Tensions ran high as a usually stoic Berdina Schurink succumbed to the intensity of the MasterChef kitchen in a pressure test that she should have sailed through.
In this week’s jam-packed episode of MasterChef SA, tensions ran high as a usually stoic Berdina Schurink succumbed to the intensity of the MasterChef kitchen in a pressure test that she should have sailed through. Berdina was the third contestant to be eliminated from the MasterChef competition.
At the start of episode 5, the Top 16 arrived at the Nederburg wine farm for their first team challenge.
Upon meeting the judges, the contestants were presented with an intimidating row of long, set tables as the judges broke the news: in order to celebrate the wine estate’s recent harvest, they would be cooking in teams for 40 esteemed guests, each of whom are involved in the harvesting and wine-making processes at Nederburg. The contestants were tasked to cook a two-course family platter style meal worthy of a harvest celebration!
In an unusual twist, the teams were told that the guests would be judging the food, not the judges! 40 strangers would be deciding their fate.
Samantha and Manisha, the winners of the previous Mystery Box challenge, were the team captains and chose the following teams: heading up the red team, Samantha picked Sue-Ann, Guy, Ilse, Thys, Sarel, Brandon and Babalwa.
Manisha selected Jade, Berdina, Lungile, Deena, Lwazi, Mmutsi and Khaya for the blue team. The teams were given two hours to produce a harvest celebration and from the get-go, the blue team were very clear about what their menu would entail.
Samantha’s red team, on the other hand, gathered almost every possible ingredient from the MasterChef pantry before settling on their final dish selections.
At the blue team’s workstation Manisha briefed her team on the starter she had planned – grilled ostrich on ciabatta bread with rocket and a cherry sauce, made by Jade. Manisha consulted with best friend Berdina about a second starter, but they decided that one dish was enough for the first course.
Berdina swiftly began preparing a mushroom and white wine sauce for one of the main courses – sous vide chicken, stuffed with cranberries and almonds. The second dish for their main course was apricot-stuffed quail with new potatoes and asparagus spears.
On the opposite end of the Nederburg manor lawn, the red team eagerly awaited instructions from their captain, Samantha. She finally decided on making a tapas-style main course, consisting of Asian spiced pork shoulder and cubed beef fillet in a red wine sauce.
She also wanted sweets-expert Thys to create two amazing desserts – berry phyllo parcels and pear and nectarine pastries – for their second course, but Sue-Ann worried that the guests would be kept waiting for too long for the main and dessert courses. Would time be on their side in this important challenge?
The pressure was on as the guests started arriving. Determined to send their starters out first, blue team captain Manisha sent charming Khaya to serve the guests. Sarel interacted with the guests on behalf of the red team, but their food was still far from ready to be served.
The judges also doubted whether the red team’s pork would be done in time and when Andrew checked on it, he discovered that it was still way too rare when it came off the grill. Unimpressed, he promptly instructed Samantha that she could not serve it to the guests and that they had no choice but to recook it properly.
But the blue team were not without their dramas either! After serving the stuffed quail, Khaya returned to the kitchen to report that guests were complaining about “raw quail”. Manisha took it upon herself to apologise to the guests while Deena quickly rectified the matter by placing the quails back on the grill, chuckling nervously that “the customer is always right!”
While Samantha’s team were still struggling to get their second dishes out, the guests began to cast some votes for the organised blue team, causing panic. But this was short-lived as the red team started serving Thys’s impressive desserts! As the old adage goes, the proof is in the pudding, and the red team narrowly clinched the first team challenge when a satisfied guest cast the winning 21st vote.
The red team’s narrow victory thanks to Thys’s desserts meant that they could all attend the very first MasterClass of the show with Michael Broughton from Terroir restaurant. The visibly disappointed blue team, on the other hand, would compete in a Pressure Test that would see one of them leaving the MasterChef Kitchen for good.
The following morning, Samantha’s red team attended Michael Broughton’s MasterClass where he demonstrated an ingenious poaching and searing technique, using kabeljou and butter. The contestants received a sage reminder that they should keep their food simple, but cook it brilliantly, in order to succeed.
Once the MasterClass was over, the blue team were ushered into the kitchen for the dreaded Pressure Test, where they were met by Judge Andrew who informed them that only 3 of them would be taking part in the test.
Clearly shocked by this news, they had no idea what was about to happen next: Andrew informed them that the team members themselves had to decide which three contestants were the weakest links in the previous day’s team challenge.
After deliberating for 2 minutes, a clearly rattled team captain Manisha nominated Berdina, Mmutsi and herself for the Pressure Test.
As the other members of the blue team escaped to the safety of the gallery, the judges introduced the guest chef whose dish would have to be replicated in the Pressure Test: none other than Coco Reinharz, owner and executive chef of Sel et Poivre and Le Petit Sel restaurants in Morningside, Johannesburg.
Coco’s roots lie in Burundi and Belgium, and his food is inspired by this duality. His signature dish is North African lamb with an aniseed and cumin jus, artichokes, baba ganoush and bread crumbs – a fusion of African flavours and European flair which would test the three Pressure Test candidates to their limits, except perhaps for Berdina whose strong suit was in fact making lamb.
Manisha, Mmutsi and Berdina only had 90 minutes in which to re-create Coco’s dish and the pressure was on from the start. From the gallery, Deena observed that Berdina was cutting her rack of lamb like a skillful surgeon and Berdina admitted to the judges that she was very comfortable with frenching lamb and cooking it, just like she did during the show’s initial Hot Auditions.
Manisha, on the other hand, was not feeling confident at all, but she did not regret nominating herself into the Pressure Test. “I led the group and if I was in my own restaurant I would have to take the responsibility if things go wrong,” she explained.
Mmutsi was extremely concerned about cooking her lamb to medium, as called for by the delicate recipe. In fact, she is used to cooking her meat well done, “until it is dead!”
Time was of the essence in this challenge, but Berdina spent most of it cleaning and frenching the entire rack of lamb, even though she only required one piece for the dish! Halfway through the challenge, Berdina realized that she was running behind schedule, and the panic soon set in.
As the clock ticked away into the final minutes, the Bottom 3 scrambled to gather all the necessary elements onto their plates. When Berdina finally cut through her meat it was extremely undercooked, but there was absolutely no time in which to rectify the matter.
At the tasting, an astonished Mmutsi received rave reviews from the judges. Next up was Manisha, who admitted to the judges that she was not entirely happy with the state of her plate.
Predictably, they had some mixed comments for Manisha before calling Berdina up to the table. Guest judge Coco complimented her on her “picture perfect” presentation, but then Pete cut through the meat to discover it was very underdone. When asked, Berdina acknowledged that being picked for the Pressure Test gave her confidence a huge knock. “This is something I would usually cook very well,” she conceded.
At the end of the episode, a defeated Berdina’s raw meat was simply one mistake too many and the judges asked for her apron.
MasterChef Press Release via TVSA