The viewers’ blood is boiling, in that Finalist Kamini Pather was given a second chance two nights running in episodes 25 and 26, to hang in at MasterChef SA, given that she clearly was the weakest performer in both the episodes. The episode was an exciting one, however, showing the diversity of the Finalists in being able to recreate something as difficult as Chef Richard Carstens’ Chocolate Handkerchief dish, consisting of eleven elements.
The Final Four were given black aprons on arriving at the MasterChef SA kitchen, being in a Pressure Test, without deserving it as such. They noticed technical equipment they had never seen before on their workstations, including gloves, goggles, palette knives, and nitrogen guns. They also noticed an unnamed white jacket hanging in the kitchen. They were told that the judges were turning up the heat, and that they would face the toughest challenge. The winner would go directly into Wednesday’s Finale, while the person preparing the weakest dish would be eliminated.
Seline van der Watt reacted by saying that she would ‘put all on the line today and go for it’. Ozzy Osman said cleverly that he would rather have the jacket than have to fight over it later in the series. Leandri van der Wat said practically ‘Let’s cook’, looking forward to the challenge! Kamini said that she felt calmer, after losing her nerves in episode 25, when her Lemon Meringue Gâteau was less than perfect, and she cried for the first time in the series. She said that she felt steadier, and that her head was together!
Chef Richard from Tokara was introduced by Chef Pete Goffe-Wood as one of our country’s ‘most adventurous chefs‘, who took three restaurants to Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant (Lynton Hall, Bijoux, and La Provençal, the latter two no longer being in existence, both having been in Franschhoek) and who in 2005 was awarded Eat Out Top Chef. He is a ‘maestro of Molecular Gastronomy’, Chef Pete said. Chef Richard’s Chocolate Handkerchief dish consisted of Chocolate Aero, Chocolate Cremeaux, Chocolate Chiboust, Chocolate Handkerchief, Chocolate Streusel, White chocolate branches, Chocolate Nitrogen Foam, Orange jellies, Pistachio powder, and White chocolate mousse. The terminology was unknown to most, and spoken quickly.
The viewers did not get much explanation as to how to make the individual elements, the Finalists having two hours to replicate the dish. Leandri called the dish a ‘Chocolate Heaven plate’. The Finalists were told that sticking to the recipe was vital, as was the temperature specifications, and timing too. The Finalists were warned about the danger of working with the Liquid Nitrogen, as they could burn themselves, and they were told to wear the protective equipment provided. The Finalists received the ingredients, the equipment, with a recipe with detailed instructions.
Kamini said it was what ‘dreams are made of‘ to meet Chef Richard and to cook one of his dishes. She appeared confident, said the challenge was ‘doable, exciting, and creativity at its height’! She acknowledged that she was lucky to still be on the show after her Gâteau disaster, and shared that she was ‘intimidated by the recipe being so exact‘. She made mistakes along the way, the eggs scrambling in her crême patisserie, and made it again. She ran behind time, trying to multitask, and said that she did not have time to breath! She found that tempering the chocolate was easier than she had thought. Her Chocolate Handkerchief fell apart, and her mousse was too runny, and she could not get it thicker by shaking it. She forgot to plate the Chocolate Streusel and the branches, having left them on her work station. Chef Richard tasted white chocolate bits in her mousse, but said that the Cremeaux was smooth and her Chocolate Aero was ‘great’. Chef Andrew Atkinson said that ‘time is everything‘, and that ‘it’s going to cost you’. Chef Pete said that she was under serious pressure, and that she was not able to manage time in the two latest episodes. He praised her chocolate tempering, but that her plate was not complete due to her omissions. Chef Benny Masekwameng said that the orange gel had held, but that her timing and ability to handle pressure needs work.
Ozzy did not even have to say that he had never made a dish of this stature before, and remainded calm throughout. He was disappointed about his chocolate aeration, it not being as good as it should be. He described his Chocolate Handkerchief as a ‘flying carpet’, not being nice and flat. He told the judges that it was the most ‘excruciating challenge, and it shows on my plate‘. When asked what it would mean to him to be a MasterChef SA winner, he said that it would give him the confidence to pursue a career as a chef. Chef Richard said that even professional chefs would have found it difficult to replicate his dish, especially in the two hour deadline. His Chiboust had an ‘eggy taste’, the white chocolate mousse had not set, and the crème pâtisserie was not smooth enough. Chef Benny said that his folding out the ingredients had let him down, and Chef Andrew said that his Handkerchief ‘did not quite work out’, it being the central point of the dish, he added. Chef Andrew said that Ozzy has the passion and humility to pursue his dream to be a chef, even though the judges had not yet decided on who should be eliminated. Chef Pete pulled a face on seeing the dish, and said that all the elements were on the plate, and he praised Ozzy’s ability to fight to the bitter end.
Seline was focused on getting more air into her mousse, a criticism she had received in the Gâteau challenge. She was confident of her timing. At one stage she followed the ingredient list but not the method of the recipe, realising that this was a mistake. She said it felt ‘like a high school science project‘. She was proud of her dish, having all eleven the elements, even though they were not all perfect. Chef Richard said the elements did not all have finesse, but that her dish looked close to his. The texture was ‘not bad’, and that she could be proud of what she had presented. Chef Benny said her Handkerchief had held, but that her mousse was disappointing. Chef Andrew praised her White Chocolate Mousse, saying that ‘she had done a wonderful job‘. Chef Pete said that the Chocolate Aero was too crumbly, but that the jelly was ‘superb’. Asked about her MasterChef SA dream, she said that she had been watching the show since she was a young girl, and it was ‘her little girl dream‘ to win.
Leandri said it was the first time that ‘food meets science’ for her, having worked with liquid nitrogen in Chemistry, but not in the kitchen. She said it was ‘funky and cool’ to cook with it, and that her study leader would have been very proud of her. When she finished her dish, she said that she’ feels satisfied’ and has a smile! Chef Richard liked her presentation, and that the Chocolate Cremeaux had the right texture and that the Chocolate Aero was smooth. Chef Benny said that she had hit the ground running and that each of her elements had been finished on time. Chef Andrew observed that she had fun in her preparation, and Chef Pete added that he had loved watching her cook, everything in her dish being ‘spot on‘! In response to the question about winning MasterChef SA, she said that she had grown through the stress and hard work on the show.
Chef Richard said in summary that he was extremely impressed with each Finalist, especially as they are amateurs. Chef Benny reminded them that the stakes had been high, and that the winner would not only go into the Finale, but would also win a night at 54 on Bath, a Tsogo Sun hotel in Johannesburg. Nothing in Leandri’s preparation had gone wrong, and with the positive judges’ feedback, viewers could predict that it would be Leandri stepping into the Chef’s jacket, which turned out to be correct. She was filmed leaving for Johannesburg, but first hugged her sister, Seline being very proud of her achievement. Seline was given immunity from elimination, and the judges decided that Ozzy had to go home, Kamini and Seline having to cook a dish of Eat Out number one restaurant The Test Kitchen’s Chef Luke Dale-Roberts on Tuesday evening. It will be interesting to see if Chef Gordon Ramsay is part of the Finale on Wednesday, having been rumoured to make an appearance in Season 2.
Calling Tokara after the show, I spoke to Sommelier Jaap-Henk Koelewijn, saying that he had already received calls about Chef Richard’s Chocolate Handkerchief dish, and its cost. It is no longer on their menu, having been a summer dish, then being charged at R55. He is sure that Chef Ricard will re-introduce it to his menu. Unfortunately Chef Richard was off duty, probably having been near a TV to watch the show.
POSTSCRIPT 5/9: Chef Richard has just called back, saying that the Chocolate Handkerchief will be added to the Dessert menu from tomorrow, at the cost of R55. It will exclude the liquid nitrogen.
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, episode 17, episode 18, episode 19, episode 20,episode 21, episode 22, episode 23, episode 24, and episode 25 read here. Enter our competition to predict 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