This week was the dreaded food critic challenge, which saw all five contestants cooking three courses for, not only Greg and John, but also Charles Campion, Tracey MacLeod and Jay Rayner.
Shelina opted to stick to her roots, cooking a Mauritian feast for the fearsome critics. Her starter was a Mauritian street food dish of dried shrimp on a flat-bread, a chilli crab cake and a mint and coriander dip. Tracey, a restaurant critic for The Independent, said the dish was lovely and delicate whereas Charles complained that the portion was too small. Greg and John both loved it but John wished there was more chilli.
For her main she cooked spiced monkfish with red lentils. Again, everybody said the dish was incredible but all felt that Shelina was holding back with the spices, which she later revealed she had thought as well.
Dessert was equally as successful, ginger cake with a vanilla tea ice cream, and Jay said that her whole menu showed ‘serious cookery skills’.
Jay’s courses seemed a bit hit and miss. His starter was pan-fried cod with minted peas, pancetta and broad beans. All the judges liked the flavours but Tracey’s cod wasn’t cooked through which obviously let him down.
John was concerned when he heard about Jay’s main, loin of venison, coated in crispy bacon shards, chestnut purée, spiced pears and brussel sprouts. The venison was cooked really rare and Charles thought a sauce would tie it all in together. Greg even felt that it was too sweet.
For dessert Jay made an impressive looking pana cotta but topped it with pink grapefruit and stem ginger which nobody seemed to like!
Tom served seared tuna with a wasabi crust, ginger jelly and avocado. All three critics seemed slightly concerned when they read the menu but took it all back after tasting. Tracey said that the dish excited her and made her want to write about it.
Tom’s main was an almond and apricot crusted rack of lamb which looked beautiful. Charles said he was finding it hard to think of anything other than good things which I assume meant he liked it.
There were also concerns over Tom’s dessert, a mille feuille of chocolate and mango cheesecake, which also looked beautiful. Again, after tasting the judges were blown away, absolutely loving Tom’s menu, saying that it displayed his personality.
Jay was a bit put out by Andrew’s menu as he didn’t understand what a lot of it was. The started of New England Raviolo turned out to be a sea-food chowder ravioli but because there was only one pasta parcel it’s raviolo, apparently ravioli is the plural…
Andrew’s starter was a bit late and left the judges arguing, some commending him for his ambition while Charles thought there was far too much going on.
Andrew also cooked a rack of lamb for his main and served it with a sauce which, with Andrew shaking so much, went everywhere!
Dessert was a treacle tart with roasted crab apples which didn’t go down very well but overall the judges were all very impressed.
Eamonn (whose name I’ve been spelling with one ‘n’ instead of two for weeks) marinated mackerel fillets and served it with an aioli strong enough to knock the judges heads off and a wedge of soda bread. The judges agreed that he didn’t have enough time to marinate the fish and had put far too much garlic in the aioli.
His main was partridge breast with porcini mushrooms, game chips and bread sauce, none of which hit the mark with the judges, and unfortunately the dessert was equally as unimpressive. Jay said that if he was nine years old he probably would have enjoyed the banana cake with ginger and thyme custard but Tracey said all she could taste was the garlic from the starter.
In the end Jay and Eamonn were left but one of them had to go. Greg and John both agreed that Jay had done more and deserved to stay. It’s a shame because Eamonn was really growing on me but I think he lost his confidence after the Tom Kitchin round and had been trailing behind since then.