Last night’s episode 12 kept viewers glued to the screen, as Finalists Sanet Labuschagne, Tiron Eloff, and Jason Steel had to replicate La Mouette Chef Henry Vigar’s dish. Karen Els enjoyed her special MasterClass at The Creamery.
Chef Henry Vigar of La Mouette was the ‘top Cape Town chef‘ viewers were told would be present in the episode, and whose dish they had to replicate. When Chef Pete Goffe-Wood introduced the chef as being a good friend, that it is his favourite restaurant, and that the chef is from the UK and has a South African wife, and has worked at top UK restaurants, we could not help but think that it was Chef Luke Dale-Roberts from The Test Kitchen and the Pot Luck Club, as the description could have equally applied to him. As Chef Henry has not made the Eat Out Top 20 list since he opened in Cape Town three years ago, it was a surprise that M-Net overstated his standing, as he is very low key on the Cape Town restaurant scene. Kamini Pather said that the restaurant is best known for its six course tasting menu. La Mouette was a favourite of ours when it opened, but we have not been for a long time, due to poor service, even from the owners. Chef Henry’s dish was Salt and pepper prawns, chorizo popcorn, tamarind sauce, and shaved radish on sweetcorn purée. The task was to replicate Chef Henry’s dish exactly and to make four exact portions of it.
The three Finalists had different approaches to preparing the dish in the 60 minutes allocated, but Chef Henry told the judges that the purée should be prepared first, and that they should remember to switch on the fryers for the prawns. Sanet started by reading her menu thoroughly, and her fellow Finalists feared for her dish in that she was spending too much time on the menu. She made her popcorn first, and did not switch the fryer on immediately, a weakness as it requires time to heat up. Sanet expressed fear of the ‘fancy machine’ blender, one she had never used before. She did not dip the calamari into milk before coating it in flour and placing it into the fryer, and her friend Herman Cloete expressed his concern that she had spent too much time on the purée, and that she had not peeled the prawns. She forgot the tamarind sauce on the stove, and it burnt, so that she had to make it again. In her panic her bowl of popcorn fell onto the floor. She was two prawns short, and had to cut two into half to stretch them over the four plates. Sanet’s tears ran freely throughout the episode, and she said that she was not feeling very positive when she had completed her dish, not remembering exactly how Chef Henry’s dish was plated. She completed the dish just in time, despite Chef Henry’s reservations about her timing. Facing the judges, she cried again, asking herself if she belongs at MasterChef SA, as she had been disorganised, the time having run away. Chef Henry picked up that she had not dipped the prawns in milk, as there was no crumbing, and that she had done ‘free hand plating‘. She had plated too much purée, her prawns lacked crunch, the purée lacked seasoning, and the tamarind sauce was not evident to the judges.
Tiron was said by Chefs Andrew Atkinson and Henry to have an untidy work station, being ‘organised chaos’. Tiron said he wanted to be more precise and structured. His focus was to get his dish as close to that of Chef Henry’s, not being allowed to add his own personal plating touch. It was his first Pressure Test to date. He told the judges that he was proud to get his dish so close to that of Chef Henry. Chef Henry said that the plating was one dimensional, but all four his plates looked similar to his. Chef Pete praised the balance and the good taste, saying that he could eat more of it. Chef Andrew was critical that there was too little purée and sauce on the plate to lift the dish.
Jason did the sweetcorn purée first, and said that he was relatively confident, focusing on balance of taste and presentation. He wanted to allow ten minutes for the plating alone. He was late in frying the prawns, thinking that they had been cleaned, as the pack said that they were ‘ready to go’. Chef Henry said his dish looked nice, but that he forgot to cut the prawns in half, which Chef Pete said would be unforgivable in a restaurant, as it would affect the costing. His dish was praised for being very good, for having balance, that all the elements were there, was well seasoned, and the best praise of all came from Chef Andrew, who said it tasted as if Chef Henry had made it himself, the great taste having been replicated!
Karen drove to The Creamery in Salt River, where the owner Kate Schrire demonstrated the making of a beautiful looking naartjie and chocolate chip ice cream, making it look very easy. Karen said that Kate’s passion for ice cream is clear to see, and she was grateful to have won the MasterClass for her best dish made in Tuesday’s episode 11. Good news is that The Creamery Café is to open in Newlands next month.
Cape Town was the centre of attraction on MasterChef SA last night, in featuring La Mouette from Sea Point as well as The Creamery, an artisanal ice cream maker which has been growing by leaps and bounds, with a stand at the V&A Market on the Wharf in the V&A Waterfront, and sells at markets such as the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill. Chef Benny Masekwameng reminded the twelve remaining Finalists to stop playing it safe, and that the judges want to see magic. Chef Henry congratulated the Pressure Test contestants on the quality of the dishes prepared, which had not been an easy one, he said. Sanet was announced as being the Finalist to go home, and she burst into tears, saying that she was devastated, but that she was proud of her journey, and said confidently that ‘you have not seen the last of me‘. Chef Andrew said that she done well, that she had done some great dishes, and he wished her well on her future ventures. She said that being on MasterChef SA had changed her life, and was magic.
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, episode 10, and episode 11 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.
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