MasterChef Season 3 - Episode 11
Last Thursday on MasterChef the Top 8 found themselves facing a new and exciting test, a tapas and wine-pairing team challenge, which proved to be too intense for Penny and Francois. Penny was responsible for selecting the teams – thanks to her victory the week before, but her plan backfired when she and Francois failed to impress the judges. Now, she and Francois have an Elimination Challenge to face. A tough place to find yourself in, especially when you’re fighting against one of MasterChef’s top contestants. However, for Ian and Sipho things were looking up. Off the back of their victory in the tapas and wine-pairing team challenge, they were swept off to the Pot Luck Club, in Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill, to compete against each other for the instrumental Immunity Pin.
When the dynamic duo arrived at the Old Biscuit Mill they were greeted by the grin of Chef Reuben Riffel, who would be the man to inform them of what was to come. “Winning this reward can change your future in the MasterChef kitchen completely,” Chef Reuben informed them. Then he introduced Ian and Sipho to their judge for the day, Pot Luck Club and Test Kitchen owner/Sous Chef, Luke Dale-Roberts. He greeted them politely, explained his journey form the UK to SA and then produced the dish that stood between Ian and Sipho’s reward; Braised Pork Belly with a Miso and Soy Glaze served with a Chinese Steamed Bun, Crispy Pork Skin, Salt Curated Apple and Julienned Vegetables. Chef Reuben explained that the challenge would be a straight like-for-like test. The dish closest to Chef Luke’s would win the Immunity Pin. They had 90 minutes to make the meal, so Ian and Sipho made sure they were comfortable in their new environment, and the challenge began.
Ian immediately started organising his Chinese master stock, and in 5 minutes his pressure cooker was on the go to. But, this was a much more nerve-wrecking ordeal for Sipho because her experience with Asian cuisine was somewhat lacking compared to Ian’s. She caught a break when his overexcitement got the better of him and he ended up cutting himself, giving Sipho a chance to catch up. Nevertheless, when Sipho pulled her pork belly out after 45 minutes disaster struck. It was burnt. “Slowly cut off the burnt outer layer,” Chef Reuben advised her, “you don’t have time to start again.” Ian saw she was in trouble. Both of them cooked with passion and panache, putting everything on the line for the Immunity Pin, and when the clock hit the 5-minute mark, neither of the contestants could believe it. Chef Rueben then counted down the last few seconds of the challenge and just like that, it was time to plate up.
Chef Luke sat down to taste the food and up first was Siphokazi’s dish. “It looks good. It looks pretty much like the one we showed them earlier on,” he said, and tucked in. Seemingly happy with what he had tasted, he requested Ian’s endeavour, and smiled as he bit into it. Chef Reuben and Chef Luke knew the decision was going to be a difficult one, but after a few minutes they knew who was going to walk away with the Immunity Pin. Chef Reuben came forward to announce the winner, and it was Ian (49), the Cape Town advertising consultant! He closed his eyes, said a little thank you and the challenge was over.
Back in the MasterChef kitchen, on the Nederburg wine estate, Penny and Francois were getting ready to face their Elimination Challenge. Penny, tense and reserved, described the scene brilliantly, “We walk into the kitchen and the judges are not standing in their usual spot. We’re actually going to be facing each other whilst we cook, which is a little bit daunting.” The kitchen was a battle ground, and she knew it. When they were done doing their best to figure out what the challenge entailed, Chef Benny announced the inevitable. Francois and Penny would be cooking the judges’ dinner, but the only ingredients they had were in the fridges alongside their workstations – typical household ingredients. And, to make matters worse, they only had 40 minutes to do it.
The challenge began and the competitors hit the fridge with a vengeance. They cooked like their lives dependant on it, reaching into the depths of their culinary expertise with every slice, dice and determined decision. Francois frantically found the ingredients he needed and started building a feast. Penny, guided by her imagination, rummaged around and rustled up a rambunctious recipe fit for anyone in the mood for food. The judges conferred in the corner and expressed their fears. None of them knew whether Penny and Francois had enough time and in no time at all, the challenge was over. It was time for the judges to eat.
The contestants were ready to present their dishes, and Penny was up first. She brought forward a Meatball Wrap with Cucumber Tzatziki and Gherkin Salsa. Benny said the flavour was “definitely there” and Reuben concurred, but Chef Pete was a little let down by the dishes’ simplicity. Penny had no idea what was going to happen. Francois was up next, and his Grilled Lamb Chops with Crushed Herb Potatoes, Carrot Purée and Salsa looked lovely. Pete said it was a gorgeous dish, and Francois was truly relieved. However, Reuben did not enjoy Francois’ purée at all and Benny had very little to say.
The MasterChef judges then stepped aside to decide on which contestant would be leaving the kitchen, and when the returned Reuben delivered the outcome. Francois’ dish was not good enough, and it was time for him to leave. He handed in his apron and proudly stated how he felt, “MasterChef is an awesome experience. It makes you dream, you know? It makes you go forward. I am going to begin a journey of food and keep on with it. Definitely.” The contestants said their goodbyes and Francois was gone.
But, the judges had one more trick up their sleeve, the contestants were going to be leaving the MasterChef kitchen and head off to Mauritius! MasterChef will really be heating up next week with the show moving to a tropical island, so make sure you watch next what happens next Thursday, M-NET channel 101 at 19h30. It’s going to be incredible.