Tag Archives: Mmutsi Maseko

MasterChef SA episode 7: saved by the Navy bell, judges pig out on pork and turn the other cheek!

The seventh episode of MasterChef South Africa last night saw the first out-of-studio cooking action since the Finalists came to Nederburg, visiting the SA Navy ship SAS Amatola in Simonstown, mass cooking for the crew of 100. The Blue Team won by a close shave, and the Red Team collectively had to go into the ‘Pressure Test’ back at Nederburg, cooking a whole pig, each team member preparing a different part of it.  Finalist Mmutsi Maseko was sent home when her pork cheek dish did not meet the judges’ approval.

A SA Navy representative said that the meal requirement is that the food be tasty and nutritional, prepared according to a meal plan and calorie count.  The meal must be balanced, and the food must add to the morale of the crew.  Curry dish kings from the previous episode, Deena Naidoo and Thys Hattingh, were allowed to choose their Blue and Red teams for this challenge, respectively, and Deena chose Samatha Nolan, Sarel Loots, Jade de Waal, Manisha Naidu, Brandon Law, and Khaya Silingile.  The rest of the Finalists were chosen by Thys. The teams were given the brief to prepare a meal with a protein, one vegetable, and one starch within 90 minutes. Cooking conditions were less than favourable, the ships’ galley being too small to comfortably accommodate the MasterChef cooks.  Samantha was firmly in charge of the Blue team, even though Deena was the team leader, and she chose to make fried chicken, which had first been marinaded, and then covered in batter and deep fried, served with a rustic potato salad and broccoli. She confidently told a judge that she had made this dish many times before, showing once again that there is little that can rattle her, while Deena fetched ingredients that were required by his team. The potatoes were not as well cooked as they should have been, so they were cut into smaller pieces and the water was reduced by Khaya.  Thys’ Red team made lamb chops with carrots julienne and potatoes, and he instructed his team to make sure that each dish was tasted before serving, as the Finalists have been taught in previous episodes.  The navy crew came back for seconds and more, loving both teams’ food, and had to each ring a bell in voting for their favourite dish. It was a neck-to-neck contest, the Blue Team getting to the majority vote of 51 first. One of the Finalists asked how it was possible for a crewman to vote for chicken when he had eaten 5 lamb chops!

Back in the Nederburg MasterChef SA kitchen, the losing Red team was told that the team is only as strong as its weakest link.  The team members had to rank each other by placing a photograph of each into seven boxes, in front of the rest of the team, forcing an honesty from the Finalists that did not make all of them feel comfortable. Guy Clark had no shame in voting himself first, saying classically that ‘this is MasterChef, and not Master Best Friend’!  On the basis of the rankings, the seven Finalists were allowed to choose one each of seven pork parts, some of the Finalists visibly shuddering at what they saw.  Sue-Ann Allen chose first, having the highest ranking, taking the pork loin, being told that it should not be over-cooked.  Thys chose the pork belly, one of the most popular dishes in restaurants.  Guy looked for a challenge, and chose the pig’s ear, which he was told by Chef Pete Goffe-Woodhas to be braised to get it soft and gelatinous’.  Ilse Fourie chose the pork shoulder (right), being lean and fat, and was told that it must be cooked for long enough. Lungile Nhlanhla chose the tail, deciding to make a stew of it, reminding her of cooking chicken neck, slow cooking being required.  Babalwa Baartman chose the trotter, reminding her of her mother’s cooking at home. Poor Mmutsi Maseko had no choice, being the last ranked, and had to prepare the pork cheek.

During the 90 minutes that the Red team members had to prepare their pork dishes, the judges came up with pig-related phrases (‘bellyful’, ‘rub shoulders’, ‘trot over the finish line’, and more), which were felt to be corny, judging by the reaction on Twitter.  The judges praised the ‘wonderful smell’ of the dishes cooking, saying that they looked forward to tasting them.

Sue-Ann felt confident about her pork loin dish (left), to which she added apple and a honey and mustard sauce, saying that she had thoroughly enjoyed cooking the dish, and once again had realised that she belongs in the kitchen. The judges were less impressed, saying that she had ‘killed it’, despite having chosen the best pork cut, in that it was very dry.  Mmutsi decided to turn her grilled pork cheek into Dim Sum, something she had never made before, having been inspired about the dish in seeing it on TV, which elicited a cheeky response from Chef Andrew Atkinson! He judged the pastry to be too thick, and the cooking time to have been too short, there still being too much fat, one mainly tasting the fat and oil.  Thys braised the pork belly in a red wine sauce, which Chef Pete sounded like ‘Glühwein’ from its ingredient list!  He wanted it to ‘take one to Sunday’, and he succeeded, according to the judges. Ilse had added mash, and a citrus, cherry and star anise sauce, to her pork shoulder dish. Having only received accolades up to now, she must have been disappointed by Chef Pete’s initial feedback that her plating looked very brown, but after tasting the dish he judged it to be the ‘hero of the afternoon’. Guy said that he had never prepared pork ear before, but had once seen a recipe for it, flavouring it and deep-frying it, preparing it whole (right).  Chef Pete said it had been an ‘adventurous choice’, but he was not that happy with it, saying that it had not been cooked properly and was very ‘chewy’. Lungili was proud of her dish, saying that the pork tail meat was falling off the bone, as she wanted it. Chef Benny Masekwameng could not wait to taste it, saying she had prepared a big platter, having brought chakalaka into her pork tail dish. Chef Benny was beaming after tasting it, volunteering to be the man her mother is looking for for her, to much laughter and applause!  Babalwa’s trotter dish was judged to be a ‘good attempt’ by Chef Benny.

Ilse and Lungile were judged to have made the best pork dishes. The two worst dishes were those by Mmutsi and Sue-Ann, and in the end it was Mmutsi that was sent home, given that she had landed in the ‘Pressure Test’ twice before.  She was sent home with the comforting words that she is a winner to herself and her family, and she said that she is leaving ‘better prepared’ and ‘as a more confident cook’.

Interesting was the debate on Twitter after the show about MasterChef SA discriminating against Jewish and Muslim contestants, in having allocated so much time to pork preparation last night.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

MasterChef SA episode 7:who will be booted out? Win with Grande Provence and new Chef Darren Badenhorst!

MasterChef SA is the talk of the country, and we have 12 more gripping episodes to look forward to in the next three months. To spice things up a little, we have launched two competitions, the first being a prediction of who will win MasterChef SA in episode 18.

We are also running a weekly lucky draw for the correct prediction of who our readers think will be booted out of the MasterChef SA every week.  For the correct prediction of who will leave MasterChef SA in episode 7 tomorrow (1 May), Grande Provence has generously offered a 3-course restaurant voucher for two, to the value of R600 to the winner.

It is sad to have bid Chef Darren Roberts goodbye, who was at the helm of the Grande Provence kitchen for almost three years and took it to an Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant. He is leaving to take up a new position at a hospitality group in the Seychelles.  Chef Darren Roberts is very talented, and his plating has been most impressive.  Following in his footsteps, and having been the sous chef for the past year, is the new Executive Chef Darren Badenhorst, who takes over the Grande Provence kitchen from today.  The two chefs handed over to each other in the past month already, when Chef Darren Roberts went to Australia.

Chef Darren Badenhorst left school in Durban to study marketing, but gave up after a year, because he realised that his passion lay in cooking. He enrolled at the Christina Martin School of Food and Wine, the most prominent culinary school in KwaZulu-Natal, where he did a  one year intensive, ‘extremely strenuous’, diploma course.  From there he went to the Benguerra Lodge in Mozambique as Executive Chef, but his stay was short-lived, having to evacuate the island after the worst ever cyclone to hit Africa destroyed most buildings on the island. He was appointed at Zimbali Boutique Hotel as Chef de Partie. He then moved to Eat Me Gourmet Café, a private contract catering company,  moving to Three Cities‘ One on One Events catering company, promoted to Executive Chef. Feeling that he had reached a glass ceiling, he moved to the Cape, and joined Gregory Czarnecki at Waterkloof. In this time he met Chef Darren Roberts at one of the magnificent Big Five Multiple Sclerosis charity lunches at which Waterkloof had participated, and saw him as an ‘industry dad’. The two chefs will stay in touch, having been a good team.

He sees the level of cuisine in the Cape to be far beyond that of any other region, and believes that competition between restaurants brings out the best in them, and is key to creating consistency. Flair and passion must show at all times.  He admires Chef Neil Jewell for his charcuterie, there being no comparison, and Chef Margot Janse from Le Quartier Francais, for her creativity and experimentation with the food that she prepares.  Chef Darren Badenhorst says that he will not change the menu drastically, sticking to the fine dining French cuisine with an Asian twist.  The quality will be the same, but he will add his stamp to it.  He has a small team of six in the kitchen, which will grow next summer.  He lives on the Grande Provence farm, and loves his job, rarely taking time off.  He likes to create dishes with balance, in texture and in colour.  Coming from the Natal coast, he loves diving and spearfishing, and also therefore preparing seafood. His first new addition to the menu is a delicious soft shell crab starter on pan-fried sushi with sesame seed, with a soft boiled yolk presented in a beautifully crafted kataifi pastry, the colour coming from a red pepper aioli, and finished off with soya and wasabi pearls.

Tweet your prediction of which of the 14 remaining finalists will be booted out of MasterChef SA to @WhaleCottage, or e-mail it to whalecot@iafrica.com. Closing time for entries is Tuesday 1 May at 19h30, at the start of episode 7.  The winner will be contacted immediately after the show ends. There will be a weekly Restaurant Voucher prize draw per episode for the correct prediction of who will be booted out of MasterChef SA, and voting for the following episode can start as soon as that day’s episode has been aired. Should there be no correct entry received, the prize is rolled over to go to another week.

POSTSCRIPT 1/5: No one correctly predicted that Mmutsi Maseko would be voted out in episode 7 this evening.  The Grande Provence restaurant voucher will go forward to another MasterChef SA week.

The Restaurant at Grande Provence, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 876-8600. www.grandeprovence.co.za Twitter: @DarrenBChef  Monday – Sunday, Lunch and Dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

MasterChef SA episode 5: harvests Finalists’ cooking skills, keeps it simple!

Episode 5 of MasterChef SA seemed all over the show last night, incorporating a Harvest Celebration lunch for 40 Nederburg staff, a Franco-African gourmet lamb dish, interspersed with a quick visit by Chef Michael Broughton, challenging a broad spectrum of cooking skills of the Finalists, and resulting in the elimination of Berdina Schurink. The episode lacked the tension of the previous four, and it was described as ‘boring’ and an ‘embarrassment‘ by some viewers after the show.  This episode allowed one to see and hear more of the Finalists.

The Harvest Celebration lunch was a nice idea, given Nederburg’s sponsorship of MasterChef SA, and it allowed filming on the wine estate, and for the lunch to be served outside the striking historical Cape Dutch manor house.  The 16 Finalists were divided into the Red and Blue Team, last week’s winners Manisha Naidu and Samantha Nolan having been elected as team leaders, and each choosing seven Finalists for their teams. The brief was to prepare two courses, the Blue Team led by Manisha, serving a Tapas starter, quail (stuffed by Lwazi Mngoma, something he’d never prepared before, he said), ostrich, and chicken (rolled by Mmutsi Maseko, who held up the pace) served with a mushroom and white wine sauce.  The Red Team led by Samantha prepared a pork shoulder (which Chef Pete Goffe-Wood did not allow to be served initially as it was not cooked on the open fire for long enough), an Asian sauce, asparagus custard, as well as a pear and peach tart in phyllo pastry, made by Thys Hattingh. Both teams had two hours to prepare their dishes, and the Red team ran a little late in their preparation.  Khaya Silingile poured the wine and served the food for the Blue team, and her Marketing profession showed in the ‘marketing’ of her teams’ dishes for votes, while Sarel Loots introduced the Red team’s work in Afrikaans, a clever move, given that most of the Nederburg staff were probably Afrikaans-speaking. The guests had to vote by placing a basket of grapes on a trailer representing their vote, and the first team to reach 21 votes was declared the winner, being the Red team. Thys’ dessert probably clinched the winning vote for the team.

Michael Broughton is an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant chef at Terroir at Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch, and his involvement in the program was not pre-announced.  He was the ‘reward’ for the Red team for winning, and he conducted an exclusive Masterclass for the team, styling a beautiful dessert, and showing them how to prepare fish, presented very quickly.  The take-out for the Finalists was that ‘keeping it simple and making it look beautiful is enough’, said Sue-Ann Allen.

Pre-announced was the participation of Chef Coco Reinarhz of Sel et Poivre and Le Petit Sel Bistro in Johannesburg, cooking Franco-African fusion cuisine, and proudly promoting the ‘unique beauty, fine flavours and unsurpassed richness of African cuisine‘, the restaurant’s website states.  He has co-authored a cookbook about African Cuisine with Anna Trapido.  Chef Coco originates from Burundi. He spoke with a beautiful French accent, and was firm in his evaluation of the food prepared for him.  Nice was the collegiality from the other Finalists, giving tips from above, for example how to get to the heart of the artichokes. The judges discussed that cooking to time is a reality for restaurants, always under time pressure.  Chef Pete looked smart in a white hat while the Harvest Celebration was filmed, and even wore a suit for Michael Broughton’s visit, not suiting his more relaxed lifestyle. For the first time Chef Andrew Atkinson looked more relaxed, and did not wear a jacket nor a waistcoat.

Out of the losing Blue team of eight, team leader Manisha was asked to chose the three ‘weakest’ members of her team for the Harvest Celebration lunch to go into the ‘Pressure Test‘, and she chose Berdina (for having done the least in preparing the lunch, she said), Mmutsi (for having been slow in preparing the chicken rolls), and most commendably, demonstrating her leadership skills, she volunteered herself, for being the team leader and therefore responsible for the outcome.  Chef Coco showed the three ‘Pressure Test’ Finalists his perfectly plated and cooked rack of lamb, with artichokes, breadcrumbs and baba ganoush, and they were given 90 minutes to replicate his dish. Berdina had cooked a perfect lamb dish for her Hot dish audition, but she seemed distraught at having to go into the ‘Pressure Test’ for the second time.  She approached her meat ‘like a skillful surgeon’, commented Deena Naidoo, the other 13 Finalists watching from above. Berdina said confidently that she had prepared many a rack of lamb before, but she spent too much time on its preparation, and too little on its cooking, it being underdone and ‘disappointing‘, said Chef Pete Goffe-Wood, especially relative to her perfect Hot Dish audition. They loved her plating (photograph below), it looking very similar to that by Chef Coco, reminding the Finalists that one eats ‘with one’s eyes too’. Manisha admitted that lamb is not her strength, and that she was not confident in its preparation, having ‘a history of overcooking’ her meat.  She was mocked by Chef Coco when she said that she had not tasted her lamb before serving it, it being the main element of her dish. The look of her dish was described as a ‘bit rustic’, the breadcrumbs were judged to be too chunky, as was the baba ganoush, but the sauce was nicely reduced.  Mmutsi likes to cook meat ’till I kill it’, and preparing it medium was a new way to cook meat for her.  The judges were complimentary about her dish, praising her well seasoned lamb and great jus.

Berdina was eliminated by the judges, and she wept when she said that she had sacrificed so much to be at MasterChef South Africa, and is determined to be a chef. She was encouraged to keep cooking, to ‘express her amazing passion’, and was told that her cooking journey is only beginning now.  On Twitter many viewers expressed that it was unfair that Berdina was eliminated.

Being largely a group exercise in episode 5, there was no Finalist that stood out in this episode in terms of cooking skills, making the question as to who will be MasterChef South Africa still unpredictable at this stage.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

MasterChef SA episode 4: goes back to the roots, ends with a twist!

The tension and heart palpitations were back in episode 4 last night, after a weaker and less exciting episode 3. The judges were more smartly dressed, stronger, somewhat kinder in their judgement of the dishes prepared, and even gave the ‘pressure test’ contestants some tips, so that they could make the timing deadline.  Surprisingly they sent two contestants home last night, being Charles Canning from Cape Town and Fortune Kangueehi from Windhoek – see our prior evaluation of the 18 contestants.

Episode 4 was the first to be filmed at Nederburg, in the revamped Johann Graue Auction Hall, which was transformed into an amazing 20-station kitchen with state-of-the-art equipment, and a fully stocked Woolworths Pantry.  The 1000 square metre venue was fitted out with 15 tons of wood, and 5 km of underfloor cabling. The kitchen was the contestants’ ‘home’ for two months, from January to March.  Little is seen of Nederburg, if one did not know that it was the venue, but one could see wine vats in the background.

The first test put to the contestants was a ‘Mystery Box’, traditionally a box of mixed ingredients from which they have to prepare a dish. The contestants looked nervous when they opened the box, fearing what they would see inside. They were most surprised when they found a childhood photograph of themselves in the box.  The task was to create a dish which would reflect their childhood, which was where their culinary journey had begun, and the contestants were invited by the judges to put their ‘soul on the plate’.  The judges gave the contestants hope when this task was completed, by saying that their parents and grandparents would have been proud of them.

Not all the 18 finalists were interviewed or filmed in last night’s episode. In most instances the evaluation of only one judge was shown.  Mmutsi Maseko made her mother’s stew of leftovers, and wanted to add vetkoek and vegetables to the dish, but ran out of time, meaning that her meat was not perfectly cooked, and she had to leave out the vetkoek and vegetables.  Khaya Silingile was praised for the contrasting flavours, and how the sauce complemented yet another perfect salmon dish, being a roulade her grandmother used to make. Samantha Nolan’s croquettes, made in honour of her Dutch father, was voted the top dish of the day by the judges, with excellent chips, sauce, and relish.  Lwazi Mngoma made a dish he called ‘Seven Colours’, which included butternut, beetroot, meat, coleslaw, and carrots.  The presentation was criticised by the judges, the carrots were said to be raw, and ‘the flavour was not there’.  Charles Canning made a beautifully plated modern take on Bangers and Mash, reminding him of his granny, but the judges felt it to be too basic, with too much mash.  Jade de Waal made an ‘old school’ Avocado Ritz (right) with a twist, as croquettes, which received very high praise from Chef Andrew Atkinson. Fortune Kangueehi made a Sunday lunch meal her mom used to make, with mince and sweet potatoes, reflecting her (Namibian) culture, in which they eat meat and starch every day, she said. Chef Pete Goffe-Wood found her meat to be ‘very raw, not cooked enough, and not up to scratch’. Berdina Schurink made a tart, reminding her of Sunday afternoon tea on the farm, but the pastry case broke after baking it.  She topped it with what was judged to be an excellent rich not-too-sweet ganache, over which she added meringue, which should have been baked more, Chef Pete said. Chef Pete judged the base of her tart to be too soggy.  Manisha Naidu’s ‘Chicken Three Ways’, with chicken breast, a curry sauce, and stuffed drumstick, was enjoyed by Chef Bennie Masekwameng.

The five ‘worst dishes’ were judged to be those by Berdina, Fortune, Charles, Mmutsi, and Lwazi, and as ‘punishment’ they had to take the ‘pressure test’, in making koeksisters (the Afrikaans version) and koesiesters (the Cape Malay version), the difference between the two similar sounding dishes not being clear to viewers, the preparation and look of the two sweet pastries differing.  The judges became technical about the heat of the oil, and the temperature of the syrups into which they had to be dipped, the five contestants being required to make two sets of dough and two types of syrups.  The 75 minutes allocated did not seem to be enough time for all five contestants, as the two types of dough had to cool down for 30 minutes and 15 minutes. Berdina spoke about the importance of being methodical and accurate in baking, and how important it is to read a recipe, which each of these contestants were given.  Her koeksisters were beautifully plaited, and judged to be ‘damn good’. Fortune moaned about the odd ingredient list, e.g. half an egg, and a ‘quarter of this or that‘!   She admitted that she became mixed up, and couldn’t remember if she had added baking powder or not. Unfortunately for her she was correct, Chef Pete picking it up. She could not hold back her tears, realising that two problem dishes would cost her a place in the competition. Even worse was seeing a tearful Charles, almost shocked that he too had to leave the programme. Mmutsi was praised by Chef Bennie for her crispy koeksisters, and was told that she was ‘spot on’, and ‘that they were a perfect interpretation’.  Lwazi only got one of his two koeksister dishes correct, and was lucky that he remained a MasterChef SA contestant in this episode.

The judges told all the contestants, who had been watching their ‘pressure test’ contestant colleagues from above, that baking ‘needs the fundamentals to be right’.  Fortune was sent on her way, Chef Bennie telling her that she can cook, and that she cooks with passion.  Charles was told that he puts ‘a lot of heart into food’, when he too was eliminated.  Samantha and Manisha Naidu were appointed as team leaders, having made the two best dishes of the day. The judges ended off the programme by reminding the contestants to ‘be the best or to go home’! They were also told to ‘never take anything for granted’ in the remaining episodes.  The judges certainly delivered on this ‘promise’, by eliminating two instead of only one contestant last night.

New advertisers were Allan Gray, in a beautifully shot commercial, and inappropriate for the programme Tiger Wheel & Tyre and Jeep.  Commercials for sponsors Robertsons, Woolworths, Hyundai, and Nederburg were flighted, as were those for Kenwood, Outsurance, VISA, Nashua Mobile/Cell C, smeg, Albany Ultima, Spar, and electricity-saving.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Help predict MasterChef SA winner and win a whale of a weekend away!

In 15 weeks we will know who our own MasterChef SA is.  We are curious to hear who our readers think will become MasterChef SA, and why.  We ask you to send in your nominations with a motivation via Comment to this Blog (please add your name and surname).

To thank you for your input, we will award one lucky reader a complimentary weekend of your choice location at one of our Whale Cottages in Camps Bay, Hermanus, or Franschhoek, subject to availability, out of all of those entries correctly predicting the winner of MasterChef SA.

Whale Cottage Camps Bay is ideally located 500 meters from Camps Bay beach and 25 restaurants on the Camps Bay Promenade.  It offers secure parking on the property, with seven seafacing double rooms, and single rooms facing the Twelve Apostles and Lion’s Head.

Whale Cottage Hermanus is located on the seafront, with a wonderful view onto Walker Bay, in which Southern Right whales and their calves frolic from May – November.  The region is also known for its excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines in particular, from estates such as Hamilton Russell, Hermanuspietersfontein, and Creation on the Hermanus Wine Route.

Franschhoek is best known as the Gourmet and Wedding capital of South Africa, and some of its wine estates recognised  as the best in the country. Whale Cottage Franschhoek is situated 200 meters from the main road in the village, up the road from Le Quartier Français and Reuben’s Franschhoek.

Jorgensen’s Distillery has generously donated two of its brands to the runner-up of the competition to correctly predict MasterChef SA, their Savingnac Potstill Brandy (value R300) and Naked Lemon Limoncello (value R120). The Savingnac Potstill Brandy is made in Wellington, and has roots of brandy making on the same property going back more than 300 years. Specially made wine is double distilled in owner Roger Jorgensen’s copper pot still to concentrate the flavour and the alcohol, and then is matured for a period of ten years or more in French oak barrels. The Naked Lemon Limoncello is made from hand-picked organic lemons, hand zested, with the skins macerated for 12 days in fragrant wine spirits to infuse the spirit with the lemon oils, giving the liqueur the vibrant yellow colour. It is bottled at 30% alcohol, and can be served with desserts or drunk ice cold.

To get the ball rolling, a listing of the eighteen MasterChef SA finalists, and our predictions of the chances of some of them winning MasterChef SA, follows:

Babalwa Baartman – would it be feasible for her to run the MondoVino restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg for a year, being from Cape Town, if she wins MasterChef SA? No exposure in episode 4 and 6. Eliminated in episode 8.

Berdina Schurink – she auditioned in each of the three MasterChef SA cities, so determined was she to become a finalist. The MasterChef SA write-up describes her as ‘serious, determined and focused’. They warn viewers to not be fooled by her quiet and reserved nature. Pastry is her speciality.  Berdina kept her pose when she fell into the bottom five for a childhood dish in episode 4, and her ‘pressure test’ koeksisters were judged to be perfect. She went into the ‘Pressure Test’ for the second time, but her lamb was undercooked, and therefore she was voted out by the judges in episode 5.  Berdina has opened Bella Sophia Culinary Café in Riviera in Pretoria.

Brandon Law – little is known about him, but he has done fan signings at Eastgate. He is interested in molecular gastronomy. Could he become our next Chef Richard Carstens?  No exposure in episode 4 and 6. Eliminated in episode 8.

Charles Canning – being based in Cape Town, can he afford to be away from his family panel beating business, a family with four children, and the Cape Town Highlanders, which he leads, to take over the MondoVino restaurant for a year?  Both his childhood dish and ‘pressure test’ koeksisters bombed and he was one of two sent home in episode 4.

Deena Naidoo – his Butter Chicken was loved by Chef Pete in episode 1 and he finished it all, it tasted so good!  He has been interviewed by the Sunday Times. on 15 April.  There is no real story to the interview, entitled “Masterchef hopeful not just ‘curry guy’“, but it does state that he took unpaid leave to participate in the competition.  Interesting is that he wears a MasterChef branded chefs’ top in the newspaper photograph.  Interesting too is that he is the only one of the 18 contestants to use ‘mcsa’ in his Twitter address.  No exposure in episode 4.  Made top curry dish of all in episode 6.  Leader of winning Blue team in Navy challenge.  Did well with Denningvleis dish in episode 8. Only finalist not yet in a pressure test. To go into his first Pressure Test in episode 12. One wonders how MasterChef SA could have chosen Deena as a candidate if he does not drink, given that a chef would have to know his wines, and pair them with his foods. Given that Nederburg is a sponsor, and a wine training course offered by the South African Sommelier Association is part of the prize, they could not have a MasterChef SA winner who does not drink wines. Deena made a superb Passion Hazelnut Gateau in his Pressure Test, to his own surprise, in episode 12. In Pressure Test in episode 13, but survived it, despite heavy criticism from Chef Pete Goffe-Wood of over-smoking his fish.  Not very successful in his Springbok loin Pressure Test in episode 15. Won the bell for best dish, to call on Chef/Judge input in episode 17, in episode 16. Highly praised by Chef Michel Roux Jnr from La Gavroche in London.  Deena won the best dessert in episode 17, winning him a test drive in the Hyundai Elantra for a picnic with his wife Cathy at Plaisir de Merle in Franschhoek. Deena has gone through to the Finale.

Fortune Kangueehi – could a MasterChef SA come from Namibia?  The judges may vote this advertising executive out over time on this basis alone.  Her childhood dish did not make it, and she forgot to add baking powder to her ‘pressure test’ koeksisters, and became the second person to leave in episode 4.

Guy Clark – from friends of friends we have heard that he has made it close to the top.  He is not visible on Social Media.  Has this former model and now property broker gone underground? Does this make him the winner? No exposure in episode 4 and 6. In Red Team ‘Pressure Test’ with not so good pig’s ear dish. Eliminated in episode 9 for his soufflé.

Ilse Fourieshe attracted attention for the most favourable comments of all for her hot cooking (salmon steak) in episode 1, and she was the fastest egg whisker of all finalists in episode 2. She has had a write up on Channel 24. She is also pretty, having been a lingerie model, and this would add an extra touch of spice to the award! No exposure in episode 4. Praise for her curry dish in episode 6, and pork shoulder in episode 7.  Did well with Tripe dish in episode 8. Not visible in episode 9 and 10.  Seen in M-Net promo ad for MasterChef SA on 15/6, in which she says she will move to Johannesburg, should she win.  Eliminated in episode 14, after her mini Boerewors popped, and she struggled to debone her lamb shoulder in the resultant Pressure/Perseverance Test.

Jade de Waal – loved by some and hated by others for her odd English/Afrikaans/undefined accent, she is a true character.  Her cardamon ice cream was loved by the judges in episode 1. She was interviewed extensively after this episode by her aunt Sonia Cabano on the Robertsons Twitter account, when she still was the Social Media Manager for Robertsons.  Jade received extensive ‘airtime’ in this Twitter interview, which no other contestant has received on this account to date.  She has changed the name of her Twitter account, and has locked it as well, only allowing certain Tweeters to read it.  Is she too hip, trendy, and frivolous for such a serious accolade?  Based in Cape Town.  Her Avo Ritz with a twist was highly praised in episode 4.  She has announced that she has written a Cook Book on vegetables with her aunt.  She was interviewed by Huisgenoot, she announced on Twitter. No exposure in episode 6.  First criticism seen, for her Waterblommetjie bredie dish (with Sue-Ann Allen). She made a very poor soufflé, which should have seen her eliminated in episode 9, many on Twitter felt. In the Elimination Challenge in episode 10. Going into Pressure Test in episode 12.  Voted out in episode 12, for a mess of a Passion Hazelnut Gateau.  Reported to have written a cookbook ‘Luscious Vegetarian’ with her aunt Sonia Cabano, to be published in October.

Khaya Silingile – this Marketing Co-ordinator attracted attention in episode 1 for her highly praised scallop and smoked salmon dish, which she served with an unusual rhubarb tart. Her salmon childhood dish was praised by the judges in episode 4. No exposure in episode 6. Won the International Cuisine challenge in episode 9, with her French dish.  In the Elimination Challenge in episode 10.  Won best wine and food pairing in episode 11.  Was beaten by 4-point margin by Chef Reuben Riffel in making his Seafood Fricasee – had she won, she would have won an Immunity Pin for the next five episodes.  Announced her pregnancy in episode 13. In Pressure Test in episode 14. Eliminated due to her Springbok loin dish errors in episode 15.

Lungile Nhlanhla – this young fashion designer from Durban wants to create a link between fashion and food, says her MasterChef SA profile. No exposure in episode 4.  Was praised for her curry in episode 6 and pork tail in episode 7. Came in on budget and her R150 budget meal acceptable in episode 10. Eliminated in episode 16 for not getting her chicken ballotine correct.  It has been announced that Lungi has been appointed Junior Food editor of Drum magazine.

Lwazi Mngoma – appears very confident in his Tweets, and has been interviewed on Johannesburg radio stations Highveld Stereo and Kaya FM, and proud of it!  Due to a less than satisfactory childhood memory dish, he went into the ‘pressure test’, and was lucky to have been retained, as his koeksisters were not perfect in episode 4.  Back into ‘Pressure Test’ in episode 6, and was sent home due to his ‘Salmon Three Ways’ not meeting the judges approval.

Manisha Naidu – she cut short her honeymoon to audition for the show, says her MasterChef SA profile. She made the second best childhood memory dish, and was voted a team leader by the judges in episode 4. Commendably she elected herself into the ‘pressure test’ in episode 5, taking responsibility for her team losing the Harvest Celebration challenge, and she did not perform well in preparing the lamb rack.  She will live with the conscience of having taken Berdina into the ‘pressure test’, and causing her elimination indirectly. No exposure in episode 6. Did well in Tripe dish in episode 8. Made top Budget family meal in episode 10.  Her Boerewors dish voted best of all by the judges in episode 14, becoming a team leader in episode 15. In the Sunday Times on 8 July, a most honest interview reflected a sad past for Manisha, battling bulimia, a suicide attempt, and a divorce. But she remarried last year, and was on honeymoon when she received notification that she had been selected to participate, and therefore cut the honeymoon short. Manisha did not have to go into the Pressure Test in episode 17. Manisha forgot to add the pea shoot to her dish in episode 18, and made plating mistakes which cost her a place in the Finale, and she was sent home.

Mmutsi Maseko – as a ‘stay-at-home’ mum, she may not be able to take up the prize of the restaurant chef. She ‘cooks from within’, says her MasterChef SA profile, and her favourite foods to prepare are meat, pap, and chakalaka.  Floundering in her childhood memory dish by running out of time, she redeemed herself in the ‘pressure test’, making perfect koeksisters in episode 4.  She went into the ‘pressure test‘ for the second time in episode 5, but her rack of lamb was praised by the judges. No exposure in episode 6.  Voted out in episode 7.

Samantha Nolan – also from Cape Town, and ‘stay-at-home’ mother of four children, according to her MasterChef SA profile, so the MondoVino restaurant prize may also be a problem. Her childhood memory dish was voted the best of all, and she was chosen a team leader too in episode 4. Best judge of spices in Chef Vanie Padayachee’s curry, and could choose main ingredient for curry in episode 6.  Clearly leading the winning Blue team in the Navy challenge. First time in Pressure Test in episode 9, for having too many spices in her mince with the vetkoek.  Voted out in episode 10 for Minestrone soup.

Sarel Loots – very quick to correct an error on this blog, asked to be followed on Twitter (a no-no), and subsequently blocked our account, possibly due to our Robertsons blogpost. He also auditioned at all three MasterChef SA venues.  He loves making desserts most.  Embarrassing poorly spelt Tweets were sent by him to Chefs Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, and Guy Fieri, all with the same message:”Love your programs. U insired (sic) me to enter @MasterChef_SA and made it to top 18 and stil (sic) going“!  He also Tweeted ‘I will win this’, at a time when the MasterChef SA winner is known to some or all of the last 18 finalists. His poor English and Afrikaans spelling should be enough reason to disqualify him. No exposure in episode 4. Into Pressure Test in episode 6 due to his curry dish, but redeemed himself with an excellent ‘Salmon Three Ways’. In Pressure Test in episode 9, for not trying hard enough with his Brazilian dish.  No exposure in episode 10.  Second best Boerewors dish in episode 14, to be second team leader in episode 15. Except for his Bearnaise sauce, his Springbok loin dish for the Pressure Test in episode 15 was a close copy of the dish by Chef Andrew Atkinson.  His peppadew stuffing of his chicken ballotine clashed with the truffle on his stuffed artichoke in episode 16. Voted out in episode 17, for forgetting the hazelnut gel.

Sue-Ann Allen – also from Cape Town, so the MondoVino restaurant prize may also be a problem.  She was so dedicated to participate in MasterChef SA that she resigned her job as lighting designer. No exposure in episode 4.  In ‘Pressure Test’ in episode 6, and was lucky to not be voted out.  Pork loin not well received by judges in Red Team ‘Pressure Test’ in episode 7.  Criticised for poor Waterblommetjie dish in episode 8. No exposure in episodes 9 and 10. Sue-Ann is on holiday in Croatia (June).  Due to her Boerewors becoming ‘droë wors’ in episode 14, she did a brilliant Rolled lamb shoulder in the Pressure Test, judged to be her best MasterChef SA dish. Her stuffed artichoke said to be closest to that of Chef Michel Roux Jnr, but her chicken ballotine, stuffed with cream cheese, less successful, in episode 16.  Survived the Pressure Test in episode 17.  One of the two Finalists going into the Finale in episode 19.  Sue-Ann was the Runner-up to Deena Naidoo to MasterChef SA.  She is doing a one-month apprenticeship with The Greenhouse, Eat Out‘s number one Top 10 restaurant, from 21 August.

Thys Hattingh – received high praise for his dessert in episode 3, when the challenge was to make the best braai dish.  Not a ‘braaier’, by his own admission. No exposure in episode 4.  Made second best curry dish in episode 6.  Leader of losing Red team in Navy challenge in episode 7.  Did well in Denningvleis dish in episode 8.  Came second with his Moroccan poached pear dish in episode 9, even if he poached it in Nederburg wine, Morocco being a Muslim country!  Into Pressure Test in episode 12.  Struggled greatly with his chocolate mousse in making the Passion Hazelnut Gateau in the Pressure Test, and was lucky that Jade de Waal’s Gateau was even less perfect than his. Eliminated in episode 13, for overcooking his fish in Zanzibar.

We look forward to your votes – please keep them coming!

POSTSCRIPT 16/4: M-Net’s Senior Publicist Ingrid Engelbrecht provided the following information about the restaurant prize: Regarding the restaurant prize, Southern Sun is happy to tailor-make the options in order to meet the needs of the winner and to ensure that all parties are happy going forward with this amazing prize. They will take into account factors such as the contestant not being from Johannesburg, having a family and any other obligations, and will assist to whatever degree is necessary’.

POSTSCRIPT 19/5: Die Burger ran a poll today, asking readers to vote who will win MasterChef SA. This is how they voted:

Ilse Fourie 32 % 367 Stemme

Jade de Waal 6 % 70 Stemme

Sarel Loots 15 % 175 Stemme

Thys Hattingh 22 % 246 Stemme

Deena Naidoo 5 % 59 Stemme

Khaya Silingile 5 % 56 Stemme

Lungile Nhlanhla 3 % 33 Stemme

Manisha Naidu 2 % 20 Stemme

Samantha Nolan 4 % 41 Stemme

Sue-Ann Allen 6 % 68 Stemme

POSTSCRIPT 27/7: The winners of the MasterChef SA Winner competition are the following:

*   Weekend at a Whale Cottage guest house in Camps Bay, Hermanus, or Franschhoek: Francesca Tiganis. Her motivation for nominating Deena was as follows:My vote is for Deena Naidoo – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching him evolve with such passion and confidence, but in the most humble way. The way he listened so carefully to Chef Michel Roux and Chef Margot Janse really helped him execute his dishes so very well – he deserves to win Masterchef SA!’

*   Jorgensen’s Distillery’ Savingnac Potstill Brandy and Naked Lemon Limoncello: Alicia Peter, for nominating Deena as follows:I nominate Deena Naidoo – because he has managed to impress the judges and audience with almost all his dishes. To impress THE Michel Roux Jnr himself is simply superb! He is so talented yet so humble. I take my hat off to him…Go Deena!’

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage whalecot@iafrica.com

MasterChef SA final 18 amateur chefs fired up to go through to Nederburg!

It was a different MasterChef SA in episode 3 last night, with less action and more tears.  There also was a lot at stake for the final 25 contestants, a braai deciding which seven contestants had to leave the reality TV cooking programme, with the final 18 going through to the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg, for the remaining fifteen episodes.

For the first time one got to know the contestants a little better, but the editors of the show were not consistent in providing their names.  It seemed that the chaps would have the advantage in this episode as the natural braaiers, but some of them did not make it through to the next round.  Filmed at the Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg, the home of 2011 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Roots, the challenge put to the contestants was to cook a meal worthy of being served at this fine-dining restaurant.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood said that the braai was the most basic form of cooking.  The dishes were expected to jump out at the judges, to shout ‘eat me’. Chef Pete also said that the biggest challenge with a braai is to control the heat source.

Few of the dishes would have made it into Roots restaurant, if Twitterers were the judges! Worrying was that the judges had such a disparate evaluation of the dishes, there being little conformity of appreciation, in most cases only two of the three judges evaluating any dish.  Chef Andrew Atkinson seemed over-dressed in his over-large suit for the braai, while Chefs Bennie Masekwameng and Pete looked more comfortable in their jackets.

Contestant Thys Hattingh admitted that he was not good at braais, and preferred making desserts.  He made both a meat dish and a beautiful dessert, the latter highly praised by the judges, as was Khaya’s dessert. The judges tasted ‘pap and vleis’ made by Jade de Waal, fillet of springbok, Surf and Turf, seared tuna, lemon butter hake, stuffed sirloin, hake sandwich, rump steak, and more braai dishes.

Very few contestants escaped the programme without a harsh word from a judge, comments directed at Bonguwusa’s dish which was described as ‘not award-winning’, ‘tasted like cardboard’, was ‘overcooked’, and was‘inedible’, probably the harshest criticism of the evening.  A piece of meat was described as a ‘brickette’. Another contestant cooking pap was criticised for the dish not working. Natalie was criticised for her dish being ‘too busy’, but she countered that it reflects her personality. She admitted that it was her first braai ever, loved by Chef Andrew and not liked at all by Chef Pete. Sarel Loot’s milk chocolate sauce served with his steak was described as ‘awful’ by Chef Andrew, and was criticised by Chef Bennie too, and could have cost him a place.  One contestant presented part of her dish in ‘ghastly’ tin foil, a serious fail. Bruce’s steak was described as ‘too busy’,not quite MasterChef’ standard.  Bruce, Timothy, Elton, Cameron, Callie-Anne, Natalie, and Bonguwusa did not make the final hurdle.

The heat was really on and the tears started to roll when the 25 contestants had to face the judges in small groups, and were reminded of their problems of the evening, and to hear who would be leaving and who would go through to the MasterChef SA kitchen.  The eighteen MasterChef SA finalists, with the Twitter addresses (most of them have started Tweeting) and city of residence from a Screen Africa listing, with 7 finalists from Cape Town and 5 from Johannesburg (with a surprise one from Namibia, given that is MasterChef SA) are as follows:

Babalwa Baartman  @LateBloomer26 from Cape Town

Berdina Schurink  @BerdinaSchurink from Pretoria

Brandon Law  @TheBrandonLaw from Johannesburg

Charles Canning  @CTHPipey from Cape Town

Deena Naidoo  @Deenamcsa from Durban

Fortune Kangueehi  @FKangueehi from Windhoek

Guy Clark @GuyClark2 from Cape Town

Ilse Fourie   @IlseNel from Cape Town

Jade de Waal  @FoodJams from Cape Town

Khaya Silingile  @KhayaSilingile from Johannesburg

Lungile Nhlanhla  @Lungzie from Durban

Lwazi Mngoma  @LwaziMngoma from Johannesburg

Manisha Naidu  @Manisha_Naidu from Johannesburg

Mmutsi Maseko from Johannesburg

Samantha Nolan  @SamanthaLNolan from Cape Town

Sarel Loots  @SarelvanSabie from Sabie

Sue-Ann Allen @Cook_Sista from Cape Town

Thys Hattingh  @Thys_Hattingh from Rustenburg

Advertisers were largely the same as in the past episodes, including good-enough-to eat ads for MasterChef SA sponsor Woolworths’ steak and boerewors, sponsor Hyundai, Emirates, Outsurance, sponsor Robertson’s, Revlon, smeg, Frisco, Nedbank, KFC, VISA, Parmalat, Kenwood, and sponsor Nederburg.

In the next fifteen weeks the viewers will get to know the individual contestants better, and their personalities no doubt will come to the fore.  One hopes that the pace picks up again, this episode having lacked the pace and energy of the two preceding episodes.

POSTSCRIPT 4/4: In following the MasterChef SA final 18 contestants on Twitter, one wishes someone would teach them to Tweet.  Thys Hattingh is just providing links to the MasterChef SA website about each of his fellow contestants, and Sarel Loots is showing politics already by having blocked us, no doubt as sympathy support for Sonia Cabano, Robertson’s former Social Media Manager. Even more surprising is that Jade de Waal has locked her Twitter account recently, and one must request to follow her, which contradicts the reason for being on Twitter! Is this an ego getting too big?  Is she the MasterChef SA?  Or is it because she is related to Sonia Cabano (de Waal)?

POSTSCRIPT 4/4:  The Month, a newspaper distributed in the Winelands and Cape Town, has compared MasterChef SA and Australia. Our programme, after one episode, does not receive favourable feedback in the article.

POSTSCRIPT 5/4:  I have double-checked with Chef Pete Goffe-Wood about the road forward, not having watched any other MasterChef series before. One of the 18 finalists will be eliminated each week from now onwards.  The eighteen finalists know who the winner is, but they have been sworn to secrecy!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage