MasterChef SA Season 3 episode 17: Roxi Wardman steams ahead to win Finale, praised by Chef Marco Pierre White!


MasterChef 17 RoxiAs we predicted in our blogpost yesterday, Roxi Wardman was crowned MasterChef SA Season 3 winner last night, and has waved her career at Transnet as an assistant train driver goodbye.  While her ‘opponent’ Sipho Mdlankomo is widely liked, there should be no debate about the fairness of the result, as the scoring was shared at every step of the three-stage challenge which the Top 2 had to go through last night.

It was a shock to see the transformation in Roxi’s appearance, from always well-MasterChef 17 Roxi Red pink hairpresented in terms of make-up and bling bling jewellery while she was in the MasterChef SA kitchen, to her red/pink hair, heavy make-up, and proudly-visible tattoos which she did not have as a Finalist.  We had only seen one piercing above her lip in the past.  It seemed as if Roxi could not believe that she had won the competition.

The Top 2 finalists met up in the MasterChef SA kitchen for one last time, and were delighted to see the other 10 Finalists there too, coming in support of the Top 2.  An even bigger surprise was the surprise arrival of Roxi’s parents and her boyfriend Byron, as well as Sipho’s ‘boss‘, as she called him, his wife, and their son.  On Twitter comments were made and questions asked about Sipho’s ‘biological family’, and why they did not attend!

MasterChef 17 Sipho MdlankomoBoth finalists talked fighting talk, Sipho sounding more convincing in saying ‘I am winning this’.  During the past 16 episodes Roxi had also stated that her goal is to win MasterChef, but she was more gentle last night, saying ‘It’s game on now’. Roxi said she was going into the Finale for her parents and Byron, saying she was daddy’s girl, and that her parents could not afford to send her to study.   The announcer said that Roxi was shy initially, but became stronger over the 16 weeks of the series.  She had become synonomous with desserts, and her savoury dishes were less good.  Sipho was described as a housekeeper who has ‘fantastic potential but who lacked confidence to create her own style‘, peaking by winning Chef David Higgs’ dish.  She was described as being good in cooking the classics, yet was good at replicating dishes she had never made before.

The challenge was in three stages, Roxi and Sipho were told: an Invention Test, a Mystery Box, and then a challenge with a top international chef.  The fellow finalists went upstairs to the Mezzanine level, from which they watched the cooking duel. Each step would be evaluated on a score out of 10, and in the last step Chef Marco Pierre White gave a score out of 10 as well, making up  a total score out of 100.

Invention Test

The challenge for the Invention Test was to prepare a restaurant quality typical South African dish.  They were given 90 minutes.  The two family groups stood with the finalists, gently urging them on.  They were able to use proteins, spices, fruit, and vegetables to prepare the dish in 90 minutes, and the pantry remained opened for them throughout the challenge.

Roxi made Bobotie with yellow rice, using apricots in her bobotie, making a quince and an onion and carrot sambal, as well as aMasterChef 17 Roxi Bobotie date and an apricot chutney.  She told the judges that she had never made bobotie before.  She said that she was expected to be great at desserts, and poorer at savoury dishes.  Chef Reuben Riffel said that her chutney was great, and Chef Pete Goffe-Wood said that her mince should have cooked a little longer, and that the quince was the best on the plate.  Chef Benny Masekwameng said the bobotie was not too heavy, was mild and fruity, but did not have enough seasoning.  Each of the judges scored her dish 8 out of 10, a total of 24, giving her the edge in round one.

MsterChef 17 Sipho Mutton CurrySipho chose to make Cape Malay mutton  curry with samp infused in saffron and coconut milk.  She chose to stick with what she knows best.  She sounded happy and spritely when speaking to the camera. When she used the pressure cooker to soften her meat, Ian Young was worried for her sake, saying it is a ‘gamble‘.  She fried caramelised banana as a sambal, as well as a bean and cucumber sambal.  Her meat was still too tough when she opened the cooker.  She had to reduce the liquid in her pot too.  Quite unlike the very slow-paced 16 episodes, last night’s pace was much faster, giving the programme an edge and excitement, in combination with the music chosen.  She felt it was too salty, so added more water and sugar. Chef Reuben said he could not taste the coconut and saffron, and said that her dish could have been so much better. Chef Pete liked the caramelised banana, saying it was ‘inspired’, but that the flavour was not there, and that the samp did not add to the dish. Chef Benny added that the meat was cooked properly but that the dish was salty.  She received scores of 7 from Chefs Benny and Reuben, and 6 from Chef Pete, a total of 20.

Mystery Box

The second challenge was to prepare a dish using every ingredient in the Mystery Box, a mixed bag of ingredients, including self-MasterChef 17 Roxi Mystery Boxraising flour, honey, eggs, milk, amazi, passion fruit, Basmati rice, butter, cream, castor sugar, sultanas, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, and geranium leaves. They had a mere 60 minutes to make the dish.

Roxi was excited because the ingredients lent themselves to making a cake or dessert. She lost concentration, adding vinegar to her salted caramel, having to make it again.  Her sponge cakes did not come out MasterChef 17 Roxi Lamingtonsperfectly either, so she had to cut off the darker parts, changing her dish to lamingtons with passion fruit ice cream/granita, and fudge crumble.  She said that the Mystery Box was a ‘mixed Masala bag’ of ingredients, which had been difficult to put into one dish.  Chef Reuben told her that she should have ‘aced‘ the challenge, being good at desserts, it not being bad, he said, but he missed the salted caramel.  Chef Pete said it was a difficult box to make a dessert from, especially in 60 minutes.  Benny liked the sponge.  She received scores of 6 from Chefs Benny and Pete, and 5 from Chef Reuben, a total of 17, bringing her overall total to 41.

Sipho was aware of Roxi being ‘the dessert queen‘, not realising that Roxi was having some problems in making her dish.  She MasterChef 17 Sipho Creme Patisseriewanted to make a crème patisserie tart with passion fruit (never having used the ingredient) and amazi sorbet.  Her tart came out of the mould perfectly, but a small piece had broken off.  The liquid centre of her tart was runny, saying it was a crème anglaise tart now. Chef Reuben liked the texture, and that nothing clashed in her dish. Chef Pete liked the sorbet, saying that he ‘could eat tons of it’, and that it was like frozen yoghurt. She received scores of 6 from Chefs Reuben and Pete, and 7 from Chef Benny, a total of 19, and an overall total of 39.

Chef Marco Pierre White challenge

MasterChef 17 Marco Pierre White, judges, other finalistsChef Marco Pierre White from London was introduced by Chef Pete as a ‘true rockstar’, and who was once known as the ‘enfant terrible‘ of the restaurant industry. He left school at 16 to work in restaurants in London, opened Harvey’s, winning a Michelin star soon thereafter. His protégés include Gordon Ramsay and  Curtis Stone.  He started in the industry 35 years ago, and won 3 Michelin stars for his restaurant in 1995.  He found the restaurant industry to get in the way of his personal life, so he returned the stars to Michelin in 1999.  He reminded one of our Chef Liam Tomlin, peering over his specs, and having an imposing voice.

Sipho and Roxi were nervous about what lay ahead, Chef Marco telling them that they would make a simple dish of Rump of lamb with mussels in 80 minutes, a dish he can make in 30 minutes, and which he described as an ‘intelligent dish’.  He told them that he was their friend, and the clock MasterChef 17 Rump of lamb and mussels Marco Pierre Whitewould be their enemy.  They had to follow what he did step by step, keeping one eye on him making his dish, and the other on their own dish. They were allowed to ask questions, but he said he would not answer all of them. The deboning of the lamb was a challenge for Roxi, lagging behind, using a paring knife to remove the bone, trimming back the fat, and removing the skin.  Roxi was feeling the competitive pressure, glancing at Sipho as well, who was ahead of her.  Sipho was calm, realising how important it was to listen to Chef Marco’s instructions.  The plating was left to Roxi and Sipho, without instructions from him.    Both finished in the last minute, being lucky to finish their plating, Roxi asking Chef Marco if she should slice the lamb, and he replied that she should decide.

Roxi told the judges that it was a ‘hectic challenge‘, when she presented her dish.  Chef Marco said that he thought she would not make it, but she proved him wrong,  getting stronger as she progressed, and said she was ‘really, really good’.  Her mussels had delivered. Chef Reuben said the fat had not rendered out properly, but Chef Marco said it did ‘not offend’ the dish.  Chef Benny added that the mussels were good.  At the Finale in Johannesburg last night, the scores were read out, Chef Pete giving it 9 , Chefs Marco and Reuben 8, and Chef Benny 7, a total of 32, and an overall total of 75.  This made her a clear winner!

Sipho worried if her lamb had rested enough. She became very emotional when she presented her dish, saying that she would treasure the experience for the rest of her life.  Chef Marco said she was a ‘nice lady, humble, and moving‘.  He said her lamb was slightly overcooked, but her mussels were good.  Chef Pete said her broth lacked intensity.  Chef Reuben said she looked like she enjoyed herself, but Sipho said she was worried that she may be having too much fun.  Chef Benny said that the saltiness from the mussels could not be tasted.  Her scores were announced last night as well, receiving a score of 7 from each of the four chefs, a total of 28, and an overall total of 67.

The transmission from Johannesburg was short and sweet, confirming the prizes which Roxi has won: R500000 in cash from Robertsons, a VW Tiguan, shopping at Woolworths to the value of R100000, a year’s worth of Nederburg wines, and a holiday at a Tsogo Sun hotel in the Seychelles.  Sipho won R100000 from Robertsons, the first time that a runner-up has won a prize. Thereafter the announcement was made, following the scoring for Chef Marco’s dish, which made it clear that Roxi was the clear winner of MasterChef SA Season 3!   It looked like Roxi was shaking in fear and anguish before hearing the news, but it was the cameraman who was having the shakes! Sipho shared that her life has changed, and that 8 – 70 year olds recognise her in shops, and ask to take photographs with her.  Roxi cried when she said that her days of being an assistant train river were now over.

A  new programme ‘Feast’ was announced via M-Net ads during the programme, featuring Chef Pete, in a series of four episodes, starting next Thursday 18 December at 19h30.

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 hereand 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 episode 8′s Pressure Test between Roxi and Refilwe, and the visit to the Ixopo Retreat by the winning Red Team, click here.  Episode 9 was a Chicken MasterPiece Invention Test.  Episode 10 was a paired Team Challenge.  In episode 11 Ian Young won an Immunity Pin, and Francois Zietsman was sent home.  In episode 12 the Finalists visited Mauritius, and Sipho won the dish of the day.  In episode 13 Penny Fitchet was sent home, after an Elimination Test against Roxy Wardman.   In episode 14 Abigail Mbalo was eliminated in an Elimination Test based on Chef David Higgs’ dish at five hundred.  Mel Sutherlnd left MasterChef SA in episode 15.  Ian Young and Philippa Robinson left MasterChef SA in episode 17, which was a double episode.

For the Twitter handles of the Top 12 finalists, click here.

POSTSCRIPT 12/12:  Eat Out reports that Roxi plans to open a Café & Patisserie in Durban, already having been commissioned to bake cakes, and running pop-up restaurants with finalist Penny Fitchet.  She only wants to employ untrained staff, to give them a chance at a job.   Sipho is still working for her employers, but has received approaches which may make her dream come true, she is quoted in the newspapers this week – we know that she would like to have her own cooking show on TV!

PLEASE NOTE: The weekly WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards, usually posted on Fridays, will be posted on Saturday until this week, to allow the write-ups of each of the 17 episodes of MasterChef SA Season 3 to be posted the day after the episode.

MasterChef SA Season 3, M-Net.  Twitter: @MasterChef_SA  Thursdays at 19h30.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  Tel (021) 433-2100, Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook:  click here

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