Last night saw an exciting cook-off with Tiron and famed chef Jackie Cameron from Hartford House in the Natal Midlands.
Chef Jackie Cameron!
Tiron faced this formidable opponent in his cook-off: Her boutique hotel in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands has featured on the “Eat Out” Top 10 list on numerous occasions and was Restaurant of the Year in the La Motte People’s Choice Awards. “I absolutely adore her!” confessed a starry-eyed Karen, who also hails from the Natal Midlands. “She is, in my eyes, the Number One chef in the country.”
The dish that Tiron had to perfect to beat Chef Jackie was her signature “Guinea Fowl Coq Au Vin with gnocchi, pea purée and Parmesan crisps”. “One of my favourites,” she declared.
The judges tasted Tiron and Jackie’s finished dishes in a blind tasting and when the time came for them to reveal their scores, Tiron’s plate scored 21 out of a possible 30. But, with 25.5 against Tiron’s 21 points, Jackie was declared the winner of the challenge.
“I got a 21 out of 30 and that’s a pass in my books, and I’m really happy,” Tiron declared. “I’m really happy that her reputation is still intact,” he smiled gallantly.
Elimination challenge: Fix a bobotie
But after all the excitement of the cook-off Karen, Joani and Ozzy still had to compete in the Elimination Challenge, and their challenge was to fix a pot of bland cooked mince in only seven steps to create South Africa’s official dish: a fragrant Bobotie.
“I cannot believe how bad mince tastes without any seasonings or aromatics put into it,” Joani commented. “It just tasted dead.” Karen actually spat out her first taste of the mince. “It’s just the meat to start off a Bobotie,” she said, “but it really doesn’t taste nice.” Poor Ozzy had never cooked or even tasted Bobotie, “but I do know what the dish consists of,” he declared optimistically.
The contestants had access to any and all ingredients they might have needed to turn plain old mince into Bobotie – dairy products, breads, tomatoes, chutney, a selection of herbs, dried and fresh fruit, nuts and eggs, as well as a selection of Robertson’s spices and curry powders.
Chef Benny explained that the contestants could each pick one ingredient at a time in each of the seven steps. “After those seven steps you will then present your fixed dish to us to taste and judge,” Benny instructed.
When the judges tasted the three different Boboties, Ozzy actually didn’t fare too badly for never even having tasted it. The judges found his mince a little dry but “obviously you’ve got something,” Chef Pete remarked. “That’s a good interpretation of a Bobotie.”
Joani says a teary goodbye
Of the three dishes it was Joani’s Bobotie that fell short, and cost her her MasterChef apron. “It’s my time to go. I’m really sad to leave,” said a disappointed Joani. But as much as she wanted to win, she reflected, that wasn’t her ultimate goal. “It’s been the whole process,” she explained. “I don’t think this is the end of my journey, because if you don’t try, you’ll never know, and it’s reaffirmed for me what I need to do.”
Read more on: