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MasterChef: The Professionals, 2014, Week Four

MasterChef: The Professionals, 2014, Week Four

by Ella Timney 28 November 2014

It's the final week of the heats round on MasterChef: The Professionals and Ella gives a round up of the week's highs and lows.

Ella is a Food Editor at Great British Chefs. She frequently puts her analytical skills to good use observing (and partaking in) drinking cultures in her favourite London ale pubs.

Oh MasterChef, dear MasterChef, how many more weeks of heats can I take? We’ve sifted through a lot of chefs and this week will complete the puzzle for the more intensive (and possibly more exciting?) final weeks of the competition.

More chefs are brought in, like cheffy lambs to slaughter. Everyone does okay in the first round, so far, so good - but wait! We have a maverick. Toffee with carrots, served with gurnard, you say?

'Toffee doesn't work with fish' - Concisely said, Marcus, thank you. Neeeext!

Thank goodness! Another messy, faintly revolting skills test. We hear now that Ben has a fish allergy. Hang on, didn't he just make mackerel with peanut and declare that he had indeed tried it? Hmm. Either way, he's clearly a pro, deftly dealing with the cuttlefish.

Poor young Leon, just 20 years old, is worried. 'I'm just hoping it's nothing too weird'

Oh no.

Oh dear God, no.

Despite the black goo exploding around his fingers as he slices through the cuttlefish's head, they still admire his perseverance.
image

Despite the black goo exploding around his fingers as he slices through the cuttlefish's head, they still admire his perseverance, and godammit at least he had a go. Well done Leon!

It's now crunch time, and this time Marcus is cooking sweetbreads. Mmm, glands! Despite these offally morsels being served in basically every bloody restaurant at the moment in the world ever, surprisingly few chefs are properly knowledgeable about them. This only increases my respect for these chefs.

Disclaimer: I know it's not the done thing to say you don't like sweetbreads, but I cannot live a lie.

The wonderful Luciana is taking a chance on a pie, an offally pie of wonder. Chatting about the previous round, Luciana acknowledges that Marcus is less scary than Monica. Finally, the concept of Mean Marcus has been dispelled!

'I've never been the good cop before! I've always been the bad cop! I'm so happy!'

Ahhh!

Luciana's pie does indeed win out, with Marcus noting that it must have been 'shortest pastry I have ever eaten'. I'm not being funny, but think of how much pastry Marcus Wareing has eaten in his life - that's one hell of an accolade.

Leon did a good job of the sweetbreads despite having not dealt with them before, but sadly, his time in the competition is over.

Week four, round two - what is becoming more of a running theme than in the past is Marcus and Monica disagreeing with the Seasoned Diner that hangs out with them each week. Ben's massive lamb dish didn't go down well with the two chefs, while the other one loved it, causing Marcus to throw what can only be described as Grade A stink-eye:

Marcus Wareing angry
Marcus's grade-A stink-eye
Chef tattoo
Sam say 'Just say yes chef'

Monica and Marcus loved Richard's apple dessert (revealing Marcus's love for crème pat in the process), while Gregg didn't like it! Marcus said it: 'Ignore him'.

Sam impressed the judges with a classically cooked dish, which is great, but if you cut that boy, he would bleed earnestness, such is his adherence to tradition. Whereas once, Frankie say 'Relax', Sam say 'Just say yes chef'.

It's nice to see someone not relying on bells and whistles to jazz up their food, but will it get a bit tiresome? We can only wait and see. His dish was stunningly good though, with Marcus going as far as to say he'd happily serve it in his restaurant.

Apart from that, there's more lovely cooking in this round. Danny was representing hard for Newcastle with his quail dish, which was so good Marcus said he 'nailed it'.

Unfortunately, Daniel's jerk quail just wasn't jerky enough. Monica likes her chilli, and there was just not enough. Bye Daniel.

 
 
Ben (yes, another Ben) actually disgusted Monica by hand massaging an avocado into submission for one canapé.
Monica Galetti disgusted face
Monica's disgust at a massaged avocado

The skills test was pretty straightforward - three canapés, and funnily enough mass-caterer Richard smashed it. Ben (yes, another Ben) actually disgusted Monica by hand massaging an avocado into submission for one canapé. Such is the pressure of MasterChef - people forget that forks exist.

We get some lovely Marcus memories next, with him reminiscing on the days where he was on the cold fish section and broke down thousands of crabs. He claims that at 17, he'd eaten more crab than any chef! Lucky Marcus!

The clear moral of this crab story is that they need to use the whole crab - all those goopey delicious guts and gonads that make up brown meat, alongside the prime crab real estate that is white meat.

We end up with two 'crabioli' dishes (crab ravioli, geddit?) and a bright yellow offering from Ben. A sushi rice risotto with no stock and a crispy white meat bit on top? No thank you. 'It was Italian, it was Japanese, it was yellow, it was average'. Farewell Ben.

The chefs gather themselves up for week four - round three, and the wonderful scraps test. And what a great bunch of chefs we have! This has to be one of the best weeks so far.

Luciana produces a croquette, because 'everybody loves a croquette', which is good but maybe not matching up to her previous dishes. Ben produces a rich broth with beautiful chickeny delights bobbing around in it. Richard gets close to perfection but his sauce lacks a bit of punch, and earnest Sam is once again struggling with the fine line between traditional brilliance and lack of innovation.

Fears are also beginning to surround Tobi - 'What I find really funny about Tobi is that he's just looking around the kitchen a lot, like he's in no man's land'. I share your concern, Marcus, he doesn't look quite with it. As a result, he produces a sloppy posset.

'It's a disaster' - again, thanks Marcus for getting right to the point. Farewell Tobi, farewell Sam.

Masterchef chicken broth
Unset posset
Tobi's sloppy posset

It's critics time! Hurrah! Once again, we enter into the strange realm of critics, with their shame, their desire, the deep psychodrama that is criticising food. First, he had William Sitwell stating: ‘I don’t know what half of that means, so she’s successfully bamboozling her diner’ about Luciana's Brazilian-tinged menu. Poor William, I'm sure he could expertly translate a French menu, and knows what yuzu and wakame are, but Brazilian ingredients are just too confusing for him.

Well, of course he had to eat his words - her duck dish was delightful, and they all lapped up these 'bamboozling' ingredients with vigour. Jay Rayner waded in to the being-ignorant-about-foreign-ingredients debate by almost accusing her of being a health freak by using acai. In Brazil, acai are just tasty berries - it's not her fault that the west has decided to market these berries as a faddish superfood. However, I can't personally condone her dessert, as it was mostly granola. What gives with all the granola recently?

Next, we see Richard, and Marcus is buzzing - Richard’s nappe-ing away at that halibut! He’s on the stove! He’s doing cooking and it looks amazing. He’s not done anything scary or challenging, but by God it looks amazing.

 
 
'I have a feeling that Richard has a very tidy sock drawer', notes Rayner.
image
William Sitwell overreacting to some salmon

The critics love it too, because there's nothing they can criticise as being faddy, or bastardising their childhood, or punching their mother. 'I have a feeling that Richard has a very tidy sock drawer', notes Rayner, and yes, it probably is.

Next is Danny, with 45°C salmon and curried cauliflower. Again, it's something that chefs do, chefs like cooking salmon sous vide at a certain temperature to achieve a specific, melty, faintly gelatinous texture. He meant to do it, because it tastes nice, and presents a whole new way of enjoying fish. The critics are outraged.

Charles Campion is so outraged, that he actually refuses to eat it. By this point, the critics are so livid with a method of cooking that is essentially the same as the age old technique of confit, that they are dead set against his rice pudding dessert.

'It's the wrong colour' proclaims Sitwell, petulant as a child who's not allowed their pudding.

Suprise suprise though, the chefs love it!

Ben seemed a bit nervous in this round, but he didn't need to be. Stunning Iberico pork for main course and a collection of milky, chocolate beauties made up his dessert, which somehow tapped into whatever it is that critics like.

And here we go - the final week of heats. Who leaves? Well, no one! Everyone is just too great to let go of.

What a happy ending to a tough week. Cheers!

 

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MasterChef: The Professionals, 2014, Week Four

 
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