MasterChef 2023, Episode 23: A Very Fancy Baby

Me everytime someone on this show makes a dessert.

Welcome to MasterChef Catch-up Weekend!

Twist and Clout

In order to decide who the Final Three would be, the remaining four contestants had to design a reinterpretation of a classic dish which is a challenge laden with pitfalls and culinary bear traps but very much felt like it was catering directly to Omar’s style and sure enough he was going absolutely buckwild on a bowl of French Onion Soup which included a plethora of slightly upsetting looking purees, of which they have not been nearly enough this year – the gif pantry is bare

but he was quick to stress it was absolutely under no circumstances a deconstruction

which was true, the result was more along the lines of a sort of necromantic resurrection of a French Onion Soup you ate in Chamonix 15 years ago and still reminisce about

but if you manage to get past the fact it does look a bit like a zombie clawing its way out of the ground, it tasted really great, if perhaps nothing like a French Onion Soup which I thought might prove to be a bigger issue for Omar than it did

but the only real detraction from the dish was the fact his Cheese and Onion Doughnut was a little bit doughy in the middle

I suppose you could say he… dropped the doughnut on that one

everyone’s fingers would be a little bit slippery after grating 4 different cheeses.

Anurag and Chariya both had similar approaches with their fusion dishes. Anurag taking a Biryani and instead of cooking it in a pot sealed with dough, he was baking it into a pie

I’m going to assume that the concern about the size of the pie was not John thinking Big Pies™ are bad, and was more about whether or not everything would be cooked because Gregg has been a little squeamish about chicken this series

SUCCESS! And the rest of the dish was very well received too with John loving the fact there was so much to pick from between the pickled vegetables, the stewed apricots and roasted chili peppers as accompaniments – it’s always nice when a single plate of food feels like it offers you more options than a single flavour profile.

As for Chariya’s take on East meets West, she was reinterpreting Bangers and Mash with the flavours and ingredients of Northern Thailand – her choice of sausages being Sai Ua, a pork sausage flavoured with red curry paste, which she was serving as a sort of Fake Porkchop wrapped in caul fat

and was served over a charcoal grill alongside Brown Butter Mash and a Fish Sauce Gravy

the judges loved it – there just wasn’t anything to fault and I liked that she’d added the crispy shallots that she’d learnt to make during the Francis Crick dinner

it’s a smart addition that adds an element of her MasterChef journey to the dish – she’s playing the MetaGame incredibly well.

A lot of this round does depend largely on which dish you decide to reinterpret and with the show having been on for 19 series now (not including The Professionals, Celebrity and the nebulous conceit of Young MasterChef) there are a holy trinity of British classics that have been reinterpreted, deconstructed and reimagined so many times that they might as well be Shakespearean plays – these three being Fish and Chips, Steak and Chips & the Sunday Roast. I would personally avoid touching any of them with a barge pole, however Terri was gambling on Fillet Steak and Chips

and unfortunately in a room where Chariya is reconstituting a pork chop, Anurag is making Big Pies™ and Omar is creating an army of zombie onions, I don’t think Miso Hollandaise is enough of a twist

if you take the Miso Hollandaise away, it’s pretty ordinary Steak and Jenga Chips – albeit, the steak was perfectly cooked but unfortunately her chips weren’t quite cooked enough for John, which is a valid critique, however I will under no circumstances allow Gregg to normalise “all your chips should look the same”

if your plate of chips doesn’t involve a strategic working out which chip will make the perfect Final Chip, then it’s not a plate of chips.

A Reinterpreted Dish Ranking:
1. Chariya’s Faux Porkchop
2. Anurag’s Big Pies™
3. Omar’s Resurrected French Onion Soup
4. Terri’s Sauce of the Day

With Anurag and Chariya both having perfect dishes, hey were easily through to The Grand Final, leaving a decision between Omar and Terri to be made. I think Omar came into this particular round with the most to prove and despite the minor doughnut error, his dish was pretty incredible whereas Terri’s didn’t quite reach the level of some of her previous dishes, so unfortunately they were letting her go

it’s always gutting to see someone falling this short of the end, but the best thing about MasterChef is that anyone who makes it to finals week generally goes on to have a very good career in the industry, and I have no doubt that Terri is well enough equipped to hold her own in any fine dining kitchen.

Core Blimey!

Seeing as the chefs had this far tackled 1 Michelin Star and 2 Michelin star restaurants, it was only right that the Final Three were plunged into the deep end with their last challenge ahead of their final three course menus being a trip to the 3 Michelin Starred, Core by Clare Smyth, which is unsurprisingly owned by Clare Smyth who bares more than a slight resemblance to biotech scam artist, Elizabeth Holmes

I spent a bit of time on the Core website to see if she’s also scamming the rich but I died inside the moment I read “non-refundable £2000 deposit” for the Chef’s Table experience. (The tasting menu is actually very reasonably priced considering the prestige of it all, just don’t order the wine and stick to the tap water.)

As usual, the contestants were catering for a 4 person dinner party of other Michelin Starred chefs, which did sadly include the reputation rehabilitation of noted tip scalper and professional Bilbo Baggins look-a-like, Tom Kitchen

given that this was filmed at Christmas, I’m going to assume everyone else was busy.

Anurag was in charge of the starter which was the obligatory nod to the British seaside that every notable chef loves to stick on their menu. Clare’s at least being a little different because it might be the first one that didn’t use lobster, instead her seafood of choice was crab, meaning Anurag was passing a very important milestone

I wish Baby’s First Crab was a slightly less pressurised situation than having to painstakingly sift through the flesh to make sure you’re not about to serve a slight fragment of shell to Sat Bains

which thankfully he didn’t and the crab elements of the final dish were spot on

the only issue he had was with his consomme which just hadn’t clarified correctly, but the taste hadn’t been impacted and everyone was at least happy with the depth of flavour it had. And ues, I do want to address the silly cutlery they were having to use for the dish – it’s like safety cutlery for a very fancy baby.

Chariya was on mains and was having to deal with the pressure of perfectly cooking premium wagyu beef, which she was coping with in a distinctly Chariya fashion

every other chef that has come into contact with an indoor barbecue has turned to a puddle of sweat and she just shrugs and smiles in the face of it all <3

The dish that Clare was having Chariya make was a take on Beef and Oyster Pie from the Victorian era, and of all the dishes this one was the most annoying to me because part of the dish is an oyster shell filled with stewed beef shin and a bit of beef tongue

which Clare specified is because “we like to use all of the animal”

Ma’am. You are ordering bits and pieces of the animal, don’t make it sound like you’re a Native American tribe when you are also having chefs cut wagyu beef into perfect 100g squares

the very square beef is a bit unnerving but so is the beady little oyster emulsion eye, but Chariya had cooked it all absolutely perfectly.

This did leave Omar on dessert duty, the last time this happened being in the Piazza kitchen when the front of house seemed to be plotting against him

and the pressure was on because apparently his dessert, The Core-teser, is Clare’s signature dish because she really loves Maltesers

there’s something very funny about a 3 Michel Star restaurant’s signature dish being a Malteser themed-dessert when it’s on the same menu as things like lobster, wagyu beef, turbot, a nondescript dish called “The Other Carrot” and a tiny little potato flower pot

the dessert had a lot of components going on – the most interesting being the “malt caramel sugar puff” which involve putting a ball of Horlicks flavoured caramel in the vacuum press, making it swell up into a massive ball that looks like it holds a prophecy of your future

sadly said ball had to be broken up for service – the things I would give to just be served a massive ball of Horlicks and Air

it is a stunning dessert and given that Omar has struggled through professional kitchen rounds in the past, it was nice for at least one of them to end without feeling like he and the head chef had started a blood feud

and in fact he was quite popular with the dining chefs

but the funniest thing about the dessert is that despite it being called a “Core-TESER”, I am 80% sure Tom Kitchen thought it as a Crunchie inspired dessert

I just wouldn’t call Maltesers “a chocolate bar”.

And so, I’ll see you for the final recap tomorrow!

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