Tag Archives: Mystery Box

MasterChef SA Season 3 episode 17: Roxi Wardman steams ahead to win Finale, praised by Chef Marco Pierre White!

MasterChef 17 RoxiAs we predicted in our blogpost yesterday, Roxi Wardman was crowned MasterChef SA Season 3 winner last night, and has waved her career at Transnet as an assistant train driver goodbye.  While her ‘opponent’ Sipho Mdlankomo is widely liked, there should be no debate about the fairness of the result, as the scoring was shared at every step of the three-stage challenge which the Top 2 had to go through last night.

It was a shock to see the transformation in Roxi’s appearance, from always well-MasterChef 17 Roxi Red pink hairpresented in terms of make-up and bling bling jewellery while she was in the MasterChef SA kitchen, to her red/pink hair, heavy make-up, and proudly-visible tattoos which she did not have as a Finalist.  We had only seen one piercing above her lip in the past.  It seemed as if Roxi could not believe that she had won the competition.

The Top 2 finalists met up in the MasterChef SA kitchen for one last time, and were delighted to see the other 10 Finalists there too, coming in support of the Top 2.  An even bigger surprise was the surprise arrival of Roxi’s parents and her boyfriend Byron, as well as Sipho’s ‘boss‘, as she called him, his wife, and their Continue reading →

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MasterChef SA Season 3 episode 4: Roxi Wardman stars in Dublin, Phila Vilakazi ducks out in Pressure Test, changes to MasterRobertsons! (updated)

MatserChef 3 4 Roxi and Chef Kevin ThorntonFor the first time in the history of MasterChef SA a contestant was flown to another country alone, for winning best dish.  Roxi Wardman made the best Proudly South African Mystery Box dish in episode 3, her butternut and peanut butter tart winning her the trip of a lifetime to eat at 2 Michelin star restaurant Thornton’s in Dublin.  Phila Vilakazi was the first MasterChef SA Season 3 contestant to be sent home. For the first time a MasterChef SA episode contained an off-putting hard-sell punt for its main sponsor Robertsons!

Roxi arrived in a chilly Dublin, at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, where Chef Kevin Thornton spoilt her with an exclusive lunch at Thornton’s, one of the Top 25 restaurants in the world, and one of the top 10 for special occasions.  Chef Kevin’MasterChef SA 3 4 Kevin THronton Whale Cottages philosophy is that ‘food is about life.  There are so many people starving in the world and then we have all this stuff to play with, so it’s very important that you have a huge amount of respect for it’, he told Roxi.  He added: ‘If I was to describe our food, I would say it’s a natural energy based food so it’s all about natural energy’.   Roxi was impressed with Chef Kevin’s introduction to his dish, a ‘circle of life‘ story and bringing a pigeon in a nest with pigeon eggs, before he served it in three parts. He explained that they use Eireyu beef, reared on mother’s milk for the first six months, and then on grass and two pints of Guinness, for a month, with massages too. Thornton’s website reflects the food journey of Chef Kevin: ‘His cooking, while Continue reading →

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MasterChef SA Season 3 episode 3: Proudly South African Masterpiece, Roxi Wardman’s tart jets her off to Dublin!

MasterChef SA 3 3 Roxi Mystery Box Whale CottageIt was the first episode in the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg in episode 3 last night, and it was much easier to follow the action of the twelve finalists, who had to deal with a Proudly South African Mystery Box.  Roxi Wardman was the creator of the winning dish, and jetted off to Ireland, while Phila Vilakazi, Ndumiso Mncwabe, and Melissa Sutherland were in the bottom three, their dishes putting them into the Pressure Test next week in episode 4.

The brief to the twelve finalists was to use any of the ingredients in the Mystery Box, which were only revealed after the first commercial break, keeping the tension high.  The Mystery Box included South African favourites such as Masterchef SA 3 3 SA products 2 Ouma rusks, Pecks Anchovette paste, Oros, spinach, butternut, Colman’s mustard, Lucky Star pilchards, ostrich, Cremora, Illovo golden syrup, Black Cat peanut butter, flour, chocolate, Maltabella, Mrs Balls chutney, Melrose cheese, and more, collectively described as creating ‘nostalgic foods and memories’. The use of Nederburg Winemakers Reserve Pinotage was mandatory.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood told the finalists that Pinotage is a cultivar unique to South Africa. The time limit to create a ‘South African Masterpiece’ was set at 45 minutes.

As each finalist spoke to the camera, to share what dish would be prepared, we got to know a little more Continue reading →

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MasterChef SA Season 2 episode 28: Finale sees Kamini Pather controversially crowned winner by a ‘fraction’!

MasterChef 2 28 Kamini and LeandriThere should have been no winner of MasterChef SA Season 2 episode 28 and the Finale of this reality TV cooking show last night, with both contestants making unforgivable mistakes in what was meant to be the pinnacle of the cooking competition!  As a winner had to be chosen, the judges announced Kamini Pather as the winner, beating Leandri van der Wat  by a ‘fraction’ of 6 out of 100 points.

The episode commenced with a very quick overview of the previous 27 episodes, highlighting Kamini’s near perfect past in being ‘top of the class’ (was this a predictor already?), and Leandri’s growth and top praise she received from Chef Prue Leith in particular.  The two Finalists arrived at the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg on a very rainy day, and were surprised to find all fourteen the other MasterChef SA Finalists there, as well as their families.  Kamini’s mother Anthea and brother Neelan were present, as well as Leandri’s (and Seline’s) father Neil, aunt (her ‘second mother‘ Leandri said) and sister Nadine.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood said that it was the biggest Continue reading →

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MasterChef SA Season 2 episode 24: Month-end creation challenge rattles Finalists (and viewers)!

MasterChef 2 24 Five Finalists Whale Cottage PortfolioLast night’s episode 24 seemed far too basic a challenge for the Top 5 Finalists of Season 2, and gave a new perspective on the cooking contestants, the unusualness of the challenge rattling them, and it was a surprise to see how some of the strong ones lost their focus, made mistakes, and will pay the price in a Pressure Test in episode 25 next week.

The challenge was unusual in that the Pantry was the Mystery Box, the Finalists having 60 minutes in which to prepare a dish from what was available to them, 8 minutes being deducted for the briefing.  Each of the Finalists had a SMEG fridge with an odd collection of ingredients resembling left-overs, there being very few things in each, as well as some dry ingredients, including eggs, sugar, bacon, olives, gherkins, cake flour, Cornflakes, pasta, sardines, pilchards, tuna, cheese, tomatoes, maple syrup, and more.  The Finalists were to replicate a typical month-end scenario, prior to pay day, and one having friends arrive unannounced for whom one prepared a dish with what is available.  The judges wanted Continue reading →

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MasterChef SA Season 2 episode 7: Mystery Box 7 ingredients unlucky for some, Herman Cloete wins Mosaic MasterClass!

MasterChef 2 7 Mystery Boxes Kitchen Whale Cottage PortfolioThe first Mystery Box of Season 2 provided a surprising challenge in episode 7 last night, particularly as it contained chicken as one of the seven ingredients for a dish to be prepared within 45 minutes. The Finalist making the best dish would go to Pretoria, for a MasterClass on plating at Chef Chantel Dartnall of Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient.  Surprisingly some of the previous stars chickened out, while others shone.

The judges said that they were testing the ability of the Finalists to think on their feet. They were not given a recipe to prepare a dish within 45 minutes from all seven the ingredients: chicken, capers, verjuice, toasted bread crumbs, bone marrow, ricotta cheese, and asparagus spears.  Chef Benny MasekwamengMasterChef SA 2 7 Ingredients Whale Cottage Portfolio said that the number of ingredients related to the MasterChef SA prize of a VW Golf 7, and that  7 is a lucky number.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood challenged the Finalists to ‘delight and surprise‘ the judges, and to serve them ‘fabulous food‘. Speaking amongst themselves, the judges feared that some of the chicken might be undercooked, but they did praise the variety of chicken dishes which they had seen prepared. Continue reading →

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Deena Naidoo wins first MasterChef SA, sizzles at MondeVino Restaurant from November!

The 90 minute special Finale episode of MasterChef South Africa last night was the most tense of all, ending off with the good news that Deena Naidoo has won the title of MasterChef SA, after he and Sue-Ann Allen were put through the tests of a Mystery Box, an Invention Test, and a Pressure Test, in the company of their family and the other 16 Finalists, who were flown in for the final cook-off.

The episode started in Johannesburg, at the Montecasino Palazzo Hotel, where they were shown the Presidential Suite. In the room was an invitation inside a cloche to attend a private dinner at the MondeVino restaurant, one of the prizes of winning the MasterChef SA title.  Sue-Ann looked glamorous and beautifully made up for the dinner.  They were surprised to see the three chef judges Pete Goffe-Wood, Andrew Atkinson, and Benny Masekwameng, dressed in their chef’s uniforms for the first time, and they prepared dinner for the two Finalists.  The starter was a calamari dish, followed by a fillet steak, which was served with Nederburg Shiraz. A chocolate blini was served with seasonal fruit for dessert.

The dinner was an opportunity for flashbacks, to remember the highs and lows of each contestant. Sue-Ann spoke about giving up everything, to become a chef. Her turning point was the 12 hour Pressure Test which she did with Ilse Fourie and Khaya Silingile. For her the high point was being announced as one of the final two. Deena said his lowest point was the food and wine pairing, and he regretted that he had not ‘researched liquor and pairings’, he said.  The chocolate mousse cake was another challenge, and he was close to giving up, when a ‘wave of energy came over me‘.  His highlight was meeting Chef Michel Roux Jnr, and receiving the fantastic accolade from him, when he said that Deena’s attention to detail would make a professional of him.  Sue-Ann was said to have fought ‘tooth and nail‘, Chef Benny saying that ‘whoever wants this most will be King or Queen of this place’. Chef Benny was the chef at MondeVino before he became a MasterChef SA judge, and now is one of the Executive Chefs of Tsogo Sun, responsible for the restaurants in the hotel group.  Deena said the dinner was a defining moment in his life.

Returning to the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg, the 16 eliminated Finalists met up with Deena and Sue-Ann, to support them, and to be present for the announcement of the winner. Deena’s wife Kathy, his stepson and his sister came too, while Sue-Ann’s mom Gail, her sister, and best friend Lauren also attended. Finalist Fortune Kangueehi commented that it was like a ‘family reunion‘.  The Finalists were reminded that the MasterChef SA prize package to the value of R8 million is the biggest in the history of reality TV in South Africa. Sue-Ann was described as the ‘Queen of Pressure Tests’ by Chef Pete.

All work stations but two had been removed from the MasterChef SA kitchen, and were positioned so that Sue-Ann and Deena faced each other, Sue-Ann jokingly saying that they would have to take out their boxing gloves. The day started off with a Mystery Box, from which they had to prepare ‘an incredible dish with the most exciting Mystery Box ever’, within one hour. A beautiful box contained Fairview Chevin cheese with baby winter vegetables, such as radishes, endives, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and blue potatoes. Deena said that he would use as many of the vegetables as possible, to serve them with oven roasted root vegetable and a parsnip purée, whereas Sue-Ann chose those that she likes to eat best, making a beetroot and goat’s cheese samoosa served with ribbons of crispy fried vegetables and a herb mayonnaise.  She prayed that her mayonnaise would emulsify, which it did. Sue-Ann made more portions than required, something she had learnt whilst being on MasterChef SA. Deena was criticised by the judges for having ‘no coherent idea’, and for wanting to serve a starter with a combination of hot and cold items.  Both contestants finished within time, and Deena started ‘fiddling’, by adding additional items, being warned by his colleagues looking from above that he should stop. Thys Hattingh summarised the dishes of the two Finalists, Sue-Ann being ‘less is more’ and Deena focusing on ‘extravagance‘. Deena’s starter was praised for his texture being ‘spot on’, said Chef Andrew, but Chef Pete asked ‘what on earth the raw radishes are doing on the plate‘. His cutting skills were praised. Sue-Ann’s starter was praised for its ‘neat presentation’ by Chef Andrew, with good colours, being simplistic, and ‘an uplifting chive mayonnaise‘. Chef Benny said the samoosa had ‘an absolutely perfect taste‘,  but that her vegetables were overcooked.

The Invention Test was a ‘proudly South Africa‘ one, and they were tasked to show what they had learnt while at MasterChef SA. Deena said that he would make the ‘meal of his life’.  Sue-Ann chose to make a poached fillet of beef with shelled peas. Deena made a coriander crusted lamb loin with spinach bhaji. Chef Andrew questioned Deena’s mix of citrus juice and spices.  It looked like he would run behind on time in getting his lamb loin prepared, but recovered.  Manisha Naidu commented that Sue-Ann always does ‘minimalist plates’.  Sue-Ann said that she was happy with her dish, but felt that she could have done more. Chef Benny said her main course was ‘simple sophistication’. Chef Pete praised her fillet, but said her mushrooms were bland. Chef Andrew said that her dish had a delicate flavour, and said it ‘was very well done‘.  Deena’s dish was criticised for having a ‘very brown presentation’, and that it had a lot of lamb on the plate.  Chef Pete liked the coriander and cumin, Chef Benny praised the light batter but criticising the potatoes. Chef Andrew was critical of the citrus glaze, saying that it overpowered the lamb loin. But the lamb itself was deemed perfect.  Overall the ‘marriage’ of the elements did not work in Deena’s dish, the judges said, and the taste of Sue-Ann’s dish did not live up to its presentation promise.

The Pressure Test was the toughest ever, being a Deconstructed Milk Tart with ‘apple moes‘, apple gel, and a spun sugar spiral. Sue-Ann blew Deena kisses for good luck.  Despite being reminded that exact ingredients and temperature in a recipe must be followed, Deena cut out the core of the apples and peeled them, and halved the quantity, to save time.  This was a problem, said the judges and some of the other Finalists, as the pectin in the skin and pips is needed for the gel.  It also affected the blending of his apples for the mousse.  Disaster struck for Sue-Ann when her pastry burnt and her sugar had darkened, she calmly saying that she would remake both, but she could not make the spun sugar spiral as she used a spoon with crystallised sugar on it, which affected her second batch of sugar, Thys explained.  Deena had never made spun sugarwork before, and made a relatively good attempt at it.  He prayed whilst making the sponge.  Deena was criticised by Chef Andrew for not sticking to the recipe, and for his ‘rustic apple mousse’. Chef Pete praised the consistency of the cooked pastry and the smooth custard. His milktart was described as ‘creamy smooth‘ and ‘delicious’ by Chef Benny, but he had only made half the spun sugar.  He was told that it was a close resemblance to Chef Benny’s dish.  Sue-Ann’s biggest weakness was the missing sugar spiral. She was praised by Chef Pete for the attractive look of the dish, also looking like Chef Benny’s, said Chef Pete, but her custard was undercooked. Chef Benny said that the pastry was flaky, and had the right colour and tight crispiness.  Chef Andrew added that the apple mousse was ‘superb‘.  It was disappointing that the very last dish cooked by the two Finalists, for such a big title and prize, had unforgivable errors, which could have led to both being eliminated in previous episodes, and the reality TV series ended on this note of imperfection.

Recapping the three dishes prepared by Sue-Ann and Deena, and highlighting that they had survived 30 challenges throughout the MasterChef SA series, beating the best amateur cooks in the country, it was announced that Deena had won the right to carry the first MasterChef title in South Africa.  It must have been a close call for the judges to make the decision, as both Finalists appeared to make an equal number of errors throughout the episode.  Deena appeared in fewer Pressure Tests than Sue-Ann, however.

Tsogo Sun sent out a media release shorty before midnight last night, announcing that it had signed a two year contract with Deena Naidoo, commencing at MondeVino restaurant at SunSquare Montecasino Hotel in November. ‘The restaurant concept will be a testament to Deena’s passion and love for food combined with our knowledge and expertise’, said Graham Wood, Managing Director of Tsogo Sun – Hotels. He added that Chef Benny will ‘be on hand to guide and support Deena’.

We wish all MasterChef SA Finalists all the best in their future careers, and look forward to Season 2, which is speculated to be on the cards for 2013. Tuesday evenings without MasterChef SA won’t be the same for a long time to come!

POSTSCRIPT 25/7:  Tsogo Sun’s PR agency has clarified the changes that are to be made at MondoVino Restaurant, which they hinted at in their media release:It is an existing restaurant but it will be re-launched with a new menu in November and redone accordingly to Deena’s wishes’.

POSTSCRIPT 25/7: In an interview on Kfm, Sue-Ann Allen has hinted that she will be doing training with Chef Peter Tempelhoff at The Greenhouse, Constantia Hohenhort Hotel.  Alternatively, it may be with Chef Luke Dale-Roberts at The Test Kitchen.  A series of cookbooks is also on the cards, the Cape Argus reported earlier this week.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7:  A bomb burst yesterday, when The Citizen reported Deena Naidoo’s alleged dissatisfaction with the misrepresentation of the Tsogo Sun MondoVino restaurant prize, which was subsequently denied by M-Net and Tsogo Sun, quoting Deena too!

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

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MasterChef SA episode 8: Iconic SA chicken pie dishes Brandon Law and Babalwa Baartman!

What an exciting MasterChef South Africa episode 8 was last night, and what a super theme, focusing on the iconic South African cuisine, which challenged eight of the Finalists in an Elimination Challenge, and saw the demise of Brandon Law and Babalwa Baartman, two contestants who did not receive much coverage in the preceding seven episodes. Cape Town’s tourism industry should have benefitted from the episode too, with beautiful filming in Bo-Kaap, with Table Mountain as a backdrop.

The 13 Finalists were put to a taste test, with 30 small bowls of ingredients placed on their work stations. They were asked to taste an ‘iconic’ Carrot Cake which Chef Benny Masekwameng had baked, and then choose the 15 ingredients he had included in its baking. Brandon said immediately that he did not have a good track record in identifying ingredients, and looked worried. He added that he had made a carrot cake before, but certainly had not added so many different ingredients. Thys Hattingh was excited when he saw the sugar, knowing it was a cake or a dessert, saying it probably was something he had made before. He started with the foundation of a carrot cake, choosing the base ingredients: carrots, walnuts, sultanas, and more. The carrot cake was praised by the Finalists for its aroma, and some guessed that it contained nutmeg, cinnamon, and fruit.  The Finalists had to choose the ingredients they thought were in the cake, the bottom eight Finalists going into the ‘Elimination Challenge‘, they were told.  It was the second ingredient (walnuts) that caught Thys short, and another seven incorrectly chose sultanas, which were not in the cake. Brandon, Ilse Fourie, Sue-Ann Allen, Jade de Waal, Deena Naidoo, Manisha Naidu, Thys, and Babalwa went into the Elimination Challenge as a result. In choosing a cooking utensil, which matched that of a second Finalist, the eight were paired into groups of two, and had to open a Mystery Box, which contained a directive of where to go to recreate an iconic South African dish, each pair driven to a different destination in the sponsor Hyundai’s vehicles.  They were given 4 hours to meet with the maker of the dish, to taste the ingredients, and to feel the texture.  The makers of the dishes were not allowed to tell them the recipes or give any specific guidelines.  The eight Finalists were told that the makers of the ‘worst dish’ would be sent home, a surprise that two Finalists were set to be eliminated.

Brandon and Babalwa were sent to De Volkskombuis in Stellenbosch, where they met Chef Dawid and were presented with his restaurant’s ‘Meraai se Hoenderpie’, his mother having added the dish to the menu 35 years ago, in honour of one of their chefs at the time. They tasted the dish, described the chicken to be ‘moist and juicy’, covered with a thick and crispy pastry. There were no strong spices, but they detected a taste of sweetness.  On their return, Brandon decided proudly that they would not use puff pastry from the Woolworths Pantry, and that they would make it themselves, a decision which was criticised by Chef Pete Goffe-Wood, in that puff pastry takes two days to be made, he said.  Brandon confidently replied that he knows the short cuts to make puff pastry. They cooked the chicken with bacon, to give it saltiness, as well as mushrooms. Again Brandon told the camera proudly that he came to MasterChef SA to ‘push his boundaries’, and that’s why he chose to make the puff pastry from scratch.  As it does, it shrunk in the oven, and exposed some of the meat. The dish therefore did not look as good as that of De Volkskombuis, and Brandon was told that store puff pastry had been used in the making of the dish at the restaurant. The judges said that the filling had dried out due to the pastry not creating a seal, due to it shrinking.  The dish was not cleaned before presentation, as can be seen in the photograph.

Jade and Sue-Ann were sent to Goedemoed Country Inn in Paarl, where local waterblommetjie bredie expert Tannie Naomi presented her iconic waterblommetjie dish in the 1818 Cape Dutch home, which had housed some of the MasterChef SA production crew, its owner Russian Count Kim Nicolay told me telephonically after the show. Tannie Naomi said that waterblommetjies grow in 60 – 100 cm of water, and are an iconic Boland dish. Kim told me that the phone had rung off the hook after the show last night, for bookings of waterblommetjie bredie, but they are not a restaurant. Back at Nederburg close by, the two Finalists chose bay leaves, salt and pepper, sugar and white wine to cook the lamb.  They left the cooking of the waterblommetjies to last, Chef Pete questioning this, but Jade confidently said that they did not want to overcook it for it to become ‘mushy’!  When served to the judges, they said it was a ‘bit green’, and the dish was shot down for the potatoes, lamb, and waterblommetjies all having been cooked separately, instead of being cooked together, the ingredients not ‘having lived together in the same pot’, they were told.

Ilse and Manisha were sent to the Eziko Cooking and Catering School in Langa, where Chef David presented the dish they had feared, being tripe, both never having prepared it before.  Tripe is a traditional Xhosa dish, served to guests to welcome them, Chef David explained.  The two Finalists described the texture as ‘furry’, and ‘chewy’, and having a salty taste.  Initially they seemed hesitant to taste the dish, but realised that their future participation in MasterChef SA depended on it. Back at the MasterChef SA kitchen, they put the tripe into a pressure cooker.  They had to make phutu pap too, and followed the instructions on the pack.  Chef Benny liked the aroma coming out of their pots, but the two Finalists were worried that the tripe was not yet soft enough and also not as brown as in Chef David’s dish. The judges said that their tripe dish had an identical presentation to that of Eziko, and the tripe was judged by Chef Andrew Atkinson to be ‘not bad’.  Chef Pete liked its texture, but Chef Benny said that the pap did not have the right consistency. But he said that the dish ‘blew me away’, saying that the texture and flavours were right, and therefore they were allowed to join the other five Finalists who did not have to do this Challenge.

Thys and Deena were driven to Biesmiellah, the iconic Cape Malay restaurant in the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, on a glorious day, and Cape Town was shown off in its glory.  They were presented with Denningvleis, the most popular Cape Malay dish that the Indonesians had brought to this country.  It was described as containing lamb and a ‘watery gravy’. They tasted a ‘sweetness’, nuts, and tamarind.  Being furthest away, they had the longest time to discuss their strategy whilst they were driven back to Nederburg.  Arriving back, their challenge was to balance the sweet (with brown sugar) and sour (with tamarind, but which they could not find in the Woolworths Pantry) of the dish. They added raisins, whereas Biesmiellah had used sultanas. When presented to the judges, their dish was said by Chef Andrew to be ‘nearly there’, to look similar to that of Biesmiellah, that the lamb could have been cooked for longer, and that there was a ‘good balance between sweet and sour’, Chef Pete said.  Their dish was judged to be good enough for them to stay on at MasterChef SA.

In the end two teams did not do well: Jade and Sue-Ann did not ‘marry their dish in one pot’, and Brandon and Balalwa did not follow the judges’ brief of replicating the dish they were allocated. The judges reminded the Finalists that this episode had exposed them to the culinary heritage of our country, and that both teams had fallen short in this Challenge. It was their decision to eliminate Brandon and Babalwa in this episode. Brandon said that cooking is the great passion in his life. Babalwa said that she had had an awesome time at MasterChef SA.  From Twitter it would appear that the wrong team was sent home last night, many Tweeting that it was unfair that Brandon was ‘punished’ for preferring to make his own puff pastry instead of using a prepared one.

The remaining eleven Finalists were given a pep talk by the judges, being told that they were a third way through MasterChef SA, and that it was ‘time to shine’, and to ‘reach out and grab it’! They were challenged: Let’s see it’, referring to one of them becoming MasterChef.

POSTSCRIPT 9/5: I popped in at Biesmiellah today, and the manager told me that they have been overwhelmed by the number of calls of Capetonians who want to taste Denningvleis.  One TV viewer came to them straight after the show last night to eat it!

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

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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

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