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MasterChef: The Professionals, 2014, Week Three

MasterChef: The Professionals, 2014, Week Three

by Mecca Ibrahim 21 November 2014

Unwashed whelks, lots and lots of lamb, mastering mille feuille, making something out of nothing and facing the critics. We review the highs and lows of this week's MasterChef: The Professionals.

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Mecca is Head of Marketing & Social Media at Great British Chefs.

Another week as ten young hopeful chefs enter MasterChef: The Professionals' kitchen and face the critical eyes of Monica Galetti, Marcus Wareing and Gregg Wallace. It's easy for us to be armchair critics from the comfort of our homes, but I can't imagine how tough it must be under the scrutiny of the judges and cameras. It's hard not to let your professional training go out of the window cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen with so much at stake. So kudos to all of the chefs for taking part.

What stood out for me in the first episode of the week, was Scot's hot and cold rice pudding. I love desserts and I love rice pudding and usually get very excited when I hear a chef is making a dessert as their signature dish. No idea why it doesn't happen more often and it's a risk I'd like to see the chefs take more often.

Marcus Wareing is a fan of traditional British desserts and you could see his curiosity piqued immediately on hearing the title of Scot's dish. After tasting the dish he said ‘It's not comfort food, but it's a refined rice pudding.’

‘You seem to have produced a plate of beige’ said Gregg Wallace of Jonathan's fish dish. Luckily for Jonathan, both Monica and Marcus disagreed which was clearly all that mattered to him.

Faring less well was Billy's undercooked lamb. ‘It's still going baa’ said Monica. Judging by many comments on Twitter, the public agreed with her and it was home time for Billy.

Neat mille feuille
A decent mille feuille
Scruffy mille feuille
Not a decent mille feuille

Onto Monica's skills test of constructing a perfectly layered raspberry and creme pat mille feuille in 20 minutes. As usual Monica made this look super simple and as usual we saw a number of chefs crumble. The main problem seemed to be getting the caramel layers fine enough to be broken with the gentle tap of a spoon.

Scot's mille feuille looked the part, but the caramel layer needed something much more than gentle tap to break through it. Monica was worried about chipping her teeth on it.

Jonathan's nerves were getting the better of him and I could hardly watch his very shaky hands while he built his dessert. Yet in spite of this, his mille feuille drew praise.

Katherine, the first female chef of the series, was also worried about this task. Needlessly it turned out. Although it didn't have the finesse Monica's, Katherine had clearly won over Ms Galetti ‘I like her fight’ she said to Gregg.

 
 
‘You seem to have produced a plate of beige’ said Gregg Wallace of Jonathan's fish dish.
Undercooked lamb
Billy's undercooked lamb

Finally Marcus Wareing's Invention test was to create a spectacular lamb dish. If you hadn't eaten already, you would have been starving after watching Marcus at work. Based on his mum's roast lamb, he whipped up an amazing shoulder of lamb with mint and radish. The chefs had an hour to put together their masterpieces.

Once again Katherine excelled much to her own surprise. ‘You've delivered this on the nose’ said Marcus. Completely overwhelmed Katherine declared it as the proudest moment of her life.

Week three - day two: Another chef started with dessert as his signature dish. Kuldeep created a modern take on a Goan pancake dessert than traditionally takes 48 hours to create. Marcus was really looking forward to it as he said with Indian cookery, dessert is normally the forgotten part of the meal.

Unfortunately the dish did not live up the judges' expectations. ‘Hope it tastes better than it looks’ said Monica. Marcus was disappointed with flavours, expecting something more knockout. ‘It just didn't come together.’

Lee's loin of rabbit with baby carrot also intrigued Marcus, but he wasn't very happy about Lee not using peeled carrots for the purée. ‘There's not a huge amount of attention to detail there’ he said. And the finished dish.... ‘It's very orange. Needs a volume control’ said Gregg.

Kris fared much better. He prepared pan fried poussin, crispy quinoa, sweetcorn purée and confit egg. ‘This is a wonderfully dressed plate’, Monica enthused. Marcus was equally full of praise. ‘You've looked around from your surroundings. Everything about this dish is about you.’ Sounds like Kris would do well on Great British Menu with his preference for serving ‘food with a story’.

Craig served a Celebration of Lamb Three Ways. As Shepherd's Pie (one of Marcus Wareing's favourite dishes) was on the menu we were all expecting good things. ‘I'm not sure it's a celebration from its presentation.’ said Marcus. ‘Lacks oomph’ announced Monica. Gregg agreed, ‘I don't see it as fine dining or an attempt of fine dining’.

So it was goodbye to Craig and the remaining four chefs faced Monica's skills test of whelks and winkles. Gregg wasn't surprised that none of the chefs had handled these shelled creatures before. Playing the old East End boy to the full, he was looking forward to see how the chefs would tackle the Cockney staple.

Having lived in London all of my life, I must say I've never eaten a whelk or a winkle, so I had every sympathy for the chefs. Although I was surprised that Ben thought the whelks were sea urchins!

Sadly only one of the four chefs thought to wash the whelks and winkles, which drew stern looks from Monica. Lee was the only chef to wash them, but then he left the best bits of the winkles on the chopping board. ‘Rubbery whelks in cream are not top of my wish list’, said Gregg. ‘But at least there's no grit in them’ said Monica.

Marcus Wareing chocolate dessert
Marcus's chocolate creation
Chocolate dessert
Lee's dessert

Finally Marcus' invention test was one for chocolate lovers everywhere. He prepared a creative warm chocolate custard, covered in a crunchy coating and served with caramelised ice cream. The key to the meringue in his dessert was lots of air. He demonstrated with a test I'd seen from my school days of Home Economics. ‘Meringue shouldn't move. Put it over your head. If it's good it stays in the bowl, if it doesn't, it's on your head.’

The chefs had an hour to cook a stunning dark chocolate dessert. Kris wasn't happy as he felt there was no story behind his dessert. ‘Create one then’, Gregg said.

Ben's dessert was a little too rich for Gregg. ‘Are you cutting back on dessert?’ Marcus asked Gregg with a somewhat surprised look on his face. Also Lee's dessert was too heavy for Gregg ‘If you threw that at me, it would take a good couple of showers to get it off.’

However, it was time for Kuldeep to go. He ran out of time and didn't plate his fondant. Coupled with preparing a pudding that Marcus had to use a knife to break into and an admittedly bad time at Monica's skills test, he was out of the show.

 
 
MasterChef contestants
The contestants await their fate
Teacup dessert
Jonathan's 'Tea and biscuits'

Week 3, Day 3 - It was time for the remaining chefs to complete the scraps challenge and face the critics.

Katherine wowed the judges with her fish course in the scraps round.

‘Storytelling’ Kris produced a Bouillabaisse for this round which was too orangey for Marcus's taste. Kris also wasn't particularly happy with his dish and didn't seem too surprised to leave.

Finally the chefs had to please the critics with more signature dishes for a place in the semi-finals.

Quote of the night came from Jay Rayner who's a fan of fat in his meat! ‘Fat is where the flavour is’ he said, ‘If for some reason you were forced to eat me, I'd be delicious’.

Less than delicious was Scot's turbot. ‘It's sort of a lot of nothing’, said Tracey Macleod. Ben's Laska main course was pronounced as a ‘lurid road accident’. Fortunately his strawberries and cream dessert fared much better.

‘If you were expecting strawberries and cream, you'd be pleased with this’, said Tracey of his strawberry panna cotta.

The critics’ biggest praise went to Jonathan for his ‘Tea and Biscuits’. His soufflé caused much less argument than last week's battle of the soufflés between Jay Rayner and William Sitwell. ‘Fun’ and ‘quirky’ were used frequently in describing it. Although I was with Tracey Macleod and many people on Twitter about not being wild about the used tea bag prop on his plate.

At the end of the show, someone had to leave and it was time to say goodbye Ben. Not a popular departure on Twitter, but Ben himself took it very well.

Join us for the semi-finals next week.

 

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MasterChef: The Professionals, 2014, Week Three

 
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