With only 24 contestants surviving the first day of Boot Camp in Cape Town harbour, the stakes were high on MasterChef South Africa tonight as they faced the final battle for a place in the MasterChef kitchen in Paarl.
And what a battle it was, as judges Pete Goffe-Wood, Benny Masekwameng and Reuben Riffel tested the home cooks’ inventiveness with an unlimited open pantry of some of South Africa’s finest quality produce and products.
“We have to cook the dish of a lifetime because today they want their socks to be blown off,” Adele, a 35-year-old property manager from Johannesburg realised.
Refilwe (36), a service consultant from Carltonville, considers herself more of a baker than a cook so she decided to make an egg snow with custard, and 29-year-old Johannesburg management consultant Joven also decided to stick with the familiar.
“I wanted to do something that I’m fairly familiar with so I was thinking chicken,” he said. “In sixty minutes you can prep it easily and you can get it going.” Meanwhile Durban waiter Simphiwe (24) decided to show off a bit with rib-eye steak and polenta.
But as always in MasterChef SA there was a sting in the tale: as the judges quietly conferred in the corner of the kitchen about the contestants’ choices, Reuben mischievously wondered if any of them even noticed that there were no tomatoes in the pantry...
And then, just as Reuben declared the pantry officially closed, Chef Pete dropped the other shoe as Benny came into the kitchen on a forklift with a huge covered box, containing an ingredient that Pete explained they would have to incorporate into their half-finished dishes somehow.
“The tomato! In all its shapes and forms!” Benny announced dramatically.
Reuben explained that this last-minute new ingredient didn’t necessarily have to be the hero of the dish, but it had to integrate harmoniously with all the flavours that the contestants had already created, which didn’t help 26-year-old Pretoria teacher Jillianne one bit. “I’m making a dessert,” she sighed. “So I thought, tomatoes?”
The perfect scone
But still the final battle for a place in the MasterChef South Africa kitchen was not yet over. Before the judges announced the Top 12, Mel and Jillianne still had to battle it out for the final place by baking six perfect scones, with no recipe!
“I had a smile on my face because that very morning I had looked at a scone recipe!” Jillianne announced happily, but in the end it was Mel who took the final place in the Top 12 with her consistent and perfectly textured batch of scones.
Top quotes from the episode:
“If you cannot manufacture something fantastic out of this pantry then you don’t deserve to be here.” - Pete.
“You dream it, you can cook it,” - Pete.
“Joven, to me that looks like a chicken salad. And this is MasterChef ...” - Reuben.
“I’ll say one thing for you, Philippa – you stress a good dish!” - Pete.
The MasterChef South Africa season 3 Top 12 are:
Siphokazi (39), a domestic worker from Cape Town
Philippa (48), a life skills lecturer from Johannesburg
Phila (33), a Johannesburg IT specialist
Claire (27) Events company owner from Cape Town
Ian (49) a Cape Town advertising consultant
Ndumiso (28), a mobile bar owner from Durban
Abigail (38), the dental technologist from Cape Town
Penny (31), a teacher from Durban
Francois (22), a musician from Cape Town
Roxi (26), the train driver assistant from Durban
Mel, the 25-year-old lodge manager from Vaalwater
And Refilwe (36), a service consultant from Carltonville
MasterChef South Africa is broadcast exclusively on M-Net Channel 101 every Thursday evening at 19:30.