Wednesday, 2 March 2011

MasterChef 2011: Cut by Half

So, here we are again with another two episodes of MasterChef to digest. Wait. What? You missed them? You've come to right place. Let me fill you in.

We got going with disbelief at being in the top 20 and slow motion walking towards the camera. Standard reality TV fodder. And to add to the contestants' fright, Gregg and John stood at the head of kitchen bellowing about how nothing they've ever attempted in their lives could possibly compare to how taxing being on MasterChef will be. Probably untrue but god forbid I should argue with Monsieur Wallace when he's being feisty. No messing about. Straight into the first task. During this inaugural test the kids where told they could make anything they wanted but it had to include an egg. Chicken eggs, fish eggs, duck eggs, quail's eggs, ostrich eggs, Faberge eggs - whatever oval delights their little hearts desired. I don't know why they're looking so worried. Easiest. Task. Ever. D'you know what I'd do? Omelette.



I'll get my coat. Actually my safe option would have been to make some egg pasta. You can make pretty much anything from there.  My risky option would have been to make a Scotch Egg with an ostrich egg. It was at this point I was referred to as "...being all Hestony" for the second time that day. The first time was when I mixed vegetable cup-a-soup into an oxtail cup-a-soup to make it taste of.....well, anything really. I'm a bloody genius, I am.

So they cook away at their egg-stations. I was absolutely furious with my favourite gal Jackie for dropping her food all over the floor, but she managed to make her dish all over again, which John and Gregg swooned over. She's as good won this whole shabang. Gregg called time on their cooking but Annalise didn't get her squid on the plate in time. Dilemma.....








That was one of the best things I've seen on TV so far this year. To the tasting, where John Torode opens his mouth wider than the channel tunnel and Gregg Wallace pouts at the distinct lack of puddings. Let's run through the highlights. As predicted, Jackie managed to seduce the Eating Kings with her authentic Pad Thai. I still love her to bits. Increasingly annoying Fiona makes a Pad Thai so rubbish John only refers to it as a "Prawn Noodle Dish". BURRRRRN! Cheeky Annalise didn't get away with sneaking her squid on to her plate and John disregards it. Bad luck, ya filthy cheat!

Aww, shucks. They rumbled me. 

They decide her dish is too confused, even if they'd been allowed to taste the squid. Photographer Matthew makes some kind of unappealing  Middle Eastern beef thing that has a fritter on the side. But shock of all shocks, American Tim (apparently 26, not 22) makes the prettiest little plate of food I ever did see. Ma'am. As predicted I'm starting to like his eccentric ways. I still want to see real tears falling from behind his girl-glasses though. His food, which was so complicated I can hardly remember what it was, looked like an atom inspired fabric print from the 1960s. Can I get this made into curtains?


John thinks it's "astonishing" and Gregg "quite likes it". Beam me up, Timmy.

Not so happy was Italian lass Sara. She made her own pasta. The Eating Kings didn't dig it. Never ever tell an Italian you don't like their pasta. Ever. Ever! That's like telling an American you don't like their BBQ pork ribs or an Australian you're not keen on their.....errrr....lager? But if Sara thinks she's made a boob, it's nothing quite like the calamity that waits for Paul. You remember Paul, right? The mackerel sandwich man? This time he decides to poach an egg in clim film. Yep. Cling film. John thinks this is outrageous. Normal humans think "Meh. So what?" Until, that is, Paul forgets to remove the clingy from the egg before serving it. John unwraps the egg from its plasticky wrapping and handles it as if he's just found a used contraceptive device in his food.


Medical bod Nicky has a rough time too. Her mayo's split and she sobs her way through the rest of the contestants as if her life has come to a crashing end. I can kind of understand their pain, although when I hear statements like this....



...I have an almost overwhelming compulsion to scream "NOT WINNING MASTERCHEF IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD! YOU'RE A BIO-GENETICS GRADUATE! PLEASE CURE US OF HEREDITARY DISEASE!" If you can carry out research into genetics but you can't cook a piece of fish properly, that's absolutely fine. Perspective, dahling. Same goes for you, Elizabeth. Just because the Kings didn't fancy your Chantilly Mayonnaise much, doesn't mean you can't save the world from your .....ummmm....art gallery.

Soz, love. Scratch that.
Then there was Ondine. Oh Ondine. Bless her little trainer socks. It all fell apart with the placing of severely undercooked potato cubes on her tapas plate. I knew she was on shaky ground when she pronounced the Ls in 'tortilla'. She was so heartbroken at the solid spuds John had to step from behind his alter and give her a cuddle.


And when they eventually cut her from the show, John needed to steady himself by hanging on to Gregg's shoulder for comfort.


Long story short, all my favourites got to stay, some duffers got sent home and five got to cook again for two more places. They had to cook their interpretation of a Sunday Roast with an extra judge in the form of scary Women's Institute lady Amy Wilcock.

ARGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

Italian Sara decides to roast some grouse and dot some potatoes around the plate a la Ondine. Risky! Although if it all goes wrong she still gets a cuddle from Torode. Totally worth it. Cling Film Paul goes all classic with a loin of lamb and Art Gallery Elizabeth is wayyyyy too confident about her tea-smoked duck and taro. Over-confidence in VT = failure. Thems the rules of reality TV. Fiona is roasting some beef and tries to ramp up her chances of getting through by sobbing all over John and Gregg because her dad died six years ago and this is what he would have wanted her to cook for him. Clever girl.

Perfect 'I'm sorry for your loss' faces
Photographer Matthew also cooks beef. He mentions his mum but she appears to be alive and kicking. His prospects aren't looking good.

To the judging where Sara's Ondine-esque spuds are a hit and she goes racing through to the final 12. As does weepy Fiona, whose tower of beef and veg was a big hit. Paul served up food that looked only half cooked and akin to childrens' building blocks:



Matthew's Yorkshire Pudding sank and he looked like he couldn't be bothered slicing his cabbage.


And Elizabeth fluttered her eyelashes enough to win over the boys:



Sadly for ole Liz, Amy Wilcock wasn't impressed and sent her home. Go on. Sling yer hook. Go and blow-dry some duck elsewhere.

Go A-my! Go A-my! 

What drama! And we've another episode to go yet! Will I stop using exclamation marks while discussing Masterchef? Never! The next challenge facing the final twelve involves being a professional chef. Yes. Now we're talking. The bad news is that Torode still hasn't worn a cardigan this series. The good news is he's replaced the monkey suit with his chef's whites:

Aw-chi-wa-wa
John informs the crew that they're turning the kitchen into a pro kitchen and running a service for some guests in their pretend restaurant. This fills the majority with dread.


You are CHEFS! Pull yourselves together for goodness sake. John will man the pass, Gregg will host the dining room (eat his body weight in dessert) and the final 12 will be split into courses where they'll cook for a group of special guests. The guests just happen to be MasterChef winners and finalists from the past six years so, yeah, no pressure or owt. Taking a peek through the Masterchef family album we have......

Dhruv from last year:



Tomasina Miers, who has the best book on Mexican food you will ever find:



And EMILY! Emily who made John cry a few series ago because she was just. so. damn. good.


It doesn't bode well that the contestants seem insubordinately nervous. I'm concerned about how Tom will pull a whole dish together when he's struggling to figure out how to put his hat on correctly.


During the pre-service chatter, Beauty Queen Alice mentions to John that she's got a very ambitious dish and John seems worried she won't keep up. This is made even worse when her lasagne thing gets nine orders at once. James decides to cook scallops 15 minutes before they're need (even I know that's a ball of rubber waiting to happen) and JT prepares to commit suicide when Claudia thinks she's cooking three plates of chicken livers when actually it's four.


I'm facepalming with you, sweetheart. Alice eventually manages to plate all nine of her starters and I nod along knowingly when John declares.......


My fears for Tom were not unfounded. He's making so much mess John has to come over to his station and clean up for him. That's worse than we you wee your pants in school and the teacher has to come and dry you off. So I'm told. *cough* Tom's got eight orders for his brill and John's already dreading the disorganised plates being prepared for him.


Peter excelled himself, Polly was sarci but John punished her by being sarci back and Sara panicked while preparing her risotto. Once it's over they all go to the rec room to cry into their whites. Once again...GET A GRIP! You're CHEFS! Not long to go now, JT. Just the dessert course to go. Come here, we'll have a cuddle before it starts...... (worth a try)

PUDDING TIME! Annie's doing a pomegranate and orange ice cream cake thingy (zzzzz) and my new pal American Tim is making Hawaiian Poke(y). Apparently this is supposed to be a raw fish salad, but he's replaced all the ingredients with coconut rice pudding, rum and pineapple. So it's not a Poke(y) at all then. *eye-roll* It looks like a bowl of puke and John seems to agree. Everyone in the dining room apart from Gregg thinks it's incredible.

I'll pass

We shall see. Fiona's doing posh pears with bread and butter pudding and my homegirl Jackie's doing another rice pudding. I'm immediately concerned that it's too simple. Don't let me down again, Jacks. I haven't recovered from the egg dropping fiasco yet! They all do reasonably well, John is knackered and, well, let's see what Gregg's up to......


So who goes home? It was Claudia with her terrible chicken livers and Fiona with her pitiful pears. I knew Fiona's time was up when she said.....



And the response was......


Tonight they leave the kitchen and head to a Scottish mountain to feed some burly highlanders. Oh yes! So much for being more concise this time, eh? I bloody love this show! 


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