The dishes prepared in last night’s episode 18 of MasterChef SA were extreme opposites, from international fine dining cuisine to a hearty local family dish. No Immunity Pin was won, and likable Joani Mitchell was sent home.
The show started with the cooking duel between Tiron Eloff and Chef Jackie Cameron from Hartford House in the Natal Midlands, which Tiron had won in making the best Coconut dish in Tuesday’s episode 17. The restaurant is an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant regular, and Chef Jackie is beautiful, warm, and friendly, and it was a pleasure to meet her at the Eat Out gala dinner in November, sitting at the table with her and her Hartford House colleagues. Chef Jackie was filmed at the hotel, and she showed off her vegetable garden, supporting locally sourced produce, and her policy is to not overcomplicate dishes. For the cook-off she had made a Guineafowl dish with coq au vin gnocchi, roasted garlic, garden pea purée, seared mushrooms, oven-crisped Parma ham, and pecerino shavings. For the honour of participating in the cook-off, Tiron was allowed to wear a MasterChef SA jacket with his name on it, and he said that he could get used to wearing it. He looked very proud in it. Tiron was given a 15 minute headstart on the one hour preparation time, for which he received all the ingredients and a recipe, to replicate Chef Jackie’s dish, and she sweetly checked up on him and gave advice in the fifteen minutes she had to spare. Tiron said that there were a number of elements to prepare, and that timing is important. The potatoes stuck to the skin as he was peeling them. He believed that the taste of his dish was close to that of Chef Jackie. He appeared calm throughout. He said that ‘a chef’s plating looks like a masterpiece’.
The other Finalists watched from the Mezzanine level, and clapped and cheered for both Chef Jackie and Tiron, being excited in seeing a ‘Master Class’ in action. Chef Jackie said that her reputation was at stake, and said that she did not have an idea of Tiron’s cooking level. The Finalists commented with how much finesse Chef Jackie dismembered the guinea fowl, and how she prepared the dish without a recipe, reflecting her professionalism. She is precise with everything she does. The three judges tasted the two similar looking plates ‘blind’, the dishes only being numbered. There was little difference between the two plates in terms of plating. Tiron made dish one, and was praised for its gnocchi and sauce, but the dish needed more creaminess, the guineafowl was a little overcooked, the dish needed more salt, and the shredded leg was good, the judges said. Each judge rated the dish 7 out of 10, a total of 21 out of 30. Chef Pete Goffe-Wood liked its balance, the rich jus, and gnocchi, Chef Benny Masekwameng said there was no seasoning on the breast, while Chef Andrew Atkinson said the ragout needed more cream, but he liked how it all came together. Dish two was that of Chef Jackie, and received a total score of 25.5 out of 30, being praised for the perfect seasoning and cooking of the guineafowl, the smooth pea purée, but the gnocchi was criticised for being too stodgy, and the jus should have been reduced more, Chef Pete said. Chef Benny praised the finesse of the plating. Chef Jackie did a dance of happiness for having won the challenge, but said that she was impressed with Tiron, as it was a complicated dish to prepare in the time allocated. Chef Pete said that Tiron had done ‘us proud today’, and Tiron was radiant with the praise he received and how well he had done, despite not winning.
In the Elimination Test Karen Els, Joani, and Ozzy Osmond had to improve a base tasteless mince dish, by making a traditional South African Bobotie out of it, a sweet spicy mince dish with an egg custard and bayleaf topping. The dish originates from Indonesia, the first mention of it appearing in a Dutch recipe book in 1609, Chef Andrew said. It was declared South Africa’s National Dish by the United Nations in 1951. Each of the three Finalists could choose ten ingredients to improve and prepare their dish, making Bobotie out of it. It was another opportunity for MasterChef SA to blatantly push its sponsor Robertsons’ spices!
Karen and Joani both appeared confident, clearly having made Bobotie before. Most chose the basic ingredients of mild and spicy curry powder, chutney or apricot jam for sweetness, raisins, milk, bay leaves, coriander, and eggs. Bread soaked in milk was available, but Ozzy used dry bread to absorb the liquid. Karen chose fresh coriander in error, but decided to not use it, realising her mistake as soon as she came back to her station, as it is not used in traditional bobotie dishes. She was the only one to add tumeric. Joani used very rich double whipped cream instead of milk, and added her bay leaves to the mince instead of in the egg custard, Chef Andrew observed. Ozzy said immediately that he had never made or eaten the dish before. He had however watched someone make the dish, but that was quite some time ago. He said that he feels like ‘the underdog‘, and hoped that his tastebuds would come to the rescue! He described his custard as ‘one big omelet‘! Chef Andrew said he could not believe that Ozzy had never made bobotie before, saying that he was blown away by it, having perfect balance, it was a good interpretation of the brief, and that it was well done. Chef Benny said the dish had a hint of sweetness, while Chef Pete liked the spicy/sweet balance, but that the mince was too dry and the spices were too dominant. Karen was happy with the taste of her Bobotie, and Chef Pete liked the ‘perfume’ of the dish, but said it needed salt. He could taste the bayleaf, but said that the mince was too creamy. Chef Andrew added that he could taste the spice and fruit. Chef Benny was critical, not being able to taste enough of the sweetness. Karen cried when she received the feedback, saying that she was not yet ready to go home. Joani said that she was happy with her flavours. Chef Benny said that the cream made the dish too rich and oily, and that the seasoning was not evident. Chef Pete also could not taste the spices.
It was Joani who was eliminated from the episode, leaving many viewers saddened as she seemed such a nice and caring Finalist, who clearly was liked by her ‘colleagues’. Chef Pete said it ‘is never too late to change course midstream’, while Joani was philosophical, saying that she felt that she had offered something to the show. Via Twitter she has said that she is opening a cooking school, and is launching a corporate gift range ‘Joani’s Meza’. From the brief preview of episode 19, it appears that the remaining eight Finalists will be traveling next week!
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, episode 12, episode 13, episode 14, episode 15, episode 16, and episode 17 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