In this programme, the Final 5 took to the high seas to the smallest and most easterly of the Aran Islands, Inis Oirr. At sunrise and before high tide they met with local man Enda Conneely from the South Aran Cookery School who taught them how to forage on the seashore.
Under pressure from the tide, the contestants sought out limpets, various sea vegetables, including sea spaghetti, sea lettuce and different seaweeds, and learned how to use them in their cooking.
Enda then gave a cooking demonstration on the seashore using the contestants’ foraged ingredients and showed them how they can be cooked and used in various ways.
However it was not all fresh air and sunshine for our amateur cooks as they had to get back in the heat of the MasterChef kitchen for their 3rd Masterclass – from 2* Michelin Fish Chef Nathan Outlaw from Cornwall who taught them firstly how to fillet a salmon. Using the finest Irish farmed organic salmon – Clare Island Salmon – who produce some of the world’s best salmon. A protégé of Rick Stein, Nathan takes them through the steps; descaling, filleting, deboning and pinboning, and creating 18 perfect fillets. Nathan has his own unique way of filleting a fish, using a serrated kitchen knife. The contestants watched carefully as they were then tasked with doing the same at their own pods, and trying to ensure that they also create perfect fillets.
The contestants then were faced with the immense task of filleting their own salmon. They then must take what they’ve learned from their island foraging and put it to use as they try and recreate Nathan’s dish. Whilst they are not being timed, Nathan will be reviewing each of them as soon as they are finished.
For some contestants, the task proved harder than for others. Finishing first was Nicha, who earned high praise from Nathan for her skills. Brian who finished 2nd last was criticised by Nathan for some of his filleted pieces, whilst Tamarin who finished last was called up for her ‘heavy-handedness’ with scaling her fish.
After a tough morning’s work, things then just got harder. Nathan gave the 5 contestants the ultimate fish masterclass, cooking a piece of the Clare Island salmon he filleted.
He taught them one of his signature dishes – ‘Roast Salmon with crab mayonnaise and sea vegetables’. Firstly he showed them how to make a really good crab stock, before showing them how to pick down a crab. He showed them how to make a mayonnaise, which he used in two ways – with the crab and also, quite uniquely, as a warm mayonnaise sauce.
The contestants then selected their best piece of salmon and replicated Nathan’s dish. They had 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete the task.
With the stock taking the longest, it was imperative that the contestants got this prepared and simmering as soon as they could. With no room for error, the contestants really were tested to the last with this task. The final ten minutes proved crucial, with all the elements coming together and, of course, making sure that the salmon was cooked perfectly.
Terry said it was the task that he enjoyed the most, but is the one he was most nervous about. Nathan found the sauce slightly salty, but found his salmon cooked well and fennel cooked perfectly.
Tamarin also was the most nervous she had been throughout her MasterChef journey at tastings. Nick found a tiny bit of shell from her crab, which bothered Tamarin. Nathan thought that the sauce was very good and lots of flavour coming through. Dylan also said that the dish is well cooked and that she has done a good day’s work.
For Brian, Dylan was critical of his dish. The sauce was split and the detailing was just not up to scratch. Nathan said that his salmon was nicely cooked but his eye for detail wasn’t there. Nick felt that he had let himself down and was capable of much more. It was the most negative criticism that Brian had received in the competition and he found it tough.
Nicha found eggs in her crab and added them to the presentation of her dish as she felt it was a shame to leave them out. Nick loved her dish and said he would pay for it in a restaurant. Nathan loved that she used the recipe but also used her own imagination and added the eggs. Dylan thought the sauce was beautiful and she had really captured the depth.
The judges were very critical of Sinead’s dish. Dylan felt the dish was far too salty. Nathan found a big bit of cartilage in her dish also. He was critical of her sauce and her garnishes. Nick was also critical and said her dish ‘looks like a swamp’ and the enjoyment of the dish was ‘non-existent’.
After deliberations with Nathan, the Judges give their decision – the end had come for Sinead’s MasterChef journey and she had to hang up her apron.
A disappointed Sinead was still delighted that she made it to the Final 5 and will continue to chase her foodie dreams.