MasterChef SA Ep 10: The tapas and wine pairing challenge

Probably the best food challenge of Season 3 so far!

24 Oct 2014

WARNING: Spoiler Alert!

Last night saw MasterChef SA Season 3 take an interesting turn when the final 8 contestants were paired up into teams of 2. Their challenge: To prepare little tapas-style dishes to pair with fine wines from the Nederburg 5600 range.

Penny, who won last week's challenge was given the honour of choosing the teams. She paired herself with Francois and chose Blue for the team colour.

She also paired the two Capetonians,Sipho and Ian together in the red team and Roxi with Philippa in the yellow team. That left Mel and Abigail to make up the green team.

Some of South Africa’s top sommeliers had gathered at the Nederburg wine estate manor house to judge this challenge: Bongi Sodladla, the global food and beverage manager for South African Airways; Tsogo Sun Group Sommelier Miguel Chan; one of the country’s youngest professional sommeliers, Gregory Mutambe; award-winning internationally accredited sommelier Pearl Oliver; and Neil Grant from Burrata restaurant in Cape Town.

The four teams were to cook and serve their dishes in 15-minute staggered intervals and Penny decided that Roxi and Philippa would serve first, followed by her and Francois, then the Red team with Ian and Sipho, and Abigail and Mel’s Green team last.

For their first dish Roxi and Philippa served a salmon fishcake and a tropical salsa leafy salad with an oriental dressing with the Nederburg 5600 Chenin Blanc. They scored 75 points out of a hundred for their first round.

Penny and Francois’s Blue team served salmon smoked in honeybush tea on bruschetta, and salt-and-pepper squid with a parsley and garlic aioli. The judges scored them 71%.

Ian and a nervous Siphokazi served Norwegian salmon that had been poached in the Chenin Blanc and infused with lemongrass, ginger and garlic, to rave reviews. The red team scored a whopping 89 points!

The green team of Mel and Abigail ended the first round with a potato cake and avocado that had been smoked with beachwood and tarragon, along with seared salmon with a tarragon and wine foam, and some mussels, for even more ocean flavour. Abigail and Mel scored 77 points on their first round.

By then it was time for the yellow team’s second dish, which was salted duck breast on onion marmalade with butternut purée and a parsley and basil drizzle.

For their Nederburg 5600 Cabernet Sauvignon pairing Penny and Francois had concocted a “Karoo-Asian” fusion dish. The Blue team served dim sum with a seared ostrich fillet filling, along with a sweet potato and pumpkin purée.

Ian and Siphokazi’s second dish was a black pepper crusted beef carpaccio crostini, served with onion marmalade and roasted garlic aioli.

And the final dish of the day was the Green team’s audacious seared beef fillet on a crispy pastry, with a Cabarnet Sauvignon reduction with strawberries and a bit of balsamic, all with a sprinkling of toasted rooibos salt on top.

But in the end it all came down to a number, Pete reminded them. In the first round the Blue team came in last, with 71 points, the Yellow team earned 75 and the Green team 77, which put Ian and Sipho’s Red team firmly in first place for the first round with their 89 points.

After the second round points were added and averaged, said Pete, the result ultimately came down to two teams: the Green and the Red. “And the winner of today’s challenge, with an average score of 91, is the Red team,” he announced. Ian and Sipho had won probably the most valuable reward in the entire competition so far, said Benny Masekwameng, but they would have to wait until the next challenge to find out what it was! “In my mind I’m thinking, let it be the Immunity Pin!” Siphokazi quipped.

The last place in this challenge was a close call between the Blue team and the Yellow team, Pete revealed, with average scores of 77 and 75 respectively. As the losing team, Penny and Francois’s Blue team now faced an Elimination Challenge, after which one of them will be going home.

“I’m really disappointed, but game on,” Penny said bravely. “I’m going to push myself to my limits, really show the judges what I’ve got,” Francois vowed.

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