Finally, it’s the semi-finals. After four weeks of quarter-finals, the contestants face five semi-final final cook-offs, before progressing on to finals week for three days of solid finals. I find the finality of all of this quite jarring.
The transition to semi-finals makes my job much easier - there are no new faces to take note of, no skills' tests to get excited about, no critics to despise; just some serious food fan-girling. As a result, expect a whole lot of good looking food in this post, it’s been a stunning week of dishes.
Week 5, round 1 - It’s strange to think we haven’t seen some of these faces for a month, and there’s bloody loads of them. With all of the rough and tumble of the quarter finals, it’s hard to remember sometimes how straight-up amazing these chefs are.
What about Darren! Amazing shaky Darren! And lovely Jamie, and of course, dreamboat Sven.
The format in this first heat is essentially one big cook-off, but no modern fun-time equipment is allowed. It’s all about being on the stove! Cooking the food! There’s a lot of caramelisation, lots of sauce, lots of Happy Marcus.
Sven’s in his element here. I have to say, he’s one of my favourites to win, even at this point. This has a lot to do with his approach to food - delicious, classic skills in modern context - basically the judges' dream guy.
Everyone's looking fairly focussed, and now for judging. Luciana's dish gets a bit of a beating due to tough cabbage and a tiny portion of guinea fowl...