MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 - week 1 by Monica Turnbull

The Staff Canteen

The heat is on! MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 returned with a triple helping of culinary genius, and confusion, as the first 12 MasterChef: The Professionals contestants 2017 were whittled down to three.

The cooking contest was back with a bang on Tuesday as judges Gregg Wallace, two-Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti, formerly of La Gavroche restaurant began the hunt for the MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 champion.

The competition began with the skills test, which had been made more difficult than ever. Marcus prepared a delectable duck dish with cherry sauce in twenty minutes and wanted the contestants to follow suit. A very steep challenge indeed!

Young chef Will got off to a good start as the judges like his duck – though it was slightly undercooked – and cherry reduction. Head chef Gareth also impressed with his butchery skills, and Gregg praised his use of five spice and honey in the dish. Pedro, unfortunately, struggled at the first hurdle. Monica commented that just because you’re nervous “you don’t get to work like this in any kitchen”. Ouch!

duck and orange on same board

The signature dish challenge was next, and the judges were hoping this would give the contestants the chance to show off their skills.

Nathan was hoping to secure his place in the quarter finals with his sous-vide cod, with peas and broad beans. Unfortunately Marcus said his Asian spiced broth was “too simple” and the garnish was “wishy-washy”. Former design student Octavia was hoping she would impress with her orange and vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb gel. Marcus liked the “wobble” of the panna cotta but said there was too much going on.

When it came to the judging, Marcus, Monica and Gregg decided that Will, Stewart and Gareth were the first quarter finalists of the competition. Octavia’s panna cotta wasn’t enough to save her, and she, Nathan and Pedro headed home.

Night two saw the next batch of contestants face an equally tough skills test set by Monica: fruit soufflé with a garnish.
27-year old sous chef, Jamie, received mixed reviews about his soufflé. While Monica said that she would have liked his soufflé to raise more, Gregg praised the flavours. Well, his expression did!

Suresh, a 39-year-old sous chef from London, struggled with the skills test as he’d never made a soufflé before. Monica had to guide him through the process which left the judges shocked.

souffle fail

When it came to the signature dish the judges were hoping to see an improvement an and they weren’t disappointed. Chef-patron, Ryan, who impressed with his soufflé, once again wowed with his roast fillet of brill with potted shrimps. Monica said that Ryan had done well with his first dish and Marcus said there was a “lovely harmony” running through the dish.

Unfortunately the judges weren’t singing sweet music when Daniel presented his lamb which had been cooked slowly in clarified butter. Gregg was left disappointed by the lamb which looked raw!
The judges decided that Jamie, who had impressed with his weird and wonderful flavour combinations, Ryan and Chris were through to the quarter finals. Suresh, Daniel and Tim were asked to leave.

Thursday night’s saw the contestants tested in the invention test, and someone came a little unstuck…
Ryan, who had, had success in the first two heats, admitted to never using spices in his cooking and not owning a spice rack! The judges were shocked and when he presented his sea bass with spiced broth to them, Marcus described it as a “clean, safe, must-try-harder” dish. Oooooo.

Stewart was praised for the cooking of his guinea fowl but Marcus said he almost had “go looking” for the spices in his dish. However Jamie did impress with his fish dish. Monica described the flavours of “lemongrass and coriander [as] just divine.”
After the first task, Stewart and Chris were asked to leave the competition. This left Will, Gareth, Ryan and Jamie to face the formidable critics: Jay Rayner, Grace Dent and food writer William Sitwell.

Jamie's food impressed although his crumble didn't pass the test with Grace Dent who said it wasn't a crumble it was an entirely different space creature - maybe there was something extra in her blackberry foam....

crumble space creature

Under pressure to impress, young chef Will struggled to keep his cool and his roasted white chocolate dessert, with oregano, didn’t hit the high expectations of the critics. Grace described it as “a mix between a lemon meringue pie and one of those tiny little party pizza things”. Oh dear…

However Gareth managed to please the critics with his halibut. He said that even though the beurre blanc was a little “over emulsified” he liked it and Gareth’s flavours were lovely.

After facing the critics Monica and Marcus faced a tough decision to decide who would be leaving the competition. Unfortunately, they decided that Will was to leave. That means Gareth Howarth, sous chef at L'Ortolan; Jamie Park, head chef at The Frog and Ryan Blackburn, chef owner at Old Stamp House are through to knock out week.

By Monica Turnbull

Twitter: @Monica Turnbull

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Editor 10th November 2017

MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 - week 1 by Monica Turnbull