Masterchef…and then there were 3…semi-final day

They arrive at the Masterchef kitchen, there’s a dining room set up and there’s all the eliminated contestants standing on the balcony.

They were told last week what the challenge was so they had time at home to plan out their recipes and ideas…but basically they get 4 hours to prep and they have to cook a main and a dessert for 20 guests and the 3 judges, so 46 plates of food and they have their own kitchen to work in.  George is going to be in the kitchen to support and guide them and the decision is based up the food and it’s a challenge that nobody in Masterchef has had to do on their own in the past.

Mind you they still have to go into the pantry using just the little baskets…I mean what the heck???

Emilia is doing a glazed beef cheeks for main using the pressure cooker…and Vegemite makes an appearance in the glaze.  Gary says that with 4 hours he wouldn’t have used the pressure cooker to cook the beef cheeks and Emilia takes one out after 80 minutes and it is very soft and she’s pretty worried about them and she hopes they firm up when they cool slightly.  For dessert she’s doing a crumb, ice-cream and gel and she’s using liquid nitrogen for the ice-cream, but she’s still not 100% finished with her ideas and has a missing element that she hasn’t worked out what it is yet.  She has the idea to do a mandarin curd.

You can’t half tell this isn’t MKR as Brent’s using pre-made stock…but he’s doing pork belly with a manner of other things including apple and a celeriac cream for his main.  For his dessert he’s doing a pistachio cake, an apple cloud and sour cream ice-cream.  Gary and George question Brent about what he’s doing and when they realise he hasn’t done the ice-cream he starts on it using liquid nitrogen to make it.

Laura’s doing her dessert first which has a chestnut parfait and a coffee mousse as part of it.  For her main Laura’s doing quail, which she has to break down to use.  Gary’s worried that with two hours down that Laura can’t deliver all of what she’s wanting to do and maybe she needs to do a bit of a rethink as she’s kind of sinking between quail breaking down and chestnut puree.  Oh dear…Laura’s menu says smoked quail and with 15 minutes to go George mentions that to her, so she has to now smoke it otherwise it is not what is says on the menu.  Just as she starts smoking it the guests walk through the door.

Service time…and Emilia is plating up very quickly and it looks rather pretty.  It took her 4½ minutes to plate the first four plates.  Brent gets his first plates up.  Poor Laura is still going on her first plates and Emilia’s got her second lot out before Laura’s first lot.  Poor Laura is still cooking quail while plating and racing back and forwards and George is all “oh darling I wish I could turn the quail for you but I can’t.”

The judges taste Emilia beef cheeks, Jerusalem artichoke puree and mandarin dish and Matt loves how the meat pulls apart so perfectly and thinks it is brilliant and Gary thinks it is exciting and he is dumbfounded and thinks Emilia has nailed it.

image from – click on the image to go to the recipe

The judges taste Brent’s roasted pork belly with apple and celeriac cream and Gary says it is a good size portion and he’s in lust over the crackling and how tender the pork is.  Matt loves the vinegar gel and says it is a very complex and clever dish.  Gary says he’s not tasting, he’s just eating and the dish is fantastic and is above expectations…unfortunately when you look on the Masterchef website it says there is a recipe…but the link to it doesn’t work…so I’ll have to add this later.

The judges taste Laura’s smoked quail with chestnuts and mushrooms and she’s hoping that the quail is cooked properly and it is spot on and Gary says it is delicious and wants more of the chestnut cream and Matt loves the bar marks on the quail.

image from – click on the image to go to the recipe

Dessert time…oh dear, Laura’s mousse has split, so she can’t make it into the mushrooms that she wanted to do it, but she’s using it on the bottom of the plate under the crumb and she thinks it might be better than her original idea.  Now Emilia’s curd is not set and is liquid…oh dear….so she has to readjust her plate.  So she decides to whip some cream and fold the curd through that.  Brent appears to be going okay with plating his dessert.

The judges taste Brent’s dessert seasonal apples with pistachio and fennel and they say it looks absolutely stunning.  All Matt can say is “oh wow!” Which is exactly what Gary says and he says it’s one of the nicest things he’s eaten in the kitchen this year.  Matt says it is really clever and complex and he’s set the benchmark for the desserts.

image from – click on the image to go to the recipe

The judges taste Emilia’s whipped chocolate ganache with mandarin Chantilly cream and fig leaf ice-cream and the ganache is really good, but the issue for Matt is that there is a lot of chocolate on there put they’re missing an acid and fruit punch and that maybe the mandarin curd is what is missing.  Gary loves the whipped ganache and the fig leaf ice-cream.

image from – click on the image to go to the recipe

The judges taste Laura’s chestnut forest and Gary thinks it looks really pretty and Matt thinks it is very clever looking.  They take a number of mouthfuls each without saying a single word…gee!!  Then Gary says “Matt I’ve died and gone to heaven!”  Holy heck…Matt says it is like a crunchy tiramisu and that every element serves the purpose of flavour.

image from – click on the image to go to the recipe

Decision time…mind you Emilia’s already teary as soon as service is over as she’s not ready to say goodbye to anyone and Gary tells them they ate six of the best dishes that have ever been made in the Masterchef kitchen and the judges leave the three of them with all the diners while they make the decision.

The first person through to the grand finale is Brent…and I have to say he did amazingly well today and should be very proud of himself…now I’m leaning towards Laura as I prefer her to Emilia…just…but I’m not sure who will get through.  Matt says they’re gutted to be making the decision on who is joining Brent…Emilia thinks she’s the one going home and Laura’s hoping she’s done enough and of course there’s a damn ad break.

Finally…that ad break seemed to go forever…the women’s marathon ended in Glasgow while we were waiting…that aside, the person joining Brent is…Laura and she is in complete shock before she does a happy dance and she races up and hugs the judges…honestly for a 19 year old to make the grand finale of Masterchef is pretty damn awesome.  Gary says there was a time they thought it wouldn’t come together but when they tasted the dishes they were absolutely amazing.

Oh poor Emilia is having a slight teary and Matt says that it missing the tang, acidity and brightness that the curd would have brought to the dish and tell her that she’s made some amazing dishes during the series and that he strength and spirit will be what will take her a long way in the food industry…oh poor love…and she breaks down and bless Gary he gives her a big hug and praises her and Gary’s tearing up, but George is trying not to cry in his chef’s jacket and Matt’s having a sly teary as well…oh god they are three beautiful judges.  Then George offers her a position to join his pastry team at The Press Club if she wants it and she says “when do I start?”…oh dear lord this is why I love Georgie Boy so much.

Laura and Brent go outside and they’re that excited and Brent starts spinning Laura around…next for them is the grand finale…and honestly I think I would like either of them to win…oh and according to the preview making the grand finale is the easy part and there’s tears while they are cooking and the final pressure test is a Peter Gilmour dish and it is twice as hard as the snow egg…holy crap!!!  I can’t wait!!!



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