Last night MasterChef SA continued with more boring viewing, the simple task of the Invention Test being to make a MasterChef Chicken MasterPiece, using the whole chicken, including the giblets! It was surprising how poorly this challenge was executed. Penny Fitchet won the Invention Test with her Coq au Vin, while Claire Allen was sent home. It was shocking to see how casually Reuben Robertsons Riffel was dressed, with a crumpled pair of slacks and a round neck jersey, while his colleague judges Pete Goffe-Wood and Benny Masekwameng looked smartly dressed and professional! Riffel was filmed with his hands in his pants pockets too! Shocking was the spelling errors in the M-Net media release!
Having returned back to the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg, after having spent some time (and two episodes in Durban, Umhlanga, and Ixopo), the Finalists appeared happy to be back ‘home’ in their kitchen. On each cooking station was a black apron, with each contestant’s name embroidered on it. The contestants had 90 minutes to prepare their chicken dishes, transforming the ‘common chicken‘ to a MasterChef chicken MasterPiece, Riffel said. They enjoyed the luxury of an open kitchen for the whole Test, and the 90 minute preparation time. The contestants were told that one of them would have to leave the show at the end of the episode, and that the person preparing the winning dish would be the one choosing the contestant pairings for the next episode, eight contestants being left.
Sipho Mdlankomo was excited about the challenge, and planned to make peri peri roast chicken with tomato samp, saying that chicken is South Africa’s favourite food. While she had been excited about the amount of time they were given, she ran out of time, cooking her samp ‘al dente’! Riffel praised her for the ‘nicely cooked’ chicken, being pink inside, but criticised her samp, for being undercooked. Chef Benny praised her for using the whole chicken, but criticised for having added too much chili.
Roxi Wardman was on such a high at the beginning of the series, flying off to Dublin for a Michelin star meal at Thornton’s restaurant. In episode 8 she landed in a Pressure Test, against Refilwe Tselanyane. Last night she seemed overambitious, making chicken lollipops, croquettes dusted with cous cous for something different, and butternut-stuffed ‘ballantines’ (as per the M-Net media release), making a collection of tapas dishes from the chicken. The filling she had put into her chicken ballotine exploded as she took it out of the oven. Chef Benny told her that he was disappointed that the dish she presented did not contain half the elements she had planned to make when she started preparing her dish. He also critiqued her crumbing, being too thick and chewy. Chef Pete added that he could not stomach any more lollipops, saying that they are not worth the effort. Overall, he said, she should have made fewer elements, and added more seasoning. Her butternut crisps were tough, as they still had the skin on them. Roxi was very hurt by the judges’ feedback.
Penny decided to follow her French roots in making her grandmother’s Coq au Vin ( or ‘coc au vin‘ as M-Net calls it), served with a port liver paté on melba toast. She told Riffel that he was distracting her while she was preparing her dish. Penny was critical of her own plating, describing it as ‘rubbish’. Chef Pete praised the dish, saying that it is how Coq au Vin should be prepared and that it was top quality, while Riffel said that the paté was a ‘genius’, and that the Coq au Vin contained lots of butter and cream.
Claire Allen deboned her chicken, and prepared it three ways, as breasts, ballotine stuffed with her grandmother’s chicken stuffing, and as sticky sweet wings. Clare said that she wants to do so much more on MasterChef SA, only having cooked three times on the show. She emphasised a number of times that she had never cooked with giblets, the chickens she buys coming without them. Chef Benny said that all three her elements tasted of chicken, and all tasted the same. Chef Pete added that there was nothing ‘wow’ about the dish.
Philippa Robinson made a traditional roast chicken, one which she would make for her family too. She added butter, thyme, and rosemary under the skin. Her dish was named ‘Chicken a la Robinsons‘. Chef Pete could not stop raving about her dish, saying the chicken was perfectly roasted, and that the mash and stuffing were ‘fantastic‘! Riffel parroted Chef Pete, saying that the stuffing had good flavour, and that the roast chicken was ‘very good‘.
Abigail Mbalo received little airtime last night, using four elements to make her ‘Flavours of the Cape‘ Cape Malay dish, which Chef Pete described as being ambitious. Chef Bennie said it would ‘take you around Cape Town’, while Riffel said that he liked the wings, but felt that the dish was slightly under-seasoned and too tomatoey.
Francois Zietsman made a Karoo chicken pie, which he had amended from his mother’s recipe. He seemed to panic, worrying about his pastry having enough time to bake, needing at least 15 – 20 minutes to bake it. He said that he hoped for the best, and was proud of how good the pie looked, which he served with sweet potato purée, and aubergine with stuffed chicken liver mozzarella roulades. Chef Pete praised the pink liver and the mash, but the pastry was criticised for being ‘very doughy’. Riffel said that the pie had gone into the oven too late.
Mel Sutherland did not get much airtime last night, making chicken lollipops, ballotine and mousse, as well as a chicken soup. with Banting CauliMash. Chef Pete said that making four elements was too many, one only would have been enough. Riffel added that it is great to play with different ideas, but that one should concentrate on what one does best.
Ian Young seemed unstressed. He baked his own bread rolls, to mop up the chicken juices. He had marinated his Spatchcock chicken for just less than half an hour, and flambéed the hearts and liver. He confidently said that he was happy with what he had prepared. Chef Pete said that the dish tasted better than it looked, and that it could have been cooked a few minutes longer. Riffel praised the ‘bloody good bread’, the offal green salad, and chicken.
The judges fed back that they liked the linkage to family members in the preparation of dishes, using their menus. They were also impressed with the effort put into the dishes, ‘no one playing it safe’. The top three chicken dishes were those made by Philippa, Penny, and Ian, but it was Penny’s Coq au Vin which the judges voted as being the best. She will choose which pairs of contestants will work together in the food and wine pairing episode next week. The Bottom Three were Claire, Roxi, and Francois, but it was events manager Claire who had to hang up her MasterChef SA apron.
Given the high standard of cooking in the earlier episodes, it was surprising that such a fundamental common-or-garden Chicken Invention Test was stretched out over a whole episode, and that the quality of what was presented was so low, given the task of creating a Chicken MasterPiece – sadly there was none to be seen! Can someone please help Riffel in dressing professionally for the show?
For an overview of MasterChef Season 3 read here, and read here too. For a summary of episode 1 of Season 3 at Bootcamp 1 read here, and of episode 2 read here. The summary of episode 3 can be read here. Read about Roxi’s trip to Dublin and Thornton’s Restaurant, and the first Pressure Test in episode 4 here. Read about the Carrot Dessert Invention Test in episode 5 here. The Pressure Test with Swedish Chef Niklas Ekstedt, and visit to Syddah Essop in the Karoo in episode 6 is here. For a summary of episode 7, a Team Challenge in Durban, click here. For the write-up of the Pressure Test between Roxi and Refilwe, and the visit to the Ixopo Retreat by the winning Red Team, click here.
For the Twitter handles of the Top 12 finalists, click here.
POSTSCRIPT 22/10: The Independent on Sunday copied and pasted M-Net’s media release for this episode, with embarrassing typing errors (for coq au vin and ballotine!).
PLEASE NOTE: The weekly WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards, usually posted on Fridays, will be posted on Saturdays until late December, to allow the write-ups of each of the 18 episodes of MasterChef SA Season 3 to be posted the day after the episode.
MasterChef SA Season 3, M-Net. www.masterchefsa.dstv.co.za Twitter: @MasterChef_SA Thursdays at 19h30.