MasterChef 2020 has begun! Over 5 weeks, 60 budding chefs will be competing in a series of heats in the hope of being crowned this years MasterChef. The competition brings amateur cooks from around the country to cook for judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode. They will also be joined by a host of guest judges throughout the competition.
In the first episode, which aired on Monday, in 3 rounds, 6 chefs were whittled down to 3. The chefs making it through the first heats secured themselves a place in the quarterfinals.
In the first round, the 6 amateur cooks used ingredients from home to cook up a signature dish hoping to impress the judges. Given 1 hour and 15 minutes, the judges wanted to see a dish that showed something about the individuals cooking style and the food they love. At the end of this round, the judges select the top two performers, who are awarded the first two MasterChef aprons. The remaining 4 chefs will then have to impress the judges in the next round.
Dev, 44, from High Wycombe grew up in Calcutta and loves using fragrant spices in his cooking, which remind him of his travels.
Signature Dish: Chicken, olive and coconut curry with a mango and apple salad, a junglee pulao, wild rice salad served in an aubergine shell, and an aubergine and garlic paste with poppadum shards.
Gregg complimented Dev on his ‘unusual‘ cooking, saying he loved the dish. He described Dev’s cooking of the chicken as ‘skilful‘ and was very pleased with the balance of flavours he had achieved.
John was equally as complimentary, saying Dev’s cookery was really unique and interesting, and he had been ‘properly blown away’.
Karen, 57, lives in Glasgow, but grew up in Brazil – where she discovered her love for food.
Signature Dish: Balmoral chicken – chicken breast stuffed with spinach and haggis – served with a potato and swede tower, wilted spinach with a lemon zest and garlic crumb, and a whisky sauce.
Gregg was thrilled with the ‘perfectly cooked chicken‘, saying it was ‘perfectly moist‘ and the flavours of the dish were ‘great‘.
John was equally as pleased with Karen’s dish, saying ‘I really like it’, ‘nicely done’.
Teddy, 28, from London wants to set up his own countryside gastro pub.
John enjoyed the dish and said it was almost ‘remarkable‘. His only criticism was that the venison needed a little more seasoning, and the carrots had been in the oven too long.
Gregg loved the earthiness that the beetroot brought to the plate, but said the sauce lacked depth.
Becky, 29, is a “self-taught cook” and dreams of opening a café in Sheffield, her hometown.
Gregg loved the pink lamb and the lovely mild flavours. He also loved Becky’s hummus, saying it was very fresh.
John commended Becky for showing a range of skills in the first round, and said the flatbread had great flavours. He did, however, feel the pomegranate washed out the flavours of the dish.
Pete, 47, is a keen surfer and DJs in his spare time.
Signature Dish: Chinese spiced duck with sweet and sour beetroot, a carrot and ginger puree, roasted broccoli with a Korean ssamjang chilli sauce and a soy and blackcurrant reduction.
Gregg was disappointed for Pete, saying he’d given himself too much to do and had delivered only duck with three sauces. Although he did say the sauce with the broccoli was ‘divine‘.
John said Pete’s use of so many ingredients was brave, however, a little too risky. He found the dish a ‘clash‘.
Amanda, 49, South African born.
Signature Dish: Poached salmon and crispy skin on a bean and vegetable broth.
Gregg was thrilled with the ‘really, really well’ cooked fish, and said the only problem he found with the dish was that there were too many beans.
John also enjoyed the dish, but would have liked to have seen more flavour in the stock.
After careful consideration, the judges decided the first two cooks securing MasterChef aprons and a place in the next round would be Karen and Dev.
The remaining 4 cooks then had only one more chance to redeem themselves and secure a MasterChef apron. The next challenge the judges called the ‘Three Ingredients Test’. Given fennel, a bream, a range of tomatoes and 50 minutes, the contestants must make one dish where the three ingredients are the star. To help, they are also given a stocked larder, full of herbs, spices and flavourings.
The cooks performed well in this round, although two people still had to go home. After saying Freddy’s dish was ‘fantastic’, he had secured a MasterChef apron. The judges also complimented Pete’s dish, with John saying he was ‘really impressed’; meaning he had secured a place in the next round and a MasterChef apron. Unfortunately, it was the end of the road for Becky and Amanda.
The final round to whittle the cooks down to 3 quarterfinalists involved all 4 contestants cooking two courses in 1 hour 15 minutes. The contestants cooked for guest judges, and last years’ finalists and reigning champion, Irini, Delia and Jilly. The chefs all delivered some great dishes, but at the end of this round, Karen was going home. This meant that Teddy, Dev and Pete had all secured themselves a place in Friday nights quarterfinal.
Episode 2 followed the same format, whittling 6 contestants down to 3 quarterfinalists.
Charlotte, 33, from Flintshire likes to cook large dinner parties for a host of guests.
Signature Dish: Duck breast served on an apricot and red onion compote with wild mushrooms, an apricot, spinach and pine nut gnocchi and a red wine sauce. Garnished with flat leaf parsley.
John described Charlotte’s compote as ‘absolutely delicious‘ and said the dish had been cooked ‘really, really nicely’.
Gregg was impressed with Charlotte’s dish as he was initially hesitant about the apricot and pine nut combination with the gnocchi, but said it worked really well on the dish.
Euan, 29, is from Scotland and has a passion for cooking seafood.
Signature Dish: Salmon and ricotta tortellini with smoked salmon fillet, crispy skin, capers and a beurre blanc sauce. Garnished with dill.
John said the dish demonstrated technique, although lacked seasoning.
Gregg enjoyed the dish and said the tortellini was nice.
Heidi, 44, from Kent started cooking with her mum when she was 11.
Signature Dish: ‘Mums Curry’ – Chicken, okra and potato curry with rice and an onion-seed naan. Garnished with coriander herb.
Gregg said the curry tasted ‘great‘ and there was lovely heat, just the chicken was dry.
John agreed about the chicken, but complimented the smokey turmeric flavours and the bread.
Howard, 58, is currently building a house in Spain that he hopes to turn into a cookery school retreat.
Signature Dish: Raviollo filled with ricotta, smoked salmon, spinach and an egg yolk, topped with nutmeg, lemon zest and truffle, served with seared asparagus.
John loved the technique and style demonstrated, although criticised there being too many ‘big‘ flavours on the plate.
Gregg appreciated the truffle, ricotta and lemon flavours together, but said they were too much with the smoked salmon.
Shaheen, 24, moved from Iraq to the UK 5 years ago to study architecture, which influences his presentation.
Signature Dish: Chicken Ceasar Salad – A chicken croquette on lettuce with a parmesan tuile, and a ceasar dressing.
Gregg loved the dish; the design, the croquette and the dressing.
John called the parmesan tuile ‘absolutely perfect‘, but said the dish needed more dressing.
Helen, 45, from Lancaster lives on a farm with her husband, where they rear rare breed cattle.
Signature Dish: Chicken mousse parcel with red pepper, chorizo, pesto and mushroom, accompanied by a chorizo and sherry sauce.
John loved the sauce and the sweet peppers. He complimented the dish as ‘daring‘.
Gregg was less enthusiastic about the dish, saying the flavours didn’t work for him. He said the mousse was lacking in flavour, and it was the chorizo sausage giving flavour to the dish.
After careful consideration, the judges decided the first two cooks securing MasterChef aprons and a place in the next round would be Euan and Charlotte.
The remaining 4 cooks then had one more chance to redeem themselves and win a MasterChef apron. This was in the Three Ingredients Test. In this round, they were given 50 minutes to use squid, chilli, and courgette all in one show stopping dish. They were also given a larder to choose further ingredients from. Unfortunately at the end of this round, the judges said goodbye to Helen and Howard.
In the final round, Shaheen, Heidi, Euan and Charlotte cooked 2 courses for 2015 MasterChef finalists, and winner, Simon Wood, Emma Spitzer and Tony Rodd. The chefs all delivered some great dishes, but unfortunately it was goodbye and good luck for the future to Heidi.