MasterChef SA Season 2 episode 6: Saucy Pressure Test, Finalist Shannon Smuts chopped!

Tension ran high in the Pressure Test in episode 6 of MasterChef SA Season 2 last night, when six Finalists had to go through a two-stage challenge, to allow the judges to eliminate the first Finalist, Shannon Smuts being chopped from the show.

To kick off the episode, the six Finalists were challenged to make the perfect Hollandaise sauce, to link back to the Breakfast challenge of episode 4, for use in making the perfect Eggs Benedict. The first three Finalists to perfectly make 200ml of the sauce would be allowed to join the other Finalists, who were watching the action from the mezzanine level in the MasterChef kitchen. The remaining three Finalists would go into the Pressure Test. There was no time limit to the challenge.  The three criteria of the judges’ evaluation of the sauce were Colour, Consistency, and Taste.  Three samples were shown to the Finalists, which pithy Chef Pete Goffe-Wood described as the “Good, Bad, & Runny”!  The Finalists were warned to ensure that their sauce, using the ingredients of egg yolks and butter to emulsify and seasoned with vinegar or lemon juice, did not split, curdle, or be too runny, if the eggs yolks were not cooked properly.  Chef Pete added an encouragement to the six: ‘May the sauce be with you‘!

Neil Lowe expressed his nervousness about landing in the Pressure Test, saying that all six the Finalists were feeling out of sorts and tense. He said that he had never made the sauce before, and he was scared it would split.  He finished second, and it was judged to be ‘a winner’ by all three judges. He was relieved, and told himself that he would need to go back to learning basic techniques, being more focused on Molecular Gastronomy! Shannon Smuts said that she knows the ratios for Hollandaise sauce, and that she was hoping and praying that it would be successful. She was petrified that it would curdle or split. The judges were not happy with her sauce.  Tumi Moche finished third, but his sauce was not seasoned, as unsalted butter had been used, not having made the sauce before, he said.  He was not happy that Seline van der Wat beat him to the post – she had finished first, and was praised on the consistency and the colour of the sauce, but it was judged to be too acidic.  Fighter as she is, she started from scratch, and finished third, before Tumi had seasoned his sauce, allowing her to join the other Finalists. Mary Martin said that the sauce is tough to make under pressure, and that she was beating her heart out to give it the right consistency.  She was in the last three to finish.  Khumo Twala also had never made the sauce and looked worried, but the judges judged it to be perfect, and she was saved from the Pressure Test.

The pressure of the Pressure Test was broken with an insert of Kamini Pather enjoying her one-on-one Food and Wine Pairing Master Class with Nederburg Cellar Master Razvan Macici.  She started with the Brut sparkling wine, saying that she ‘loves bubbly’, which was paired with salmon wrapped in nori. A Rosé with strawberry and candy floss aromas was paired with prawns.  The Nederburg back labels provide food and wine pairing suggestions, Razvan said.  The pairing session went very quickly, and a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend was not identified by name, but was a good pairing with bocconcini wrapped in parma ham, with a tomato sauce on the side.

Shannon, Tumi, and Mary went into the Pressure Test, their task being to replicate Chef Andrew Atkinson’s dish of Warthog loin wrapped in pancetta, sautéed wild mushrooms, leek, asparagus, and a plum-beetroot reduction. The three Finalists loved the smell, taste, and plating, and were allowed to try it, before making the dish themselves within the time limit of 90 minutes. They were advised to focus on the four elements of the dish: the warthog is a lean meat, and should be cooked medium, the pancetta retaining the moisture of the meat; the smoked egg yolk should be poached at 63°C; the vegetables should be turned to create their shapes; and the garlic for the aioli must be pounded into a paste.  Each Finalist received the recipe to recreate the dish.  While the Finalists were cooking away, the judges spoke amongst themselves, and Chef Pete said that half an hour needed to be set aside for the egg, and that some of the Finalists were spending too much time on cooking the vegetables instead of focusing on other elements of their dish.  Mary replicated Chef Andrew’s dish almost perfectly to praise from the judges, and was delighted to join the other Finalists. Both Tumi and Shannon overcooked their eggs and meat, Shannon more so than Tumi, costing her the MasterChef SA dream, having to return her apron.  Chef Pete sent her on her way with the praise that she can be proud of having made Top 16, and Shannon said that she had a much stronger belief in herself now.

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, and episode 5 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.

POSTSCRIPT 28/6: Shannon Smuts has announced that she is opening her restaurant Pure Good in the Associated Magazines building diagonally opposite Parliament on 8 July.

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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