MasterChef SA: Duck danger in China Town
From Ethiopia, the Top 6 were whisked straight into Jo’burg’s China Town in Cyrildene.
‘We’re in China Town! It doesn’t feel like we’re back in South Africa at all,’ Seline noticed.
Pete Goffe-Wood informed the Top 6 the Chinese first arrived in South Africa in the late 1800’s during the Gold Rush.
Today some of the finest Asian cuisine in Johannesburg is found in these streets.
Benny Masekwameng invited a friend and a colleague from the Tsogo Sun hotel group to join them.
‘Ask anyone that has ever had his Peking Duck, they will tell you it’s the business!’ he said, introducing Chef Chang An Song who always tell his chefs to make each dish with love, with passion.
He brought his signature Peking Duck with vegetables.
‘Amazing looking Peking Duck,’ Tiron observed. ‘It’s shining, it’s golden, it looks crispy … it looks delicious!’
Chef Song explained that Peking Duck is all about the skin. The skin is crispy, the meat is well-cooked and soft and the taste is so rich… so delicious.
The Challenge for the Top 6 was to work in Teams to create a magnificent dish inspired by the flavours of the East for a distinguished panel of guests who are experts in Chinese cuisine, lead by Chef Song.
The Red Team members were Ozzy, Seline and Kamini, while the Blue Team comprised of Jason, Tiron and Leandri.
Duck would be provided, but contestants needed to source the rest of their ingredients themselves from the shops and street vendors in China Town with a budget of R1000 for each team.
They had 90 minutes to complete the dishes, which included 10 minutes allocated for all the shopping.
Leandri pointed out that the trickiest part of the challenge was that this time there was a budget, and that they couldn’t just run and grab what they want.
As they cooked, both Teams struggled to make the duck, because none of them had made it before.
Before they knew it, the guests had arrived and each team had 10 mouths to fill.
After tasting the Blue Team’s dishes first, the spring rolls suffered a brutal blow with issues on the presentation of the spring rolls, also being a bit burnt and only half-filled.
The taste was also bit bland for Miss Chinese South Africa, one of the guests.
There was disappointment when no vegetables were to be found in the vegetable broth and Chef Song agreed that it could at least have had some vegetable garnish.
The duck was enjoyed and heads nodded with approval.
The Red Team served second. ‘This is far more a following of the brief,’ Pete noted. ‘It’s a duck dish with garnish, as opposed to three courses.’
The presentation of the dishes wasn’t a hit, but the flavours and the wonderful textures, they mixed well together and was enjoyed as a whole meal.
Miss Chinese South Africa found the duck neck to be a bit rubbery but Chef Song said he would have bought these dishes in a restaurant.
There were thoughts that the rice and the duck with the two vegetables were a good compliment to each other, but it was also thought to be a bit clichéd.
After the guests voted, the Red Team emerged as the victors with four votes to two. As their prize, they got to spend a day with South Africa’s first MasterChef, Deena Naidoo.
‘Winning MasterChef made me realise just how much I have to learn when it comes to food,’ Deena offered.
‘When I went into MasterChef I thought I knew a lot. After winning the title I realised just how much I don’t know and how much I’ve got to listen to experienced people.’ This resonated with Ozzy and Kamini said she was going back with an affirmed sense of strength.