You watch Ratatouille one time…
A Pain In The Mass Catering
On unlucky Episode 13 we run into the annual Mass Catering Disaster Zone where in the battle of ego and unpractised time management the only victims are ever the vegetarians
for this year’s obstacle course of culinary misery being the Beamish living museum where, after being split into two teams, each team had to make 60 portions of 3 main courses: 1 veggie, 1 fish and 1 Anything Goes But We’ve Given Your Very Specific Ingredients So You Don’t Really Have A Choice And If You Do Go Rogue It Will Screw You Over as well as a dessert. And because it’s a living museum and they were feeding the people who work there, they were feeding an army of 19th century dressed actors descending upon them like an episode of Doctor Who
this is my plea for more historical episodes of Doctor Who, they are my favourites and I will defend them to the death.
Every team of course needs a team leader, with Marcus being elected as leader by Jamelia, Luca and Shazia on the ground he’s “posh, old and witty”
it was not in fact “good” which wasn’t much of a surprise given that Marcus didn’t cope particularly well under the pressure of the Professional Kitchen and very quickly he kind of just became a beacon of confusion in the middle of the tent
because his approach to the challenge was to mostly prepare everything and hope to God they’d actually been given enough plaice to feed 60 people and they weren’t going to have to pray that Luca could pull a Feeding the Multitude. At least Luca could probably fillet a plaice with his eyes closed, upon dishing out roles on the other team, Mica had found herself accidentally volunteering to do Mackerel duty
and after an hour had gone by she still had to debone the damn things
which was another exercise in futility given that I don’t think she’d ever looked a mackerel in the eyes before let alone acquainted herself with their fiddly little skeletons
and really all she could do was pray that the inhabitants of the Beamish time bubble would appreciate her offering of Mackerel and Fennel in a White Sauce
and I think we can safely say it was absolutely not worth her moderately Herculean effort given that Luca was over in the other tent making some pretty damn good fish and chips
and thus Luca was beginning to remember a fondness for a life before Love Island shot him to the heights of Aldi Originals sponsorship fame
ah yes, the Fishmonger to Love Island to Fishmonger pipeline.
Marcus’s approach to the vegetarian option was to basically pretend it didn’t exist for as long as possible in the hopes that the concept of vegetarianism worked a bit like Tinkerbell and might just die if you refused to believe in it – which was a little bit hard to do with John standing outside shouting about it like a 19th century doomsayer
AND YET… While the other team all individually took one dish each (as you were supposed to) Marcus decided that Shazia’s Chicken Curry of Ambiguous Portion Sizes was a two person job so while he butchered an unspecified amount of chicken and burnt 4 pans of spices at the same time
Shazia was making the curry sauce (I think?) – they didn’t show a lot of Shazia up until the moment that she and Marcus had to eventually decide what they were going to serve with the curry, which was more of a problem than it should have been because they had not been given a single packet of rice as they were obviously meant to be making a chicken casserole with the slab of bacon and the parsnips
however, if there’s two things Shazia Mirza is going to do on MasterChef it’s tell a dad joke and make a flatbread
a tale as old as time.
It was a good curry, I wouldn’t expect anything less from Shazia to be honest, but Gregg really couldn’t gel with the lack of rice
and to be fair there was something a little unfinished about the look of 3 chicken limbs in a bowl next to a plain chapati
They could have probably got away with serving it with chips though given that they were in the north, but there was no way they were going to get enough chips made because Luca Bish will fillet 30 plaice but he will not peel a potato
somebody is no longer John and Gregg’s Golden Boy
and on top of that, the chips were desperately needed to pad out Marcus’s poorly considered butternut tart that he was inflicting upon the vegetarians of the fake 19th century
it is not uncommon for at least one of the vegetarian dishes in a mass catering challenge to be an almighty cock up – I will never forget you, Lisa Snowdon’s Miscellaneous Traybake
and much like Lisa Snowdon’s descent into vegetable induced madness, Marcus’s Apathy Tart also only had one brave soul venturing forth to try it
the thing was, apparently it was a genuinely quite nice tasting tart, it just looked utterly unappetising, and that’s a tough sell against a vegetarian option that is 90% not vegetables at all
Amy was having to juggle both the stress of making her Vegetable Gratin and designating team responsibilities while fully establishing that this is a team effort and so if one person thinks they have access to an infinite cow and uses up all the milk, they all think they have access to an infinite cow and use up all the milk
so with Amy having used an entire fridge of milk for her course and thus stranding Max in Custard Limbo, it was Wynne’s time to shine as he executed a perfect Ocean’s 11 heist to steal milk from the other team
I’ll start the script for Ocean’s 2% after this.
When Wynne wasn’t commando crawling across the Beamish carpark to commit dairy theft, he was having to make a beef pie which is a tough ask given all of us north of the Trent bleed pie gravy, but he was having a great time Definitely Not Annoying Everyone with yet another performance
Mica still barely deboning mackerel in the background throughout was my favourite part, give her the Tony.
Wynne continues to be a filthy Ringer and came up against not a single obstacle except Amy muscling in on his solo number and produced a perfectly acceptable, if slightly too soggy pie
someone is not blessed with the gravy veins.
Max was on dessert duty and was hoping to unassumingly skate by by sort of cobbling together what he believed to be a completely made up pudding of almond sponge poured over glacé cherries, which to his horror turned out to actually just be a Newcastle Pudding – Newcastle being about about a 30 minute drive from Beamish
he did end up doing quite well, it was a fairly simple task and thankfully he wasn’t completely scuppered by Amy’s milk drought, so his pudding could wallow in a slightly anaemic looking custard all it liked
everyone seemed pretty happy with it.
Jamelia was in charge of the Blue Team’s Dessert, which for a while looked like it may have to serve as their vegetarian option too, in which she was making a sort of Apple Crumble Cake on the grounds it’s relatively easy and everyone likes an Apple Crumble. She did however seem to underestimate quite how much someone who plays a 1940s shop worker likes an apple crumble
unfortunately for Beamish’s Number One Apple Crumble Supporter, disaster struck Jamelia as once Luca was done deep-frying his plaice he switched off the oven’s gas pipe and is going to be spending 10 minutes in the naughty corner
and so Jamelia was left with a cake that was cooked around the edges and a complete swamp of uncooked cake batter and apples in the middle and thus had to play a game of Cake Batter Geometry to work out which pieces of her cake she could serve
given that she lost a good third of each tray, people still got a decent sized portion of it
there is however no pleasing the Apple Crumble Tyrant of County Durham
I for one welcome our new 19th century overlord.
My personal favourite thing about Jamelia’s crumble was that this whole episode was such a dearth of aesthetically pleasing food that her big bowl of apple crumble got to be the lead image of the episode’s thumbnail on Iplayer
Head in the Sandwiches
Having survived their trip to County Durham without being torn to shreds by the army of the Apple Crumble Tyrant, the celebs were retreating to the deceptively safe waters of sandwich artistry
this isn’t the first time they’ve done this – Marcus Wareing once made three guys on MasterChef: The Professionals make him a grilled chicken sandwich and three out three failed horrifically. More surprisingly though is the fact they’re repeating it only two years after Su Pollard served them a Ham and Egg Sandwich with broccoli and boiled dried apricots inside it
guys, I need another 3 years to fully recover from that level of psychic damage, I simply do not have the constitution for it. Alas, onwards to The Sandwich Zone
NO. We’re not doing this again. (We will be doing this again in a few minutes)
Somehow we survived 4 weeks of the Food Truck Challenge without anyone using a Brioche Bun for the inevitable burgers and we all thought we had made it out alive, Amy Walsh had other plans and was serving her Boxing Day Sandwich in The Devil’s Bread
any sandwich made between Christmas Day and New Year is a God Tier Sandwich – it’s impossible for them to be bad so I wasn’t surprised that Amy’s sandwich was very successful and therefore doesn’t taint her fond memory
it’s also why her baby’s name is Cola Ham Sandwich Walsh.
Amy wasn’t the only one going for a Christmas Sandwich as Wynne was jumping on the premature festive bandwagon with his ABSOLUTELY NOT A SANDWICH
I did feel like I was taking crazy pills over the fact nobody mentioned the fact it was obviously inspired by a Smörgåstårta – also known as The Worst Thing The Swedish Have Ever Done – and besides the general melancholy that an inch thick layer of cream cheese coating the outside of it brings, it was also inspired by him being a single dad and how he doesn’t always get to see his kids on Christmas day so his way of making it extra special was to make a fake Christmas Cake made out of a chicken sandwich. The Playstation would have been great too. They know you have that GoCompmare money Wynne, THEY KNOW.
Also testing the limits of a sandwich was Mica who was making what I believe might be MasterChef’s first (and probably last) stromboli which is basically a pizza roll with Italian-American provenance
the difficulty with it was whether or not the dough would be cooked right the way through and unfortunately for Mica, she hadn’t managed to quite get there
I have been dubious of Gregg’s claims of rawness but yeah, that I think we can safely say has not seen even the lightest caress of heat from the oven, and we have to thank Mica for her sacrifice because if she had pulled it off we might have been saying goodbye to Our Lord and Saviour, the original J. Superstar, Jamelia because John and Gregg could simply not accept the union of fishfingers and fried egg under one sandwich
which might be fair but I’m still trying to work out if she made the fishfingers herself or not
are those homemade, or are those just the Tesco Finest chunky cod goujons? Because I am detecting the faintest tinge of freezer aisle permafrost on them. She did at least make her own beans and fry plantain to bulk out her workload, unlike Luka who wanted to look like he’d done more than he had by just making the same Steak and Italian Cheese sandwich in two different breads
I think I love him, but I know we’re absolutely incompatible because the only time he has felt joy in this series was when he ate this sandwich
the professional chef whose restaurant he worked in found dead in a ditch.
It was no real surprise that upon hearing the challenge to make a sandwich that Shazia leapt at the opportunity to make the flattest possible sandwich she could with her Chicken Shawarma
and I think it might have been the most successful Actual Piece of Food™ (by which I mean it had a wikipedia page I can read) from the round with the shawarma and her (perhaps oversalted) tahini and pickled cucumber all working really well together. But hot on her tail in flatbreaded tandem was Marcus, who basically did the Food Truck Challenge again with his naan bread wraps
they did look great and with the bhajis and the fried okra, he’d managed to elevate it to feeling like a special dish and not just a bit like kitchen leftovers.
Lastly we have Max whose sandwich might have been my personal favourite due to the fact it was inspired by a vicarious trip to a pub, the biggest takeaway from which was the mythical scotch egg sandwich that I fully believe Max’s brother probably still tells everyone about to this day
and lo and behold, the perfect Scotch Egg Sandwich – cumbersome mouthful and all
It’s kind of stupidly good? I am so excited for him to be a MasterChef finalist purely because I cannot wait to hear him critiquing future contestants quarterfinal dishes.
A Sandwich Ranking
1. Marcus Is Good When There’s 58 Less People
2. Shazia’ Flat Sandwich Theory
3. Our Tale Begins In A Tavern…
4. Little Baby Cola Ham Walsh
5. Luca’s Steak and Cheese Duality
6. Wynne Somehow Making Christmas Cake Worse
7. Jamelia’s Goujons Await Trial
8. Holy Stromboli, Batman!
The Blue Team all felt in a more precarious situation than the others because I genuinely think John was a little seething after that whole debacle and the fact nobody heeded his warning and so by the end of the Sandwich Showdown, ultimately it was going to either be Mica or Jamelia, with Mica going home on the grounds she had a technical error whereas Jamelia was a questionable taste level
She was fun to have around but I I never really ever learned if I should have been calling her Mica or Big Meesh – the nametag seed one thing, everyone else said something else.
And so, the first casualty befalls Semi-finals Week
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