MasterChef 2023, Episode 18: Black Market Liver Farm

Oh, I know a guy that can arrange that.

Welcome to the Tacossaince.

Hand to Hand Combat

Seeing out Knockout Week, the Top 10 had to make a bid for the 8 places in Semi-finals Week with their best plate of food that John could comfortably eat with his fingers without getting the shirt he’s worn for the last 5 years dirty

it’s the hardest working piece of clothing in showbiz.

Though the “hand food” promised in the TV guide was not the knuckle sandwiches that “Knockout Week” may have promised, we did have a couple of showdowns with a few of the contestants opting for similar things – Terri and Chariya both bringing Bao Buns up to the table, the latter going for a Korean Fried Chicken filling and a side of Potato Fries

she was pretty confident in it because for the last month she’s been feeding her fiance bao buns like he’s a foie gras goose

at least it all paid off because John and Gregg both loved her bao buns, so now she has two more candidates for her black market liver farm.
As for Terri’s bao buns, damned is anyone that goes toe to toe with Chariya over anything because she does feel like the obvious winner at this point (and is now doomed to be eliminated as soon as she walks through the door on Semi-final Week, RIP), they weren’t quite as glowingly received by John and Gregg

her Karaage Chicken, although soft and tender in the middle, needed a crispier batter and John was confused by her mixture of Prawns and a barbecue sauce, I’m on Terri’s side though, I don’t see anything wrong with it

I mean sure, it depends on the barbecue sauce but I have every faith that Terri made a decent barbecue sauce and hadn’t broken out the bottle of Red’s Kansas City because they would have yeeted her into the sun if she had.

Jack and Nickolas also had a bit of a face off. Nick had gone all out with a platter of three Latin American finger foods including a Beef Plantain Taco, a Crab Arepa and a Prawn and Tiger’s Milk Tostada

I don’t think one of these starter platters has ever gone particularly well for anyone, I will never forget Santosh’s extremely high chances of winning going up in smoke with his Nepalese trio in the Professional Masterchef 2020 final – it still stings a bit. Nick had a few of the same issues, there was one clear stand out in his Crab Arepa, which I think was the most interesting of the three. The other two just fell a little short of expectations, with the beef in the taco being a bit chewy and kind of falling apart (same)

I did think that Nickolas’s passion and vision for his culinary future might pull him through after he talked about wanting to showcase that Latin America is about more than Tacos and Burritos but he had stiff competition from Jack who had been to Mexico for 2 weeks

Nickolas, I am so sorry, but Jack did make a pair of absolutely perfect tacos – one being Beef and Avocado & the other Sea Bass and Pineapple Salsa

it has been quite a taco-heavy series, are they the new Elevated Roast Dinner? Because I’m not sure we’ve had a single one of those this year, it’s admittedly an extremely welcome change.

Jack wasn’t the only one drawing from a holiday, as Omar brought a Duck and Cherry Salad Gyros inspired by his Sixth Form hangovers kicking and screaming into the world

I fully get duck and cherries as a concept, I’m not sure I buy the chunks of half cherries in a wrap but John and Gregg enjoyed it and Gregg had to because he was being very picky about his duck so it mostly a Cherry and Parsnip Wrap

dammit, another foiled assassination attempt

he’s getting wiley that Gregg Wallace.

Vanessa and Anurag who have both mainly done dishes inspired by their Indian heritages were quite comfortable with this brief given that eating with your fingers is just a way of life in India. They were however going down two very different paths, Vanessa had put together an autobiographical thali featuring a nondescript West African curry, Goan cabbage foogath, rice and puri breads

she’d also cribbed a Tomatillo Salsa from her time spent losing a fight against a tortilla machine early this week – Tomatillos being a Latin American fruit that looks like a cross between a tomato and gooseberry and not in fact just how Nigella Lawson pronounces “tomato”.
It was another very successful dish for Vanessa and her sock puppet

if Gregg misbehaves she steals his nose.

Anurag was showcasing another piece of Indian street food, going for a Mumbai Frankie which aside from being an excellent drag name, is essentially a chicken curry wrap – the clever part being that there’s a layer of egg between the paratha and the curry to stop both your bread and newspaper article about Danish Butter Bread going soggy

John and Gregg were nuts for it and I have to say, I just admire the reverence that Anurag has for street food, so often on the show we have people making street food and talking about having to “refine” it which crosses the line into being uncomfortable a lot of the time but Anurag is happy to let it be exactly what it is and I think that speaks to his authenticity and genuine love of food, nothing about him feels like he’s trying too hard, except maybe his spreadsheets but you can take the man out of the accountancy firm, you can’t take the accountancy firm out of the man.

The last of the savoury dish was from Linda who was making Sardines on Toast and in order to stop 80% of the dish being a piece of sourdough toast she’d added a pair of shellfish pastillas to the plate

the judging of this dish was bonkers and not just because we got a fascinating insight into the homelife of one Gregg Wallace

The Six Nations will never be the same again knowing somewhere there’s a family that had to evacuate the living room because Gregg’s got the sardine toast out again.
Gregg may not have been able to cope with the off-season sardine toast but he liked the Pastillas, John however couldn’t get his head around them claiming he couldn’t fathom filo pastry filled with squid, prawns and olives as Linda made what essentially amounted to a Mediterranean spring roll

he still didn’t like it, claiming her Squid and Prawn Pastilla tasted to strongly of Squid and Prawns. He might as well have just driven a bus over Linda.

Robin and Endang were closing out the round with their desserts, Robin making the always risky choux pastry and producing a really charming looking teapot choux bun

and as perfectly Bake Off as the presentation is, there was a concern over whether you could actually eat with your fingers given that when you cut it in half it did look a bit like an alien hatching site

although being covered in tea and biscuit creme diplomat is a small price to pay for what sounded like a lovely dessert.

Endang was continuing to showcase Indonesian food with her trio of desserts inspired by Jajan Pasar, which refers to a large spectrum of both sweet and savoury snacks sold at Javanese and Indonesian markets. I was a little worried for Endang purely because desserts from East and Southeast Asia have proved to be divisive on the show in the past as they can have quite an acquired texture but she was hedging her bets with a trio including a cassava-based pandan swiss roll, sweetened rice balls and rice crackers with a chilli and chocolate dip

she was through to semi-final week the moment that that swirl in her pandan cake came out so perfectly, but it did help that John and Gregg were genuinely thrilled by the whole platter.

A Finger Food Dish Ranking
1. Cha Cha Chariya!
2. Welcome to the stage, Miss Mumbai Frankie!
3. Endang’s Sweet Victory
4. Jack’s Double Trouble Tacos
5. Vanessa’s Autobiographical Thali
6. He’s a Little Teapot
7. Terri Nearly Baoing Out
8. Duck, Omar!
9. Nickolas’s Third Wheeling Taco
10. Gregg’s Sports Snack

You kind of knew things were over for Linda the moment she said “sardines on toast” because… it’s Sardines on Toast in a room of choux pastry and more tacos than you could throw a stick at

but she’s done extremely well though and I’ll admit, on paper I’d have bet £20 she’d be first out so, I’ll eat my hat while I watch the rugby this afternoon. (there’s no rugby.)
This left John and Gregg muddling between Omar, Terri, Nickolas and Robin with Knockout Week continuing to be brutal as Nickolas was eliminated meaning I’m probably going to have to add a Knockout Week Mausoleum extension to the Fave Graveyard

if anyone wants to join me in standing outside of Decimo with a megaphone until they give Nickolas a job, please DM me, we’ll make a weekend of it.

This does of course mean we have our 8 Semi-finalists

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.

Leave a Reply