FROM BUDGET TO BALANCE
Down to 9 contestants, Masterchef’s challenge of the day was for the contestants to balance the wine of their choice with a dish of their ‘inventing.’ The importance of food and wine in the Nederburg’s Wine Master’s opinion was that food and wine cannot go without each other, and the texture of the wine must match the texture of the food as well as not be in competition with each other. With high stakes, the contestants each had to choose their own wine of which Ilse chose Sauvignon Blanc; Lungi chose the Nederburg Rose; Manisha chose Pongracz; Khaya chose the Nederburg Noble Late Harvest; Deena chose the robust Merlot; Sarel chose Riesling; Jade chose Shiraz; Sue-Ann chose Cabernet Sauvignon and Thys chose the vanilla and citrus flavoured Chardonnay.
Today’s challenge tested the remaining 9 contestants’ ability to perfectly harmonise their dishes with their chosen wine with a panel of South African celebrities to taste and score their dishes. Desmond Dube, Breyton Paulse, Unati, Ryan Botha, Milan Murry, Loyiso and Sibahle Mtongana were the SA celebs to score and taste the harmony that the Masterchef contestants had to create on their plates. Khaya who was seemingly in a good mood singing whilst preparing her meal, a trio of chocolate desserts, was disappointed to realise that two of her chocolate dishes were not going to make it onto the plates. Deena, whom was completely ignorant of wines, stated that he was not a wine drinker and that the survival of this challenge was going to be pure luck for him. Thys battled a bit with his pasta preparation and made a fatal mistake of adding too much butter to his mushroom sauce to the degree where he literally patted out as much oil as he could with paper towelling. Ilse was confident whilst preparing her Gooseberry, Orange and Citrus flavoured poached Salmon on a bed of Asparagus. Sarel was planning to impress the judges with his version of a light chicken curry in a Butternut basket. Sue-Ann prepared a fillet with exotic mushroom sauce with red wine and onion reduction, also seemingly confident and going through the steps in time. Pete, speaking aside to the other two judges, was concerned that Deena had made a mistake in preparing a tomato & lamb curry with the creamy and subtle Merlot. Jade also incurred some problems with the preparation of her pasta whilst Manisha’s tarts were not cooking through properly in the oven. Khaya’s trio of chocolate desserts quickly tangled out of balance with “un-settled” Panacotta and her Chocolate Fondant becoming a ‘gooey something-something’ as she stated. This TRIO now an UNO became the dish of the day much to her surprise.
With only 5 minutes remaining Jade cut into her beef fillet only to realise that she had ‘blasted it away’ with the other added problem of not having plated anything yet. The countdown began and as the Masterchefs were asked to stop cooking, they were also instructed to get dressed into their proper Chefs uniform for the Celeb guests’ arrival and the presentation of their paring.
Having been asked to create a dish that would perfectly compliment the wine they had selected, Ilse was up first for the tasting and presenting of her meal paring. Her Sauvignon Blanc paired with a Roasted Salmon, Orange, Citrus & Gooseberry Sauce on a bed of Asparagus, managed to perfectly balance the acidity of the wine with her food. Thys presented his Open Mushroom Lasagne with Burnt Butter sauce accompanied by the oaky, creamy Chardonnay unfortunately did not leave much to taste with a dish that was, as expected, too oily and buttery and thus too heavy for the celebs. Sarel surprised with the Riesling and Curry Chicken harmonising the spice and fruitiness of this very versatile wine with the complexities of his curry and thereby impressing the judges. Llungile matched a Rich Cabernet Sauvignon with a simple Ostrich Salad and impressed Desmond Dube here. As expected Deena’s Merlot with Lamb & Tomato curry pairing was a dismal failure as the curry totally overpowered the Soft, creamy and subtle merlot and brought out its more spicy tannins. The Shiraz that Jade paired with her Beef Fillet was dry and over-cooked as well as un-harmonised seasoning and having left the judges a feeling that there was something missing on her plate. Manisha paired a white Chocolate Ganache Tart with Strawberry soup with the Nederburg Masters Rose and generally left all judges with a feeling of harmony and that she had done a great job. Khaya, although very nervous due to her trio miss, all-round impressed the celebs with comments such as they loved the crisp of her Fondant, that the sauce was great and that she managed to harmonise the crisp wine with the sweetness of the dessert she brought forth.
Voting proved that unanimously Khaya’s UNO was the best dish of the day and this meant that she would go into a Celebrity Chef cook-off for the immunity pin that would prevent her from taking part in any pressure test except for the last two challenges of the competition. A valuable asset to acquire, the immunity pin! As there are winners, so must there be losers or ‘not-yet-competent’ contestants, and these disappointed three were, also as expected Deena, Jade and Thys. They are to go into a pressure test in the next week to see who the unlucky or ‘not-yet-competent’ person is to go home. Khaya is in for the ‘battle of the century’ as the Masterchef judges put it, and she is going to be cooking off against Reuben Riffel of acclaimed Reuben’s in Franschoek in The Cape. However, the dish to be the distinguishing factor between Top Chef and ‘Top-pest’ Chef was not revealed, but I am sure we are all excited and extremely curious to see what it will be in the next episode of Masterchef South Africa.
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