MasterChef SA Season 2 episode 5: 16 Finalists get baked at MasterChef kitchen, Kamini Pather the Sandwich Queen!

The action on the MasterChef SA Season 2 set was immediate, the sixteen Finalists flown in to Cape Town from Johannesburg arriving late in the afternoon at the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg in Paarl.  The first Invention Test challenge appeared to be an easy one, but making a sandwich that represented the Finalist was not, six Finalists going into the Pressure Test, which will be seen today in episode 6.

Each of the three judges had a designer sandwich under their cloche, representing who they are.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood had a steak made from good aged meat served with a good relish on ciabatta, which he and his wife Elize sell at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill on Saturday mornings, and at the Harbour Bay Market in Hout Bay over weekends.  Chef Benny Masekwameng had Bunny Chow on his plate, a Durban favorite of half a loaf of bread, which is filled with a curry mix.  Chef Andrew Atkinson’s sandwich was a mille-feuille of toasted brioche with smoked salmon, seaweed, cream cheese and caviar (right). The Invention Test challenge was to create a Signature Sandwich representing each Finalist. Chef Pete said that the success of a sandwich lies in its bread. No bread was in the Woolworths Pantry, and the challenge was for the Finalists to bake their own. Chef Benny told the Finalists to put their heart and soul into it. The winner was promised the bell, which they could use in a future episode, to call on one of the judges for advice and assistance, as well as a one-on-one food and wine pairing Master Class with Nederburg Cellarmaster Razvan Macici.  The bottom six sandwich makers were to be sent to the Pressure Test, of which one Finalist will be eliminated today.

Amanda Beck made Naan, an oven-baked flat bread with garlic butter, crispy chicken strips, lettuce, and avocado. Mary Martin’s focaccia was one of the best he had tasted, Chef Benny said, but her herb crusted ostrich fillet had too much rosemary on it, and it was not cooked properly, Judges Benny and Andrew fed back. Tumi Moche’s sandwich with pineapple and fillet steak was meant to represent how he pushed himself in the challenge, but the pineapple was not to Chef Andrew’s liking, and there were too many elements to his sandwich. Chef Benny advised that chili would have helped balance the flavours. Herman Cloete made South African ostrich and Turkish sliders and an American hamburger, to represent the three countries he has lived in. Chef Pete worried that he may have had too many elements, and that more focus would have made his sandwiches even better.  Karen Els’ ‘Boere Bunny’ (chow) made with boerewors received praise, Chef Benny liking the sweetness of the accompaniments. Joani Mitchell was emotional at the start of the challenge, it being a big moment for her to arrive at the MasterChef SA kitchen, not having made it beyond Bootcamp in Season 1.  She made an open spicy prawn and chorizo sandwich, representing that she lives at the sea. Chef Benny agreed that it represented her, being flavourful, spicy, and wholesome, and he said that he wanted to eat more of it.  Chef Benny praised the clever play on textures, while Chef Andrew said that he really liked it, having the right amount of spice and her bread was light and fluffy. Shannon Smuts’ Thai Surprise with a pineapple glaze over pancetta with coriander pesto was judged to be too sweet by Chef Pete before he even tasted it, and he worried about her dish as one does not eat bread in Thailand.  It was criticised for looking like a pineapple sandwich, and for having too much garlic in the pesto.  ‘It really does not work‘, he said.

Seline van der Wat was ambitious, in making three baby sandwiches from two breads, saying that she realised it was risky to do too much. Her dish reflected herself at home, and on holiday (left). Chef Pete said that the sandwiches were pretty to look at, but that they had no substance.  Her sister Leandri made an African Roosterkoek with bobotie, Chef Pete praising her dish as one in which sweetness worked well in a savoury context. Ever bubbly and confident Sanet Labuschagne said that she knows what to do, and how to do it. She is in it to win, but realises that each challenge could be the last for each Finalist. She made an open chicken sandwich with marinated mozzarella and olive tapenade on ciabatta served with potato wedges, which Chef Benny said was good enough to order in a restaurant (right).  Kamini Pather made an ‘uncomplicated rustic refined’ Middle Eastern steak roti wrap, representing her Indian background in growing up in Durban and now living in Cape Town. Tiron Eloff has no real baking experience, and his past attempts were not very successful, he shared.  He made a spicy chicken curry on Indian flatbread, Chef Benny criticising it for not creating an explosion in the mouth.  Ozzy Osman said he is a terrible baker, but he made a fillet steak with wild mushrooms and a sweet pepper sauce, praised by Chef Pete as tasty and well-seasoned. Neil Lowe said that his bread recipes take two days to bake, but he remembered how to make Moroccan flatbread, on which he placed Moroccan ostrich fillet. He used Nederburg Noble Late Harvest in his sauce, about which he had second thoughts, in it containing too much chili. Chef Andrew judged it to look hearty and to be well-seasoned, but said that the bread is too dense.  Khumo Twala had lived in the Middle East for five to six years, she said. She told herself to stop panicking. She made Kofta flatbreads, never having seen anyone bake bread before. Chef Pete said her bread inexperience showed, and that her flatbread was ‘too biscuity’.

The judges praised the Finalists for rising to the challenge, and for doing so well in the first Invention Test. Kamini Pather won the bell and the Nederburg food and wine pairing Master Class with Razvan Macici.  The six Finalists who will participate in the Pressure Test today are Neil Lowe, Mary Martin, Shannon Smuts, Tumi Moche, Khumo Twala, and Seline van der Wat.

Chef Reuben Riffel appears in ‘Take the Masterclass‘ Robertsons TV commercials, a video how-to of a dish, naturally using Robertsons spices, being one of the sponsors of MasterChef SA.  Yesterday morning the e-mail sent out by Robertsons to tie in with the episode was a Masterclass in making a chicken mayo sandwich, embarrassingly basic in the filling being a mix of roast chicken, chopped onion and celery, and chicken and chili spices mixed with mayonnaise.  He didn’t bake any bread, using wholewheat slices for his sandwich. In Season 1 he made very basic dishes, not reflecting what he would serve in his restaurants nor the level of food preparation by the MasterChef SA Finalists.

Knowing how tough M-Net is about any details of MasterChef SA being revealed ahead of time, one can surmise that they were not happy with Sonia Cabano, the stylist they used for the Title Sequence of last night’s episode, when she proudly Tweet-bragged about her work she had done with her freelance assistant Gabrielle le Roux last Thursday already.  Both will have had to sign a confidentiality agreement. Cabano had a tumultuous and short-lived association with Robertsons in Season 1 of MasterChef SA.

For an overview of what is lying ahead for 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, and for episode 4 here.  Enter our competitions, to predict the Finalist who will be eliminated in the Pressure Test today, 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

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