Roxi and Penny had presented the two weakest dishes in the Mauritian-inspired Invention Test in last week's episode of MasterChef South Africa, and had to face off in a “Fusion” Pressure Test at the exotic Masu Japanese restaurant at Mauritius’s Long Beach resort.
But first the five contestants who did well in the Invention Test claimed their sweet reward – a masterclass in Mauritian sugar by the Long Beach’s Executive Pastry Chef, Sandy Scioli.
Over at the Masu restaurant the nervous Roxi and Penny were introduced to Chef Igor Bocchia, who had prepared the signature dish that they had to replicate in their Pressure Test: Miso Scallops with prawn dumplings. “It almost looks as if these scallops have kind of washed in from the ocean, with that foam,” Penny said admiringly. “It’s a very delicate looking plate.”
But Roxi was worried, because she’d never cooked scallops before. “I did taste them in Dublin but I don’t think it’s any kind of advantage because I didn’t physically cook them,” she fretted.
Cooking on a yakitori grill
And to make things even more challenging they had to cook the scallops on open coals on the yakitori grill, and they only had an hour in which to complete the challenge. Plus, Chef Reuben Riffel pointed out that scallops was a precious ingredient, so each contestant would only be issued just enough scallops to make this dish. “First time round, cooking, you have to get it spot on,” he warned.
“I’m feeling quite intimidated, to be honest,” Penny admitted. “Is it the same as a braai? You’re not cooking a big piece of meat, you’re cooking a delicate scallop on that fire.”
When it came time to taste Roxi presented her dish first, and Chef Reuben thought her scallops were cooked beautifully. Benny was disappointed not to get enough of the foam, though, so that the fish stock could come through a bit stronger, he said. “But for something that she’s never worked with before in terms of cooking it herself, she didn’t do a bad job,” he admitted.
And Pete Goffe-Wood loved it. “Dumplings, magnificent, beautifully seasoned, cooked to perfection,” he praised. “I really, really liked this dish.”
And he was equally impressed with Penny’s scallops, but he thought that her dumplings let her down. “The filling is very, very coarse and I can taste raw garlic and raw ginger,” he complained.
“It’s quite evident now, tasting both these dishes and the way it looked, I think Roxi had a bit more time on the plate, she had time to place each element on the plate a bit more meticulously, and ultimately when I look at her plate it looks like a more complete dish, closer to Chef Igor’s dish,” Reuben summed up. “Roxi’s dish, for me, is near perfect to Chef Igor’s,” Pete agreed,
Down to the final 6
So the decision seemed clear, and it was up to Benny to deliver the bad tidings. “The person who will not be returning to the MasterChef kitchen is Penny,” he announced.
“This MasterChef experience was nothing I thought it would be,” a tearful Penny reflected on her journey. “It is honestly an emotional rollercoaster and you have good days and bad days, and it’s just important to remain focused and do your best and trust your instincts.”
“Penny was such a fierce competitor and she kept me on my toes,” Phillipa observed. “I’m going to miss her so much.”
And fellow Durbanite Roxi considered what losing her best MasterChef friend meant for her, going forward.
“Now that she’s out, I need to win,” she reflected sadly.