Of all the cooking competition series on the television, MasterChef is probably my favourite. I love the challenges in this show and all its spin-offs, including MasterChef: The Professionals, Celebrity MasterChef, and Junior MasterChef. Finally, MasterChef has returned to TV screens across the UK for its 14th series.
The first part of the challenge was for seven new contestants to use ingredients from the MasterChef larder to create a dish of their own choice. As always, there was a huge amount of variety between the dishes produced that demonstrated the kitchen skills and cooking styles of the different contestants. At the end of the round, Judges John Torode and Greg Wallace sampled each of the dishes and gave their critique.
While they were extremely impressed by some of the dishes, they felt others were lacking. The three that impressed the judges the least left the competition. Terry had produced a Mushroom risotto topped with tempura vegetables. The latter had become soggy and it was this that led to his elimination from the competition. Also eliminated was Fiona who had left the skin on her cod and overused fennel in her dish. Joining the leaving party was Ashley. He had made a Venetian fish stew. The judges were initially impressed with his idea and were keen to taste the finished result. However, they said it was too dry and lacked flavour.
The remaining four contestants were then expected to produce their two best dishes and serve them to three former winners of the competition. Only the best three would win a place in the quarterfinals. The former judges were particularly delighted with the plate of food served by James, a wine retailer from Oxford. They described it as ‘restaurant standard’, despite his unusual use of purple ingredients.
Sadly, they were less impressed with the North African-inspired minced lamb dish produced by Louise. The main complaint was that she had not demonstrated enough skill in her chosen dishes.
My one disappointment with the series, even in this early stage, is that the standard is so high even in the first rounds. A few years ago, the format of the show was changed so that they had already selected the best contestants prior to what is shown on television. In the previous years, I found it very entertaining watching people who believed they were good cooks turn up and create absolute disasters. With the new format, the judges have some negative comments to make about the contestants in the first round but this is nothing compared to the sheer atrocities that have been served in the past.
Other than this one minor complaint about the show, I am looking forward to watching the contestants in the series facing some difficult challenges and producing quality dishes in their plight to win the MasterChef title.