MasterChef SA: Episode 19 reviewed. The final.
The final of the first season of MasterChef was a tense one, with Deena Naidoo narrowly beating Sue-Ann Allen to take the R8 million prize.
Like the Beatles, Harry Potter and the Christmas holiday, all good things come to an end. Last night it was the turn of the first season of MasterChef SA to draw to its dramatic climax.
Sue-Ann and Deena were the two finalists left to battle it out for a stonking R8 million prize including a trip to Italy, a year's supply of wine and a restaurant.
The show opened with the requisite series of flashbacks, recounting how far the final two had come since the beginning of the show. This took place in the MondeVino restaurant at MonteCasino, the restaurant that the winner would inherit from Benny.
In a nice role reversal, the judges each prepared a course for Deena and Sue-Ann while talking about how they felt the two had grown since the beginning of the show.
All three judges had many kind words for the duo and pressed them to understand the magnitude of the opportunity available to the winner.
TRY: Tagliatelle with roasted winter vegetables
Back at the Nederburg, the 16 contestants who had previously been eliminated were brought back to watch the finale unfold. The contest itself would consist of three courses, each one based on a different kind of pressure test.
The first challenge was a starter that had to be prepared from what Pete called ‘the most exciting mystery box ever”. When opened, the box revealed a selection of winter vegetables along with a roll of goats’ milk chevin cheese.
TRY: Rare beef with beetroot glaze and sweet potatoes
Sue-Ann chose to cook the vegetables she like best, and prepared a beetroot and goats’ cheese samoosa (try this samoosa recipe by judge Andrew) with crispy fried vegetables and a herb mayonnaise.
Deena took a much broader approach and used as many vegetables as possible in his roasted root vegetables with a parsnip puree.
Sue-Ann seemed to have the high ground as she calmly went about her dish and making more food than necessary, something she had learnt during the show.
Deena was questioned as to whether his choice of hot and cold elements would combine well.
At the tasting, Sue-Ann’s presentation was praised, as were the flavour combinations, the vegetables were a touch overcooked, however.
Deena’s dish was deemed to have perfect texture, but the balance of flavours was thrown by the addition of raw radishes.
After round one, it all seemed pretty square in Paarl.
The second round was an invention test that tasked them with preparing a South –African style dish that showed off what they had learnt from the show. Sue-Ann chose to make a poached fillet of beef with shelled peas while Deena opted for a coriander-and-cumin-crusted lamb loin with spinach bhaji and a citrus dressing.
TRY: Stuffed lamb loin with parmesan and caper crust
While the drama unfolded, the friends and family of the finalists mingled with the other contestants and shouted down advice from the balcony. Thys in particular was happy to share his kitchen wisdom.
Deena did well to finish his dish in time but was criticised for his presentation that varied only in what shade of brown was used.
His lamb was cooked to perfection but Andrew criticised the overpowering citrus dressing. Sue-Ann presented a very minimalist dish which was well received by the judges but was judged as being too bland and not living to its presentation.
Going into the final round, the final two were still relatively inseparable, and it all came down to dessert.
The pressure test was, as we’ve come to expect, a tricky one. The contestants were tasked with replicating a deconstructed milk-tart of Benny’s invention.
The spun sugar spiral on top seemed to set the amateurs on edge as they cracked on with the challenge.
TRY: Cardamom organic milk tart
Crisis befell Deena as he misread the instructions and discarded the core and peel of his apples. These elements were essential in providing enough pectin to cause the apple gel to set. Thys seemed to understand the severity of the error and looked worried for his former comrade.
Sue-Ann was not spared from the inevitable kitchen drama as she burnt both her pastry and her sugar. She calmly redid her pastry but compromised her second attempt at spun sugar by using the same spoon, still encrusted with burnt sugar.
Having to prepare three courses seemed to have sapped the energy from the final two and they looked exhausted as they presented their final dishes to the judges.
Neither attempt had turned out particularly well with Deena messing up the apple gel and mousse while Sue-Ann’s suffered from undercooked custard and a lack of sugar spirals.
After 30 challenges, some fantastic meals and some abject abominations, the judges announced that the first winner of MasterChef SA was Deena Naidoo of Durban.
Tsogo announced that he had been signed on a two-year contract to head up the MondeVino restaurant at SunSquare Montecasino Hotel, starting in November. Benny Masekwameng will “be on hand to guide and support him”.
And thus it came to pass that MasterChef was done. A diverse bunch of amateur cooks had baked and cooked their way around the world, falling at the wayside one-by-one until just the King of Curry remained.