MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finals have started, and the competition is fierce. This week, the chefs must really impress the judges if they want to secure themselves a place in the final.
The remaining 8 chefs face two tough challenges on Wednesday nights episode. The first challenge requires the chefs to cook against each other and present a dish inspired by the people or place that sparked their love of food and desire to cook. The dish must evoke these memories for judges Monica Galetti, Marcus Wareing and Gregg Wallace, in order for the chefs to secure themselves a place in the next round. The chefs are given 1 hour and 45 minutes for this challenge, and at the end, only 3 chefs will have themselves a place in the next round. The remaining chefs must then take part in the second challenge, where 2 chefs will leave the competition.
The following round presents a more difficult challenge for the chefs. This time, they face an Invention Test. The contestants are tasked with creating an outstanding, inventive plant-based dish. The chefs are usually given an extensive larder of ingredients, but this time, they must choose from a larder with no meat, fish or dairy. In 1 hour and 10 minutes, the judges want to see a skillful plate of food. The chefs who don’t impress the judges enough this round will be sent home from the competition.
Let’s see how the chefs got on in episode 16…
Freddie, making a dish inspired by grandparents.
Signature Dish: Roasted duck breast with spiced honey glaze, courgette flower filled with truffle chicken mousse, served with carrot and ginger puree, baby carrots, turnips and leeks, and saffron potatoes, garnished with olive oil.
Monica liked Freddie’s presentation and complimented the colours he’d brought into the dish. She enjoyed the cookery of the duck, although said with the glaze it was simply too sweet.
Marcus liked Freddie’s stuffed courgette flower, but said the vegetables had been undercooked.
Gregg agreed with Marcus and enjoyed the mousse, however, he found the glaze with the duck was too sweet.
Exose, making a dish inspired by his mum’s chocolate and orange cake.
Signature Dish: Mille-feuille with cardamom and chocolate ganache and an orange diplomat cream, topped with orange and cardamom puree, torched orange segments and candied orange, accompanied by a chocolate bar on a thin wafer base, filled with an orange liqueur caramel and a blood orange sorbet.
Monica was thrilled with Exose’s dish and said it ‘looks wonderful’. She was also happy with the way Exose had balanced the flavours, making it the perfect taste of sweet and tang.
Gregg also complimented Exose on his balance of flavours, saying the blood orange sorbet made it the right mix of sweetness and tartness.
Marcus congratulated Exose on ‘amazing’ chocolate work, saying it showcased some brilliant cookery. His only critique, that same as Gregg, was that the could’ve been more alcohol in the caramel.
Stu, making a dish inspired by chefs he used to work with, Andreas Antona and Luke Tipping.
Signature Dish: Lamb rump and lamb kofta, bulgar wheat with smoked almonds and pomegranate, poached apricots, green beans, pickled onion, lime yoghurt, garnished with coriander cress and served with a lamb sauce.
Monica was pleased and said the lamb had been nicely cooked and seasoned.
Gregg was impressed with some ‘fantastic’ flavours Stu had brought to the dish, although would’ve liked to have seen more fat in the kofta to ensure it didn’t go dry.
Marcus agreed with the other judges and said there were some brilliant flavours through Stu’s cooking. He said ‘I’m starting to really enjoy your cookery Stu’.
Andrew, making a dish inspired by his time spent picking strawberries with his grandfather.
Signature dish: White chocolate set cream, on a pistachio frangipane base, covered in strawberry jelly, marinated in freeze dried strawberries, strawberry and lemon gel, cardamom crumble, pulled sugar basil leaf and a pink lemonade sorbet, garnished with lemon balm.
Gregg found the combinations of the white chocolate, frangipane and jelly were great, and the dessert showed some excellent technical skills. However, he said the sorbet was far too sweet.
Marcus agreed with Gregg, saying the main dessert was ‘very very nice’, but felt the strawberries on the side could’ve been elevated a little more.
Monica appreciated the strawberry flavours on the dessert, but said the sorbet was too sweet.
Arbinder, making a dish inspired by ancient Mughal Kings.
Signature Dish: Mushroom kebab on a saffron piratha with pickled wild mushrooms, truffle cream cheese, mint and coriander chutney, crispy wild shallots, and a wild mushroom broth, garnished with nasturtium leaves.
Monica liked a few elements of the dish, including the saffron, mint, and coriander flavours, but unfortunately didn’t enjoy the kebab.
Gregg agreed with Monica, and found the texture of the kebab was too soft.
Marcus felt there was too much truffle flavor and said the dish wasn’t for him, despite complimenting Arbinder on a great broth.
Yann, making a dish inspired by the first dish he learnt to cook as a chef, aged 14.
Signature Dish: Pike mousse quenelle, lemongrass poached leeks, and a Thai basil crisp, served with poached lobster tail, and a Thai flavoured bisque, garnished with edible viola flowers and Thai basil.
Gregg was happy with Yann’s ‘smart’ and ‘delicate’ presentation and loved the Thai bisque.
Monica didn’t enjoy the pike mousse by itself, but said it worked really well with the lobster tail and Thai bisque.
Marcus said the lobster had been cooked well, although he didn’t enjoy the pike. He said ‘I like bits of the dish’, but not the whole thing.
Olivia, making a dish inspired by her grandmothers cooking.
Gregg was thrilled with Olivia’s presentation. He said it was ‘absolutely beautiful, looks like it was made by fairies’. He was also very impressed with the flavours and loved every element of the dish.
Monica agreed and said the custard had set ‘perfectly’, and the dish possessed great textures.
Marcus was also complimentary, saying the biscuit was lovely and crumbly; ‘its really good’ he said.
Malin, making a dish inspired by the street food he ate in Colombo in his youth.
Signature Dish: A selection of Sri Lankan street food; deviled squid with a turmeric and cumin dahl, coconut and cucumber salad, with a green chili and curry leaf oil, served with tamarin chutney, Colombo nut mix, and paratha breads.
Monica said Malin’s deviled calamari and dahl was lovely, and said the dish possessed some great flavours.
Gregg also felt the squid had been beautifully cooked, however, he said ‘deviled’ implied hot, which he didn’t feel came through.
Marcus enjoyed the dahl and said the dish was flavoursome, but not ‘cutting edge’.
At the end of this challenge, the judges decided the 3 chefs going straight through to the next round would be Olivia, Exose and Stu.
Leaving Yann, Malin, Freddie, Andrew and Arbinder cooking in the next round. This allows them the opportunity to impress the judges and hopefully stay in the running to be MasterChef: The Professionals champion. After this challenge, 2 chefs will be asked to leave the competition.
Monica loved the curry sauce but was disappointed that the vegetables had not been cooked in the sauce.
Marcus agreed with Monica and said the sauce was ‘delicious’. He said its ‘not cutting edge, but it is tasty’.
Gregg complimented Andrew on some lovely flavours coming through, but said it remained a ‘homely’ dish.
Signature Dish: Cauliflower steak with a caper, gherkin and lemon dressing, cauliflower puree, accompanied by asparagus, baby artichoke, spinach, fresh cauliflower and apple salad, and Jerusalem artichoke crisps, garnished with viola flowers, sea fennel and buckler sorrel.
Monica found the pan-roasted cauliflower with the gherkin and lemon sauce nice and was pleased with the ‘very neat’ and ‘tidy’ presentation.
Gregg agreed with Monica and enjoyed the cauliflower steak. He did however find the other elements of the dish to be too bland.
Marcus appreciated Freddie’s presentation of some great vegetable cookery, although found the dish lacked a sauce.
Signature Dish: Heritage beetroot salad with spiced chickpea and potatoes, lemon balm and tomato, coconut yoghurt, with a date and tamarin chutney, spinach leaf fritter and black onion seed crisps, garnished with viola flowers.
Monica commended Arbinder on a ‘really tasty’ dish.
Gregg was also impressed and said the vegetables had been cooked well.
Marcus praised Arbinder on his ‘fresh, light [and] flavoursome’ dish. He enjoyed the dish as a whole, but could have had some more spice.
Signature Dish: Turmeric cauliflower on a pecan and cauliflower cous cous, accompanied by yellow courgette filled with a miso puree, pickled mushrooms, crispy shallots, and sour oat cream, topped with a pecan, chive and lemon vinaigrette, garnished with fennel and cornflowers.
Monica was thrilled with Yann’s dish and said it ‘really stands out’ and presents some great flavours.
Marcus told Yann he had presented a ‘cracking piece of cookery’, and was probably one of the best dishes he’d cooked in the competition so far.
Gregg said the flavours in Yann’s dish were ‘an absolute delight’.
Signature Dish: Coconut yoghurt mousse topped with a sugar tuile, with yuzu liquid gel, torched mango, and fresh raspberries garnished with bronze butterfly sorrel.
Monica enjoyed the texture of the mousse but said it could’ve done with being sweeter.
Gregg loved the sharpness of the yuzu gel, however, said the mousse lacked coconut flavour.
Marcus agreed with Gregg, saying there was a lack of flavour. Although, Marcus did say the tuile was very clever.
After careful consideration, the judges decided the chefs going through to the next round of MasterChef: The Professionals were Yann, Arbinder and Andrew. This meant saying goodbye and good luck for the future to Malin and Freddie.