MasterChef 2023, Episode 11: Calumpling-Dumpzone

Scream into the void and the void screams back.

*waves cheerfully*

On The Surplus Side

For their first challenge of the episode the contestants had to make a dish using often thrown away, surplus or leftover food which I’m not sure entirely worked as a brief, usually this sort of a prompt comes after a main challenge where the leftovers they’re using are quite literally the leftovers or offcuts from the previous challenge which works much better than having them bring in the stuff themselves – but I get it, it’s a timely challenge as the cost of living skyrockets which the show made sure to liberally pat themselves on the back for

and for the next challenge, we’ll be eating the rich.

The setter of this challenge was of course Jimi Famurewa

who nobody was happier to see than Robin who had absolutely zero chill about this whole situation

and a wave that toed the line between cheerful and coquettish wasn’t the only buttering up that Robin would be doing as his Pork Cheek and windfallen apple dish was more of a Butter and Apples dish with the occasion cheek

some of us call that “breakfast.”
But as much of a hazard to your arteries as the dish was, it looked pretty good in that sort of “modern rustic” way that’s quite popular at the moment

the kale does thankfully save it from looking like a Bowl o’Beige and the pork cheeks were perfectly cooked – the judges just couldn’t entirely get on board with the amount of butter. Marcus Wareing would not have batted an eye.

Fabio and Nikka both went with chicken as their main component of the brief with somehow different and yet entirely the same results. Fabio’s kind of missed the brief because nothing about it felt like leftovers because it was kind of just your average roast chicken dinner by any other name

his angle was that he was showcasing how much you can get from the whole chicken and yet all he really showcased of that was a thigh, a drumstick and a sauce the colour of dirty dish water

the Black Pudding Croquette did at least sound really good and his Pomme Anna was praised – and I will defend him over the cooking of his chicken thighs because, personally, I think they look fine?

friends fear she’s been eating raw chicken thighs this whole time.

As for Nikka’s chicken dish, she was using chicken wings because they’re somewhat frowned upon in The Philippines and if you’re served them you’ve been deemed unimportant, and she wanted to prove that you could at least cast a bit of shade with a little style with her Honey and Ginger Wings and Gunpowder Potatoes

it does look like it’s in need of some sort of a dipping sauce but for the most part everyone liked the dish – the chicken could have been more tender but the biggest issue was that they felt she hadn’t shown enough technique.

Anurita is the last of the savoury dishes, bringing leftover chapati dough and lentils to make what she called a chapati dumpling but John called a Chapati Calzone, which is an excellent drag name.

Said Calumpling-Dumpzone didn’t make it to the dish whole and instead everyone was served 4 slivers of it as well as a potato and coriander stalk curry

and the judges raved about both the flavours and how well she managed to execute the brief.

The rest of the contestants all opted to do desserts, of which I thought Chariya’s and Josh’s respective choices of carrots and bananas were clever but I was slightly worried for Chris the moment he unveiled a pile of pre-made croissants

I thought for sure we were getting a bread and butter pudding with the bread being replaced with croissants but Chris was being much more inventive and turning them into a Croissant Mille Feuille which looks more like a proper mille feuille than it had right to

I love that we’ve had a lot of Mille Feuilles on the show and one of the best ones has been made out of shop bought croissants – somehow both a win and a loss for France.

Chariya’s Carrot Cake was a bit of a double whammy – both using carrots to the Nth degree and leftover bread in place of flour, which sounds risky enough but Carrot Cake by its very concept is risky because I think you fall into two camps with no inbetween when it comes to Carrot Cake, you’re either Matt Goss shoving an entire one into your face

or the fear in Jimi Famurewa’s eyes the moment you mention it

there is no Switzerland in Carrot Cake discourse, and to Chariya’s credit she seems to be running a Carrot Cake Conversion Camp if Jimi’s reaction to eating it is anything to go by

and who could blame him, because it got rave reviews and she’d done a really good job of trussing it up to make it a little more dessert-y

Gregg’s main contribution was that her candied carrot skins tasted like both sugar and carrot, somebody better tell CERN!

Lastly we have Josh who was making a banana-based dessert inspired by his father who would BBQ bananas and chocolate buttons – his dessert being considerably fancied up (although if someone does want to one day just serve a barbecued banana, I would like to see Gregg’s reaction) involving Banana Bread, Caramelized Bananas and Chocolate Cremeux

I did at fist think it was odd that he’d served the three (3) slices of caramelised banana on a piece of wood but I had reasoned that it was meant to harken back to the barbecue origins. Dear Readers, what I thought was a block of firewood was the banana bread

despite the textural concerns I have for it, the judges make no complaints about it so I can only imagine it’s a case of it just not photographing well as the whole dish gets rave reviews, particularly for him managing to not make it overly sweet thanks to the Cremeux.

A Leftover Dish Ranking
1. Chariya’s Carrot Cake Conversion Camp
2. France vs France
3. I Am Respectfully Side-eyeing The Banana Bread
4. The Inauguration of the Calumpling-Dumpzone
5. Buttery Porky Cheeks… [author’s regret]
6. The Right Honourable Chicken Wings
7. It Was Just A Sunday Roast

As for the eliminations, the clear bottom three were Robin, Fabio and Nikka with Fabio being an obvious choice for elimination given he kind of missed the brief

I personally would have left it there but they decided that Nikka was also going home

SHE DID NOTHING WRONG! And they don’t even routinely eliminate 2 people in this round, they only eliminated 1 person last week! I would have given her another chance to show more technique because she had so much promise, BUT ALAS.

Just Between Citrus

In their last bid for a place in this week’s quarterfinal, the 5 remaining contestants had to cook a dish that showcased any kind of citrus fruit. I did think we were in for a round of desserts because that’s kind of the easiest way around it but it was an even split, or at least as evenly split as you could for from 5 people without resorting to magic tricks (PUT DOWN THE SAW, CHRIS!). Although I’m not entirely sure if John and Gregg ever managed to work out if Anurita’s Pani Puri dish was at least half dessert or not

her Orange Chutney and Yoghurt topping bordered on being sweet enough for a dessert and the lemon in her Pea Water didn’t quite come through strong enough to really hit the brief, but it was a perfectly enjoyable dish once you got over having to say “pea water” out loud.

The only other savoury dish was from Josh who was showcasing limes by serving mackerel two ways – which is a sentence that doesn’t sound like it should add up, but John and Gregg really loved his lime-brined mackerel and the Mackerel and Lime “Cannelloni”

Josh is a lucky a man that Fabio just got eliminated because I think he might have had a few Italian things to say about it and not to cast any aspersions on Josh’s upper body strength but I think Fabio could fold him in half.
Josh did have a few struggles in the kitchen, having tried to make Gochujang Caviar through spherification but mostly ending up with tiny gochujang torpedos

Gregg was thrilled though, purely because he got to say this

then things got worse for Josh as something happened to his cache of Weapons of Miniscule Destruction so he had to serve it as the full moon in his mayonnaise lunar cycle

at least it made it onto the plate, and did give me my favourite needlessly nonsense sentence in “The caviar disintegrated”

somewhere a sleeper agent has been activated.

Kicking off our trio of desserts is Chris whose choice of citrus was Orange and making the most stunning looking Orange Polenta Cake

As well as looking extremely elegant the whole thing tasted gorgeous, both John and Gregg praising how well balanced and delicate yet distinct the orange flavour of the cake was, and I think this might be the most animated we’ve seen John outside of the charismatic orbit of Kitty Scott Claus

and it was mostly because Chris had made him some Earl Grey and Bergamot Ice Cream served inside a lime for maximum citrus payoff

it’s a surprising addition of “limes” to the ever growing list of fruit that has been use as bowls on this show.

Robin was giving us the third lot of lemon tarts this series, which he had at least had the good sense to make as individual tarts and we already know he’s good at pastry so it didn’t surprise me that this was a knockout dish

John didn’t even mention the thickness of his pastry walls – he just went face-to-plate with barely a thought in his mind – truly Robin the Superman of desserts, and even has the tiny forehead curl to prove it

now be honest Robin, how many times have you been compared to Henry Cavill?

Lastly we have Chariya who was constructing a 7 component trifle of sorts with Gregg becoming more and more unhinged with every variation of yuzu she listed off

it’s a perfect illustration of the Four States of Wallace – Contemplative, Confused, Shocked and Emergency Exorcism Required.

Given the fact Chariya had given herself a huge workload and most of it was yuzu-based, which has overpowered many a dish across the series, she really pulled whole dish off perfectly

I’m glad that she’s managed to find the perfect balance of ~presentation~ and technique because I was worried after her flesh pink noodle experiment in the previous episode but she seems to have found her speed now.

A Citrus Dish Ranking
1. The Only Good Trifle in Christendom
2. The Third Tart
=. John Torode’s Got His Mojo Back
4. The Caviar Has Disintegrated.
5. The Great Pan Puri Debate

Ultimately the decision about who to lose before the quarterfinal came down to being between Josh and Anurita – I think it was pretty clear that Josh was staying because they loved his dish so much and the erroneous balls hadn’t really affected the dish that much, so Anurita was eliminated for maybe not hitting the brief as hard as the other 4

she’s still extremely well this series and made several things that have certainly intrigued me.

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