MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 - semi final by Monica Turnbull

The Staff Canteen

It’s been a roller semi-final for the MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 contestants during the competition’s penultimate week.

The MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 semi-finals got off to a touching start as the contestants created a dish dedicated to someone who had inspired their career. They had just one hour and 45 minutes to serve the plate to judges Gregg Wallace, two Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti of Mere restaurant.

Steven Lickley, sous chef for Vacherin London, wowed with his version of fish and chips dedicated to his Granny Audrey. The John Dory rolled in batter scraps was served with pastry cigars filled with preserved lemon pomme puree. The judges were blown away by the dish, which Gregg said it was “fantastic”.

Steven 2

Private chef Matt Campbell also wowed with his fish dish which was dedicated to his dad. He served sea bream stuffed with a morel, potato pebbles and edible moss. It was finished with a moss dashi poured over dry ice. It definitely looked like a showstopper and Marcus gave the highest praise by saying “that’s outstanding.”

At the end of the first challenge the judges found it simply too difficult to put just two contestants through to the next stage so they saved three: Matt, Steven and Craig Johnston, sous chef at Royal Oak Paley Street, whose mouth-watering flapjack dessert Gregg waxed lyrical about.

The remaining five contestants came back fighting when they had to cook again. They were tasked with creating a vegetarian dish which Jamie Park, chef at the Frog excelled at. He admitted to taking all of the carrots from the larder and served a carrot steak, which Marcus was amazed at.

At the end of the second round the judges said goodbye to Leo Kattou, sous chef at Simpsons Restaurant and Gareth Howarth, sous chef at L'Ortolan.

The chefs were then split into two groups and on Wednesday we saw Matt, Jamie and Steven head north to Darlington to cook for chef James Close at two Michelin-starred restaurant The Raby Hunt.

Matt 2

Under pressure the chefs were pushed to recreate James’s dishes with precision, but Matt appeared to thrive and James said he would be happy to have him back in his kitchen.

They also had to recreate James’s signature garden salad and while he wasn’t sure about Steven’s presentation, Jamie was praised for his flavours.

After heading back to the MasterChef kitchen the three semi-finalists were then challenged to serve the judges a two-course menu. Steven wowed with his chicken main course served with sweetcorn. Marcus said it was “brilliant” and Monica described it as “very clever”.

Matt served hay-roasted guinea fowl with chicken liver parfait. His dessert was chocolate indulgence with Icelandic yoghurt, custard apple and a parsnip tuille dusted with citric powder.

Although the judges like Matt’s menu they said that the chicken liver parfait was too soft and Gregg thought that the dessert was a little too “sharp” in flavour. Unfortunately this meant that Matt left the competition.

Last night Louisa, Craig and Tom were sent to cook at Raymond Blanc’s flagship, two Michelin-starred restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, in Oxfordshire, under the watchful eye of executive chef Gary Jones.

Tom 3

The contestants were asked to create their own version of Gary’s signature dish, spiced Cornish lobster with Jersey Royal potatoes, before being let loose in his kitchen.

Louisa, who had never prepared lobster before, slightly undercooked the shellfish, which Gary picked up on. However when it came to day two and the chefs joined Gary’s kitchen for service, she thrived in the high pressure environment. She said she was “loving it” and was praised for being “a star” in the kitchen.

Tom struggled to stick to Gary’s military timing to serve his 80 salmon dishes. He said that the number of covers is double what he usually has to prepare. Gary said he did well; he just needed to speed up!

Craig was praised for the plates of agnolotti which he served, but Gary said he needs to be more vocal in the kitchen.
Back in the MasterChef kitchen and inspired by Gary, the chefs set to creating their two course menus to serve the judges.

Tom served Dexter beef and braised beef shin with celeriac, liquorice puree and a liquorice sauce. Although the judges liked the beef, Marcus said that he was left with a strong flavour of liquorice after eating. And, sadly, the mousse and jelly in his dessert didn’t set correctly.

Unfortunately, the judges decided that this was the end of the line for Tom and he was sent home. Louisa and Craig join Jamie and Steven for the final week. It’s going to be emotional!

By Monica Turnbull

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull

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Editor 15th December 2017

MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 - semi final by Monica Turnbull