MasterChef – Wednesday 22nd February

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Fine dining was the challenge on this week’s MasterChef and all of the final six were looking slightly manic and crazed, I think the pressure is really piling on.

The first half of the show saw the chefs split into three pairs to deliver either a starter, a main or a dessert, for over 200 people, to The Middle Temple, where the big dogs of the British legal system get together to have a chin-wag.

Eamon and Aki took on the starter, serving stuffed sole with samphire. The couple worked really well as a team, starting up a good system and working through the eight hours of prep methodically. They even had time to stop and help out with the main course.

This was cooked by Andrew and Tom, who really struggled with the amount of prep they had to do. Tom and Greg both looked unimpressed as the cooks slowly made their way through a bag of shallots. They cooked fillet of beef with ox-tail, spring vegetables and a pomme amandine, a French potato dish. They managed to get all the food out and the majority of the diners seemed happy with only a few complaining about the beef, but how could they get it cooked to preference for all 230 people?

The dessert, cooked by Shelina and Jay, was less successful with the diners. I think they all got a bit tired and cranky as by this point not much was right for them, despite Greg and John being really impressed. The trio of puds included a chocolate mousse, a pear poached in port and a passionfruit and mango crème brûlée.

All six of the contestants really grafted for eight hours straight and managed to serve a massive amount of great quality and complex food.

The second half of the program saw them back in the MasterChef kitchen, this time serving two plates of food, a main and a dessert to, not only Greg and John, but Michel Roux Jnr as well.

Shelina created a lobster curry with a de-constructed key lime pie. There were good and bad comments. Michel Roux Jnr was concerned that a lobster curry couldn’t be fine dining as he couldn’t see how she would present it beautifully, however, he ate the curry and his words when she presented the judges with a beautiful dish, complete with a fancy coriander foam. The key lime pie didn’t go as well. She made a chocolate crumb with a lime mousse, a chocolate genache and ginger jelly, all covered in little flowers. The judges were confused about the presentation and some of the flavours.

Andrew seemed to have gone made when he came to the judges with roast grouse served again with his whisky and honey sauce which absolutely bombed last week. He said it was an apology to Tom Kitchin and I was really holding my breath while the judges tasted it. However, they said the sauce really worked with the grouse, he just served it with the wrong thing last week. For dessert Andrew made a chocolate and black olive tart with rosemary ice-cream, which I was also worried about. The judges loved it and Andrew’s odd flavour combinations made a come-back.

Jay rose to the challenge Greg and John set him last week, and really pushed himself to stand out. He cooked pan-fried halibut, tomato and chorizo, smoked bone marrow and a crab and potato salad for his main. The judges weren’t sold on all of it but said his fish was cooked perfectly. His dessert was a chocolate and hazelnut torte with candied orange peel and orange cream. Again, the judges loved the flavours but Michel Roux Jnr said that neither of the dishes were refined enough, with big slabs of food sat on the plates. Greg said it may not be elegant but it was perfect for fat men who like to lick the lips!

Aki was up next who decided to keep John and Greg on their toes by cooking exciting and experimental food. For her main she cooked tea-smoked chicken oysters with a noodle jelly and a sea-food broth. The dish looked so beautiful and delicate but all the judges agreed that the chicken was smoked too much and they couldn’t taste any of the other beautiful flavours through that. For dessert, Aki got her science kit out and made a sticky toffee pudding with a nitrogen frozen miso ice-cream. The critique for this was much better with the judges absolutely loving the experimental ice-cream.

Eamon, who is growing on me now, made ribs and pork loin with celeriac and a stout sauce. I really liked the presentation, but I’m not a Michelin star chef, and somebody who is (MRJ) said it looked naff. For pudding he made a liquorice poached pear, blackberry sorbet and a lime chantilly cream. Greg got a bit excitable at this point and started jumping up and down for Eamon’s ‘ripe juicy pear’ which he said was divine.

Lastly Tom cooked sirloin of beef with beetroot purée and garlic cream and a cherry and chocolate ravioli with pistachio ice-cream. John said the main’s flavour combination was great but it seemed as if he’d run out of time. The beef wasn’t cooked enough and the beetroot wasn’t smooth enough. The dessert did much better although I’m not sure if John or Michel Roux Jnr actually got to try any as Greg seemed to be eating it all. They absolutely loved it.

Unfortunately, one of them had to leave and, although I love her, I think it was only right that Aki went home. She had run out of lives and it was her time. I’ll be sad to not see her crazy grin any more though…

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