MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 - final by Monica Turnbull

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd December 2017

We have a winner! MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 finished in show-stopping fashion with one of the four talented finalists being named this year's champion.

The contestants kicked off the week with the mammoth task of cooking for industry giants including James Lowe, chef at Lyles, MasterChef: The Professionals 2016 winner Gary Maclean and rising star Selin Kiazim, winner of Great British Menu 2017, at The Chefs’ Table.

They each had to prepare one course in five hours. Steven Lickley, sous chef at Vacherin, London, got off to a rocky start as he struggled to plate up his starter on time. He prepared a dish inspired by his love of cheese and onion crisps. When getting his feedback he was praised for creating an inventive dish from such simple ingredients.

steven dish

Louisa Ellis, senior chef de partie at The Wilderness, served the next course: crispy veal sweetbreads infused with lime and coconuts. Although the chefs liked the dish they were a little confused, and sometimes overwhelmed, by the conflicting flavours.

Jamie Park, chef at The Frog, was praised for his faultless duck dish with his take on a Waldorf salad. The chefs cleared their plates and Gary Jones, head chef at Le Manoir, praised Jamie’s clever use of classic flavour combinations.

Craig Johnston, sous chef at the Royal Oak Paley Street, it might be said, stole the show with his dessert: crème brûlée with apples. The chefs said they were surprised by the dish and the perfectly balanced flavours.

After a successful service the chefs faced the next challenge back in the MasterChef kitchen. They were tasked with creating a dish inspired by the place they’re from. Jamie took a risk by serving a Yorkshire curd tart – leaving him nowhere to hide. Although the judges liked his presentation, Gregg commented that the flavours were too sharp and the texture too runny. The judges: Monica Galetti, of Mere restaurant, two Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing and Gregg Wallace, decided that this was the end of the road for Jamie and he was sent home.

The remaining three chefs: Craig, Steven and Louisa headed to the fourth best restaurant in the world, Mirazur, to cook for head chef Mauro Colagreco. After trying some of Mauro’s signature dishes, the chefs were tasked with cooking their own Mirazur inspired dish for Mauro. They then faced the daunting task of cooking his dishes during service.

Mauro Colegreco crop

Louisa plated up red king prawns with raspberries and another course of scorpion fish. Special dinner guests Marcus, Monica and Gregg praised the prawn dish with Monica saying it was “simplicity at its best, at perfection.”

Craig cooked Mauro’s signature calamari dish with squid ink crackers and French duck with plum sauce. The duck wowed the judges with Gregg saying “it might be one of the lightest duck dishes I’ve ever seen.”

Steven had to recreate Mauro’s dish The Forest and citrus dessert. The Forest, which combined mushrooms, parsley sponge, potatoes and quinoa risotto was praised by Gregg for the light but intense flavours and textures.

Inspired, the contestants headed back to the MasterChef kitchen to cook for the MasterChef: The Professionals trophy.

Craig was first to serve. His menu included mackerel two ways with beetroot and dill iced granita; roast squab pigeon with thyme-infused pommes Anna; and yoghurt mousse with a basil marshmallow, frozen lemon cells and verbena frozen yoghurt rocks. The judges were blown away by Craig’s three courses but the dessert in particular had Marcus gushing. He said: “I’m going to tell you that that is absolutely stunning. It’s perfect. I’m speechless.”

yoghurt mousse with a basil marshmallow%2C frozen lemon cells and verbena frozen yoghurt rocks

Steven served next. His dishes included his own take on ham, egg and chips; roast garlic thyme lamb rack with black garlic-studded sweetbreads; and pina colada: caramelised rum pineapple, pineapple fruit paste and a shot of pina colada cocktail. Marcus said that Steven’s coconut sorbet was stunning. “It’s just lovely,” he said “fresh and light and full of sunshine.”

Last up was Louisa. She served: cured mi-cuit of salmon with limoncello jelly; roasted quail with confit legs, artichoke three ways and a truffle and quail sauce; dessert was chocolate mousse on a praline and bran flake base with mint chocolate ice cream. The judges praised Louisa’s development throughout the competition and Monica said she was just glad to eat one more of Louisa’s sauces.

When it came to the deciding a winner the judges struggled with the decision but in the end it was 21-year-old Craig Johnston who was hailed MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 winner. Gregg said, “the best chefs in the world learn and create their own style and that’s what I’ve watched Craig do in this competition.” What an emotional ride, but a very worthy winner.


By Monica Turnbull

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd December 2017

MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 - final by Monica Turnbull