In episode 7, the remaining MasterChef contestants stage a ‘pop-up’ restaurant Summer Supper experience for diners selected through listeners to MasterChef Ireland’s radio partner, 2fm and its morning show The Colm Hayes Show.
Running their pop-up from The Old Schoolhouse beside The Cake Café in Pleasants Place in Dublin 8, their ingredients were chosen by Giles Clark, a young English chef making waves in food circles both in Ireland and the UK. Giles believes that there should be as much time and attention into sourcing produce as in cooking them. He believes that you cannot understand ingredients fully, without knowing the agriculture that has brought them to where they are.
Giles chose the best of seasonal ingredients from Irish artisan producers, which he hoped would inspire the contestants whilst respecting the ingredients. They had to use their own imagination and flair and translate Giles’s purchases into a four-course menu to a group of 35 diners at their Pop-Up Summer Supper.
The contestants were divided into groups of two and had to choose a course each. They were cooking at Michelle Darmody’s Cake Cafe kitchen, and serving their diners at The Old Schoolhouse.
Nicha and Tamarin teamed up to create a starter for the diners –Onion soup with a sour dough crouton and shavings of cured egg yolk with a parsley oil.
Sinead and Brian looked after the fish course and decide to do cured sea trout with deconstructed piccalilli.
Andy and Fidelma took on the challenge of the meat course, cooking belly of lamb poached in Mead, steamed spring vegetables and pickled walnuts.
Jacinta and Terry focussed on the dessert and choose a vanilla and elderflower panna cotta.
The contestants had three hours to prepare and cook their dish, before serving up to the foodies selected through the Colm Hayes show on 2fm.
Diners were impressed with their soup starter, as were the MasterChef Judges, Giles and Michelle, who commended the use of the ingredients, as well as the presentation.
Next up were Brian and Sinead, who served up their fish course to the hungry diners. Under pressure, they ran out of time to do a trial presentation of their dish and were left designing their dish in front of the diners. However, Brian’s eye for detail was noted by Dylan who called him ‘an incredible talent’.
Fidelma and Andy’s main lamb dish was a huge success amongst diners, with many choosing the dish as their favourite. The judges however weren’t as complementary. Dylan felt if he was fed the dish in the dark he would like the taste but he is really not happy with the presenatation. He disliked the baby potatoes with their skins left on and the over cooked vegetables. All criticised the presentation of the dish – this was a concern that Nick and Dylan have repeatedly made at Andy’s dishes.
Terry and Jacinta were concerned that their panna cotta wouldn’t set in the allocated time. And without exception the diners didn’t like the consistency of the dish.
With all courses served, the 8 finalists then faced the Judges in the MasterChef Kitchen. The following day saw the 8 finalists receive their first MasterChef Masterclass from Finnish Chef Mickael Viljanen of The Greenhouse Restaurant on Dawson Street in Dublin – one of the country’s most exceptional cooking talents. Mickael showed them one of his signature dishes, ‘hay-smoked pigeon with beetroot, chicory and grapes’. They then had to recreate this dish for Mickael and the MasterChef Judges.
With so much detail, the contestants were under real pressure to replicate the delicate dish. They had to be careful not to overcook the pigeon and to time manage themselves perfectly. Many were cooking with ingredients and using techniques they have never used before.
With three hours to cook, the pressure was on and every second counted. Some contestants struggle more than others. In the last few minutes, the panic kicked in with some and they struggle to recreate the look of the dish.
Andy: At tastings, Dylan was critical again of his presentation, which has been a downfall of Andy’s throughout the competition. Mickael felt the sauce was over-reduced, but his pigeon and beetroot were well cooked.
Nicha: Nick felt Nicha did a great job in recreating the dish. Mickael thought it was a very clean plate and wonderfully flavoured. Dylan thought for her to have this sort of flair as an amateur, she should be very proud.
Sinead: Sinead burned her hand with oil during cooking, and so struggled in the last twenty minutes. At tasting, Dylan felt that the dish needed more salt and the sauces were lacking.
Jacinta: Nick felt that the puree was too grainy and would have liked more smoking on the pigeon. Mickael would have also liked more seasoning on Jacinta’s dish.
Tamarin: Tamarin struggled to pace herself in the three hour cooking time, but at tastings Michael criticised her puree for being too coarse. However, she was happy with the dish herself having recreated it for the first time.
Brian: Nick said there should be more finesse in Brian’s presentation. Dylan felt that his pigeon was one of the better smoked of the day.
Fidelma: Fidelma struggled in preparation of the pigeon, and the judges pick up at this at tastings. Dylan felt that there were certain elements that were just not ‘up to scratch’ with over reducing her sauce and being heavy handed with other elements.
Terry: A confident Terry was annoyed at tastings at the judges’ criticisms and felt it was very harsh. Nick said the pigeon was bland and it was one of his weakest dishes. Mickael was also very critical, saying that the mushrooms were raw and seasoning was also lacking. Dylan felt that he was lacking the passion to bring the dish together.
In the end, it was Andy who was eliminated by the judges, who didn’t doubt his passion for flavour but lacked the finesse to continue in the competition.
“I think I got out while the going was good,” Andy said. “I am a good homecook... MasterChef I’m not sure!”