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Five things we learnt in week four of MasterChef: The Professionals 2016

Five things we learnt from week four of MasterChef: The Professionals 2016

by Great British Chefs 05 December 2016

The final week of heats saw young chefs rise to the top and others have a bit of a meltdown – see what they were tasked with cooking and how you can develop the skills needed at home.

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As the heats draw to a close and the best chefs progress to the next round (increasing their chances of a complete nervous breakdown), there were just three places left for the last batch of twelve contestants. The skills tests were a mixed bag – we’d much prefer to be tasked with making a lamb sandwich than a matcha and white chocolate mousse with nougatine and raspberry coulis – but both proved difficult for some of the chefs. Here’s what they came up against.

1. It pays to know your prep

Monica’s first skills test of the week – Artichokes barigoule – was essentially there to see whether the contestants could peel and prep and artichoke correctly. As it turns out, they couldn’t; it must be something you learn in catering college and then never do again. Lewis undercooked his and they went black. Michael looked like he was having a mini-breakdown and left the outer skin on. Army chef Graham knew about acidulating water to keep artichokes from discolouring, but managed to remove every edible part of them by accident.

2. Sandwich-making is an art

Marcus’ skills test seemed a lot more forgiving – and almost fun – compared to Monica’s, although it wasn’t without its pitfalls. To make a lamb sandwich with a pea and mint salsa, the chefs had to butcher their own meat to get a nice piece of lamb neck, which should have some (but not all) of the fat removed. Gary was confident and presented a perfectly good (if slightly rare) sandwich. Andrew’s lacked flavour but he didn’t completely mess it up, and Rosanna impressed despite her young age.

3. Don’t have a meltdown over mousse

Not one to give the chefs an easy time, Monica wanted them to make a white chocolate and matcha mousse with nougatine and a raspberry coulis – all in fifteen minutes. The use of xanthan gum to thicken the coulis stumped some – Rich added far too much and had to loosen it with water. Sci, on the other hand, let nerves get the better of him, helpfully telling us what he was doing wrong as he did it. Mark, on the other hand, smashed it and even got a ‘yummy’ from Gregg.

4. Don’t mess with king crab

Bobby’s signature dish came with a side of king crab onion bhajis which, apart from being a bit strange, managed to irk Marcus, who said the powerful spices completely overwhelmed all the sweet, delicate, moist flavour that makes king crab such a coveted ingredient. Combined with his messy presentation, Bobby just didn’t have what the judges wanted and sealed his fate.

5. Pushing boundaries can pay off

Rich described his own cuisine as ‘Nordic-Asian fusion’, which is certainly something we haven’t come across before, and some of his dishes looked downright weird. When he got the chance to cook for the critics, his sweet and sour mint duck with a black garlic risotto and compressed dashi pear definitely polarised opinion. Grace Dent liked it but it was just too weird for Jay Rayner and Tracy Macleod, who found the rice very strange indeed. However, it piqued the interest of Marcus and Monica in the right way, securing him a place in the quarter-finals.

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