MasterChef SA episode 4: goes back to the roots, ends with a twist!


The tension and heart palpitations were back in episode 4 last night, after a weaker and less exciting episode 3. The judges were more smartly dressed, stronger, somewhat kinder in their judgement of the dishes prepared, and even gave the ‘pressure test’ contestants some tips, so that they could make the timing deadline.  Surprisingly they sent two contestants home last night, being Charles Canning from Cape Town and Fortune Kangueehi from Windhoek – see our prior evaluation of the 18 contestants.

Episode 4 was the first to be filmed at Nederburg, in the revamped Johann Graue Auction Hall, which was transformed into an amazing 20-station kitchen with state-of-the-art equipment, and a fully stocked Woolworths Pantry.  The 1000 square metre venue was fitted out with 15 tons of wood, and 5 km of underfloor cabling. The kitchen was the contestants’ ‘home’ for two months, from January to March.  Little is seen of Nederburg, if one did not know that it was the venue, but one could see wine vats in the background.

The first test put to the contestants was a ‘Mystery Box’, traditionally a box of mixed ingredients from which they have to prepare a dish. The contestants looked nervous when they opened the box, fearing what they would see inside. They were most surprised when they found a childhood photograph of themselves in the box.  The task was to create a dish which would reflect their childhood, which was where their culinary journey had begun, and the contestants were invited by the judges to put their ‘soul on the plate’.  The judges gave the contestants hope when this task was completed, by saying that their parents and grandparents would have been proud of them.

Not all the 18 finalists were interviewed or filmed in last night’s episode. In most instances the evaluation of only one judge was shown.  Mmutsi Maseko made her mother’s stew of leftovers, and wanted to add vetkoek and vegetables to the dish, but ran out of time, meaning that her meat was not perfectly cooked, and she had to leave out the vetkoek and vegetables.  Khaya Silingile was praised for the contrasting flavours, and how the sauce complemented yet another perfect salmon dish, being a roulade her grandmother used to make. Samantha Nolan’s croquettes, made in honour of her Dutch father, was voted the top dish of the day by the judges, with excellent chips, sauce, and relish.  Lwazi Mngoma made a dish he called ‘Seven Colours’, which included butternut, beetroot, meat, coleslaw, and carrots.  The presentation was criticised by the judges, the carrots were said to be raw, and ‘the flavour was not there’.  Charles Canning made a beautifully plated modern take on Bangers and Mash, reminding him of his granny, but the judges felt it to be too basic, with too much mash.  Jade de Waal made an ‘old school’ Avocado Ritz (right) with a twist, as croquettes, which received very high praise from Chef Andrew Atkinson. Fortune Kangueehi made a Sunday lunch meal her mom used to make, with mince and sweet potatoes, reflecting her (Namibian) culture, in which they eat meat and starch every day, she said. Chef Pete Goffe-Wood found her meat to be ‘very raw, not cooked enough, and not up to scratch’. Berdina Schurink made a tart, reminding her of Sunday afternoon tea on the farm, but the pastry case broke after baking it.  She topped it with what was judged to be an excellent rich not-too-sweet ganache, over which she added meringue, which should have been baked more, Chef Pete said. Chef Pete judged the base of her tart to be too soggy.  Manisha Naidu’s ‘Chicken Three Ways’, with chicken breast, a curry sauce, and stuffed drumstick, was enjoyed by Chef Bennie Masekwameng.

The five ‘worst dishes’ were judged to be those by Berdina, Fortune, Charles, Mmutsi, and Lwazi, and as ‘punishment’ they had to take the ‘pressure test’, in making koeksisters (the Afrikaans version) and koesiesters (the Cape Malay version), the difference between the two similar sounding dishes not being clear to viewers, the preparation and look of the two sweet pastries differing.  The judges became technical about the heat of the oil, and the temperature of the syrups into which they had to be dipped, the five contestants being required to make two sets of dough and two types of syrups.  The 75 minutes allocated did not seem to be enough time for all five contestants, as the two types of dough had to cool down for 30 minutes and 15 minutes. Berdina spoke about the importance of being methodical and accurate in baking, and how important it is to read a recipe, which each of these contestants were given.  Her koeksisters were beautifully plaited, and judged to be ‘damn good’. Fortune moaned about the odd ingredient list, e.g. half an egg, and a ‘quarter of this or that‘!   She admitted that she became mixed up, and couldn’t remember if she had added baking powder or not. Unfortunately for her she was correct, Chef Pete picking it up. She could not hold back her tears, realising that two problem dishes would cost her a place in the competition. Even worse was seeing a tearful Charles, almost shocked that he too had to leave the programme. Mmutsi was praised by Chef Bennie for her crispy koeksisters, and was told that she was ‘spot on’, and ‘that they were a perfect interpretation’.  Lwazi only got one of his two koeksister dishes correct, and was lucky that he remained a MasterChef SA contestant in this episode.

The judges told all the contestants, who had been watching their ‘pressure test’ contestant colleagues from above, that baking ‘needs the fundamentals to be right’.  Fortune was sent on her way, Chef Bennie telling her that she can cook, and that she cooks with passion.  Charles was told that he puts ‘a lot of heart into food’, when he too was eliminated.  Samantha and Manisha Naidu were appointed as team leaders, having made the two best dishes of the day. The judges ended off the programme by reminding the contestants to ‘be the best or to go home’! They were also told to ‘never take anything for granted’ in the remaining episodes.  The judges certainly delivered on this ‘promise’, by eliminating two instead of only one contestant last night.

New advertisers were Allan Gray, in a beautifully shot commercial, and inappropriate for the programme Tiger Wheel & Tyre and Jeep.  Commercials for sponsors Robertsons, Woolworths, Hyundai, and Nederburg were flighted, as were those for Kenwood, Outsurance, VISA, Nashua Mobile/Cell C, smeg, Albany Ultima, Spar, and electricity-saving.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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15 replies on “MasterChef SA episode 4: goes back to the roots, ends with a twist!”

  1. Again I have the same issue with this show – it is rushed. Only one judgement on every dish makes the show, why then have 3 judges? They should have done 5 episodes per week in the 6pm to 7pm slot and eliminated 1 person per week – that would have given ample time for all the judges and contestants to feature properly, one masterclass( for the sponsors to feature properly) per week and it would have made celebs(fleetingly at least) of all the contestants that made the top 18. Some of the frontrunners did not even feature at all last night! It is just a real pity.

  2. I agree Jhandre.

    I can’t cope with taking notes and photographing the screen! The koeksister/koesiester difference should have been explained, and also the difference in the preparation, as it would have been educational to us all.

    I saw on Twitter that Ilse and Sarel were unhappy that they were not featured at all last night, and neither were a number of others.


  3. Why don’t they put the koesister recipe on the website as well. I am very disappointed that I cannot find the recipe as I have never heard of koesisters before and would really like to make them with the recipe from the show.

  4. Watched for the first time last night and “Oh Dear” for the Nederburg Ad.

    Bearing in mind that the vast majority of consumers do not have the slightest notion of how wine is made or what goes into it, their Ad of Berries, coffee beans etc all found in their Cabernet will lead many to believe that those components are in fact in Wine – we already see enough people who think the various “Coffee Pinotage” style wines have Coffee added. A bit of a Faux Pas methinks…….

  5. I agree Cheryl.

    I have just received an e-mail from Woolworths, with a gorgeous pic of a koeksister dripping with syrup, and headed “The Koeksister Cook-off”, but there is no recipe for it nor an explanation of the difference between the two varieties on the Woolworths Pantry page, where bloggers are blogging recipes for them.


  6. Good point Nigel.

    I am surprised that there is only ad per programme for Nederburg anyway, given how much they gave for the production.

    One would have thought that wine pairing would have been made part of the challenge, especially given the Nederburg sponsorship. Any good chef must know his/her wines too!


  7. I find that funny little judge with the tie a bit irritating, but the series is “growing” on me. Thank you for your recap, you have a way of distilling information so neatly.

  8. I am willing to lay my head on a block that when last night’s episode was recorded, utter chaos reigned on that set and very few knew WTF was going on or what to do. Throughout the episode I got the sence that somebody DID try to tell a good story. They failed. Hopefully, as the series continues, we get fed better fare.

    The key element in reality television is ‘story’ and up to now, the director or producer or editors (I am not sure who is the ultimate custodian of this series as the key role players are oddly quiet) have failed to tell us any good, cohesive stories. ‘Story’ makes viewers feel relevant as they watch (and want from) this kind of reality series: to ‘journey’ and ‘experience’ with the contestants … and with good direction, even develop empathy and allegiance with the judges.

    It is not too late. These stories can be told in post so if the producers want to be clever and ‘hear’ the negative comments, a few late nights in the editing suite may just improve matters for us all, including the channel and their sponsors who would appreciate more viewers, for sure. There must have been enough cameras (at least 6 or 8) and sound operators so there must be footage – even if it is just to tell the story of why and how a ‘koeksister’, properly!

    Right now it remains a yawn. Goodnight, Chris. Nice job as always.

  9. Thank you Anne.

    I asked everyone I spoke to today if they knew that there was more than one type of ‘koeksister’, and only one knew about it. The producers, as well as Woolworths, missed such a big opportunity to teach us viewers more about our food culture. I’ve yet to see a koeksister/koesiester recipe on any site related to MasterChef SA.


  10. watched this yesterday- blame my daughter, it is starting to get better now that they are in the kitchen, the standard of cooking however is pretty low compared to the Australian version, i hope we see this improve… the guy who did sausages and mash and was kicked out should have been made to walk home….

    PGW is good, natural and fits well and the kitchen environment suits him, but the other guy Andrew is as stiff as a board staring at the contestants like a perv when he tastes the food ( maybe he has been watching nigella lawson shows) and was it a 3 year old that dressed him !!!, if this show comes back for a second series i would bet my 2 rand that he will not be part of it….

  11. There is a bit of acting required in MasterChef SA, being a reality TV programme, Chef Pete told me recently. But he also said there is only so much acting they can do, as their personality does come through. Perhaps Chef Andrew has been directed to play the over the top guy, Chef Pete the toughie, and Chef Bennie the softie?!


  12. Here is a lovely koeksister recipe

    Cape Malay koeksisters.

    Rushda Achmat from the Black Olive

    Makes about 40
    2 cups of cake flour
    2 cups of self raising flour
    1 pkt yeast
    1 tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp mixed spice
    1tsp cinnamon
    1tsp cardamon
    1 tsp anniseed
    2 eggs
    1 cup of sugar
    1 potato
    60ml of melted butter

    Boil the potato and mash with the butter, add the egg and sugar to the mashed potato. Place all dry ingredients together then add potato miixture. add luke warm water to form a soft dough, allow to rise for one hour. Shape the koeksisters and fry them in hot oil. Pour over syrup and sprinkle with coconut

  13. You are an angel Audrey – the koeksister/koesiester recipe has been hard to find on the MasterChef SA and related sponsor sites.


  14. you can find Rushda’s cape malay koeksisters at the Black Olve stand in the food market at the Willowbridge centre Sat. There is the spicy koeksisters and the doughnut flavour. My favourite is the spicy flavour. I know the Black Olive also has a stand in Stellenbosch (Saturday am’s)and at the baxter theatre gardens on sundays. The Black Olive tel: 079 9660 660

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