final has ever been, none of them went too over ambitious with it – which was a surprise considering Sagar’s approach to challenges has often been to cook 3 courses for every 1 course he was actually asked to cook.
The concept behind Sagar’s menu was to illustrate his journey from India to Scotland, with his starter being based on the Indian street food Raj Kachori which wasn’t much to look like at first

but once Anna had performed her now signature ANNA SMASH!

the potato and chutney filing would be revealed, so it was a nice little bit of extra ~theatre~ to go along with the dish

although obviously it wasn’t nearly that intact once Anna had barrelled through the crispy shell like the Kool-Aid Man

but the dish was incredibly well received and pretty unanimously dubbed the best thing that Sagar had cooked in the competition, and it’s certainly one of the dishes from this series that I would most like to try.

For his main course he was doing more of an Indian and Scottish fusion, with a spiced loin of Roe Deer and some beetroot and celeriac accompaniments

the presentation is a little lacking – especially from Sagar who usually gives his plates a lovely depth and life, this just feels a little clinical and sterile. I do both love and hate the fact the lettuce leaves look like stag horns, which in the wrong hands could have made this really look like abstract roadkill.
It was at least all very well cooked except the sauce which had a few issues, the first being that it was a little over-reduced which is much more forgivable than Anna finding stray bits of blue piping bag in her sauce

Sagar did a really good job of holding it together – I couldn’t have done with another Liam Incident in which someone sobbed while Marcus Wareing tried his best to enjoy a three course meal that he’d just pulled a shred of clingfilm out of. And Charlie and Nikita did a very good job of trying not to look to relieved that they were at least being given a little advantage

excellent execution of the scandalised hand, Charlie – a Victorian socialite couldn’t have done it better.

His dessert was a purely Scottish affair, as Gregg will have you know in a very sensitive way

they had to cut the line about the Raj Kachori playing the Sitar for obvious reasons.
He was of course making a Cranachan, the biggest struggle of which was always going to be managing to present it in a way that felt fitting of the MasterChef Grand Final because we seem to have collectively decided that serving anything in a cup is a little gauche. I do think the presentation he landed on however was a little more… hepatic than it needed to be

had I not seen quite a few ultrasounds of my own liver because at one point it was determined to kill me before I killed it (we had an intense rivalry) you could quite easily have convinced me that that was what it looked like. But the combination of the raspberry gel, caramelised white chocolate mousse and the whiskey did sound lovely and went down a storm with the judges.

While Sagar had gone all out on his local influences, Charlie played it a little cool on the Dorsetness of his dishes which was very disappointing if you were playing the Charlie Drinking Game at home – I hope that VT at the beginning gave you enough of a buzz. He was however going with quite unusual sounding dishes, his starter being Langoustines served with Melon and Courgettes

it’s a dish I want to like, but the presentation looks a little bit like an Ember Inn’s take on a Buddha Bowl for the ~healthy~ portion of their menu and there’s something just a little bit dated about the whole melon rose. I’ll just have to trust the judges and Charlie on the fact Melon, Courgette and Langoustine work as a combination because I am sceptical.

His main course was a fairly standard duck dish, with his biggest twist being that instead of the usual fruit accompaniment being cherries or blackberries it was instead a white peach, which he was stuffing full of duck meat

DUCK MEAT! DUCK! I SAID DUCK MEAT, TIMOTHEE!

well, now that the most horrible joke I’ve ever written is over with, the stuffed peach proved a little divisive with Marcus and Anna liking it, while Gregg wasn’t a big fan. But the bigger problem was the fact the skin of the duck wasn’t particularly crispy, and I think they were generally kinder about the duck than they would have been outside of a final

it just seems a touch undercooked and under rested to me.

Charlie’s dessert was all about redemption, as he had started this competition by doing something awful to a pineapple

and so he was turning his original Pineapple Mess into a Nouveau Pineapple Eton Mess, which looked oddly like a lapwing

and as cute and endearing as a Lapwing Mess sounds, I can’t say I love the look of it and I think it’s purely down to the plate he used, I think a purely white plate would have made it look more modern, the speckled pattern takes away from the visual impact of the green tarragon powder.
The judges loved it though and seemed to forgive him for his crimes against pineapples, and Gregg particularly enjoyed the tropical twist

which did sound a bit like he was just describing Boris Johnson on holiday.

Nikita started her menu with a Cured Sea Bream dish that didn’t seem like it fitted within her MasterChef oeuvre, which is always a little bit of a gamble at this stage in the game and looked like quite a literal gamble too

Sea Bream Roulette, anyone?
I can’t say I love the presentation, but the judges seemed quite charmed with it and the amount of effort that went into the dish, as well as the taste of it with Gregg declaring he could have eaten about 4 more plates of the stuff.

Her main course was much more of what you’d expect from Nikita, with her riffing off of the Thai dish Khao Soi – a noodle dish that has countless regional variations many of which are served with curdled blood. Nikita however wasn’t curdling anyone’s blood with her take that involved Tortellini and a topping of the Indian snack, Sev, because she did not have the time to fully render a bowl of rice noodles

there were some questions about whether the chicken and spring onion tortellini belonged on the plate, but it mostly just felt like a limp effort to find something to critique about the dish in order to add a little more tension about who would win (there was absolutely no tension about it) because they obviously do work, both in reference to the noodle component of the dish and they’re not *that* far removed from the dumplings served in other Thai dishes like Kiao Nam.

Nikita hasn’t made a lot of desserts over the course of the series – once bitten by a Parsnip and White Chocolate Mousse, twice shy – so it was interesting to see where she would go with it, deciding to end her run with a custard tart, which is risky because once upon a time, when Marcus Wareing looked like this

he served a custard tart to the Queen as part of the Great British Menu

remember when they could get away with just serving a single slice of a tart and didn’t have to present every dish alongside 15 minutes of dinner theatre and a fog machine? Thankfully Nikita was keeping it fairly simple and clean, topping the Honey Custard Tart with a poached apricot and a honeycomb tuile, and serving it alongside a honey and apricot sorbet

I personally might have prefered an ice cream, but I am also a heathen that believes a dessert cannot be too sweet so what do I know? The judges raved about it and really couldn’t find any fault with it – much like the rest of Nikita’s menu.

It was a really good final and I’m glad nobody had an absolute disaster – even Sagar’s stray plastic was quickly glossed over and not made into too big a deal – but there really did feel like there could only be one winner and sure enough, Nikita took the trophy home

that may be the official winners photo, but this will always be MY winner’s portrait

it was a very deserved win and I think pretty much solidified the moment she served that Octopus Doughnut at the Chef’s Table Challenge – she really has been cooking a lot of things we’ve never seen before which after 15 series of this show, it quite an achievement.

and so, that’s it! We have out MasterChef: The Professionals Champion of 2022

TOP: Chris, Charlie, Gabriella
MID 1: James, Anastasia
MID 2: Theres, Owen
BOT: Wilson, Sagar, NIKITA

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