The Mask (1994, Chuck Russell)
I wrote this recap in 17 minutes.
For their first challenge of this week’s Quarterfinal the 4 remaining chefs had to make the best tart they could
they had been given pre-made Filo and Puff Pastry for the challenge because Marcus and Monica aren’t sadistic enough to trick some poor chef into trying to outdo everyone by attempting to make puff pastry in 70 minutes
but they will stand idly by as the ESL chef tries to speedrun a quiche in only a quarter of an hour
did nobody think to step in while he was whisking eggs fast enough to break the sound barrier? And on top of his high-velocity quiche he’d had to make a side dish as well, so understandably with the clock ticking away, leaving him with only 2 minutes until the incredibly arbitrary 17 minutes was up (some of this was his fault,) he just peeled some vegetables and called it a fresh salad
and only once he’d finished plating it all up did Marcus appear to tell him he still had most of an hour left to finesse it a little bit, and to possibly realise that his quiche was considerably undercooked but more cooked than I would’ve expected a 17 minute quiche to be cooked
sadly he did not really do anything more to his quiche except sprinkle it with some raw salmon
and redressed his salad as a super secret second tart that looks a bit like he was trying to make vegetables seem more fun to a child
I thought they might critique the fact all he’d done was a salad as a side as everyone else made ice creams and gazpacho but they praised his dressing of it. His quiche didn’t get quite so many compliments, they did like the flavours and the filling was well cooked, but the pastry was a little too extremely French for Marcus’s liking
and thus begins their bloodfeud
my money’s on the guy who unflinchingly tried to make a full-sized quiche in 17 minutes, there’s a glint of Machiavellian genius in those eyes.
The only other savoury tart came from Kasae who had kind of made an Everything Tart full of Cauliflower, apple, goat’s cheese, walnuts, ricotta, Phillipe’s misplaced 53 minutes and an Apricot vermouth cream
inevitably, in such a small serving a few of the components got a little washed out but it was still enjoyable enough and the use of Filo gave it a nice ASMR-y crack when they cut it.
As for her side dish, she wanted to be a little different and asked if a drink can be a side dish (it can if its a pitcher of Margaritas)
which I fully thought was going to result in a round of Bellinis, and so did Monica – there’s no better tactic than plying the judges with Prosecco
unfortunately for Monica, what she was getting was a Tomato and Strawberry Gazpacho
it did apparently taste quite nice, but it’s no Armand de Brignac Rosé.
Kyle and Verity both opted for desserts, the latter going so far as to make her own pastry – seemingly mostly because she’s developed an obsession with eggs and wanted to enrich it with more egg yolks than usual which she was also doing in her accompanying Creme Fraiche Ice Cream – hence the yellowness of everything
I would be very curious to know how many eggs she used and how much meringue you could make with the leftover egg whites. Sadly the yolky ice cream wasn’t fully appreciated as a lighter, fresher ice cream would’ve cut through the acidity of her tart a little better, but they did really like the tart, as a rustic and slightly inelegant as it was.
Kyle was the faffer of the challenge, he’d originally stockpiled beetroot before deciding against it and going with a chocolate and raspberry tart which for some reason was served in a tiny little cauldron
I really thought Marcus was going to pull him up on the fact it looked like a very hard to eat canape at a Halloween party given how many other people have received critiques on their serving choices this week but…
at least it all tasted great and was a particularly good showing considering it was Option B.
A Tart Ranking:
1. A Witch’s Canapé
2. All Yolked Out
3. Kasae’s Everything Tart
4. A High Speed Quiche Chase
Everyone’s a Critic
Sitting in this week’s Critics’ Chamber were Jimi Famurewa, Grace Dent and a Clicker from The Last Of Us
the harshest critics of all.
Getting the ball rolling was Kasae who was starting off with a bit of a retro throwback – an Asparagus Royale which she’d covered in a truffle foam for good measure
and was a very promising start to her menu with pretty much clean plates all around
it was a safe thing to do because everyone was making starters and main courses this week so the critics could pretty much guarantee they wouldn’t end up feeling full – especially when the next dish is almost 80% pumpkin seeds
Kasae claimed her cabbage leaf was stuffed with an “artichoke and pumpkin seed risotto” but without any rice to be seen really it was just a bindle of trail mix
they did at least like the cooking of her fish and the fact it was served with a very real risk of emphysema
a rare successful attempt at smoking a dish that seemed to genuinely add a little something extra to it given the smokiness of the fish rather than seeming like an eye rolling attempt at ~theatre~ on the level of a dry ice hail Mary.
Verity was next, starting her menu with a Langoustine Starter which came served with what sounded like a threat from the mob
there was a lot of expectation riding on her brain dressing and sadly for her it didn’t quite pay off which is why Tom Parker Bowles was such an upset zombie
and because none of the critics were privy to the information that the whole dish was inspired by a friend of Verity’s who had recently died, no punches were being pulled
and now all she’d done was fill them with a deep and unsatisfied yearning for brains so when she served them a single piece of venison and not a lot of mushroom AS A MAIN COURSE everyone just looked deeply upset by it
her cooking of the venison was perfection and everyone was more than happy with it, but her mushrooms were undercooked, the jus was too thin and the garlic puree just too strong
it all just went a bit tits up for Verity, which did leave the speed demon in chief, Philippe with a good opening to impress with his utterly insane sounding Banana and Avocado Guacamole that looked as alien as it sounded
and despite everyone’s tentativeness towards it and poking at it like it was something that had washed up on the beach, the dish got absolutely rave reviews and you can spot the precise moments people started eating a banana and avocado guacamole and realised they enjoyed it rather than wanting to die inside
he really did pull off the seemingly impossible, even if it was a dish that did not look very pretty as you ate it
potentially the diners’ own faults for flooding it with the citrus dressing.
His main course of Chicken Chachenga with Soft Yam and a Coffee Jus caused similar concerns amongst the critics but resulted in equally lavish praises
he needed to come out swinging after Tartageddon and he certainly proved himself and then some
I know this is a bit of a curse and I shouldn’t say it, but he’s a dead cert for the final, right? I’d certainly be happy to see him go all the way.
Lastly we have Kyle who was also starting with a Scallop dish (I may have forgotten to mention that amongst Philippe’s high potassium guacamole there was a scallop.) Kyle’s offering was much simpler, the raw scallop was dressed only in Yuzu Kosho, a Japanese condiment made from fermented chillies, and served alongside celery and white strawberries for a very anaemic looking colour story
I don’t think it looks appetising at all and if it was set before me, I might have been initially disappointed, but the critics absolutely raved about the flavours so it’s a lesson in not judging your glorified salad by its pallidness.
Kyle was trying to finish off the meal with a bang, opting for a very expensive Iberico Presa – the wagyu of pork as Marcus informs us which is why five people were having to share this single piece of meat
and naturally with it being a famously pricey cut of pork everyone was expecting it to be cooked to perfection which sadly wasn’t how it went for Kyle as it was just a bit overcooked
and Marcus was going to make damn sure that that was coming out of Kyle’s stipend
at least the rest of the dish was all very well cooked and everyone could at least appreciate where the dish was going even if it didn’t fully get there in the end.
A 2 Course Menu Ranking
1. Philippe’s Cha-Cha-Chachenga!
2. Holy Guacamole, Batman!
3. Kyle’s Glorified Salad
4. Kasae’s Battle Royale
5. A Presa-ing Issue
6. Trout and Trail Mix, an Australian Delicacy
7. At Least The Venison Was Nice?
8. Where Are The Braaaaaaaains?
Only three of the chefs could go through and given that both of Verity’s dishes had fallen a bit flat, she was sent home meaning our third lot of semi-finalists are Kasae, Kyle and Philippe
and next week we meet our final lot of contenders!
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