It was the culmination of a journey as Deena and Sue-Ann faced off for the title of South Africa’s first MasterChef.
The finale kicked off with an opulent meal prepared by the judges at Monte Casino’s MondoVino restaurant. During the meal, it dawned on the contestants just how much was at stake. Both made huge sacrifices to enter the competition and had reached the point where all of their culinary dreams could come true.
Dinner was an opulent affair, but the next day it was back to the MasterChef kitchen, where Deena and Sue-Ann, cheered on by the returning top 20, faced a trifecta of MasterChef challenges: a Mystery Box, an Invention Test and finally, the dreaded Pressure Test.
Their first task was to prepare a starter from a Mystery Box containing a stunning array of seasonal veggies, but no meat. Deena admitted that he was thrown by the challenge, but decided to go all out and use as many of the Mystery Box ingredients as possible for his medley of vegetables. Sue-Ann, meanwhile took the opposite approach; her beetroot and goat cheese samosas with crispy fried vegetables and herbed mayonnaise was aiming to be a simple, focused plate of food.
Both Deena and Sue-Ann executed their starters well; Andrew loved Sue-Ann’s herbed mayonnaise, while Pete praised Deena’s parsnip puree. However, Deena drew criticism for his jarring inclusion of raw radish, while Sue-Ann’s crispy vegetables flopped due to overcooking.
On to the next challenge: the invention test. Sue-Ann and Deena were given full access to the MasterChef pantry and instructed to prepare a main to follow their starter. Both contestants seemed relieved to get their hands on some protein; Sue-Ann chose to prepare a poached fillet of beef with jus and vegetables while Deena went for a loin of lamb encrusted with fresh coriander.
Once again it was too close to call, with both dishes eliciting divided opinions from the judges. Andrew liked Sue-Ann’s cooking method, but Pete felt that her fillet lacked flavour. And, while he described Deena’s lamb “a winner”, Andrew felt that his dish didn’t “marry together on the plate”.
With the two finalists still neck-in-neck, it was on to the pressure test, where they were challenged to prepare “a South African classic recreated as a fine-dining dessert”. The dish consisted of a deconstructed milk tart with a base of cinnamon and apple gel, topped with caramelized fennel seeds and a spun sugar spiral and served with a baby basil and apple moes.
The contestants were given 105 minutes to prepare the dish, and it pushed them to their absolute limits. In the end, both put up plates of food they could be proud of, although each had it’s fair share of mistakes. Deena’s gel lacked depth and finesse, while the same could be said of Sue-Ann’s milk tart filling. Sue-Ann also failed to get her spun sugar spiral done, after burning her pastry and having to start over.
It was an incredibly close end to an incredibly tough competition. The tension was visible as the judges announced the result, with Deena taking the crown as South Africa’s first MasterChef!
The competition may be over, but we've been left with a legacy of fantastic recipes and some truly memorable moments. For all this and more, check out the official MasterChef South Africa website.
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