What we learnt from week five of MasterChef: The Professionals 2018

What we learnt from week six of MasterChef: The Professionals 2018

by Great British Chefs 17 December 2018

Eight semi-finalists must become four, as our hopeful chefs entered the kitchens of two of Britain’s finest culinary minds – Michael Caines at Lympstone Manor and Paul Ainsworth at Number 6.

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Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

It’s fair to say – there’s been some exceptional cooking so far in this year’s series of Masterchef: The Professionals. Eight extremely good chefs were left in the competition at the beginning of the week, and although we lost two in the first episode, the remaining six were rewarded with a chance to cook for two great British chefs we know very well indeed – Michael Caines at Lympstone Manor in Exmouth and Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 in Padstow.

If things seemed full on until now, the pressure is about to crank up to another level. Cooking for Monica and Marcus is one thing, but when the chefs join a real brigade and have to take responsibility for a dish being served to paying guests, it’s another thing entirely. All our chefs followed that up with another cook-off in the MasterChef kitchen, and by the end of the week, six became four, and we were left with our finalists. Read on for a few things we learnt from this week’s action.

1. Know your trends and seasons

Oli impressed the judges with his use of unusual but trendy produce like seawort and fig leaves. Chefs stick to seasonal produce for a reason – not only are things cheaper when they’re in season, they’re also at their most delicious. Check out our seasonal guide for December, and a few of our trend predictions for next year.

2. How to cook a lobster

It’s easy to be scared away from lobster – it’s expensive, and intimidating if you’re planning on buying something live. Michael Caines challenged our first three semi-finalists to cook him a lobster dish, and all three delivered well. Check out our how to guide and our collection of lobster recipes for more on tackling this tasty crustacean yourself.

3. Bold cuisine need bold spicing

Michelle presented an ambitious dish to the chefs on Tuesday – a falafel dish with whipped feta, preserved lemon, cumin and onion. The final result was a little confused, says Marcus, and Gregg believed she could have been much bolder with her spices. When you’re dealing with heavier, spice-based cuisines like north African, Indian and Middle Eastern food, it often pays to go bold with your spices and aim to pack a punch, rather than being delicate.

4. Be wary when cooking duck

Although duck is poultry, it should be treated more like red meat than white. If you overcook duck, it’ll go grey inside and the meat will be tough and chewy – the beauty of duck is in that bright shade of rose pink that should run through the meat when it’s perfectly cooked. Paul Ainsworth asked the second batch of chefs to recreate a duck dish, and Sean’s ended up a little bit over-cooked. Duck isn’t an easy meat to get right, but as always, the trick is in the preparation.

5. Use pickled vegetables to add extra acidity to rich dishes

Laurence impressed Paul Ainsworth with his duck dish, but Paul mentioned that his vegetables would have been better pickled – that acidity would have cut through the rich, meaty flavours in the rest of his dish. When you’re cooking meaty dishes, think about whether there are elements you can pickle to provide extra acidity to balance out your flavours. In the meantime, check out our pickling guide.