It’s over for another year. The marathon that is Masterchef has come to an end (until the next Masterchef: The Professionals, Junior Masterchef or even Masterchef Australia. On Thursday the remaining four contestants faced their “toughest, most terrifying challenge yet”. These are the four cooks who have avoided the last minute blast chiller moments, consistently cooked their potatoes soft, delivered cooked chicken on the plate, and avoided using haddock and banana on the same plate. They had to cook a classic with a twist as an elimination round. One competitor would go home after cooking for a group of professional mega chefs and this is where the judges become a little friendlier but the chefs are tempted to add broccoli to their dessert. This year they are a decent bunch of normal folk who just have outrageous talent in the kitchen. They’ve left families at home who are grateful for the break from being guinea pigs.
Billy is the most experimental and he produced a frankly hideous looking pile of potato with an egg yolk on top. He does have incredibly shaky hands and so he can destroy a plate of foods like a house of cards at the last minute. The lamb in the middle was tasty but it was still a pile on a plate.
Jack (spitting image of Whitehouse) made a cherry dessert. Amazingly Gregg liked it – imagine Gregg liking a sweet pudding? Juanita opted for a creme brûlée interpretation which she then destroyed with a blowtorch in front of the judges. They then destroyed her with their dislike of it. Finally goody-goody Jane made a frankly delicious looking rabbit Wellington with all the trimmings.
Billy and Juanita were the two at risk. Juanita had a ‘turn’ when they were in Mexico earlier in the week and didn’t cook so rightly she was
eliminated….cue the tears. It is a long way to come to be tipped out of the competition before the final programme and without the opportunity to fully present her backstory.
This left the final three but they couldn’t go straight to the big finish. They headed to 3 Michelin starred chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park to be understandably inadequate. I really don’t like the restaurant pieces. It used to be a nice weekly cook off accompanied by the strange twangs of Loyd Grossman. The format of Masterchef has changed and is adapted for each country. Each year there are some new features. The American who involves a lot of testosterone, fist-pumping and hollering. It’s more like The Apprentice. Get ready for the next GBBO series when the contestants leave the tent to do an overnight stint at Warburtons. As far as I can tell the restaurant bit has no impact on the result so it’s slightly puzzling. The test is of the restaurant dish rather than the contestant because when they make a mistake it goes in the bin. Wobbly-handed Billy flicked the runaway potato with a spoon and served up his truffle and mash with some wobbly jam.
And so to the final programme. The backstory is king in the final. Meet the kids, girlfriends, pets… Billy clearly doesn’t cook often for his girlfriend who is a slender long-suffering type who has a permanently messy kitchen. Jane clearly does feed happy Mark. They are a real country couple with chickens and a proper farmhouse kitchen. Bringing up four kids has made her a nervous live wire. Jack doesn’t disappoint – a fine art student with another underfed girlfriend. He’s got vinyl and some hipster music and used to be in a band.
Finally they are back where they started, in the Masterchef kitchen cooking a nice tea.
Jane is cooking winkles. I remember the winkle man coming round selling bags of the things to children and giving them a pin to eat them with. So much of that story could not happen in the 21st century! You don’t hear winkles being used much in restaurants and I suspect there is a good reason.
Billy is creating a Jackson Pollock on his whites again. I can imagine him running a little eatery where, instead of a menu, he just hangs his apron outside so that everyone knows what to expect. Whether they would expect octopus, suckling pig and pineapple is another question.
Professor Jack is just doing loads of fiddly cooking – four puddings is aimed straight at Gregg Wallace. At the last minute Jack dropped a glass bowl containing a couple of pastry things. I’m pretty sure he used the five second rule and there will be an interesting texture in the results.
At the end there are some pretty horrendous benches smeared with remnants. Billy just seemed to throw a dozen eggs into the air as a final rebellious gesture.
The judging is a sad sight to see. Poor John Torode has to share a plate with big Gregg Wallace. When they came to Jack’s multiple puddings the Walrus could have had a shovel. Gregg is very much judging from the heart – there is not a lot he doesn’t either really love or really hate. John is the technician but he is quite conservative in his views sometimes. It turns out that Billy Wobbly-hands broke every single egg and failed to get a whole yolk on the plate for his starter – how he must wish for that one at the top of yesterday’s potato mountain. He carried off the pork, octopus and pineapple with unanimous praise however. Jane was last up and her dishes all looked very pretty. John and Gregg managed not to spit out the winkles in her starter and had a coded verdict of “it tastes of what it should do”. They loved her main course and if I was picking a winner based on the edit I would guess Jane has shaded it and she is probably the most consistent and best performer in the professional kitchens/outdoor events.
So obviously the winner is… Jane. She was immediately in tears and enveloped with boys.