Masterchef: The Professionals has entered its last quarter finals. The 6 strongest chefs from this week’s heats now have the chance to battle it out for a place in knockout week. The quarter finals are made up of two fast-paced challenges, putting the chef’s skills and experience to the test.
The first challenge is the Invention Test. Set by Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing, the chefs must create a dish centred around one key ingredient. The chefs need to be creative and show their understanding of core ingredients in order to impress the judges. After this 70-minute challenge, only 4 chefs will go through to cook for 3 of the UKs most daunting food critics.
Week 4 – This week’s focus ingredient was squash. The chefs were allowed to choose from a variety of types of squash, but they must put it as the star ingredient. The judges expect the chefs to show familiarity with squash. However, this is a challenging invention test, as Monica said it will require the chefs to show some real ‘knowledge and flair’ to bring the best out of the ingredient. Additional ingredients from the larder are also available for the chefs, including meat, fish, herbs and spices.
Let’s see how the chefs got on…
Adam, Junior Sous Chef at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge.
Signature Dish: Butternut and Sage arancini balls, butternut and sage puree, fried pumpkin seeds, pumpkin oil, crispy sage leaves, fennel tops and parmesan crisps, garnished with dill.
Monica liked the arancini ball, although would’ve preferred to see more of a squash puree running through, to really enhance the flavour.
Marcus loved the addition of the parmesan crisp. Marcus would however have preferred more puree as he felt there wasn’t enough to eat all the arancini balls with.
Steve, Head Chef at a Fine Dining Restaurant in London.
Signature Dish: Onion squash, ginger, and chili panna cotta, topped with a parsley barley risotto, salt cured egg yolk, raw and roasted pumpkin, and roasted pumpkin seeds, garnished with micro parsley.
Monica was pleased, and said the panna cotta had a ‘beautiful flavour’. Overall, Monica loved where Steve was taking the dish, her only criticism being that he could’ve left the risotto out.
Marcus enjoyed the roasted squash and complimented the ‘huge’ amount of skill Steve had used.
Monty, Junior Sous Chef at a One Michelin Star Restaurant in Solihull.
Signature Dish: Pan-fried lemon sol fillet with a butternut squash and dahl puree, cumin and coriander spiced butternut cubes, deep fried squash seeds, curried batter, and a cumin beurre blanc split with a coriander oil.
Monica loved the cookery of the fish and complimented almost every element of the dish. Monica was pleased and said ‘I do like where this dish is going Monty’.
Marcus agreed with Monica, and complimented every element of Monty’s dish.
Louise, Sous Chef at a Private Catering Company in London.
Signature Dish: Butternut squash and quails’ egg raviolo, pan-seared squash ribbons, spinach, roasted squash, shiitake mushrooms, pickled ginger, and a parsley and ginger sauce.
Marcus said there was little quails’ egg in the raviolo and what there was was overcooked. Overall, Marcus was disappointed and felt Louise had tried to do too much.
Monica was happy with the flavours of butternut squash coming through but found the pickled ginger too much. In her final comments, Monica said there was just ‘so much’ in the bowl.
Jay, Executive Chef at a Pan-Asian Restaurant in London.
Signature Dish: Pan-seared salmon fillet with a squash, orange and ginger puree, squash beignet, spinach, peas and a kaffir and lime beurre blanc sauce.
Monica immediately said the salmon was overcooked. However, Monica loved Jay’s beignet’s and her overall comments were that she wanted to see more butternut squash flavour.
Marcus said the sauce was ‘great’, although nothing to do with squash, which was supposed to be the star of the dish.
Exose, Chef de Partie at a Fine Dining Restaurant in Manchester.
Signature Dish: Roasted guineafowl breast with butternut squash gnocchi, diced butternut squash cooked in a rosemary emulsion, a squash, chili and lime puree, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a guineafowl sauce.
Monica liked the flavours of the gnocchi and commended Exose on getting the flavours of butternut squash through the diced squash.
Marcus said the dicing of the butternut squash was a ‘great use’ of the key ingredient.
Marcus and Monica all agreed that the 4 chefs going through to cook for the critics would be; Monty, Steve, Adam, & Exose.
Unfortunately saying goodbye and good luck for the future to Lousie & Jay.
The remaining chefs then had one hour and 15 minutes to produce a 2-course meal for 3 of the UKs most daunting food critics; Jimi Famurewa, Jay Rayner and Tracy Macleod.
Let’s see how the chefs got on…
Main: Pan-fried turbot, barley, mussels, charred leeks, leek oil and champagne sauce.
Tracy loved the look of the dish and said she was ‘really looking forward to eating this’.
Jimi was also pleased with the dish and loved the way the mussel stock and flavours had been used.
Jay agreed with the other critics and was thrilled with the sauce, however, he felt the fish had been overcooked.
Dessert: Brown butter sponge, chocolate cremeux, orange ice cream, crystalised orange zest and orange segments
Jimi said ‘that is really, really impressive’ and felt all elements of the dish worked really well together.
Jay was also thriulled with the dessert and said the ice cream was incredibly delicate. He appreciated that it had been done very well and everything worked well together.
Main: Lamb, girolles, potato galette, and asparagus with a wild garlic, anchovy and preserved lemon sauce.
Tracy said the asparagus had been ‘perfectly’ prepared and the lamb was cooked excellently. Tracy called it ‘essence of spring time on a plate’.
Jay disagreed with Tracy as he felt his lamb was raw. He said it was a ‘crying shame’.
Dessert: Strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar with chocolate mousse, honeycomb and stracciatella ice cream, garnished with viola edible flowers.
Jay enjoyed all elements of the dish, saying they were ‘lovely’. Although, he did criticise and said it could’ve been sweeter.
Tracy however appreciated the dish and loved what Steve had done with the strawberries.
Tracy was disappointed as she said the fish was incredibly salty, and subsequently overwhelmed other elements of the dish. Tracy did however say the lovage emulsion was a ‘star’.
Jimi said he wasn’t getting a lot of miso flavour on the fish.
Jay was underwhelmed with the size of the dish, saying it was very small.
Main: Lamb cutlet stuffed with chicken, sweetbread and truffle mousse, with French peas, BBQ baby gem, hasselback jersey royals and a lamb sauce.
Tracy found the potato was ‘greasy’ but enjoyed other elements of the dish, yet only to a certain extent.
Jay, alike the other critics, was disappointed. Jay said the mousse was ‘completely undercooked’.
Main: Spiced duck breast, sweet potato fondant, crisps and puree, with sautéed spinach and chimichurri.
Jay couldn’t compliment the dish enough. He said ‘its gorgeous’; ‘perfect cooking of the duck breast’; ‘just terrific’.
Tracy was equally as thrilled, saying it was ‘absolutely exquisite’.
Jimi was impressed with the technical skills and balancing of flavours that Exose had shown.
Dessert: Cherry soufflé, sour cherry sauce, pistachio crumble and a sheeps milk yoghurt sorbet.
Jimi loved the soufflé and said it was ‘extraordinary’. Jimi also thoroughly enjoyed the sorbet.
Tracy was more hesitant and said the soufflé could have been a little sweeter for her. Yet as a whole, she did say it was pretty ‘faultless’.
Jay said it was ‘gorgeous’.
The judges and critics all agreed that the 3 chefs going through to the knockout stage of Masterchef and be part of final 12 would be; Exose, Monty & Steve.
Unfortunately saying goodbye and good luck for the future to Adam.