The tension and heart palpitations were back in episode 4 last night, after a weaker and less exciting episode 3. The judges were more smartly dressed, stronger, somewhat kinder in their judgement of the dishes prepared, and even gave the ‘pressure test’ contestants some tips, so that they could make the timing deadline. Surprisingly they sent two contestants home last night, being Charles Canning from Cape Town and Fortune Kangueehi from Windhoek – see our prior evaluation of the 18 contestants.
Episode 4 was the first to be filmed at Nederburg, in the revamped Johann Graue Auction Hall, which was transformed into an amazing 20-station kitchen with state-of-the-art equipment, and a fully stocked Woolworths Pantry. The 1000 square metre venue was fitted out with 15 tons of wood, and 5 km of underfloor cabling. The kitchen was the contestants’ ‘home’ for two months, from January to March. Little is seen of Nederburg, if one did not know that it was the venue, but one could see wine vats in the background.
The first test put to the contestants was a ‘Mystery Box’, traditionally a box of mixed ingredients from which they have to prepare a dish. The contestants looked nervous when they opened the box, fearing what they would see inside. They were most surprised when they found a childhood photograph of themselves in the box. The task was to create a dish which would reflect their childhood, which was where their culinary journey had begun, and the contestants were invited by the judges to put their ‘soul on the plate’. The judges gave the contestants hope when this task was completed, by saying that their parents and grandparents would have been proud of them.
Not all the 18 finalists were interviewed or filmed in last night’s episode. In most instances the evaluation of only one judge was shown. Mmutsi Maseko made her mother’s stew of leftovers, and wanted to add vetkoek and vegetables to the dish, but ran out of time, meaning that her meat was not perfectly cooked, and she had to leave out the vetkoek and vegetables. Khaya Silingile was praised for the contrasting flavours, and how the sauce complemented yet another perfect salmon dish, being a roulade her grandmother used to make. Samantha Nolan’s croquettes, made in honour of her Dutch father, was voted the top dish of the day by the judges, with excellent chips, sauce, and relish. Lwazi Mngoma made a dish he called ‘Seven Colours’, which included butternut, beetroot, meat, coleslaw, and carrots. The presentation was criticised by the judges, the carrots were said to be raw, and ‘the flavour was not there’. Charles Canning made a beautifully plated modern take on Bangers and Mash, reminding him of his granny, but the judges felt it to be too basic, with too much mash. Jade de Waal made an ‘old school’ Avocado Ritz (right) with a twist, as croquettes, which received very high praise from Chef Andrew Atkinson. Fortune Kangueehi made a Sunday lunch meal her mom used to make, with mince and sweet potatoes, reflecting her (Namibian) culture, in which they eat meat and starch every day, she said. Chef Pete Goffe-Wood found her meat to be ‘very raw, not cooked enough, and not up to scratch’. Berdina Schurink made a tart, reminding her of Sunday afternoon tea on the farm, but the pastry case broke after baking it. She topped it with what was judged to be an excellent rich not-too-sweet ganache, over which she added meringue, which should have been baked more, Chef Pete said. Chef Pete judged the base of her tart to be too soggy. Manisha Naidu’s ‘Chicken Three Ways’, with chicken breast, a curry sauce, and stuffed drumstick, was enjoyed by Chef Bennie Masekwameng.
The five ‘worst dishes’ were judged to be those by Berdina, Fortune, Charles, Mmutsi, and Lwazi, and as ‘punishment’ they had to take the ‘pressure test’, in making koeksisters (the Afrikaans version) and koesiesters (the Cape Malay version), the difference between the two similar sounding dishes not being clear to viewers, the preparation and look of the two sweet pastries differing. The judges became technical about the heat of the oil, and the temperature of the syrups into which they had to be dipped, the five contestants being required to make two sets of dough and two types of syrups. The 75 minutes allocated did not seem to be enough time for all five contestants, as the two types of dough had to cool down for 30 minutes and 15 minutes. Berdina spoke about the importance of being methodical and accurate in baking, and how important it is to read a recipe, which each of these contestants were given. Her koeksisters were beautifully plaited, and judged to be ‘damn good’. Fortune moaned about the odd ingredient list, e.g. half an egg, and a ‘quarter of this or that‘! She admitted that she became mixed up, and couldn’t remember if she had added baking powder or not. Unfortunately for her she was correct, Chef Pete picking it up. She could not hold back her tears, realising that two problem dishes would cost her a place in the competition. Even worse was seeing a tearful Charles, almost shocked that he too had to leave the programme. Mmutsi was praised by Chef Bennie for her crispy koeksisters, and was told that she was ‘spot on’, and ‘that they were a perfect interpretation’. Lwazi only got one of his two koeksister dishes correct, and was lucky that he remained a MasterChef SA contestant in this episode.
The judges told all the contestants, who had been watching their ‘pressure test’ contestant colleagues from above, that baking ‘needs the fundamentals to be right’. Fortune was sent on her way, Chef Bennie telling her that she can cook, and that she cooks with passion. Charles was told that he puts ‘a lot of heart into food’, when he too was eliminated. Samantha and Manisha Naidu were appointed as team leaders, having made the two best dishes of the day. The judges ended off the programme by reminding the contestants to ‘be the best or to go home’! They were also told to ‘never take anything for granted’ in the remaining episodes. The judges certainly delivered on this ‘promise’, by eliminating two instead of only one contestant last night.
New advertisers were Allan Gray, in a beautifully shot commercial, and inappropriate for the programme Tiger Wheel & Tyre and Jeep. Commercials for sponsors Robertsons, Woolworths, Hyundai, and Nederburg were flighted, as were those for Kenwood, Outsurance, VISA, Nashua Mobile/Cell C, smeg, Albany Ultima, Spar, and electricity-saving.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage