Episode 5 of MasterChef SA was long and drawn-out, featuring nine desserts made from a surprise ingredient – a Pantry overflowing with carrots, carrot juice, and carrot powder. Three new contestants will go into the Pressure Test in episode 6 next week, Ndumiso Mncwabe clearly heading for an early exit as he is facing his second Pressure Test.
The episode commenced with a recap of episode 4, Roxi Wardman sharing her euphoria about having visited and eaten at Chef Kevin Thornton’s 2 star Michelin Thornton’s restaurant in Dublin, for having won the best dish in episode 3. She described it as a ‘mind blowing, life changing’ experience. Philippa Robinson shared that Roxi’s success and her new confidence from her trip makes her feel intimidated, as she is one of the strongest contestants.
Reuben Robertsons Riffel led the contestants to the Pantry, and they were surprised to see the mountain of carrots, in red, orange, and purple, from which they had to make a dessert, with the carrot the focus, said Chef Benny Masekwameng. Riffel said that a carrot dessert is not as crazy as it seems, and challenged the contestants to apply their mind. A time limit of 90 minutes was set, but the Pantry was closed 15 minutes after the start. Once again the contestants were told that the three weakest dishes will place their creators into the Pressure Test, one of them going home in episode 6. While there are eleven contestants left, only nine of them were interviewed and the evaluation of their dishes shown, Francois Zietsman and Mel Sutherland receiving no airtime last night.
Ndumiso Mncwabe: Ndumiso is the eternal optimist, and still said that he wants to win MasterChef SA Season 3, despite just having come out of the first Pressure Test. He is not keen on baking, saying it is not his forté. Almost arrogantly he said that he only eats dessert. He made a pastry case with custard, and carrot chutney, but his custard had not set when he scooped it into his pastry case. Chef Pete Goffe-Wood said that his pastry and chutney were good, but criticised the custard.
Refilwe Tselanyane: She loves baking, and decided to make a carrot Swiss Roll, which broke when she cut it, not having cooled down enough. One section was fine, and she used that in her plating. Chef Benny said that it had been a challenge to not break the sponge while rolling it. Riffel said that it was a great Swiss Roll, but it needed more filling.
Philippa Robinson: Philippa said that she hates carrots, having been forced by her mother to eat them as a child. She said she must plan what to make, having only 15 minutes to gather her ingredients in the Pantry. She said that she must trust herself and push herself, despite not liking carrots. She reiterated that she prefers savoury to sweet foods, being ‘terrified of puddings‘. She made a carrot tart with carrot marmalade, a carrot granita (made with carrot powder, Nederburg Noble Late Harvest – described as a ‘desert‘ (sic) wine on the MasterChef SA website – and carrot juice), and chocolate soil. She said that she felt content with what she made when presenting her dessert to the judges, although she looked worried until Chef Pete spoke first, saying that it is hard to believe that she does not like carrots, saying it is ‘the nicest plate I have tasted all day‘! Riffel said that she is a star, and said that if she can make such a good dish from something she dislikes he cannot imagine how good her dish with something she loves will be.
Roxi Wardman: Spurred on by her trip to Dublin, Roxi decided to make her dessert with carrot juice and carrot powder. Her Medley of carrots consisted of a carrot and pineapple sorbet, a purée, salted caramel, carrot dust, carrot syrup, and shortbread with aniseed and carrot. She said that her dessert creation was inspired by Chef Kevin Thornton, his beetroot dish having contained variations of the vegetable, and she wanted to do the same with her carrot dessert. Riffel said that the strength of her dish was its subtlety, playfulness, the elements complementing each other, and described it as ‘amazing’. He said that one ‘can taste the inspiration‘ (of Chef Kevin).
Penny Fitchet: The dessert which Penny decided to make was carrot cake, a carrot and fruit compote, and ginger carrot cake ice cream. Chef Pete said it was risky to make a simple dish with just three elements, there ‘being no place to hide’. He praised her for all three elements in her dish being perfect.
Sipho Mdlankomo: She said that she ‘sucks’ at making desserts, and immediately reacted by saying that she is ‘dead’, as desserts are not her strength. Her idea was to make a carrot sponge with an Italian meringue topping, as well as carrot compote. Her first sponge did not rise, and was hard, so she quickly baked another, which was much better, but was still evaluated as being too dense. Her meringue was not perfect either, and therefore did not help her dish. Chef Benny was kind in saying that she is a creative cook, all chefs having bad days.
Abigail Mbalo: Looking striking with a colourful scarf in her hair, Abigail made a carrot panna cotta placed on carrot jelly, infused with cardamom. She was delighted when her panna cotta set in the last minute, putting it into the blast chiller to cool down more quickly. Chef Benny said that one can taste the carrot, but judged her jelly as being too ‘rubbery’, Abigail having added too much gelatine.
Claire Allen: Claire decided to make a carrot cake ice cream with foam, Chef Pete Goffe-Wood advising her that texture will be important. Her nerves were tested when her ice cream had not set half an hour before finish. Claire used pansies in her plating, something we had not seen in MasterChef SA Seasons 1 and 2. Chef Pete said that her ‘story’ about the deconstructed carrot cake did not come through to him. Riffel said that her carrots had not cooled down enough in making her ice cream. He felt that her execution was not good enough. Chef Benny said that the carrot flavour did not come through enough in her dish. Claire was ‘gutted‘ about the negative feedback her dish received from the three judges.
Ian Young: Riffel said that Ian is more of a braai man, Ian saying that he is not good with desserts, saying that they are ‘not his baby’. He made a dessert of carrot ginger Crème Pâtissièrie, glazed baby carrots, compote, and twisted tuilles, a complicated dessert. Riffel praised it for being a ‘beautiful plate‘, Chef Benny said that the ‘impressive’ flavour of carrots was in the dish, and Chef Pete said that the dish was very clever and that a lot of thought had gone into it. Ian said he was ‘chuffed‘ at the good feedback.
In their whispering amongst each other the three judges felt that Roxi was ambitious in her many elements in the dessert; that they were excited about the creative ideas; Chef Benny was worried about Refilwe’s Swiss Roll cooling down enough for her to cut it; and they were concerned about Claire’s ice cream and whether it would freeze. It was easier to understand them in this episode, and no sub-titles were required.
The judges did not choose the top dessert, but it was clear from the praise that those made by Philippa, Roxi, Ian, and Penny were the best of the episiode. Ndumiso, Sipho, and Claire go into the Pressure Test next week, where they will face Swedish chef and restaurateur Niklas Ekstedt from Ekstedt restaurant in Stockholm, who previously worked at Charlie Trotter in Chicago, The Fat Duck, and elBulli. He will challenge the Pressure Test contestants with a dish prepared without a stove, using ‘open flame cooking’ instead! Sipho said that she wants to win MasterChef SA, but that going into the Pressure Test ‘is a wake-up call‘. The other eight contestants have been promised a ‘road trip‘ in the next episode.
It was interesting to see that there was no mention of Robertsons in the episode, as we had seen in the hard-sell in episode 4. Yet the Robertsons advertising is blatantly misleading in its wording in the commercial, stating that Riffel is ‘South Africa’s top chef‘, a claim that last applied nine years ago when Reuben’s in Franschhoek last made the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list. The judges looked very casual in their loose shirts hanging over their trousers, Riffel in a shiny blue shirt looking more suited for a disco! Surprising too is how much time the judges spent with the contestants, and how much advice and guidance they are offering the contestants, which we did not see in the two previous Seasons.
For an overview of MasterChef Season 3 read here, and read here too. For a summary of episode 1 of Season 3 at Bootcamp 1 read here, and of episode 2 read here. The summary of episode 3 can be read here. Read about Roxi’s trip to Dublin and the first Pressure Test in episode 4 here.
For the Twitter handles of the Top 12 finalists, click here.
PLEASE NOTE: The weekly WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards, usually posted on Fridays, will be posted on Saturdays until late December, to allow the write-ups of each of the 18 episodes of MasterChef SA Season 3 to be posted the day after the episode.
MasterChef SA Season 3, M-Net. www.masterchefsa.dstv.co.za Twitter: @MasterChef_SA Thursdays at 19h30.