Episode 2 of MasterChef SA was boring, long and drawn out, a continuation of Tuesday’s Hot Auditions held in Johannesburg. The episode was characterised by tears, two references to parents passing away, and lots of happy hugging of the judges by the lucky winners of the white aprons, entitling them to attend Bootcamp. The contestants were less characterful and impressive than those of Tuesday evening.
The episode was inconsistent, showing some contestants winning the apron, without their names being revealed. and almost no motivation provided as to why the judges chose them. It is a shame too that some of the contestants’ friends and colleagues (e.g. of Shannon Smuts) Tweeted about her performance all day, making the outcome pretty certain, this taking away some of the surprise. Generally it was a long drawn out episode, with the repetition of food preparation in 45 minutes, plating in 5 minutes, and then seeing the judges stuffing themselves, almost having a bun fight over a custard! The mention of a parent having passed away by two contestants, one mentioning it twice to the camera, was seen by Tweeters to be overdone, and begging for a sympathy vote!
Based on the same principle of highlighting those contestants which received the most screen time last night, we predict that the following will go through to Nederburg, if they survive Bootcamp next week:
1. Tiron Eloff works at a video store, which may be sold due to the tough times, which will allow him to become a professional chef. He said that he had paid so much attention to other people in his life, and that it was time to focus on himself now. He prepared a rare grilled hanger steak, which Chef Pete was sceptical about, it being a difficult cut of meat to do well, and which Tiron admitted to only having prepared once before, and having overcooked it then! His jus was made with sugar, port, and Cabernet Sauvignon. He looked extremely nervous whilst the judges sampled his food. Chef Pete reiterated that it was a challenging piece of meat, and that it may not have been a good idea to try to make it on such an important occasion, but that it had turned out perfectly. He was supported by Chef Andrew, who praised the steak and its perfect seasoning. Twitter: @TironEloff
2. Mary was a Latin American dancer and now is a stay-at-home mom, so the judges were playing with words when they provided the feedback, saying she needed to put her best foot forward and learn the steps of cooking, Chef Pete saying he wanted to see her dance some more. Chef Benny loved her dish of gnocchi, prawns, chorizo, and cherry tomatoes, while Chef Pete said that the individual pieces were too large.
3. Bubbly twenty year old Linda (called Monkey). with a hint of pink in her hair, went ape when she was selected, making a three course meal, including a Thai Trio, which Chef Andrew rejected on the basis of its overpowering sauce and dry noodles. However, Chef Pete liked the dish, but warned her that she should have focused on one dish only. Chef Benny also gave her a ‘Yes’, and she hugged the judges, jumping for joy.
4. Tumi works for SARS, and said that he has a passion for cooking, which he does at home, spoiling his wife. He prepared a Seafood Fettucini, praised by all three judges for being perfect home-made pasta. Chef Pete was disappointed that it wasn’t lunchtime yet, as he could have finished the whole dish!
5. Gershwin expressed his love for cooking and prepared a medium rare beef fillet with watercress. Chef Benny rejected his dish, for having no salt and pepper, fundamental seasoning he said, but he did praise the ‘4 star restaurant plating’ of his dish. But Chefs Pete and Andrew allowed him to go through, as he had executed a safe and classic dish well.
6. Karen Els is a stay at home mom from KwaZulu-Natal, and she was ecstatic when she received her apron, loving her cooking more than her husband and children, she admitted in her joy. She said it is her time to shine, and described the making and presentation of food as an ‘art form’. She prepared a waterblommetjie-stuffed ostrich dish, served with cous cous. Chefs Benny and Andrew gave her dish the go-ahead, which resulted in a flood of tears. Twitter: @kelsfoodie
7. Alistair works at Nedbank (as does Season 1 winner Deena Naidoo) and is a third year student in Musicology he said. He mentioned twice that his mother had just passed away, and cried as he entered the judging arena, being very emotional. His mother had always urged him to do the best, and to win. He did say that he was happy to be at the Hot Audition. He prepared an Asian-style Seared Tuna, Chef Pete praising its flavours having been drawn out well, and Chef Benny gave him a thumbs-up too.
8. Khumo Twala made a Sticky Toffee pudding, with a custard which the three judges were fighting over to finish. No further information was provided about her, but she received her apron for Bootcamp. Twitter: @Simply_khumski
9. Pashi from Durban is a marketer, and also lost his father recently, and now supports his family. He wants to change career direction and cook full-time, realising that he can earn money from it. His Crayfish and Mussels dish, made with a Thai massaman curry sauce, was well received for its delicate touch and lovely flavours, earning him an apron. Twitter: @Pashi187
10. Rowan from Durban said he has been cooking since the age of 12, and made a Moroccan chicken fillet. Chef Pete did not like it at all, saying it was as dry as the desert in Morocco. Chefs Benny and Andrew said the chicken was a little dry, but that the sauce picked up the dish, giving him an apron.
11. Shannon Smuts is a graphic designer at Good Housekeeping magazine in Cape Town, and when asked what she wants from the programme, she confidently answered that she wants her own cooking TV show and a cook book! She has a huge Twitter fan club already! She has lived in Thailand, and made Thai curry parcels with a self-made curry paste. Chef Pete did not like the dish for having too much pastry, but the other two judges liked the crispness of the pastry and the taste of the paste. She jumped for joy too, and hugged all three the judges! Twitter: @Shananigems
There seemed to be far more non-sponsor advertisements last night compared to Tuesday evening, and they dominated the sponsor presence: Ariel (a surprise), Spur, FNB, Scooters, Stanlib, Cell C, Spar, ESKOM, and Samsung.
For an overview of what is lying ahead for Season 2 read here. For behind the scenes information on the filming of Season 2 in January read here. We want to clarify that M-Net has a strict procedure for interviewing contestants, all writers having to obtain permission from their PR Manager Ingrid Engelbrecht upfront. The condition is that all writers have to submit their story to Ms Engelbrecht for approval and sometimes minimal editing before being allowed to publish it. We have agreed to follow this rule, so that we can have the opportunity to write stories about the contestants during the course of season 2. This appears to be an unusual procedure relative to other food reality TV shows, especially as we signed a confidentiality agreement before attending the Media Day. This rule only applies to contestant interviews, and in no way affects writing a summary of each episode such as this one.
Next week’s episodes will focus on the Bootcamp, and are likely to be far more exciting that the first two episodes. They will also be an opportunity to get to know some of the Finalists better, and to see how they cope under pressure. If this week is anything to go by, we are in for a lot more tears (especially from the men it would appear!) in the next 12 weeks to come!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage