Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Knock Out Week - Round 1

The last few weeks have truly been amazing. I know that sounds cliche but at the start I never imagined it would be like this. People have been so lovely and supportive and the reaction I get the most from them is "it looks really stressful!". I reply with a resounding "yes, yes it is!". Despite all of the stress and all of the pressure being part of the MasterChef process has confirmed my love of cooking rather than put me off!

So to Knock Out Week! The competition started with 64 people now 14 of us remain all vying for a place in the semi-finals. Round 1 if you like was to a brief set by John and Gregg to design and cook a dish inspired by a Family Favourite or from a Childhood Memory. We were then split into two groups blue aprons and red aprons.
Feeling very positive after the great feedback I had from the food critic and all round legend Amol Rajan in the Quarterfinals I decided to merge both options and go for a trio of dessert inspired by my early childhood, a family favourite and to recreate a dessert served at my wedding . Very much going with the more is more ethos!

The dish comprised of a papaya sorbet as mentioned inspired by my early childhood in Kenya. I was born in Nairobi and one of my earliest food memories was eating fruit! Lots and lots of fruit and although mangoes were a firm favorite too it is papaya that always reminds me of this time in my life. 

Hey you guys!
The next element was a kheer, essentially a spiced rice pudding which is a firm favourite in most Indian family households! The difference here compared to the rice pudding we all know is that it is made with basmati rice and heavily spiced and sweetened. The very definition of comfort food and again invokes such great memories of growing up. 

One of my first birthday parties in Kenya.
Lastly a chocolate samosa! Inspired by the dessert we had at our wedding which is almost 5 years ago to the day! We were very lucky to have the talented and lovely Chef Anand George cook at our wedding and he made the chocolate samosa on the big day. I wanted to pay homage to this thing of beauty that is a chocolate samosa and celebrate my 5th wedding anniversary!

So a fair bit to do! Get the sorbet set, smooth and tasting of papaya, then cooking the kheer in time and getting the spicing and the sweetness just right and making sure the brulee top was set and crunchy and finally handling filo pastry in that heat, making and cooling a dark chocolate ganache, folding then filling the filo to create the samosa, then frying it! So much to do in an hour and a half and no time to mess it up and do it again! Classic MasterChef!

I felt a lot different about being back in the kitchen this time an element of having been in that environment before, knowing where things were (as simple as that sounds it makes all the difference) and a little bit used to the process involved in making a show like MasterChef.

As the only contestant in the Blue Team to cook a dessert I was anxious about the critique. Well, to say that I'm over the moon with the feedback I got from John and Gregg is an understatement! To get such positive comments from both judges was incredible and to me it felt like I had earned my right to be there! It's the first time in the whole competition I actually enjoyed myself and allowed myself a proper moment of pure joy! I think the way I smiled said it all! I'm very critical of myself so when good things like this happen you just have to roll with it! As I mentioned in previous blog posts we don't actually get to hear what John and Gregg say when they are deliberating who goes through until it's on the TV, so again I was so happy with the comments!

After both teams had cooked it was time for the line up and like clock work the nerves, knot in the stomach feeling and surge of adrenaline were all back. Heart beating away and mouth dry. Then came the icing on the cake, to be called out as an OUTSTANDING cook was just mind blowing! Things like this don't happen every day!

To be in the final 12 of MasterChef is more than I could ever have imagined at the start! YES!
Once again I'd like to thank everyone for all their support over the last few weeks the people of Cardiff and Wales have been incredible! Truly humbled! Thank you!

Knock Out Week continues on Wednesday the 26th and I'm on Thursday the 27th of April 8pm on BBC One.

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