In last night’s programme, the seven remaining MasterChef contestants had their palates tested in the ultimate taste test using molecular gastronomy - the science behind the art of cooking, from Juan Valverde, scientist and molecular gastronomist and top Dublin chef Karl Whelan, who has cooked in some of the best 2 and 3* Michelin restaurants in the world. Warning! Spoiler Alert!
With thirteen flavours to be tested, each changed through molecular gastronomy into different guises, the contestants had to ensure that their tastebuds were sharp.
Each contestant was tested individually. The lowest scoring contestant had to sit on the chair at the end of the table, whilst the others get to observe nearby.
The flavours were: Blue Cheese, Rosemary, Apple, Smoked salmon, capers, dill, beetroot, grapefruit, caramel, lentil and mushroom, and lastly lychee and rose.
Fidelma took on the taste challenge first and guessed just 5 out of the 13 flavours. She had to sit on the stool at the end of the table, until someone scored less and replaced her.
Sinead was up next and she scored 6 out of the 13 flavours – which remained the highest score of the test.
Nicha, whose palate has consistently impressed Nick and Dylan, also struggled with the task, and only identified 5 of the 13 flavours. She joined Fidelma at the end of the table.
Tamarin was up next and found the task difficult also, also only identifying 5 of the flavours. She felt nerves got the better of her and it wasn’t a true representation of her palate.
Brian took his turn and after going through all the flavours, a weak taste test meant he also joined the three girls on 5.
Jacinta however really struggled on the taste challenge, only scoring 1 flavour correctly from 13 flavours. As the lowest scoring contestant, she had to sit on the chair, while other four are were clear to join Sinead.
Terry was last to take the test, and only scored 4, but still ahead of Jacinta, who is the lowest scoring of the group.
All clearly intrigued and frustrated at the reveal of what the actual flavours were, the Judges sent them home to think more about flavours and how important they are to the palate, telling them they must be back in the MasterChef Kitchen the following morning, where those skills would be put to the test.
The next morning the Judges introduced their next challenge – the contestants had to do a task that would challenge them more about the understanding of flavour and the importance of using quality products to get the best flavours.
They introduced them to Kieran Murphy of Murphy’s Ice-cream in Dingle, who believes in using the very best in quality indigenous ingredients in his ice-creams and sorbets to ensure that flavour is always maximised.
In the MasterChef kitchen following their task the previous day identifying flavours, Kieran taught the 7 contestants about the importance of marrying flavours together.
Kieran also gave them a little flavour test, firstly with two sorbets – one he has made with a cheap bottle of sparkling wine, the second with an expensive bottle of Bollinger.
Again, Jacinta fell down at this taste test, choosing the cheap wine, whilst the rest correctly identify the expensive Bollinger. Kieran then talked them through flavours that work very well with sorbets and ice-cream.
Kieran then stepped them through a Sorbet masterclass, showing off one of his signature sorbets – ‘Rain’, made with clover, nettle, peat-smoked sugar and porter, before taking them through the process of making the best quality ice-cream and how to get a creamy ice-cream, and ensuring that they infuse the flavours correctly.
With their Masterclass complete, the Judges set the contestants their next cooking challenge – creating a dessert that is accompanied by either an ice-cream or a sorbet. The contestants had to think about the flavours they were using and create a plate of food that marries beautifully together.
With a pantry full of the best quality products, the contestants had just ten minutes to choose the flavours and ingredients they want to use to create the ultimate sweet treat.
With some of the contestants not hugely confident cooking desserts, they were naturally nervous and had to think carefully about the flavours they use together.
With just two hours to cook a dessert and create an accompanying sorbet or ice-cream, the challenge was immense for our 7 finalists.
Tamarin cooked a Pineapple cake, with black peppercorn, ginger and rooibos tea ice-cream with a pineapple crisp. Dylan gave her high praise and said he would love to eat the whole dessert. For ice-cream expert Kieran, he was surprised at the black pepper in the ice-cream, which he thought worked really well.
Jacinta: Basil and lime sorbet rolled in bee pollen, passionfruit tart with spiced chocolate-coated raspberries. Nick liked her sorbet, but felt her passionfruit tart ruined the flavours from the sorbet. Dylan felt the dish didn’t join and that she really needed to learn how to refine.
Nicha served the Judges coconut ice-cream with a mango puree ripple, poached pear and frangipane tart with dragonfruit and mango balls in a spiced syrup and toasted almonds. Kieran felt that she could have taken more risk and brought it up another level. Nick thought it was a beautiful plate of food, whilst Dylan described it as ‘fantastic’.
Sinead created a plum tart, with plum puree and star anise and cinnamon ice-cream. Nick liked her ice-cream and found it nice and subtle and worked well with her tart. Dylan also liked her dish and thought she had done well.
Terry served the judges chocolate and raspberry tart, raspberry jellies and a vanilla icecream dressed with olive oil, Maldon sea salt and pecan crumb. Dylan felt the only part of his dish that didn’t work was the level of chocolate in his tart, he found it too chocolatey. Nick also felt that the chocolate was too bitter and overpowered the dish.
Brian cooked a treacle and orange pudding accompanied with a lemon and honey ice-cream in a blackberry soup. Kieran wished that Brian had served more ‘soup’ with the dessert, whilst Dylan thought the dish was not up to scratch.
Fidelma’s offering was peach and frangipane tart, with rosemary and honey ice-cream and rosemary praline. Dylan was very critical, as the frangipane tart was not cooked and would not eat it. Nick liked the idea of the flavours she was trying to combine and felt it was a shame it didn’t work out.
In picking his worst and best, Kieran chose Fidelma’s as the worst dish, whilst both Nicha and Tamarin drew praise for their ice-cream flavour creations.
At judging, Nick and Dylan commended the seven contestants for getting this far, but warned them that the competition is about to get tougher. They informed Fidelma she is going no further in the MasterChef competition and must hang up her apron.
In a shock elimination, the Judges then revealed that Jacinta’s time is also up and must also leave the competition.
Though disappointed, both girls vowed to keep cooking and building on what they’ve learned during their time in the MasterChef Kitchen.