I admit, I needed some kind of kick up the backside to get blogging again. That kick has come in the delightfully shaped boot of the new series of Masterchef. It feels like only yesterday that Scott won my affections but, sadly, not the Professionals title and it was just a few weeks ago, surely, that the amazing Natalie took the amateurs trophy. During that time I have put the keyboard down and picked up the numerous cookbooks that adorn our shelves. Well, who knew cooking could be so much fun?
With yet more tweaking the series has been a joy thus far. No ‘mystery box’ to start, we have a ‘calling card’ round where contestants cook what is essentially their signature dish. If Luke’s future lies in the culinary world he will be forever remembered for his vegetable samosas. Has there been a more successful opening dish in the history of Masterchef? Anyway, whilst I wanted this post to contain nothing but 250 point type exclaiming ‘LUKE MUST WIN, WE LOVE HIM’, I shall discuss the utter gloriousness of the Luke The Robot Dude later.
No cooks are sent home just yet and we move on to the ‘mystery box’ round. Even the humble box gets a revamp: blue or green? Sweet or savoury? Clearly the positive feedback on Chef Torode doing some actual cooking was taken on board and he shows us what he would create with one of the crates of food. Gregg eats it and says it’s yummy. Two people hang up their aprons.
A welcome change is the lack of a professional kitchen round early on in the heats. Rather boring, I felt it was pretty harsh on home cooks with a few hours experience/terror in the MC kitchen being thrown in the deep end and being shouted at by the head chef. Instead our guys don the whites and cook two courses for previous finalists. Man, these once unpretentious and nervous contenders have morphed into snippy nit-pickers! They say they understand and sympathise yet seem to take pleasure in ripping these dishes apart. But don’t get me wrong, some have certainly deserved it – plum dumpling anyone? *shudder*
Let’s get down to business. We have one week of potential semi-finalists to come and the stand outs so far have been Robert The Lindy Hop Guy who freaked out John with a tin of Smash, Danny Dyer lookalike Danny, a waiter with a love of Spanish food (that will always get the thumbs up from me of course – Spanish food that is, not looking like Danny Dyer – although he is awesome in Eastenders, but I digress) and Jack with his Lion-O hair. However, he made a deconstructed cheese cake and uttered the phrase “buttery biscuit base” so it’s definite points off for that, young man. Gregg eats it and says it’s yummy.
One notable mention has to be Carl. Why he took Swedish born Rebecca’s place in the next round, I’ll never know but he gave us the unforgettable sight of enveloping a plum with mashed potato dough and boiling it. Yep. He did that. Gregg eats it and says it’s yummy. No, not really.
OK, I’ve held off for long enough. Yes, Smash man has the inventive mind and the maturity to go far in the competition but does he have the techniques needed to get to the finish line? Lion-O has the skills and confidence that comes with youth but admits his lack of experience with the spice rack may hurt his chances. Step back gentleman and make way for 31 year old, robotics engineer, Luke. As Gregg mentioned the force is with him. He takes his place in the quarter finals after demonstrating a faultless spiced dish of samosas, raita and salad as well as showcasing baking techniques that seemed to blow Gregg’s mind. He never thought such a thing as a white chocolate fondant even existed! It does! Gregg eats it and says it’s yummy. Luke can also cook fish and I shall certainly be trying to fathom the recipe for the vinegar dressing that impressed John so.
The only issue for Lovely Luke could be the shifts in a professional kitchen. Can he hack the pressure of recreating other people’s food or making lunch for 300 Eastenders cast and crew? His attempt at John’s palate test was not 100% successful (thinking the chicken was guinea fowl) and even his double quail yolk ravioli lacked a bit of flavour. Come on Luke – don’t give them anything to find fault with! There are some good cooks coming your way.
Online there was a hint of criticism for Luke seemingly not taking this competition seriously enough. I don’t think that’s true and I believe there have been people over the years who took it too seriously. I was so glad to see the back of the passion test – having a minute to impress upon the judges how much you want to win a cookery show and the ability to turn on the waterworks was a complete waste of time. Winning Masterchef doesn’t automatically mean you have to open a restaurant or sign a television deal. For every Thomasina Miers there’s a Mat Follas and it’s been good to see previous competitors return with their stories of writing, styling and event catering.
I would hate to go through the undoubted sweat and probable tears that are involved in getting to a Masterchef final only to find myself hanging up the apron purely because I wasn’t demonstrating enough ‘passion’, whatever that is.
Even if, god forbid, Luke The Robot Dude is not crowned champion I hope his path is a happy and successful one. Anyone who whips out a scientific calculator to make pasta and names a piece of Masterchef furniture “big bluey” deserves to go far.