Mastering MasterChef - Venturing with Vegetables
In the second quarter-final of the series, the spotlight was firmly placed on the importance and huge array of vegetables as being a key part of the food experience. The contestants had 90 minutes to create one amazing dish.
The quarter final last time was all about cooking game. This time the shift was made to focus on vegetables. The test was set by one of the country's toughest restaurants’ critics, Grace Dent. Her challenge was for the amateur cooks to make a dish where the vegetables were the star. The dish didn’t have to be vegetarian or vegan, but the vegetables had to the main feature. In simple terms the vegetables had to sing and pop with flavour, they needed to be the stars of the dish.
It sounds simple enough, but a lot could go wrong. Vegetables have to be treated with the utmost respect, there needs to be enough of them and they need to be packed full of flavour. Anything less and the judges will not be impressed.
After cooking their dish based on Grace’s brief, the contestants stood before her and judges John and Gregg to hear what they thought. It is always a nerve wracking time as at the end of this quarter-final, the best cooks go through to Knockout Week, taking another step closer to being crowned MasterChef Champion 2019.
How tough would it be to please Grace? Would the judges agree with her analysis? It was time to find out. I felt sorry for Sarah as her soufflé had crumbled and looked more like a bread and butter pudding. However, it was loved by all for the flavours of the vegetables. When it came to Steven there was disagreement about his interpretation of the flavours. Grace said it was a beautiful thing whereas John and Greg disagreed.
Whilst I watch the show I try to predict who will do best. This time, I was right, it was Jim. He had basically made cauliflower come to life using a variety of different techniques. John was amazed at the volume of work undertaken in the timeframe. However, the best was yet to come. Jims’ food was described as “slightly right out there” – a strange phrase but high praise indeed.
Carise had worked hard with her vegetables but I think she missed the brief a bit, as she had lobster and mango on the dish as well. I think it’s hard to make vegetables the hero of the dish when lobster is on the same plate.
The judges felt that Carise was the only person to have not met the brief and she was sent home. The remaining five had done a great job of venturing with vegetables and as it was so close, John and Greg put them all through to the next round.
One thing is clear, this 2019 competition is compelling and I am delighted to see so many amateur cooks making great strides with their food. There really is no limit to what can be created on a plate. Vegetables truly can create their own virtuoso performance. It all depends on the imagination of the cook.
Daksha Mistry owns Dakshas Gourmet Catering , is a speaker and also former contestant on BBC Masterchef. Over the last 10 years she has appeared as a guest judge, giving vital feedback and guidance to competitors as they make their dishes