Saturday, 9 October 2010

BBC Masterchef Professionals week 2: Can it get any tougher than this?

Week 2 and the Masterchef Professionals roller coaster of food continues. If I said I was surprised by the twists and turns, I'd be lying. Monday's ep we saw three chefs go forward when they were clearly all too good to drop ( see "It was the Salmon Mousse"). Monica did her thing and was more instructive in basic cooking skills in the space of 5 minutes than Nigella will ever be. Episodes five(5) and six(6) kept the tension going with just as many decisions that highlighted quality over the basic idea that this was some kind of race to the finish line. Anybody who thinks they can blag their way past the judges on Masterchef are soon put right and in at least one case, come crashing to earth with an audible thud.

So we start the action with round two of the Monica test, raviolis and tortellini. The method we are shown is simple and clear, so you would think professionals would breeze through this. But you'd be wrong. Jamie made bland thick pasta, Inverness Richard made sauce so runny and pasta so thick Monica made face like she'd been poisoned, Adam wasn't much better but Renaud ( Eric Cantona look alike) wowed with tasty perfect food. Monica who by now has earned a reputation for not pulling her punches, uttered the line of the series so far. After having tasted the truly vile pasta of contestant Richard, she told him "that tastes so bad, I want you to eat it". Suffice to say that Richard did not move on.

In the face to face with Michel Roux, a Salmon dish with veg and sauce is demonstrated. I'd like to say I've made this a thousand times, but it's never occurred to me to slice the skin off and finish it in the oven for a lovely crispy salty treat. This will of course be my trick to impress at the closest opportunity. On the back of the pasta test, I wasn't sure what to expect and it turns out I was right. Only Renaud produced a plate that tasted really good , but even he had a rough presentation. After all the bluster of Frenchness and "of course I'm goods", Renaud disappointed on a dish even I, with training, could pull off. Michel Roux was deeply disappointed by the round and Greg Wallace was underwhelmed. If you can now rewind yourself to Monday and the mass advance of three chefs, you can now see the shocking but justified culling of two chefs who weren't worthy to polish the silver at Michel Roux's restaurant.

And here we go again, this time Monica shows us how to make hollandaise sauce, peel a root vegetable and set aside in some prepared water. Simple? Well of course, you'd have to be stupid to mess it up. Wait  John, who crashed out on the hollandaise, made tubs of the stuff  not long ago, but got wrong in front of Monica. Poor sod. That left Ben , who is very good, Arun (pronounced aroon, not aaron) also good and Paul who butchered the root veg but still managed a passable hollandaise. I won't bore you with the details, but unless you get excited by men with whisks, it was time for a trip to the kitchen for food or go to the bathroom  for a quick refreshing..... glass of water. Bet you thought I was going to say something else  ANY road,

On to Chef Roux and Boules de Berlin, donuts to you, ponczki to me, with chocolate sauce. I was drooling before he finished saying Berlin and my wife had suddenly woken up from the hollandaise induced stupor. So we're told the secret to proper donuts is the correct rise and enough filling to know what's inside. Having made these more than a few times at home, we enjoyed this segment from the perspective of battle scarred veterans. And I'm not kidding about the scars. Word of advice, do not filter used hot oil while only wearing sponge bob silk pants. In fact wait till it's cooled and you've had more than 3 hours of sleep. So how did our boys do?  Ben's donuts were fun looking but not well filled, the dough however, was perfect, Aroon was stodgy and stunted but his fillings were good and lastly Paul , who was dropped, was neat, clean but stodgy and not risen enough.  I've come to the conclusion that sometimes you can't expect a sous chef or head chef to do puddings.

Nearly there readers, invention test time and we have in the kitchen Big Claire, Aroon, Nervous David, Confident Renaud, Cocky Kevin, and Nice guy Ben . I honestly tried to set aside my personal inclinations and wanted to judge the results fairly, but Durham David said things like hearty Northern food and lamb. How was I supposed to resist? Apparently as it turns out, easily, the lamb was chewy and the presentation rough. would he be good enough to stay out of the drop zone? Aroon's food was a ghastly combination that did not work well and made Michel Roux make faces I hadn't seen him pull before. The last four you would have expected a gargantuan battle of wills and palettes. What happened resembled more a sea battle with much smoke and noise that left only two standing. Claire who had done a canny rabbit dish and Cocky Kevin who was really good and only made a small mistake with a lemon,  knocked out Renaud whose food also didn't work at all, and Ben who murdered his plate with far too much lemon. So with results all over the map, all we knew was that Claire was a shoe in. In the end She was joined for the next round by David, Renaud and Cocky Kevin. Turns out the scruffy chewy lamb wasn't as bad as too much lemon and our Northern lad lives to fight another day.

And now the hour had come, our chefs had to impress the restaurant critics.

Renaud burned his beef a bit, why he went all moody was beyond me. The pudding was ruined by it's simplicity and too much pepper. He also told far too great a back story of the meat, he stopped just short of, as the critics said, telling us if it had liked Jedward. If it had, it deserved to be overcooked.

Wor David did Scotch eggs and haddock with black pudding followed by a venison main that got him the kinds of compliments you want from food critics. Talented chef and delicious food.

Claire's food was perfect but served COLD! Her pud was interesting but the foam layer collapsed. Claire has Michelin stars in her eyes but it looks like she's not quite there yet.

Last cook out was Cocky Kevin, and here comes the fall we were all looking forward to. His main of trout and mushy peas, was described as " A dumb blonde of a dish" a reason why " Presentation is never more important that flavour",  then his pud died an inglorious death. His chocolate was broken in several pieces his sugar was overheated, he had nothing to serve. I did however find his tears at the end, un professional, for a second I thought I was watching Hell's Kitchen USA. Had he maintained his composure he would still have gone out, but his reputation as a chef would not be in a million pieces.

Big drum roll ..... Claire and David  go through to the next round.   Cannot wait for Monday!

1 comment:

David said...

Love the program.Hate the nauseating,boring and affected commnentry from India Fishman. Time for a change