Saturday, June 2, 2012

Masterchef Australia - Episode 7

Back to masterchef. We left our valiant remaining semifinalists awaiting their chance to compete for the final six spots. They first had to survive their first masterclass, the teaching episodes of Masterchef. This masterclass was an important one as they were learning basic french techniques that were to be crucial in their upcoming challenge. The challenge was to cook their best interpretation of a french dish. The contestants shopped in the city and then headed off to an artist's retreated housed in a french-styled chateau called Montsalvat. Once at the retreat the contestants discovered that in addition to the regular three judges they would be cooking for a guest judge who pioneered french cooking in Australia, Jacques Reymond. A sweaty challenge ensued with the guest chef offering several pointers to various contestants (i.e don't puree your bouillbasse)and several interesting concepts being brought forth - and questioned. Some of the ideas wouldn't have appealed to me in any circumstance, and some simply failed to achieve their planned glory. One in particular was a young man named Yukio whom I was rather pulling for. He did a scalloped cooked in it's shell which was resealed with bread dough and a fish en papillotte.
He received much praise for his fine knife work and the concept - which fused French dishes and technique with Asian flavours - but unfortunately he brutally overcooked everything. Both his dishes left him unable to actually taste or test the doneness at anytime which turned out to be a tragic miscalculation on his part. The winners of the six spots varied somewhat in their performances, several put forth erratic results while a few were simply stellar. Perhaps the best dish, in my opinion, combined both excellent execution and an interesting concept and was presented by one of the older contestant, Debra.
She took a traditional french salad of lettuce, walnuts and roquefort cheese and presented and walnut and roquefort tart with a salad of endive and poached pear. Deconstructing a simply house and building a elegant townhouse in its place. According to the judges her execution was as well done as the idea was interesting. I expect interesting things from this contestant. Close behind Deborah, for me, came Mindy with a pork belly, scallops and cider sauce all of which were well executed.
Third spot goes for me to one of the youngest contestants, Emma. She did macaroons with salted caramel and raspberry coulis filling. The only flaw was undersalting of the caramel, a small flaw by all accounts.
The rest of the finishers all made it into the finals but each had their flaws. Mario presented a duck a l'orange that had been.
queried during his preparation but which came through well in judging. His dish was marred by undercooked, though nicely turned, vegetables and a not good pate he created
Fillipo, who is not my favorite, for reasons I am not entirely clear on, presented a flatbread with herbs and a cherry clafouti (that was, to quote the judges, more of a "cherry omelet"). Fillipo is becoming very noted for his passion for bread and his excellent crust was a major selling point for the judges. He also left two more loaves in the kitchen - they might have served him better than the dessert in the end, though we will never know. The final spot was filled by Kath, who made a boullibase, which which she did not served pureed, along with a rouille and choux
pastry biscuits. The biscuits were not well received and the rouille looked unappetizing and I think she would have been better to simply serve the soup and be done. The one thing about having the rouille is she got to use the cool too bowl serving dish, but a good dish should not dictate the food, ever. The last issue to address is what I would have served? I am not greatly experienced with French cookery but I believe I would have done a main and a dessert. I would have adapted a recipe of my Mom's, ham and asparagus crepes with cheese sauce, to suit the occasion - replacing the cheese bechamel with a light, fluffy hollandaise - a sauce I have successfully executed a couple of times. The dessert would have been a cherry clafouti (not a cherry omelet), which is a dish I have made and had well received several times. I am not sure my clafouti is a true French one as I have only ever tasted my own, but I know it looks like the picture in the book and doesn't taste at all like an omelet, so I at least could have taken out Filipo
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