Mastering MasterChef –Making a Classic with Raymond Blanc
Safely back from Hong Kong and the final four contestants’ culinary adventure of learning how eastern and western food and flavours come together, it was time for another adventure. This adventure was with Raymond Blanc. Review by Daksha Mistry, chef-owner of Dakshas Gourmet Catering
Raymond Blanc originally began his food career as a waiter. Quickly he began working with food and has now become one of the worlds’ best chefs. It’s quite an achievement especially as he is self-taught. His hotel/restaurant Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire has held two Michelin stars for over 30 years. Think of that. Thirty years of cuisine at a really top level.
It was little wonder that the cooks were star struck when Raymond walked through the doors of the MasterChef kitchen. In this challenge, the contestants would benefit from gaining unique insights into his way of working with food as they would learn directly from him and his Executive Chef Gary Jones.
Mentoring from Raymond Blanc
Teaching and nurturing are at the core of Raymond’s ethos, In fact he has trained over 30 chefs who have gone on to earn Michelin stars of their own. Imagine, being an amateur cook working with Raymond Blanc as your mentor.
Each cook had four hours to recreate one of his iconic classic dishes from the menu at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons. In broad terms; Irini had to recreate a vegetable garden on a plate, Delia had a dish with ravioli holding a quails’ egg inside, Geoff was given the Apple Soufflé and Jilly a chocolate delight to deliver. You really need to watch the episode to discover the amount of detail and finesse that went into each of these dishes. It was simply awe inspiring.
Trouble and challenges along the way
Every cook had trouble along the way. Delia had to start again as she burnt some of the turkey meat. At that point you could see how unhappy she was. It would have been natural to stop and give up but she kept going. Jilly also had a tough time with getting her tempered chocolate just right. The chocolate had to be at precisely 32 degrees to ensure she could make the shapes to perfection. After all she was making a chocolate cup and saucer! She also needed to make a sponge and a parfait to go inside the cup.
Cooking a classic from and for Raymond would take every ounce of skill and focus to make the dish worthy of being served before him and judges, John and Gregg.
After the tasting you could see the judges and Raymond bursting with pride. The final four had really stepped up. Raymond said ‘you are all brilliant cooks and it has been a joy to be here.” Talk about an emotionally charged episode. You could feel the atmosphere. It just jumped through my TV screen.
A very special dish for a place in the final
All that the cooks had to do now was to make one very special dish to demonstrate that they deserved a place in the final. Only three would go through so this was the time to make everything count. They had to cook their very own classic dish.
At this stage in the competition it is only the tiniest of margins of error that results in someone going home. The final dishes all looked amazing and they tasted great too. In the end, Delia and Jilly went through without too much debate from the judges. Their dishes were exceptional. However, for Geoff and Irini it was a different story. Both their dishes suffered from being a little too dry. Ultimately, it was Geoff that was sent home. How my heart went out to him. He had gambled by trying something completely different and unfortunately it hadn’t worked.With the trophy within touching distance we have Irini, Jilly and Delia in the final. I know who I think will win. However, to see if I am right you will have to read my final review blog post of MasterChef 2019.