After 4 weeks of heats, the 56 amateur cooks have been whittled down to just 16. The knockouts weeks have started for these talented cooks as they come together for the first time to cook against each other.
The amateurs are split into two groups – the blue group and the red group – with eight cooks in each. Both groups will face a daunting cook-off based on a brief given by Gregg and John. Their challenge is to create one dish inspired by a personal or family favourite recipe.
After cooking their dish and hearing if they have managed to rise to the challenge and meet expectations, only the best cooks with continue in the competition.
Let’s see how the red aprons got on…
Paul loves French food but is very proud of his British heritage. His food is very robust and clever.
Gregg thought the pie served with truffle mash was a ‘luxurious thing‘ and loved the mystery box, but unfortunately ‘altogether it was a bit too much‘.
John loved the pie and the mash and for John that’s ‘all the dish was all about’. Unfortunately he was confused with the honey and said it was just ‘one ingredient too much‘.
Amal has really impressed with her flavour of Somalia, and takes everyday ingredients to make them into something special.
Signature dish: Sea-bass on Somalia flat bread, a spicy tomato sauce, red onion, cucumber and onion salad and coriander oil.
Gregg was happy with the ‘delicate‘ cooking of the fish and the ‘refreshing taste’ of the salad. Unfortunately the judge wasn’t keen on the cook’s ‘dense flatbread against the soft texture of the fish‘.
John’s fish was over cooked, he believed the sauce needed ‘more heat‘ and felt the coriander and salad was the star of the plate.
Delia loves the food of Spain and does it fantastically well.
Unfortunately the fondant wasn’t quite ‘oozing‘, but Gregg was happy with the flavour of Christmas coming from the dessert.
John knew the fondant needed more moisture, however he loved the cherries.
Elliot sums up his food in flavour, he needs to focus but his food on the whole is fantastic.
Signature dish: Tall apple pancake, topped with an apple compote incased in a brandy snapped crown, served with a vanilla and brandy custard.
Gregg could taste the flavours from the apple pie, but it needed the custard as it was ‘too dry and unfortunately the custard curdled‘.
John was upset with the technical elements that were missing, ‘the brandy snap is too thin and the custard had curdled‘, however his flavours were ‘good‘.
Alex is a countryside style cook and is absolutely brilliant at the process of pastry and her flavours.
Gregg congratulated the chef on her ‘pretty and elegant‘ presentation, as well as her dish saying it was ‘delicious‘.
‘That’s the sort of food we are looking for, that’s fantastic‘. John was extremely ‘blown away‘ with the cooks food.
Jim loves spice but is also adventurous and loves taking a risk in his creativity.
Signature dish: Mackerel 4 ways. Ceviche with a smoked beetroot tartare, gin cured mackerel with avocado, smoked mackerel pate on melba toast and bonbons made from mackerel and black pudding. Garnished with borage flowers.
John was mostly impressed by the smoked mackerel pate, saying ‘it was really smooth and really delicious‘.
Gregg was very ‘impressed‘ with the amount work completed, he loved the flavours coming from the ceviche, but thought the gin soaked fish was ‘a little too harsh‘.
Sarah loves to cook for her family, she’s wiling to go that extra mile and cook home hearty meals.
Signature dish: Deconstructed lemon meringue pie. Lemon curd, meringues, a ginger crumb, ginger and lime puree and citrus caviar served with clotted cream. Garnish with violas.
Gregg liked the ‘little meringues and the strength and heat coming from the ginger‘ but was confused the why the pie tasted more like a ‘cheesecake and the base was salty‘.
John thought the meringues were great and the curd was main very very well, but was confused with the ‘saltiness of the ginger crumb and the sharp, bitterness coming from the citrus caviar is flushing away the lovely flavours that should be in a lemon meringue pie‘.
Annabel is the youngest cook in the competition, her presentation is exception and her food is fantastic.
Gregg was very impressed with her flavours and ideas, but noticed mistakes in her dish. The judge couldn’t taste any mint in the oil and ‘although crispy on the outside her bonbon was going dry‘.
John enjoyed the cooking of the loin of lamb, mash and lamb jus filled onion shells, but felt her dish needed ‘more sauce and mash‘.
Let’s see how the blue aprons got on…
Panisha has a style of her own, British classics with Indian spices.
John was impressed with the cooking and ‘ferocity of spice‘ coming from the chicken, however he found the rest of the dish ‘quite muddled‘.
Gregg agreed with John and said ‘its not a pretty dish but I find the flavours exciting‘.
Jilly‘s food is hearty, robust and full of flavour.
Signature dish: French fish soup with pan fried gurnard, a prawn and crab ravioli, seared scallop and a clam served with a traditional chilli and garlic mayonnaise, croutons and cheese.
Gregg said the dish was ‘stunning‘, and was ‘really impressed with her best cookery so far‘.
John didn’t have much to say other than give praise to the chef ‘amazing and perfect‘.
Geoff understand’s the flavour of Italian food perfectly and has great confidence.
Gregg loved the sweet and sticky flavour from the dessert and said it was a ‘flavour delight‘.
John was impressed with the texture, flavour and presentation. The judge said it was ‘really, really clever’.
Rebecca is technically very proficient and absolutely focused.
Signature dish: Ox cheek rendang with coconut rice, crispy shallots, sweet and sour cucumber salad and spicy peanut crumble.
John was happy with the cooking of the meat, unfortunately due to time the sauce hadn’t developed into the meat, her ‘rice was soggy and crispy shallots turned bitter as they started to burn‘.
Gregg loved the presentation and cooking of the meat, but agreed with John on the rest of the dish.
Tim has an artistic side to his cookery as well as an experimental side.
Signature dish: Sea trout topped with the roe, sea herbs, a potato rosti and a pickled cockles and lava bread beurre blanc.
John loved the elegant presentation and the sea herb accompaniment but thought the ‘acidity coming the vinegar and cockles is washing away the delicacy of the sea trout‘.
Gregg enjoyed the cooking of the fish, the ‘luxurious‘ potato and the ‘sharpness‘ of the sauce, ‘absolutely lovely‘.
Irini is a really star and she loves to introduce Greek classics to modern dishes.
Signature dish: Sous vide apple filled with Chantilly cream, topped with a caramel and wild fennel seed tuille and candied lemon peel, tuille’s filled with yoghurt cream, an almond crumble, compressed apple, caramel with star anise and a ouzo gel.
John thought the poached apple was ‘magical’, he couldn’t ‘deny the amount of work gone into the dish‘, however John wasn’t a fan of the crumb as it was ‘too dry‘.
Gregg said the dish was ‘the poshest toffee apple he had ever had‘ and overall was ‘beautiful‘.
Thomas has his own individual style.
Signature dish: Pan fried lamb’s hearts topped with tobacco onions and deep fried curry leaves with saag aloo, spinach and potato, crispy lentils, carrot and cardamom puree, romanesco served with a lamb sauce.
John had never had lamb heart pan fried before, but thought it was ‘delicious and clever‘.
Gregg wished his heart was cooked a bit more and didn’t like the lentils, however he did enjoy the ‘saltiness from the saag aloo‘.
Stephen as much as he loves the ingredients of Wales he is truly collective.
Gregg loved the flavours and cooking of the duck breast and egg yolk on top of the veg, creating different textures.
John couldn’t fault Stephen’s dish and explained why each element was ‘fantastic‘.
Gregg, and John both agreed that the 12 chefs going through to the next stage would be; Jim, Alex, Delia, Tim, Geoff, Paul, Thomas, Stephen, Jilly, Irini, Panisha & Annabel
Unfortunately saying bye and good luck for the future to Elliot, Rebecca, Sarah & Amal.