MasterChef: The Professionals

Friday, August 29, 2008 by

“They’ve got to really kick it up a gear!”

Yes, Gregg Wallace is unleashing the hyperbole again, but John Torode’s no longer shouting back. That’s because in this latest off-shoot of the MasterChef hydra (which is apparently soon to sprout a ready-meals franchise) he’s been left behind in his Smithfield restaurant, while a slightly discomfited Michel Roux Jr steps in to hawk it over the working cooks. And you can’t deny Michel’s more subdued, yet still stentorian approach, sprinkles a welcome new flavour over the mix.

"Cooking doesn't get *better* than this!"

"Cooking doesn't get *better* than this!"

Michelin-starred face-pulling

Michelin-starred face-pulling

Stalking tonight’s quarter-finalist in the kitchen, he continues Torode’s habit of pulling faces and asking pertinent questions. He’s impressively equipped to do so. The man has held “two Michelin stars since 1991″ (as Gregg has informed the daily intake across this week), and has a laser-like precision when it comes to food criticism. Yesterday he clocked – on sight – one hopeful’s Omelette aux Fine Herbs had been knocked together with a whisk rather than a fork. And he brings a new portent to the word “good” (As in, “the flavours are good”), while becoming positively apocalyptic when tasting Adrian’s crab tortellini: “For me, this is just not on!”.

Gregg, meanwhile, has acquired a sense of seniority in terms of presenting duties (Michel is “the gentleman standing beside me”), but is clearly the junior partner when it comes to dishing out opinion. Nevertheless, our hero is having a brilliant time. “He’s only practiced this dish once, and he was 40 minutes over!” roars the fruit and veg guru in reference to poor old Adrian. “What was he thinking?!”.

To decide which of tonight’s four are on the next rung of their ambition to “climb to the top of their profession and become an inspiration to a generation”, the critics are once again wheeled in to MasterChef HQ. They always make for a satisfying episode, remaining stoically poker faced… until news arrives their umpteenth course is to be five minutes late. At this point a round of pouts breaks out around the table. When Murray then serves up raw scallops, it’s pretty much an international incident. Nonetheless, he makes it through to – er – the finals (I thought tonight was the quarter-finals?), despite his inadvertent sushi dish and transforming a cut of beef into something resembling a birthday cake.

Joining him is Dan, whose addition of brie to a mushroom risotto confounds and then delights Michel. These are punch-the-air moments,

If MasterChef: The Professionals has one drawback – and there is just one – it’s that it has to work especially hard to build up interest in the cooks. While the vanilla-flavoured version of the show tags contestants with epithets such as “busy mum” or “experimental home cook”, and the Celebrity edition can rely on an element of recognition, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm for a room full of identically clad young blokes, all from similar backgrounds, all sporting impressive knife sets and all indoctrinated in a heads-down kitchen culture. In fact, it’s hard to tell them apart.

But at the end of week one, I guess I’m satisfied I know who Murray and Dan are. And when it comes to the actual cooking on the show – and the whole of the MasterChef canon thus far – cooking really doesn’t get better than this. That’s what it boils down to.

So it’s compliments to the chefs for MasterChef: The Professionals. I find it good.


8 Responses to “MasterChef: The Professionals”

  1. MartS on September 1st, 2008 7:59 am

    But through the shouting and clock watching, we still don’t really know what the eventual prize is. I’ve watched the first episode back on Iplayer, and it was never mentioned.

    And….. I still have a…………. problem… WITH……….Roux Jr’s style of delivery. It’s like he is……….READING his judging…………of the……dishes off a….slightly jumpy autocue…WHILST Greg is poking him……….in the……….thigh….WITH…a fork.

  2. Kev on September 20th, 2008 1:26 am

    And now its all over does ANYONE know what the prize is ¿?

  3. Graham Kibble-White on September 20th, 2008 9:33 am

    I was lucky enough to interview Michel and Gregg before the series started. When Gregg arrived (late), he said to Michel, “I’ve heard…” “Heard?” said Michel. “Yeah,” said Gregg. “Heard you’ve taken on that Scottish lad”.

    So I’m guessing the prize for Derek was a job a Le Gavroche.

  4. David Evans on September 23rd, 2009 8:53 pm

    OH my god, what a joke, I have been watching all the masterchefs for a long time now, and never have seen such a disgusting result,. Michel Roux Jnr, you discust me by putting a woman through who served you 2 dishes, yes 2 dishess that were raw, not just under cooked but raw meet at the bones, whata a joke, actually the other 2 chefs boths served you raw dishes, How do they call them selves profesional, So much for health and safety when cooking.

  5. Iain Griffiths on September 25th, 2009 5:54 pm

    Hmm , as everyone on that quarter final was delivering undercooked meat I would suggest that its possible that there was a problem with the ovens (from memory of other series there isn’t much capacity as its not set up to be a professional kitchen, so maybe the gas pressure was down at the time. )
    as for the result – Marianne was by far the stand out candidate of that so its not surprising that she went through.

  6. Ben on October 23rd, 2009 10:28 am

    great show, but why not tell us what the prize is? also why end it so abruptly with no presentation of a trophy or anything apart from cheers with a glass of champagne. It was built up but then just ended !!

  7. Iain Griffiths on October 26th, 2009 7:21 pm

    Yes they never mention a prize in any of the shows (ok the celeb one is probably the kudos , but the others should have something …)

  8. Fi on November 18th, 2009 5:56 am

    Hi to all, am desperate to get recipe for the Mushroom risotto with the truffle infused brie on top, can anyone help thanks fi