The second week of ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’ may be under way but such was the drama of the first week, it has fallen upon me to report back for Great British Chefs on some of the highlights and lowlights that have unfolded so far. The thrills, the spills and the coconut tuiles, as it were. So without further ado, here is a very quick, slightly irreverent appraisal of what Michel Jr, Monica, Gregg and the somewhat nervous gang of chefs have been up to so far.
The rallying cry from Monica and Gregg in the opening episode was that the competing chefs had to “Be creative. Show off. Stand out.” And the first eight to come out of the starting blocks certainly had a good crack at the whip during the invention test, with some showing off and standing out for all the wrong reasons.
Tattooed Marcus from Trent (what is it with chefs and tattoos?) produced a plate of fine food yet ruined things with skid marks across the plate. Curry man Luke confessed that he wasn’t a fan of French cooking, something that he was advised to keep quiet about. Meanwhile, Quentin played hide and seek on the plate with his salty cookie.
The boot camp continued in episode two as sergeant Gregg barked at everyone to “KEEP IT UP!” However, the aforementioned coconuts tuiles were pretty much a disaster for everyone and things didn’t get any better after Michel’s master class in beer cookery. Matt’s offering of a cheese sandwich, though admirable (come on, who doesn’t love a cheese sandwich) fell well short of the choux pastry that Michel was after. But at least he didn’t burn his buns. Unlike Lindsay, who had to walk. Her revealing quote of “I have never cooked classics but I have had a lot of classic training” may haunt Lindsay forever, I am sad to say.
The third episode showed more promise and South African chef Petrus showed more teeth than I have ever seen in my whole life. During the invention test, Michael pinned his chefs’ whites to the mast by actually tasting ingredients as he cooked and Scottish Scott from St Andrews wowed with a ceviche of abalone. Slightly chewy, Monica noted but hey, he displayed some fine knowledge and skill, so slaps on the back all round. No handshake for Quentin though. He totally messed up his pomme duchesse and he was Fronch for goodness sakes. No, he had to go.
Round four and suddenly, everything was at stake. Six chefs in the quarter final and that meant only two could go through to the semis, which in turn meant that two chefs had to go in the quarter final stage before the critics could decide what two chefs were good enough for the next round, the semis. Are you keeping up?
More invention testing soon sorted out the men from the boys (incidentally, could we try and find more female contestants for the next series, please?) with the majority going for pigeon, a delightful gamey bird, that in the right hands can dance on the palate. Unfortunately Matt got his hands on it first and was soon asked to leave. So was Michael, for lack of a wow factor, which I felt was out of order because he was evidently a competent chef. In fact, if I ever meet Michel and Monica, I am going to point and tell them “You were well aaht of ordaaah!”
The remaining chefs then had to impress three irrepressible judges with their signature dishes. A very big gamble was taken by Marcus who served up an unusual trio of duck, squid and pineapple, which did not go down well at all. William Sitwell went so far as to say that it was the sort of thing Surrealist Filipo Marinetti may have conjured up back in the day, which really did make me scoff. Because everyone knows that Marinetti was a Futurist.
Otherwise, the verdicts were fair and it fairly obvious as to who was going to go through to the semi-finals. It had to be Luke with his masala monkfish and Scott with his lamb and sweetbreads. Petrus just missed out with his homespun creation and I can only hope that his wife forgives him; as apparently she was going to take all the money, should he have won.
So eight down, eight more to go and I wonder what is in store for the next bunch? Well, just stayed tuned for my next instalment of ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’ on Great British Chefs. And remember, I am watching so you don’t have to.