Just as the new year looked to be devoid of Masterchef, my thoughts turned to the world darts championship and avoiding Hobbits. How pleased was I upon seeing an advert for Masterchef Ireland? VERY. The briefest of promo revealed a kitchen, an apron or two and a couple of male judges. Who were they? Will this follow the UK or OZ format? All will become clear in a matter of days, my friends.
2nd January 2013 soon came around and our judge’s were chef Dylan McGrath (once of Michelin starred restaurant Mint, now owner of Rustic Stone in Dublin) and restaurateur Nick Munier, no stranger to pressurised atmospheres as the former maitre d’ for the Hell’s Kitchen TV show.
Right, let’s not muck around here, people, we know the drill by now. The format follows the newer, UK format and the judges are grumpy. Nuff said.
The auditions take place in Dublin in what looks like a studio based, warehouse mock up and family are on hand to give support to their loved ones. Once through the sliding doors, our nervous wrecks are informed that they have 45 minutes to cook a dish plus 10 minutes to plate up and, get this, CLEAN DOWN! I guess all MC contestants all over the globe are required to do this but it’s honestly never occurred to me.
Among the wannabe chefs we have Miana, a 23 year old au pair from Mauritius; Grant, a South African who cooked kangaroo in a cherry and red wine sauce (Nick commented, “I hope it jumps in my mouth!”) and Sinead made an average wonton soup. Dish of the day was Mary’s scallops which perfectly illustrated that food needn’t be different in other parts of the world. Wherever you go, there will ALWAYS be a scallop snuggling up to a pureed cauli or cubed pancetta and there will ALWAYS be a massive, shitty smear across your plate. Mmmmmm, shitty smear …
If both judges give your dish a thumbs up you’ll receive a spanking new apron but if you get a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ you’ll return for one last cook-off. After the first cook-off, Grant made it through with lobster ravioli in a bisque.
Episode two gave us such delights as a 62 year old serving blow torched tuna which went down a treat. Kevin gushed, “they were so complimentary, I felt embarrassed”. This was followed by Barry, a care worker who so impressed the grumpy judges with his methodical working that he was reminded “this is an amateur competition, if you’ve had kitchen experience, you can’t compete”. Barry was fine and he progressed. We also had a leek ash emulsion (aka a burnt bit) and 24 carat gold consume. Yes, that’s a gravy boat filled with consume that has flakes of gold leaf floating in it. I think my idea’s better – a carrot consume made with 24 of the lovely root vegetables. GEDDIT? I’m sure it would get better comments that the gravy did.
The cook-off was a bit of a disappointment for Nick and Dylan so they chose not to give all the remaining aprons out. They picked up the telephone and got Pierce back in the kitchen to explain that, in the end, he wasn’t quite a crap as some of them. Which is nice.
Final 16 selected. Let battle commence.