MasterChef – Wednesday 15th February

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This week on MasterChef the theme was very focused on teaching the contestants about getting the most from local produce and using everything around them.

The first half of the show was a classic invention challenge, the chefs were given a huge array of British ingredients and were tasked with producing the best dish possible in an hour and a half. However, in true MasterChef style the pressure was piled on when Michelin Star chef Tom Kitchin walked through the door.

I’ll start with Aki as she’s a bit mad and also my favourite! I thought Aki was going to fall over when she carried her basket of food back to her bench, she had so many ingredients. Keeping to her style she decided to recreate the Great British picnic, making an onion and cheese tart, black pudding and potato croquettes and a walnut salad. Although the judges liked it, Tom was concerned by what a mess she was working in and Greg worried that he hadn’t seen a full finished meal from her, only nibbles.

Shelina was the shining star in this round, cooking a fish and seafood medley with a crab stuffed courgette flower which I was salivating on my television screen for. The dish looked so delicate you could tell it was going to taste good. All three judges loved it and agreed that she was top of the day.

Tom did well too, cooking pan-fried red mullet with fennel. Again, the judges were in agreement that he should go through with John commending him particularly for his subtle use of lime.

Andrew was a bit of a surprise as he usually does well despite his odd sounding combinations, but unfortunately his ideas didn’t mesh this week. He made pan-fried mullet with a whiskey and honey sauce, pearl barley risotto and razor clams. His meal looked really impressive and clean but Greg said he was left with the taste of a ‘floral, oaty, honey sea biscuit which, let’s be honest, sounds not good.

Eamon also fell short which made him a bit more bearable this week. He seemed to be put in his place by the negative comments on his languistine with roasted vegetables but still refused to take full responsibility for what went wrong. He blamed his over reduced sauce on the plate being too hot, but who heated the plate?

Jay’s dish didn’t have anything wrong with it, it just looked a bit dull. He did seared fillet of beef with a carrot purée, red cabbage and walnuts with rosemary. The beef was cooked well but the judges said the purée was too buttery and the only bit of the dish that really had his own personal touch were the walnuts.

Lastly, was Emma, who admitted to feeling the pressure a lot more as she was cooking for a fellow Scot. She cooked beef with a pearl barley sauce, onions and ceps and a mushroom and onion tart. I felt her dish had real promise but unfortunately her nerves got the better of her and bits of her dish fell apart and she wasn’t able to serve the tart.

After judging Emma was sent home with Andrew and Eamon trailing closely behind. I think the right choice was made and Emma admitted herself, she wasn’t sure how many more chances she’d be given.

In the second half the contestants were sent to Cumbria where they were met by celebrated chef Simon Rogan, whose restraunt L’Enclume has been awarded a Michelin star.

The contestants were told to forage around for a bit, all in matching BBC provided rain coats which made them look a bit like children on a geography school trip, they were invited into a pop-up kitchen where they were told they would be cooking for lunch for twenty of Cumbria’s greatest food providers.

Shelina took charge of the Venison after fighting it out with Eamon for a while. At first she wanted to make a stew but then realised it was the wrong cut of cut so ended up with slow roasted. It proved fairly popular and Shelina have proved herself once again, with Greg dubbing the sauce ‘magnificent’ (she might get to be my new favourite!)

Tom cooked a herb crusted rack of lamb which Greg and John disagreed over, Greg not enjoying the crust, but it was popular with the diners and the dish looked really nice.

Andrew made a quick come back by smoking his own herring but despite the judges giving him high praise he only served one portion. Greg and John both agreed that it was absolutely delicious though and Andrew put it down to farmers wanting some nice hearty meat.

Jay did well too cooking partridge to both Greg and John’s liking and proved himself once more.

The only disappointment of the day was Aki who wasn’t really sure what she was cooking. She ended up with an undercooked chocolate brownie with hazelnuts, and caramel custard and some dates dipped in white chocolate. My favourite moment was when she decided to get assertive, demanded to use the oven for half an hour and then politely asked how it worked. I did feel sorry for her when John told her she was too messy as she looked like she was going to cry. She’s still my number one.

Finally, Eamon too made a comeback after being delegated to desserts. He cooked French toast topped with apples with custard and blackberries and even I, clearly not a huge Eamon fan, will admit that it looked impressive. Everyone was pleased and I assume the six of them skipped off into the rolling hills to blow off some steam before next week’s encounter with Michel Roux Jnr.

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