Aren’t I always?
Not all heroes wear capes. some breathe fire instead.
All In The Family Favourite
The heat begins as ever, with 9 new cooks cooking up their best take on a family favourite, however there has been 1 major shake up as the Stern Floor Manager Cinematic Universe rapidly expands with the concerning hotness of Ben being replaced by the shifty eyes of The Unnamed Timekeeper
I don’t trust him, that’s the look of a man that’s slipped salt into someone’s meringue while their guard was down.
Kicking off the proceedings was Ryan, who had been forced into applying by his partner, which never bodes hugely well for anybody, see example: Seafood Arsonist, Hannah. Ryan did however manage to not set his prawns ablaze, he had just somehow dehydrated them to the point of John Torode describing them as “cotton wool-like”
his actual Paella was perfectly fine though, I merely applaud the man for having the bravery to cook paella on national television given that it’s very mention on Twitter starts a turf war with half of Spain.
Emma had many of the same problems as Ryan with the sauce and rice of her Persian Chicken being full of flavour but the fact she cooked the chicken separately meant that she had somewhat dried it out
and she probably could have done without the scattered dried rose petals that make it look a bit too much like Pot Pourri, but she was very dedicated to the inspiration of her 91 year old grandmother, which also explains the hollowed out tomato filled with salad that time travelled from 1983.
Presentation scuppered a few of the contestants, most notably Fabio whose Beef Shin was cooked perfectly but his decision to scatter the charred celeriac like Lego that needed to be picked up before someone hurts themselves was an odd choice
as was frivolous pea puree that would maybe last for about 2 bites despite there being 3 blobs of it, but it wasn’t the only puree that John had it out for as Josh found himself interrogated over his family’s culinary inclinations
the audacity of John to act as though people whipping up purees as a flex isn’t a problem he’s created because really I didn’t think it was *that* weird an addition to Josh’s Venison and Pearl Barley Risotto dish?
sure, he could have just left it at the two spears of Asparagus and called his diorama of Hadrian’s Wall complete, but it’s in Josh’s blood to flex
to be fair, university flatmates are VERY easy to impress, I had a spice rack and was almost tried for being a witch by a guy that ate frozen blue cheese on plain fusilli pasta – John James, I think about you and your absolutely doomed digestive system every day.
The actual cooking of Josh’s dish was perfection and John was swayed to the Asparagus Dark Side
with Chariya also having to do a lot of convincing given that she plated up a bowl of Pressure Cooked Ribs and Noodles like a collection of partially evolved organisms making the first brave steps on land
the decision to make the noodles a distinctly fleshy shade of pink using beetroot was misguided with this particular dish, I could see it working perfectly in some sort of salad where colour is necessary. But that aside, John and Gregg both really loved her Nam Ngiao, which was a surprise given that she revealed she’d put 30 chillies in it like some sort of evil mastermind hellbent on destroying John Torode from the inside
and she would have been my favourite contestant of the week given that she’s listed as a Master Coffee Roaster, but she was rather blown out of the water when Chris introduced himself thusly
he and Chariya could open the world’s most entertaining and dangerous café in all of Shoreditch if they combined their powers.
Sadly Chris was not opening with a dish of barbecued pork belly and was instead hedging his bets with his take on Steak and Chips which involved no chips at all and looked slightly like a deconstructed snowman
it turned out to be a great dish that fell just short of outstanding – the Soy and Sake marinade sounds amazing but the steak was a little bit dried out because of it and his pomme puree needed just a touch more seasoning.
There was however pork belly elsewhere on the menu, with Nikka making her go-to comfort food: Pork Adobo which she was serving with Garlic Fried Rice and a side dish of Background Pickled Vegetables
adobo is on my list of default takeaway dishes so I’m all in on this, John however thought it was too salty which, and I cannot stress this enough, is kind of the best thing about an Adobo – she perhaps should have gone with something plainer than garlic fried rice and a pickled salad to cut through it a bit but that feels a bit like criticising her for making too many nice things.
The last of the savoury dishes was from Anurita who was making her vegetarian take on Galouti Kebabs, swapping out the usual lamb mince for red kidney beans which John was worried would make them too dry but given that they looked almost paté-like, that didn’t prove to be the problem
John’s issue was instead with her slug trails of salad and peanut chutney
I’m not a huge fan of the ol’ smear technique but had this been MasterChef: The Professionals when the Modus Operandi of most of the chefs is to find the most elaborate way of putting as little on the plate as possible, this wouldn’t have been an issue. But if you’re going to make a good chutney, give them a bowl of it.
Lastly we have a dessert from Robin, who was making a dish inspired by his favourite Debranded Chocolate Wheat Shapes
mmm, delicious chocolatey geometry. His cereal inspired dessert being a Baked Chocolate Mousse Tart with Milk Ice Cream. This however wasn’t any ordinary tart, he was making the pastry using activated charcoal, which did kind of make the tart look like something Lara Croft unearthed at the ruins of Dur-Sharrukin
and if you’re wondering, “Why did he use the charcoal?” well, let me allow the cast of Gypsy to explain
hey, it worked, because despite the fact the tart looked like you’d crack your teeth and perhaps unleash the vengeful spirit of Gilgamesh if you bit into it, it was in fact very soft and the only thing unleashed was some very good caramel
it was a great dish and Robin seems very excited by the whole process so… I shall prepare his plot in The Graveyard of Ariadne’s Favourites because I can never have nice things.
An Audition Dish Ranking
1. The Ancient Mesopotamian Tart (I HAVE A NAME!)
2. Josh’s Much Scot, Very Land Venison
3. Nikka’s Adobo Pot o’Salt
4. Chariya’s Primordial Noodles
5. Anurita’s Chutney Rationing
6. Chris’s Steak and
7. WHO LEFT THE CELERIAC ON THE FLOOR?
8. I Am The Switzerland of Paellas
9. Emma’s Pot Pourri Chicken
Josh and Robin were obvious recipients of the aprons and hurried off to the greenroom to start our very first MasterChef Bromance
I look forward to their performance of Bromeo and Dudeliet in the quarterfinal.
Chariya also got her apron, I might have been tempted to give it to either Anurita or Nikka but Chariya had made the (albeit cursed) noodles and perfectly cooked her beef in a very short amount of time, so I can’t say it was undeserved.
As ever, their last grasp for an apron was the minefield of an invention test – this one being particularly treacherous because the ingredient table was laid mostly with fish and racks of lambs
and the lingering tracking shot of Chris’s arm suggests that was on the cards for anyone brave enough
I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner.
Nobody went for the racks of lamb because finally we seem to be learning things, but this did mean there was a fair amount of seafood on the menu, the most successful of which was Chris’s Thai King Prawns
they did kind of have to like them though because Chris has now mentioned he eats fire and is well trained in Thai kickboxing, as is Robin apparently
critique at your own peril, Wallace.
Emma had also gone for prawns, seemingly mostly as an afterthought to her Never-Pronounced-The-Same-Way-Twice-Jambalaya because John had raised concerns about the amount of skill she was showing by mostly stirring rice after already serving dish that was… mostly stirring rice
but that wasn’t strictly true because prior to The Prawnening, she was planning to just garnish the dish with some fried okra, although it sounded more like a threat to Gregg
there are a lot of kickboxers in the kitchen (my favourite Lucy Daniels book)
it was a dish of two halves – her Dish Loosely Based On The Concept of a Jambalaya actually tasted quite nice and looks as appetising as you can make a bowl of rice stew look. Her prawns however were not cooked and John was very annoyed that she hadn’t deshelled them for him but God bless Emma’s attempt to mutter an excuse
she’ll meet you in the car park afterwards, Torode.
The last of our three seafood musketeers was Ryan who was rather indecisive having originally grabbed the mackerel before switching to pollock despite having filleted the mackerel pretty well
sorry my fishy comrade, your service was in vain.
His reason for switching was that he was worried that the mackerel would be too rich alongside the beurre blanc that he was winging his way through, apparently not thinking that maybe this wasn’t the best time to try making a beurre blanc for the first time despite Gregg trying to warn him through the power of nonverbal communication
which as it turns out wasn’t great, but the rest of the dish was mostly good – perfectly cooked fish, great nonsense crispy carrots, edible potatoes
slightly concerned that he seems to have studied at the same school of culinary presentation as my favourite man-shaped puzzle box from 2021, Stefan
I will never forget Jane Devonshire liking every tweet that made fun of this dish after she had had to eat it.
The big issue for John though was that Ryan hadn’t prepared the samphire properly so the dish was laced with shivs, which I genuinely didn’t know about samphire either
and he never shipped Sans and Frisk ever again. (a reference for nobody except me.)
Fabio and Anurita were both out to flex their skills by making Pasta and Dumplings respectively. Both of them had positives and negatives, Fabio’s Goat’s Cheese Ravioli were very good, however he had brainfarted a Romanesco Cauliflower and Pistachio Pesto into existence which everyone had to side-eye slightly
but if you don’t look directly at it, he had at least not brought dishonour upon his family. As for Anurita’s Tandoori Momos, they were well made and both John and Gregg were very complimentary of her mushroom and tofu filling
the dipping chutney however was a bit of a bust with the whole thing being a little bit too salty.
Lastly we have the only dessert of the round as Nikka treaded that curious wilderness between MasterChef and Bake Off with her Raspberry Cupcake that John and Gregg insisted on eating with spoons to make it seem more like a dessert
I think it’s wizardry whenever someone can remember a baking recipe off the top of their head and she had done her best to dessertify it a little bit with the raspberry couli in the centre
and I’m sure she was very popular afterwards for having made a whole batch of cupcakes, one of which went to Emma straight away
you do after all have to keep your strength up ahead of your big fight.
A Redemption Dish Ranking
1. Nikka’s Weaponised Cupcakes
2. Chris’s Kickboxing Prawns
3. We’ll Ignore The Pesto
4. Momos and an Oh No
5. Well, You Pollocked That One
6. Emma’s Jumbled Liar
I think it was fairly obvious who was going home, I got the slight feeling Emma would have eliminated herself given the option
I hope she managed to find fun in the experience – it’s something to say you’ve done, just not everyone thrives under the conditions of the competition, which I think is also what Ryan found out
hey, at least your partner had faith in your cooking.
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