MasterChef – Tuesday 13th March

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Yesterday was the first day of the final three shows for this series of MasterChef – sob!

The first half of the program saw the three finalists, Tom, Andrew and Shelina, travelling around Europe to three Michelin star restaurants.

Tom, didn’t have to go far, as he was sent to The Dorchester, in London, where head chef, Jocelyn Herland, gave him a master class in his award-winning cookery style, cooking crayfish tails with girolle mushrooms and half-natural, half-spinach pasta. Tom said he’d learnt more in two hours at The Dorchester than he ever had.

Tom was then tested on his skill when he had to cook one of Jocelyn’s dishes unsupervised, a spinach ravioli stuffed with langoustine and tomato served with steamed langoustine. Jocelyn was unimpressed with Tom’s presentation and nearly had his head off for the amount of finger prints around the bowl but said that his seasoning was great and invited him to serve lunch with his team the following day.

Tom’s dish for lunch service was simmered halibut served with celeriac tear-drops and squid. On his first attempt, Tom broke the piece of fish and so had to start again, but, when he had it right the customers said it was delicious and just like any other dish they’d been served in The Dorchester.

Andrew was sent to Holland where he cooked with Sergio Herman, at his restaurant, Oud Sluis. Andrew was giggling uncontrollably during his master class, where he cooked a dish which looked like something out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory! It was a seafood platter which reminded the diner of the sea in every way, complete with edible sand and frozen seaweed.

Andrew’s unsupervised challenge was west Flemish barbecue beef, which included a barbecue and onion jelly shaped into a barbed wire ring and a forest of vegetables, with wild mushrooms, butternut squash and aubergine. Sergio was pleased with Andrew’s dish although, he did say the meat was slightly overdone, something which Andrew was very worried about.

Andrew was also invited to serve lunch and was challenged with hay smoked Zealand oysters served on hay with a champagne sauce. Andrew, as he often does, took his time and had Sergio slightly worried about whether he’d get it out or not. The diners loved it but all said it could have been warmer, a reflection on the amount of time Andrew took.

Lastly, Shelina was sent to Bruges in Belgium, where she got to cook with De Karmeliet head-chef Geert van Hecke. In Shelina’s master class she was taught about how mackerel first made its way onto Flemish menus when she watched Geert marinate it in chilli and lemongrass.

Shelina’s challenge was to cook sole Colbert, which Geert said was perfect and amazing. There’s not much else to say about this, I think Shelina was absolutely blown away by the positive comments. During lunch service the next day, she had to cook a scallop and black truffle stack, wrapped in pancetta, served on pomme puree and cabbage. Geert must have trusted her as the dish was sold for 90 euros!

In the second half, the finalists were back in the MasterChef kitchen, cooking two courses for Greg and John in just an hour and a half.

Andrew cooked fish for his first course, roasted zander with a zander and Japanese pear pate and tempura crayfish. Greg said that his dish was a knock-out and John said it was ‘bloody fantastic.’ His second dish was a chocolate encrusted loin of venison with pickled beetroot. At first John and Greg seemed worried about Andrew’s flavour combinations but were pleased in the end, John even declared his love for Andrew!

Tom made a duck egg fondue with bacon, black pudding and tomato, I think I’d like to eat it for breakfast, and for his main he cooked turbot fillet with celeriac and fennel and a mussel and whit wine sauce. Unfortunately, Tom really let himself down with undercooked fish but John said that without that issue it would have been an absolutely incredible dish.

Then, Shelina, cooked spicy soft-shell crab with an apple and lime compote, followed by red snapper with green papaya and a spinach cake. Once more, Greg and John were blown-away by Shelina’s food, I think they’d both gushed enough and John just managed to say it was incredible.

The MasterChef finals continue until Thursday. You can watch them on BBC1 or on the BBC iPlayer.

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