Five things we learnt from week one of MasterChef: The Professionals 2016

Five things we learnt from week five of MasterChef: The Professionals 2016

by Great British Chefs 13 December 2016

As the remaining chefs battle it out in the quarter-finals, there are less schoolboy errors – but at this level of the competition, there’s no room for mistakes. Take a look at what tripped up the contestants last week.

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No more mercy – from the quarter-finals onwards, Marcus, Monica and even Gregg go in to ruthless mode, no longer willing to forgive the chefs for little mistakes or oversights. This is when the cooking gets serious, with the chefs having to work in teams in professional kitchens, come up with dishes from limited larders and push themselves under some seriously limiting time constraints. This can lead to a little sweating, lots of panicking and some colossal errors that can make or break a chef’s dreams of winning the show. Here’s what did and didn’t work last week.

1. Tuna mousse and courgettes work together

Despite the judges’ initial doubts, Rich’s dish of tuna steak with clam sauce and a tuna mousse stuffed inside a courgette seemed to prove popular. While Gregg wasn’t a fan of the sauce, preferring the sweet bursts from the pomegranate and sweet potato purée, Rich has managed to polarise opinions throughout the competition and won the gamble every time.

2. Be careful with the crispy quinoa

Quinoa cooked until it’s crispy has popped up quite a bit on this series of MasterChef, as it’s a quick and easy way to add some crunch to a dish without affecting the overall flavour too much. However, when James used it in his sea trout and clam dish it fell flat; the little crunchy grains were too much like the grit you sometimes get from unclean shellfish, which hurt his chances of getting through to the next round.

3. Don’t add extra courses when you don’t need to

When cooking for the Royal Society of Medicine, the team decided to add another two dishes to the menu when they were just asked for three courses. While they were keen to impress at the start, they seemed to regret this decision a bit later as the lamb main was slightly overcooked and the final dessert was a bit of a meltdown, which begged the question – why bother to do something beyond the brief?

4. Don’t make ice cream, especially when savoury

Rich’s cauliflower ice cream was certainly experimental, and despite an initial panic over it not setting somehow a final ten minutes in the freezer turned it from sludge into something more quenellable. Unfortunately, his dish wasn’t much of a hit as it tasted more of salt than cauliflower, although Monica seemed more inclined to like it. Then Zoe had trouble with the ice cream for her Caribbean baked Alaska, which led her to leave the competition. Ice cream in general is risky, but if you’ve got limited time and working in an unfamiliar kitchen, it seems it’s almost guaranteed to fail.

5. All purple plates aren’t as clever as they look

For the final dish needed to get him through to the semis, James cooked something called ‘Frustration’. Apparently, this particular emotion is purple in colour, so the roast loin of venison with blackberries, purple potato croquettes, baby beetroot and a beetroot purée with pickled purple carrots and a port and juniper jus hammered all this home. Marcus thought it was just wrong, however, and the fact that everything on the dish was purple didn’t do much to cheer James up afterwards. However, he got through to the semi-finals anyway, paving the way to more emotionally-charged dishes next week, where chefs Alyn Williams and George Blogg will be adding to the pressure.