Episode 13 of MasterChef SA last night marked the halfway mark for the reality TV cooking show, and focused on the use of Dairy. Many panna cotta dishes were made for the Dairy Challenge, which panned out for some, and not so for others.
The episode began with the Finalists discovering that all their dairy products had been removed from the fridge in their house, and they reacted grumpily to not being able to have coffee to wake up with. Herman Cloete said their mood was ‘scratchy‘. When they arrived at the MasterChef kitchen, Chef Andrew Atkinson cheekily asked why they looked as if they did not have a good start to the day, knowing full well what had happened at the house. It was meant to introduce the Invention Test, to test the Finalists’ creativity with the products most commonly found in households, being dairy. The Pantry had been stocked with milk, cream, cheese, and yoghurts, and the Finalists were challenged to make any dish with dairy, be it a starter or dessert, as long as they got the basics right. They were given 10 minutes to grab their products in the Pantry, and 60 minutes to prepare their dish.
Joani Mitchell made a citrus sponge with mascarpone, topped with a brandy snap, which received exceptional praise from Chef Pete Goffe-Wood for being beautiful, and her ‘nice combination of ingredients‘. Karen Els was brave enough to make coconut fennel ice cream, based on what she had learnt in last week’s MasterClass at The Creamery, which she served with almond biscuit and carpaccio of fruit, and topped with a mint sherry syrup. Chef Andrew praised her dish as being ‘fabulous, rich, creamy’, and that all the elements had come together. Chef Benny Masekwameng added that the dish was ‘creamy, rich, flavourful’, and that she keeps improving. Khumo Twala made a Duo of Chocolate Mousse, one with dark chocolate and another with white chocolate, an improvisation as she had forgotten to take eggs out of the Pantry. She used cream to substitute for egg whites. The dish did not go down well, Chef Benny saying that she had forgotten ingredients in two simple challenges, while Chef Pete said that if one makes simple dishes one cannot hide mistakes. and said that her dish just was not good enough. Herman designed a dessert which he dedicated to ‘crazy’ Sanet Labuschagne, who was eliminated in episode 12, and who had become a good friend, using blueberries to represent her purple hair. He prepared a mixed berry millefeuille with white chocolate and a mixed berry sauce. Chef Andrew said the dish was well presented, and the biscuit tasted lovely, but that he could not taste the berries. Herman berated himself for not having done enough.
Tiron Eloff had very little airtime last night, and was praised for learning from Chef Henry Vigar of La Mouette in the Pressure Test in episode 12, for his texture and flavours. Amanda Beck also forgot a vital ingredient in the Pantry, oil to deep fry samoosas she planned to make, so she also had to improvise, making phyllo pastry for a lemongrass infused crème patisserie with cherry compote. Chef Andrew said that the pastry was not cooked through. While it had the flavours, nothing about the dish was ‘wow‘. Chef Benny added that it looked as if her sheets of pastry were hiding what had gone wrong in the dish. Kamini Pather made a mixed spice and cinnamon panna cotta with deconstructed apple and pancetta crumble, using Nederburg Noble Late Harvest in her sauce. Her panna cotta did not set immediately, so she put it in the blast freezer, which saved her dish from disaster. The idea for her sauce came from the MasterClass with Nederburg Razvan Macici, which she won for having won the best dish in episode 5 . Chef Benny described it as ‘light and creamy‘, with the sweet apple, and that it is ‘wonderful cooking‘. Chef Pete added that it was the best plate of food tasted in the whole competition to date. Chef Andrew shook his head, but with a smile he said that the dish was ‘spot on‘!
Jason Steel made a deconstructed cheesecake on a pistachio crumble with a thyme poached stone fruit compote. He beamed when each of the three chefs sang the praises of the dish, saying it was ‘very, very good’, has balance, ‘it’s a great idea‘, ‘beautiful textures‘, that he had grown from the two Pressure Tests, and that he had listened to and analysed the feedback from the judges. Leandri van der Wat emphasised that she missed out on her morning tea, and therefore had used it in her Earl Grey créme brûlée with chai latté and plums poached in rooibos, chilli, and mint. Chef Pete praised the creaminess of the brûlee, being ‘creamy, rich, and superb‘! Ozzy Osmond admitted that desserts are not his strength, but he wanted to push himself by making a duo dish of ginger and date baklava and orange and lemongrass panna cotta. His panna cotta did not set timeously, and he honestly admitted to the judges that he had made a ‘panna puddle‘. Chef Pete praised the concept of the dish, but said that the baklava was not good, its pastry being too thick, doughy, and therefore chewy. Chef Andrew said that if one makes a dish for the first time, one must know the basics. Seline van der Wat was in her element in making a dessert, and confidently made her Earl Grey panna cotta and white chocolate ganache as well as a deep-fried chocolate truffle dessert. She was proud of her plating. Chef Pete said she had prepared her best dish to date,and that her concept was superb. Chef Benny welcomed her back to the competition, having been in a number of Pressure Tests already. Mary Martin made a chocolate tart with raspberry, something she had never made before. Chef Pete observed her preparation, and was worried that she had used a large tart mould, which may cause the tart to not set, which is what happened, and she struggled to cut a perfect slice as the chocolate ganache had not set. Chef Andrew criticised her for her lack of time management skills, it not being the first time that she had run out of time. The chocolate was criticised for being bitter, the crust had not cooked through properly, and Mary did not focus on being on time, she was told.
The Checkers TV commercial was flighted in the show for the first time, with smooth talking controversial Chef Gordon Ramsay praising the different meat cuts offered by the supermarket chain, while entertainer Nataniël dryly looks over his shoulder to check that he does not swear as per his reputation to do so on cooking shows, and concludes at the end of the commercial that Chef Gordon isn’t too bad after all!
The judges raved about the variety of products which were available to the Finalists, and that it was the time for them to shine. Chef Pete anticipated that they would be impressed with the dairy dishes. He liked that the Finalists were pushing their limits, and that ‘it was all looking good’. If the Finalists did not shine, they could be in trouble. He praised the best ‘magical’ dishes of the day, being those of Kamini, Joani, Karen, Seline, and Jason, but it was Kamini that made the dish of the day, winning the right to choose her dream team for the next team challenge. Five Finalists were sent to tonight’s Pressure Test, being Herman, Mary, Khumo, Amanda, and Mary. They will have to replicate the dish of one of our most talented chefs, David Higgs, who headed the kitchen of Rust en Vrede, Eat Out‘s number one Top 10 restaurant in 2010, and now heading up the Five Hundred restaurant at the Saxon Boutique Hotel.
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, episode 11, and episode 12 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