Apologies right off the top for not getting this out sooner, but all things being equal, I just didn't have the time to sit down and do the writing and photo captures. If I'm honest, I have a few more reviews tucked away in my notebooks gagging to get out before the new week gets under way in earnest.
Monday last, we started off the week with the first of three Monica skill tests. French trim rack of lamb this time and I'm shocked to report that Gregg Wallace felt obliged to tell us what de-glaze meant. Honestly Gregg, If we don't know de-glaze by now, we shouldn't be watching. That said you'd think the same applied to the working chefs applying to Masterchef. Fat Simon did us a scrummy rack of lamb while Piotr (I was writing in Polish I swear, during his bit) served up surowe/raw slightly sealed meat. Lee was the best with a tasty looking well presented plate of food, while Amie plopped some scruffy inedible rubbish on her plate, then wept. Suffice to say that besides the much appreciated lesson in rack of lamb, the choice of who to send through was dead easy, though why Amie was passed is a mystery as we shall see in the Michel Roux test. Perhaps it was a sign of weakness to come throughout the week?
If it's Tuesday then it means Monica Galetti is teaching us another tasty dish of food and testing four new sacrificial lambs. Scallops in beurre blanc, I was already getting hungry thinking about it, and yes , Greg will have all the sauce you can spare. My now dearly departed ex Father in law used to do incredible things with scallops, so I expected great things from this lot. Unlike Monica, Jason made a messy dish showing equally bad technique, even though he knew how to make the very thing asked of him, hardly inspired cooking. Nervous James was confused and totally out of his depth. His plate of food was so bad it wasn't tasted. Garry who showed promise, presented well and produced the best tasting dish of the lot, closely followed by two rosettes Dan . For the crime of wasting scallops and trying to poison the judges, James was sent home. I have made a gallery of the top googly eyes Monica made in this segment, as they are legend.
And so with great trepidation and squeamishness we move on to Wednesday and the last quarter final.
The invention test pitted 6 chefs who tried to out weird us with increasingly bizarre combinations. Simon's venison was badly sliced and underdone, his beets gritty, in short, BAD. Stacey shocked the judges with some decent food and made celeriac mash with vanilla somehow work. Dan's quail was well cooked, tasted fine but needed to be off the bone for high priced clients who also would not tolerate unpeeled tatties. I don't see the problem myself, but hey if you're paying 35£ a plate, I suppose you would expect no peels. Lee made an elegant skilful rabbit with TWO sauces, but was accused of putting too many flavours on the plate. Dan (the 2nd) dumped a lot of rare lamb onto a plate and lastly Jason made a ghastly tasting combination of Quail on chocolate cake. Greg told him " You may be a genius, but you are ahead of MY time ". In the end Simon and Jason were cut loose, even though one of the Dan's was surely also considered for the chop. Yet again I smell the hand of the producers.
The critics hurdle was the usual combination of bravery, originality and "hey look at me" menus. First up was Daniel with his Lamb curry and cabbage. His puree was cold and th sauce not curried. For pudding he made a stodgy looking school dinners Cinamon sponge on a bed of pear purée. On the whole not good and cost him dearly. Stacey was back with more meat. This time beef mushy peas and vanilla mash. It was daring once , but twice it's silly. Her dessert was fine I suppose, but she had to redo her tuiles and cried. I know she's 21 and punching far higher than her ( pardon the pun ) weight, but it's no reason to cry. She should consider herself lucky to not have been sent home during the soufflé disaster. Lee cooked inspired venison with spinach and pancetta, followed buy a tarte tatin that had an innovative filo crust and star anis ice cream. I'm no fan of licorice , but I would have tried that. Lastly Daniel the 2nd made confit of salmon that looked pretty but was not seasoned and turned out too raw. His main of spring lamb on mash was embarrassing. You have to see it to believe it. Imagine three piles of slightly green turd on your plate with some meat next to it. Besides being tasteless like all his cooking, it was comedy plating not worthy of cooking at this level. Having had to choose somebody, both Daniels were dropped with Stacey and Lee now the last entries intp the semifinals.
Whites also aired in the week of the Chilean miners. I'd like to tell you it was brilliant, but the two anchor stories in the ep were so un-engaging that despite decent writing I cannot in all honesty recommend you devote a half hour to this wank and fast car inspired ep. Even Scoose being a complete twonk was wasted. Though if you must watch it, look out for the Aslan fusion jokes, they are nerdtastic. Next ep promises to be a cracker, the health inspector visits and threatens to close the place down. Plenty of drama and comedic potential I think.
Happy cooking people, and here's hoping the semi finals will be as exciting as the chock full of promise participants list seems to be. As always, you can catch up any and all episodes Masterchef: The professionals you might have missed on the iPlayer right here.