The time is finally upon us. For long-standing MasterChef: The Professionals fans such as myself, the news of Michel Roux Jr’s departure from the show was met with utter dismay. The nail-biting wait then came to see if the real star, Monica, would be staying, and who would take this Classic French juggernaut’s place as mentor, critic, and general benevolent God of cooking.
Cheers went up as it was announced that Monica would stay, but when Marcus Wareing was announced as the new boss, many were not happy to say the least. Many judged him only on previous TV appearances, where his shtick was distinctly stick with no carrot. However, from this week, we can certainly get an idea of what makes Marcus tick, and more importantly, that he’s going to be a great person to take on this role.
So here we go, Episode 1! Here’s Marcus, with an opening gambit of ‘Today’s my first day, as it is yours. I’m also nervous, you know my expectations: I love great food, I love precision, I love flavour’ - too right.
Highlights in the first round came mainly in the form of Darren: shaky of hand, gentle of voice, mad of skills. ‘Enjoy yourself! We’re looking for happy food!’ cried Marcus - and despite the shaking, Darren pulls of an incredible quail dish. We see a touch of ‘Scary Marcus’ when Justin leaved the bloodline in his halibut, but aside from that it’s all nervous, reverent chefs trying not to mess up, the same as always.
One of the cutest moments, possibly ever on MasterChef, came from Mark and his Lamb and shepherd’s pie dish. ‘I love shepherd’s pie’ twinkled Marcus ‘I’m a Lancashire lad!’ Mark’s heart exploded… ‘I’m a Lancashire lad too!’
Sadly, all this Lancashire lad bonding was for nowt when Mark plated up a disappointing pie, with Marcus giving him the thumbs down for a runny gravy and lack of browning on the topping. Poor Mark was given the chop, and went from Lancashire lad to Lancashire sad.
Monica was on top form as always judging the distinctly wonky croque on bouche assemblies, and in the final cook-off, we see a very welcome change in format that I find very exciting.