MasterChef South Africa lost its first Top 12 contestant tonight, as Phila Vilakazi (33) – an IT specialist from Johannesburg - could not stand the heat in the kitchen in the season’s first Pressure Test.
There was a somber atmosphere as the Top 11 (without Roxi (26), the Durban train driver who had won a trip to Ireland) arrived at the MasterChef kitchen for the Pressure Test challenge between Ndumiso, Phila and Mel. “We brought our black aprons and it seems like there’s going to be death in the kitchen,” Ndumiso observed bleakly.
The pressure test:
To perfectly replicate a dish prepared by a real master chef: Chef Reuben’s signature Pan Roasted Duck Breast with roasted beets, grilled spring onions and toasted garlic and a cashew nut crème.
All three contestants immediately rushed to get the beets in the oven because that’s what would take the longest to cook. Mel seemed confident throughout the 75 minutes but both Ndumiso and Phila began to struggle with having to cook different components and keep up the pace.
Phila told Reuben that he doesn’t usually follow recipes when he cooks, “but this is the challenge, and I will tackle it head-on and try to follow your recipe as best as I can!” he told the celebrity chef. But Mel was thrilled to cook one of her idol’s dishes. “I have every single cookbook!” she confessed to Reuben.
Meanwhile in Dublin, Ireland...
As all that drama was unfolding in the MasterChef kitchen, Roxi had arrived in Dublin, Ireland, for her exclusive lunch with world famous Irish chef Kevin Thornton – her reward for winning the first Mystery Box challenge!
Back to the pressure
Back in the winelands of South Africa it was time to serve the judges.
Reuben: said he cooked the duck really well but that it was under-seasoned.
Benny: was happy that the plate looked a lot like Reuben’s plate, but Ndumiso got the sauce completely wrong.
Pete: Thought that the dish would have been top notch if the sauce had been correct.
When it was her turn to serve Mel tried to explain - while choking back tears, why it means so much to her to be in MasterChef.
Reuben: Was pleased with her attempt and said she handled the pressure well by taking her time and being thorough – but her duck was too rare.
Benny: Agreed with Reuben that the duck was not cooked enough and explained that Mel needed to rest the meat a while.
Pete: Said her plating was good and that she cooked well but her undercooked duck let her down.
Lastly it was Phila’s turn to offer his dish to the judges. He confessed that he had a crisis of confidence just before the challenge and he was close to hanging up his apron and quitting.
Reuben: Was not happy with Phila’s performance and his interpretation of the dish. His time management was lacking and his duck was heavily undercooked.
Benny: said the sauce was over-reduced.
Pete: told Phila, “but you can’t work under pressure. And that’s something that you need to practice.”
In the end it was poor Phila who became the first person to be eliminated on MasterChef SA Season 3.
Next week the journey continues for the remaining 11 contestants when they have to cook a MasterChef-worthy dessert featuring a perplexing star ingredient. We can’t wait!
MasterChef South Africa is broadcast exclusively on M-Net Channel 101 every Thursday evening at 19:30
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