What did you call me?
I left my recap in the hotel room.
The Last Service
There are a multitude of reasons that people audition for MasterChef: A desperate last grab for a change of career, validation, your partner tricked you into it, you dreamed up a recipe that you’re convinced will change the game (it won’t) and then there’s Richard who has apparently spent the last 18 series wondering what those monogrammed aprons taste like
his bid for a nibble riding on his Asian Glazed Salmon which he was cooking using a real water bath for the first time in his life after making do with a saucepan and a thermometer at home. The moment that salmon came out of its brief dip into the tepid water I knew that you could potentially release it back into the wild to live a long and fulfilling life
It was not in fact “good to go now” and pretty raw throughout, so that was a bit of washout for Richard but at least he still had the Pommes Paolo to claw him back some points
I assume “Pommes Paolo” is M&S’s savoury answer to Colin the Caterpillar
he’s very grumpy that he lost his back legs.
They did like the potatoes but found it hard to get on board with them alongside the sweet glaze of the salmon.
Christina, who could just be Rosemary Shrager in disguise, was also going for a fish dish, serving up pan-fried Sea Bass with
Dolphin Noise Dauphinoise Potatoes and a Lemongrass Veloute – her plans almost being scuppered because she had accidentally left one of her main ingredients in the hotel room
better the potatoes than the sea bass, I suppose? Although I will now believe that every potatoless dish on MasterChef: The Professionals is due to some misplaced potatoes and there’s now a Birmingham Premier Inn with a massive potato stockpile to get them through a harsh winter.
Christina did manage to bargain herself some potatoes from somewhere
and it was a very well received dish – perfectly cooked fish, well made dauphinoise and a silky smooth veloute. I am on to you though, Rosemary – a pair of glasses might fool the editor-in-chief of The Daily Planet but it’s going to take more than that to get passed me
Ah, nice of you to join us, Christine.
It’s unclear who Christina’s potato donor was, but it must have ether been Diya or Vijaya, the latter of which might explain why John and Gregg only got two spicy potatoes
but it’s not like they were the main part of her dish – the nest of chilli potatoes very much playing the bassoon in Vijaya’s Butter Chicken Orchestra
it was a very nearly perfect dish for Vijaya – they loved the sauce and how the spices went perfectly with the sweetness from her rice but unfortunately for her, some of the chicken was a little underdone for Gregg and I can’t blame him for being a little squeamish given that Richard had just served him a piece of salmon that hadn’t been cooked so much as it had been treated to a rejuvenating spa treatment.
Endang also came very close to perfection with her Beef Rendang
There once was a woman named Endang
She cooked a great tasting Rendang
There was hard to chew beef
Gregg lost his teef
And now he can never mukbang.
Well, that’s my bid for Poet Laureate done, Simon Armitage is quaking I’m sure.
I think the stand out dish of the night came from Diya with her Aloo Chana Tokri Chaat. Despite having potentially given away some potatoes to Christina, she had still created a perfect pair of deep-fried potato baskets
I mean, she had convinced me with the mere words “deep-fried potato baskets” everything else was just a bonus, and John and Gregg raved about everything, including the trio of chutneys that looked like a statement necklace from M&S
everyone’s mother would have worn that in 2012.
Hoping to get himself through on pure technical skill alone was Jeff, who as a nod to his Italian heritage was making pasta. And as a pox on his Italian heritage he was turning a Carbonara into Ravioli
I don’t entirely know what possessed him to not just make a really good carbonara because if he had I think he could have sailed through, but as Ravioli it was just too dry and now he can’t go back to Italy
there’s always the next round to not play Frankenstein with an Italian classic though…
While Jeff rested on technique, Jack was hoping that the flavours of his Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry with Chow Mein would be enough because he was committing the now apparent sin of not making his own noodles
I do think they slightly undersold him because while it looks pretty simple and perhaps calling it stir-fry was a mistake, but he’d prepared and cooked the beef perfectly and there were some great knife skills and seasoning on display. I don’t necessarily think he deserved to be one of the three to get an apron, but there were little, very professional looking, touches that he was doing that I think deserved to be praised a little more instead of making out he’d served them a Pot Noodle.
Onto the desserts, with John introducing himself as being passionate about sugar-free and low carb food but before I could press my “release the hounds” button, he did clarify that it was because his daughter is a Type-1 Diabetic – back in your kennels Fido and Rover, you’ll have o wait for someone to do soemthing weird to a risotto. It was however quite funny that 5 seconds into his eulogising of sugar-free desserts, he’d had to declare his chocolate ganache “gross” and throw it away
Icarus ketogenic’d too close to the sun.
Thankfully his second batch worked out much better and his satanic raspberry summoning circle had brought forth a stellar Chocolate Tart which was apparently very happy to have been released for The Nether Plane if the happy little hazelnut face is anything to go by
and the judges loved it which obviously meant a lot to him and he got a little bit choked up
honestly, bless this little hobbit of a man
he seems like a great dad.
Lastly we have Fannata who instantly became my favourite because she has a knack for running commentary
and when not sweating over whether or not her Honey and Thyme ice cream would work, she was making a Pear Frangipane Tart with a Tamarind Sauce
it’s a shame that she’d overcooked the tart so much because it sounds like a really interesting and bold dish with flavour combinations that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought would work and I think the judges enjoyed? Most of the critique focused on the dry tart, and I would have liked to hear more about the tamarind.
An Audition Dish Ranking
1. Deep. Fried. Potato. Basket.
2. Artificially Sweetened Tart: The Ariadne Story.
3. Christina’s Sea Bass and Bargained Dauphinoise
4. An Impassioned Defense of Jack’s Stir Fry.
5. Vijaya’s Buttery Chickeny Curry
=. The Slightly Dry Tart: The Ariadne Story 2
=. Putting The “Endang” in “Endangered”
=. The Fall of Rome
9. Richard’s Catch and Release Salmon Initiative
The top three was pretty clearly John, Christina and Diya
with everyone else kind of piling up pretty equally in the middle and Richard’s bubble bathed salmon bringing up the rear.
It’s About Redeem Time
In their last bid for those wearable choking hazards that some of us call “aprons” the remaining contestants had to navigate the turbulent waters of an invention test – and I think this was a particularly difficult one because the only proteins on offer were mostly fish and then the tenderloin curveball, so I wasn’t that surprised when Vijaya decided to hedge her bets with a vegetarian thali
most of which was extremely well received, the only slight criticism was the fact her bread wasn’t quite up to scratch, but she’d made pretty excellent poori breads in the previous round so they at least knew she could make bread.
I was slightly worried for Fannata given that she grabbed one of those lumps of white fish like her life depended on it without actually knowing what kind of fish it was
the way she skirted around it like the slowly frying fish was someone that had just greeted her too familiarly at a party but she was too embarrassed to tell them she did not remember them <3
It was in fact Hake, which I love to eat but HATE to cook – it is a petulant child of a fish so I was very impressed when she managed to perfectly cook it
and the judges loved the dish – how could you not love a bucket of Romesco sauce?
Richard also went for the hake in a bid to redeem himself of his fishy shortcomings in the first round and also gave us the first risotto in the evening’s three risotto pile-up
unfortunately the pendulum of Crimes Against Fish had swung the other way and his hake was a little overcooked. The risotto was hit and miss – he’d cooked the rice down very well but he just hadn’t cooked the white wine out enough
Jeff and Jack were also going with risottos, the latter turning out the better of the three having topped it with a mustard-coated pork tenderloin which was perfectly cooked
and they couldn’t say he hadn’t shown enough skill this time because not only had he perfectly cooked the pork tenderloin, but he’d done it all while running away from the camera operators like a celebrity fresh off a minor scandal
what do you mean they FILM this?
Jeff’s risotto was… A Journey. Having realised that there were two other risottos in the room, he sort of brainfarted a Blue Cheese and Fig Risotto into existence and only seemed to realise what he’d heard someone else say it out loud
and John just about drowned himself in it (neg)
but truly the sign of impending doom for Jeff was when he claimed he could do a risotto in 25 minutes because he does it in 16 at home
I don’t want to cast aspersions on his character but that sounds dubious unless you were bitten by a radioactive Milanese nonna and have super enhanced risotto speed. The damnation in John’s “good luck.” however ensured that the risotto was not cooked enough
and given that he’d gone with a bit of an out there flavour choice, it wasn’t strong or punchy enough to have been worth it.
Lastly we have Endang who was reasonably confident with the invention test and kind of knew what she was doing with her Mussels and Spicy Coconut Broth and the judges both loved it despite momentarily entering a new plain of existence because of the heat
There once was a woman named Endang
She didn’t make a second Rendang
Her Mussel Broth was so Hot
John’s eyes went bloodshot
And Gregg’s cries could be heard in Pyongyang
ok, I promise I’ll stop now. Or at least until Fannata cooks with Burrata.
An Invention Test Ranking
1. Fannata’s UFO (Unidentified Fishy Object)
2. Endang’s Mussel Power
3. Jack’s Baby Bear Risotto
4. When In Doubt, Veg It Out
5. Richard’s Mummy Bear Risotto
6. Jeff’s Daddy Bear Risotto
It was a pretty cut and dry decision as to who was going – for some reason they really tried to make us think there was a chance that Jack was going – I would simply not allow it – is it because he reminds me of the guy I had a completely unreciprocated crush on in college? MY BIASES WILL NEVER TELL YOU!
The first to go was Richard who will sadly never know how those aprons taste
I’m sure you could scrounge a nibble of the corner off of someone if you asked nicely enough.
And second to fall, like the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, was Jeff
but hey, he performed a valuable role as the One Episode Handsome Man.
And if you’ve enjoyed this recap and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi HERE.