TV Review: MasterChef: the Professionals, BBC2

Gregg makes a meal of it but Monica and the wanabees whip up a treat

Little bite-sized morsels of cookery competition are being served up for our delectation from Mondays to Thursdays on BBC2 in MasterChef: the Professionals. In yesterday's half-hour, we began a new heat with a fresh batch of eight contestants and still only one of them was a woman. Only about 20 per cent of professional chefs in the UK are female, but at least MasterChef has one asset to help redress the gender imbalance: the brilliantly no-nonsense Le Gavroche sous chef, Monica Galetti. It was Monica's turn to set the challenge, so she asked the contestants to demonstrate their key skills by devising a dish from store cupboard staples, plus seven ingredients: pomegranate, caped gooseberries, cucumber, pistachios, endive, sardines and camembert.

"Cheesy fish is not something we want," said her co-host, Gregg Wallace, demonstrating one of his own key skills: stating the bleeding obvious. Luckily, Galetti's creativity was ready to soar above Wallace's leaden imagination. She showed him and us what was possible by whipping up a quick pistachio parfait with lemon shortbread biscuit and a thyme syrup.

One contestant, Liam, did defy Gregg's warning, combining sardine with camembert. Gregg christened the result "that blinkin' potato mess with the cheese on it", but it wasn't even the most revolting dish of the night. That honour went to Maria from Poland and her sardines served with both hollandaise and tomato salsa. The mind boggles and the stomach churns.

We tune in for the food fails, but there was also some real culinary talent on display last night. Steven, the 26-year-old son of two professional chefs, had a pleasingly humble manner and a clever idea. While the other contestants were combining bizarre flavours in a desperate bit to impress, he cooked the same sardines three different ways: roasted sardine, cured sardine and a sardine tartar.

Then there was Sean, 31, a big-headed pastry chef who alerted us to his egomania with the time-honoured tell: "A lot of people say I'm too modest," before going on to list his multiple character strengths. Sean's thyme-infused panna cotta was too bouncy (there's nothing worse than a bouncy panna cotta), but at least he had nerve enough to chance a dessert while everyone else was playing it safe with savoury.

So who got sent home at the end? No one. That's the problem with a format that drags the drama out over a whole four days; there's no natural finale to round off each show. Instead, Gregg stated the obvious once more – "Still a lot of competition to come!" – and then everyone just sloped off camera.

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea