The 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 Masekwameng 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.
Tumi Moche had stuffed the ricotta into the marrow bones. Chef Pete said his chicken was pink inside, not desirable for this meat type, saying it was not great work, and that it was an uninteresting and dull dish. Khumo Twala said that she was a bit nervous, preferring to ‘make safe and plain dishes’, but told herself that she would focus on flavour in her Stuffed chicken breast and grilled asparagus dish. Chef Benny praised her mature approach to flavours, working well. Her dish was voted as one of the five most imaginative dishes of the day. Kamini Pather called on Chef Pete with the bell which she had won in episode 5, asking for advice in preparing a Bordelaise sauce (a red wine sauce) for the marrow bones from Chef Pete, but discarded it whilst cooking. She prepared Chicken Mousse with toasted bread crumb rubble and blanched asparagus (right). Chef Pete judged the dish to have too much mousse for the texture on her plate, Chef Benny adding that it was creamy and tasty, but also criticised the mousse. Karen Els made Chicken Quenelles, working methodically in preparing the chicken first, and deep frying ricotta balls, but she worried about the marrow bones, as she would have frozen them during her preparation. Chef Pete praised the flavourful crust, and Chef Benny said it was full of flavour, and its presentation was of restaurant quality. Karen made the top five list, for presenting more than ‘home cooking‘.
Ozzy Osman’s Chicken Ballotine was praised by Chef Andrew Atkinson for its nice textures and rich flavours. Leandri van der Wat ran out of time, and left her capers off the plate. She had never used ricotta before, using it to make cakes with her herb-crusted chicken. Chef Pete was disappointed about her omission of one ingredient, and Chef Benny said it was especially sad as it was the best dish he tasted on the day. Her sister Seline tried to keep her chicken velouté simple, but Chefs Pete and Benny said that the sauce was dull and needed more seasoning. Chef Andrew added that the chicken was overcooked, and that there was no harmony in the flavours. Neil Lowe made a chicken dish in honour of Chef Fergus Henderson of St John in London, which Chef Pete said would have been served with sourdough, but praised him in showing that there was more to his cooking than the laboratory, referring to the modernist cuisine of foams and more which interests Neil. His dish was also voted one of the top five of the day. Jason Steel made a small starter size plate of food, and Chef Andrew comforted him in saying that it is not always about the presentation. He was praised for getting the flavours right. Joani Mitchell made the top five list with her marinated chicken dish, Chef Andrew saying that her dish said ‘Eat me’, and that her dish had ‘awesome flavours and textures’.
Sanet Labuschagne panicked for the first time, the ricotta cheese she used being dry, as 0pposed to the creamy type she makes at home, which caused her to ‘brain freeze’. She made a savoury custard for her dish, not having made it before. The egg scrambled in her custard, being overcooked, Chef Andrew saying that the bone marrow taste did not come through. Chef Benny said that both the chicken and the bone marrow were not properly cooked. It was the first time that we saw Sanet down in the dumps, worried that she would not be able to realise her dream of opening a cookery school. Mary Martin made ricotta croquettes and poached chicken, but the latter was judged to still be raw. Amanda Beck made a stuffing for the deboned chicken legs, but a large part of it had oozed out during the cooking, having wrapped them in tin foil to hold the stuffing. She herself was disappointed with her dish, it not being what she had envisaged. Chef Pete saw her disappointment when she walked up to the judges. The stuffing oozing out was criticised by Chef Pete, as was the bitterness in the asparagus sauce, but he liked the capers served on their own. Herman Cloete made Herb crusted chicken stuffed with bone marrow, with asparagus and a caper custard. Despite some moments of anguish about whether the custard had set and the chicken was cooked well enough, he was happy with his plating, he said. He received the highest praise from Chef Pete for the chicken being well-cooked and seasoned, even though he was critical of the use of asparagus in the dish. Chef Andrew praised him for the good use of the ingredients, and for the ‘good depth of the flavours‘.
Herman’s dish was chosen as the dish of the day, his yellow tie worn for good luck paying off. It won him a MasterClass in plating at Restaurant Mosiac at The Orient in Pretoria with Eat Out Top 10 Chef Chantel Dartnall. Leandri, Seline, Mary, Amanda, Sanet, and Tumi were rated the bottom six of the day, and will face an Elimination Test today, with one of the Finalists having to go home in episode 8. MasterChef SA/M-Net needs to appoint a food writer, its website referring to Chicken ‘Ballantine’ (the whisky) instead of Ballotine!
There seemed to be a large number of TV commercials flighted during last night’s episode, and one is astounded which advertisers try to associate their brands with a reality cooking show, Willards batteries being an example! The Robertsons TV commercial with Chef Reuben ‘Robertsons’ Riffel had the claim ‘SA’s Top Chef‘ in the bottom left corner, misleading given that he has not made Eat Out‘s Top 20 Finalist shortlist for any of his restaurants for the past two years!
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, and episode 6 here. Enter our competitions, to predict the Finalist who will be eliminated in the next Pressure Test, and which Finalist will win MasterChef SA Season 2.
MasterChef SA Season 2. Tuesdays and Wednesdays 19h30 – 20h30. www.masterchefsa.dstv.co Twitter: @MasterChef_SA.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage