In the next round, our valiant chefs had to show there was no ‘I’ in the word ‘team’ and the first five comprised of hirsute Mark, tearful Andi, startled Dean, happy Darren and feisty Nick. Their mission? To cook a three-course meal at The Law Society for a bunch of lawyers, one of whom was the President of this esteemed organisation. And it was also his birthday. So no pressure then.
To get through the challenge, the guys had to talk to each other and evolve. Or in other words they all had to pick their knuckles up from the ground and communicate. Not with grunts and barks. Like real, actual words. Fortunately, they got a menu together in no time at all and showed just how professional they are. Mark and Darren were in charge of starters, a crab tortellini with a crab bisque, complete with mango and radish. It sounded lovely but Marcus wanted more, so Mark made a crispbread with some aioli to accompany it and lo, Marcus saw that it was good. And he smiled. And so did the guests.
For mains, there was a slight wobble when Dean suddenly forgot how to count to six but with Andi by his side, they pulled it back from the brink and produced a very handsome plate of food that consisted of poached and then roasted guinea fowl breast, pressed leg, onion puree, pancetta croquette and chargrilled leeks. In the eyes of the diners and the judges it was a ‘triumph’.
All eyes then focused on Nick and dessert, who had been cooking on his lonesome but seemed quite at home with that. The pudding was to be a warm pistachio and polenta cake, coupled with a pistachio curd, raspberry jelly and raspberry sorbet. Mark took a bullet and stepped in to do the quenelles for the sorbet and again, everyone was in riotous applause.
Back in the MasterChef kitchen, all five chefs became the best of enemies again, for they had ninety minutes to create one plate of outstanding food. The most bestest, amazingest, stupendousnessness plate of their entire lives. Beardy Mark was interviewed first. ‘What ya gonna do Mark?’ ‘I am going to make lamb rack with sweetbreads, goat curd, olive crumble, courgettes and a tomato tortellini.’ Mark kicked it out of the park, again.
Andi was next. ‘What ya gonna do Andi?’ ‘I am going to do loin of venison with fondant potatoes, butternut squash, roasted hazelnut and shallots.’ There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Nick steps up. ‘What ya gonna do Nick?’ ‘I am making a white chocolate cheesecake, wrapped in strawberry jelly with elderflower beignets and a flipping flapjack.’ Marcus and Monica were beside themselves with rapturous joy.
Dean enters the frame. ‘What ya gonna do Dean?’ ‘I am cooking a pork tenderloin, wrapped in Parma ham, with vanilla parsnips and sous vide scallops, to be scorched, with a scorching gun.’ Monica normally hates vanilla parsnips but at that moment in time, she loved him for it.
Finally, Darren comes into view. ‘What ya gonna do Darren?’ ‘I am going to make you the best pudding ever. A chocolate mousse, layered inside with raspberry custard and raspberry jelly. You will have kittens after eating this!’ And they did. Marcus and Monica delivered kittens, right there, on the spot.
At the end, it was no wonder that all five chefs had to go through to the semi-final. Apologies in advance if you have spotted a certain facetiousness creeping towards the end there; but it really was the most successful of cooking rounds in the history of MasterChef.