MasterChef SA: Episode 17 reviewed.
This week, MasterChef SA went for the heartstrings as the contestants cooked for their families before an avant-garde pressure test.
Time waits for no man. Or woman. Or chef. MasterChef SA is now drawing to its finale and last night saw one more of our budding chefs depart, leaving us with a trio of amateur cooks who are now a mere stone’s throw from the big time.
The episode kicked off with the reality show staple of the contestants describing what they had given up to be on the show. Many said they missed their families, especially Manisha, who had interrupted her honeymoon to compete.
This week’s challenge was a mystery box containing oranges, cocoa powder sweet potatoes, pears, risotto rice, and coconut milk, along with a tempting bottle of Amarula. The contestants had to knock together a dessert using these ingredients, which would then be blind-tasted by a “secret panel”.
Pete Goffe-Wood dropped some devastating puns as he stated that precision would make the difference between a “sweet victory” and things going “pear-shaped”.
Marsala poached pears with chocolate dippers
We’ve become used to the contestants going in very different directions and this week was no exception. Deena went with a traditional chocolate fondant with Amarula crème anglaise and caramelised pears. Sarel made a truly adorable cupcake and spun-sugar creation. Sue-Ann went for a poached pear tart with Amarula sauce, while Manisha continued her sophisticated streak with pears poached in a fantastic spiced chocolate concoction, served with Amarula custard.
Deena utilised the bell that he won last week to ask Andrew how to create a chocolate fondant without any chocolate, which is something of a key ingredient. Andrew provided some solid advice about a vanilla paste and cocoa workaround.
The “secret panel” turned out to be family members of the contestants, which understandably, resulted in floods of tears. The contestants were a tumultuous mess of happiness and terror as they worried about what their loved ones would say about their dishes.
Free-form chocolate tart
The dishes were tasted blind to ensure there was no bias and overall they were well received. The four of them munched along with the judges and offered praise and criticism every now and again. One of the best moments of the series occurred when Sarel half-laughed and half-cried that his wife liked his cupcake.
The contestants were then reunited with their family members before they revealed which dish had been theirs. The family members then announced which dish they had voted for, with Deena garnering a winning majority of three votes, with Manisha picking up the other one.
For his win, Deena was given a test drive of the new Hyundai Elantra, which the winner of the MasterChef title will receive. He and his wife Kathy headed off to Plaisir de Merle in Franschhoek to enjoy a sumptuous and picturesque picnic.
Duck spring rolls
No votes for Sue-Ann and Sarel meant that they were tossed into the pressure test. Peter Tempelhoff of the renowned Greenhouse restaurant at the Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel popped up to present a tricky dish of roast duck with hazelnut milk gel, confit duck pastilla and honey-roasted figs. The hazelnut gel in particular was described as a very new technique and the current golden boy of molecular gastronomy.
Sarel was his usual cheerful self as he espoused the need to “keep his head together”. Sue-Ann was a picture of intense, almost furious, concentration and bravely made her spring roll twice, displaying a confident perfectionism.
At the tasting Sue-Ann was deemed to have overcooked her duck but excelled at the gel, which was the key part of the dish and brought the various elements together.
Roast duck with preserved ginger and roasted figs
Sarel made a good stab at things but unfortunately failed at the task of keeping his head together and his fractured mind led to him forgetting to make the all-important hazelnut gel. Despite the rest of the ensemble being up to standard, it was this omission that led to his elimination.
Sarel from Sabie left with a smile on his face, leaving a lonely trio to face next week’s penultimate challenge.
For more tips on shopping and cooking like a pro, visit the Woolworths Pantry
For all of our MasterChef SA content, visit the MasterChef archive