Last night’s episode 11 of MasterChef SA was a very meaty one, with the full range of Woolworths meat cuts being available to the 13 Finalists for a spectacular dish they had to make, with beef as the hero. Some dishes were highly praised, others were mis-steaks mainly related to the amount of time needed for the cooking, and others did not meet the challenge brief, in playing it safe.
Chef Benny Masekwameng introduced the challenge, and described the cultural tradition of slaughtering a cow for special occasions and celebration. On the first day, one would serve the innards as a welcome dish. On day 2 the whole carcass would be prepared for the main feast, while on day 3 the head and trotters would be served, he explained, The Woolworths range of meats included fillet, sirloin, pickled tongue, boerewors, biltong, mince, shin, oxtail, and sausages. The Finalists had ten minutes to grab their ingredients from the Pantry, and were given 90 minutes within which to prepare their dishes. The creator of the best dish would win a personalised MasterClass, while the bottom three Finalists would have to go into the Pressure Test.
Amanda Beck made an East meets West Thai inspired Boerewors Won-Ton on a bed of noodles and mushrooms, served with a Rooibos-infused broth, which won high praise from the judges, Chef Pete Goffe-Wood saying that he had been sceptical about the dish initially, but that its balance was good, while Chef Benny said that the whole dish melted in his mouth and that the aromatics were refreshing. Leandri van der Wat is ever charming, and always pushing her limits. She made a beef fillet smoked with Rooibos tea over which she poured a dark chocolate sauce, to the disdain of Chef Andrew Atkinson, who said upfront that he does not like this combination. Her slices of meat were small, Chef Pete said, but the great smoky taste of the beef was spoilt by the chocolate sauce, he said. Tiron Eloff made a dish of oxtail and beer, which was not cooked for long enough, Chef Andrew not being able to cut the meat, describing it as ‘chewy, sinewy‘. Chef Benny added that courgette and potato were good combinations to serve with oxtail, but that 90 minutes were not enough time to cook oxtail. The outcome was that he goes into the Pressure Test this evening.
Seline van der Wat decided to make Beef Wellington with a local twist, which meant that her pastry had to cook through yet her meat had to be pink. Her pastry did not work well, so Chef Pete had suggested that she cut the meat into smaller pieces. She served it with a Bordelaise sauce. Ozzy Osman made a pink peppercorn sirloin and pickled ox tongue, and applied what he had learnt in the MasterClass by Chef Chris Erasmus at Pierneef à La Motte in episode 10, in terms of plating. Interesting is that he said that the pickled tongue was not halaal, contrary to the media statement which M-Net issued in this regard two weeks ago. Chef Pete said it was a ‘damn fine dish’, with acidity on the tongue and its plating spot on. Chef Benny added that it was well thought through, ‘respected ingredients’ having been used. Chef Andrew added that it was an ‘awesome dish‘, and that its presentation was spot on. Herman Cloete made a saffron ravioli of curried beef stew, criticised by Chef Andrew as being too hot, the dish not having balance, but that the self-made pasta was ‘lovely and thin’. Kamini Pather made a beautiful looking plate of potato mash with croquettes, highly praised on Twitter in terms of its plating, but little feedback from the judges was screened, Chef Andrew saying it had the right combination of flavours.
Jason Steel was in serious trouble the minute he decided that his dish should be a Trio of Beef, with fillet, deep fried strips of tongue, and braised shin. The shin needed 3 hours to cook, the judges said amongst themselves. Chef Pete advised him to keep the oven closed, and to not check the shin regularly. Chef Pete threw a tantrum when he tasted Jason’s dish, because the shin was not cooked enough, even giving Jason a piece to taste, as he had not tasted his dish before plating it. Chef Pete judged it to be inedible, and threw down his cutlery after tasting the dish, to harsh criticism by Tweeters. Jason’s mis-steak cost him a place in the Pressure Test. Karen Els is a happy and calm contestant, and she made beef fillet with paprika chorizo style sausage stuffing with Boerewors, served with patatas bravas, giving her rustic dish a Spanish slant. She was praised for her growing confidence by Chef Pete, saying that she was crawling out of her cocoon to become a butterfly emerging with beautiful food, praising her rustic dish and improved plating. Joani Mitchell made a sirloin steak pie, Chef Pete saying it was not the ideal cut of meat for it. He judged it to be too dry and therefore difficult to eat. Sanet Labuschagne was in tears in this episode, usually strong and confident, but the judges were disappointed that she played it so safe by using tinned tomato sauce and tinned cannellini beans, when she could have cooked them fresh. She had prepared a similar dish of meat balls in the competition, and this was also not to the judges’ liking. Chef Pete described her food as ‘uninspired, badly made’, in contrast to it being ‘crazy, loud, and alive’ in the past. Her lack of exertion in this episode sent her into tonight’s Pressure Test too, causing another flood of tears, saying that she was mortified. Khumo Twala was also tearful, being homesick, so she focused her energy into a dish from home, being chakalaka, to which she added cucumber and cauliflower, and beef stew. Chef Benny loved the starch, saying it said ‘eat me’, while her stew could have cooked a bit longer. Mary Martin made braised shortrib with gnocchi, which Chef Benny described as ‘melt in the mouth‘, and mushrooms.
The Woolworths TV commercials must be praised yet again, and last night’s steak commercial was mouthwateringly good. The top four beef dishes were judged to have been made by Amanda, Ozzy, Leandri, and Karen, but it was Karen who was judged to have made the dish of the day, and will be enjoying a one on one MasterClass in ice cream making at artisanal The Creamery, which will open The Creamery Café next month. Jason, Tiron, and Sanet were judged to be the bottom three Finalists going into the Pressure Test, which will see a top Cape Town chef making a dish which they have to replicate – could it be Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen and Pot Luck Club, Chef Rudi Liebenberg from the Mount Nelson Hotel, Chef Eric Bulpitt who was previously with The Round House and is opening a new restaurant in Hermanus, Chef Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine, or even Chef Bruce Robertson of the Boat House in Scarborough?
We visited Nederburg on Monday, on a very grey wintry day, to show our intern Lorraine where MasterChef was filmed earlier this year. It was most disappointing, there being nothing to see, all branding and any signs of MasterChef SA having been removed from the building! In the Nederburg Tasting Room there is no visible MasterChef branding or image carryover, to link MasterChef SA to the wine brand.
For an overview of what is lying ahead for the rest of Season 2 read here. For behind the scenes information on the filming of Season 2 in January read here. For an overview of episode 1 of Season 2 read here. For an overview of episode 2 of Season 2 read here, for episode 3 read here, for episode 4 here, episode 5 here, episode 6 here, episode 7, episode 8, episode 9, and episode 10 read here. Enter our competitions, to predict the Finalist who will be eliminated in the next Pressure Test, and which Finalist will win MasterChef SA Season 2.
POSTSCRIPT 19/7: Yesterday The Times ran a story critical of M-Net not providing Ozzy Osman with halaal meat when he used tongue in his dish for this episode.
MasterChef SA Season 2. Tuesdays and Wednesdays 19h30 – 20h30. www.masterchefsa.dstv.co Twitter: @MasterChef_SA.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage