||Job: Gastropub head chef
Final: Chef's three courses
Starter: Elderflower-marinated Pollock served with brown shrimp and elderflower beurre noisette, squid ink and malt vinegar crumble, white asparargus and mascarpone
Michel: “Looks beautiful, Anton – very, very smart, very elegant, it’s typical of you…
“Beautifully seasoned and perfectly cooked piece of Pollack, it’s just flaking off there, it’s wonderful. The squid ink and malt vinegar crumble works perfectly with that Pollack as well – it just adds that lovely bit of acidity. The little shrimps and the shrimp butter’s really nice. It’s excellent cooking, perfect seasoning.”
Gregg: “I’ve never really tasted anything quite like this dish. The whole thing melts in together – beautifully soft, buttery fishy, salty, aromatic delight.”
Main: Coco-marinated loin of venison, nettle ballotine stuffed with venison trim, pan-seared ox heart with spinach, wild mushrooms and gherkins, roasted beetroot, a celeriac purée and a dark chocolate jus
Michel: “Gosh, Anton – this is good. The venison is perfectly cooked, it’s got a lovely bitter exterior from the coco powder. The little nettle parcel – I find the stuffing absolutely glorious, absolutely fabulous. The sauce is just heavenly. It’s rich without being cloying or sticky. The little beetroot are absolutely packed with flavour. For me, it works. It’s a beautiful plate of art.”
Gregg: “This dish is not for the faint-hearted. It doesn’t give you a hug, it gets you in a bear-hug embrace. Honestly, mate, you are playing with some very, every bold flavours. The meatiness inside the nettles, and the strength of the nettle as well, I think is wonderful. The sauce with the venison is sweet, rich and sharp. And the pepper in there! It’s spicy, it’s hot, there’s sweetness in that dish – big bold, bad cooking.”
Dessert: Dark chocolate cylinder filled with caramel, a banana parfait coated in banana chips, with shards of honeycomb tuile and a banana bread disc, banana and yuzu juice purée, with roast banana, caramel dust and popping candy
Michel: “It looks great – that’s craftsmanship, that’s really nice. It’s strange, because you’ve got banana, you’ve got chocolate, you’ve got cream, you’ve got caramel – all the kind of things you would associate with being very rich and sticky and heavy. They’re not. That beautiful chocolate cylinder filled with caramel inside – it could be too sweet, but it’s actually not, it’s beautifully judged. The banana parfait is light, not too rich, there’s a bit of salt as well, and all these flavour notes work perfectly. It’s a very, very well-balanced dessert. I’m stumped for words.”
Gregg: “That is an absolutely amazingly brilliant taste sensation. Nothing is too sweet, nothing is too rich, everything is mellow, everything is for the diner. You can taste them all individually if you like, you could mash them all up together in a big bowl and stir it round and eat it with a ladle if you wanted, too. It’s an absolute work of art to look at. Mate, that is just a beautiful pudding to eat.”
Final: Chef's Fat Duck inventions
Main: Mackerel sous vide, mackerel ceviche with pickled gooseberries, radishes and shallots and tomato seeds
“This is a pretty nice looking plate. There’s a lot of colour there which is good; maybe a little too busy… I like the pickled veg, I think it goes well with the fish. The gooseberries – the freshness, the acidity – it’s really, really good. It’s the highlight of the dish for sure.”
“I’m very impressed. It’s not too over-complicated. On the time that was given to you, I think you’ve done very well.”
Dessert: Mascarpone with sweet and sour peaches, raspberry snow and caramelised hazelnuts and popcorn
“Wow. There’s definitely fresh raspberry going on there. Love it – the acidity’s brilliant, it’s great to find that in a dessert because sometimes they can get too heavy, too creamy. You’ve got your cream aspect in there with the mascarpone cream and the raspberries cut right through there. I love it.”
“I was a bit apprehensive about the popcorn but it really does work. Really good dish.”
Final: The master chefs
Main: Cajun-spiced lamb chump with braised lamb’s tongue on a squash purée served with yoghurt-glazed baby gem lettuce and lamb gravy
Michel Roux: “It smelled good and it tasted like food. It was a beautiful dish, as far as I’m concerned. Food which I’d like to eat any day, every day.”
Tom Kerridge: (The Hand and Flowers, 2 Michelin stars) “Main course today – absolutely stunning. Flavour-wise it was incredible. The lamb was cooked beautifully, and for this bunch of reprobates on this table to be mopping up the sauce with their bread, honestly – absolutely amazing.”
Final: Joint invention test
Starter: Spider crab salad with tomatoes, pickled chilis, deep-fried capers, pheasant egg and brown crabmeat mayonnaise and homemade bread
Final: Two course vegetarian invention test
Starter: Babaganoush-stuffed courgette flower topped with tzatziki with roasted baby aubergines, cumin-roasted buttered vegetables, salt-baked carrots and crispy flatbread
Michel: “For me, that’s how to dress a plate of food… The babaganoush is not babganoush for me – it’s lacking in a hint of garlic and almost the smokiness that it should have. Your aubergine purée is well-seasoned. The little flatbread that you’ve made is nice – it’s got spices going through it, it’s crunchy, crispy, it’s adding a wonderful texture to what otherwise is quite a soft plate of food. I am not a great fan of carrots – but they’re lovely! They’ve got such a lovely fragrancy to them and that comes from baking them in that fragrant salt that you made. It’s a delicious starter – one that you can pick at – and it works.”
Gregg: “Looks delightful, conjured up the flavours of north Africa really well. Well done, mate.”
Main: Herb-baked duck egg with béarnaise-glazed mushrooms, deep-fried Caerphilly cheese and tarragon crisps
Michel: “That looks good, that looks very good – good enough to dive in… The egg is perfectly cooked, absolutely perfect – that yolk is running all over the plate. That green crumb packs a real punch of herbs, the mushrooms underneath are meaty, well seasoned, the little cheese beignets are absolutely delicious. They really are quite pungent, quite strong, which I think this dish needs because egg can be quite bland. The béarnaise is perfect. Eating pleasure on this plate is great – it’s up there, it really is.”
Gregg: “Incredible, well done. Well done.”
Semi-final: Chef’s two courses
Main: Pigeon Wellington stuffed with pigeon liver duxelle, cep, Parma ham and spinach wrapped in filo pastry with a pan-fried pigeon breast, asparagus-stuffed morels, a cauliflower purée and a sweet sauce
Michel: “This looks like proper fine dining restaurant presentation. Very precise, beautiful cooking of the pigeon – you can see that’s nice and pink – the filo looks crispy and I like the fact that you’ve used the pigeon in its entirety...
"Great, great flavours going throughout this dish. The seasoning is just perfect. The pigeon is cooked beautifully and I love the little cylinder of Parma ham with the offal going through it. My only remark – and it really is my only one – is that you should not have put any truffle oil on the morel and asparagus. One tiny step – and I mean tiny step – too far. When you bite into that filo pastry there’s hint of thyme there as well, which explodes in the mouth. It’s really paying homage to this pigeon. It’s great cooking – great cooking – and a great balance of flavours.”
Gregg: “Stunning looking plate – look at the work in there. If that came out to me, I’d have such confidence in the kitchen. Fantastic… You cut into that soft, gamey meat – that’s beautiful, beautiful cooking. I didn’t think I’d like the filo pastry, I was worried about that, but there’s a slight little crunch on it, it’s holding all those other ingredients together, it’s a delightful little parcel. Throughout it all, you’ve got that beautiful sweet sauce. That is a delight. That is an indulgent, opulent absolute delight. There are times when I sit in restaurants and I have dishes like this when I actually would consider giving myself completely over to gluttony – and that’s one of them, that is beautiful food.”
Dessert: Peanut macaroon with raspberry jam, served with a mocha mousse, salted peanuts, raspberry jelly, Devonshire clotted cream and marinated and freeze-dried raspberries
Michel: “I sometimes put macaroons on as a dessert and not as a petit fours and that’s exactly how I present it, exactly – standing up like that, I think it looks great… I love the amount of work that you’ve put into this, and your ingenuity. The flavour’s great – I love that peanut butter and jam in there. I really like those raspberries, they’re delicious – the ones that you’ve steeped in the raspberry vinegar especially – and it’s delicious with the clotted cream. That’s a great addition to the plate. “
Gregg: “The macaroon with jam, peanut butter and coffee is a sensational flavour that I’ve never had before. Chocolate, coffee, macaroon, peanut butter, jam, raspberry, cream, salty peanut – you read it out, it shouldn’t work. It’s absolutely delightful. Very clever.”
Semi-final: Tom Kerridge’s signature dish
Roast duck breast with chips served with a mixture of peas, duck leg, shallots and little gem lettuce and a gravy sauce
Tom: “My initial reaction is it looks great. There’s a lovely glaze on top of the duck, looks like you’re rendered the fat out nicely, and the chips look great… Really good skin, you’ve worked on that really well. Sauce is nice and emulsified, quite thick, maybe reduced down a little too far. The chips are still crunchy, still crispy. The peas – although I think there’s too much in the pot, it tastes beautiful. Seasoned very nicely, you get the mint coming through. For me, this is a really, really, really good first attempt. I would have no problem with you being here. On last night’s service and today’s duck dish, I think you’ve done really, really well.”
Semi-final: Chef's own dish
Roast pork fillet rolled in splinters of crackling with apple purée, a black pudding scotch egg, pickled cherries, green beans wrapped in parma ham and a pork jus
Monica: “I love the look of this plate. I love that you’ve made your egg look like an apple. It looks fun."
Gregg: “I especially like that black pudding scotch egg. I really like that irony yolk with that peppery black pudding round it, but I was scraping around for a little bit more sauce for the pork."
Michel: "Really nice fillet of pork, well seasoned. I like the fact that you basted it as well – it adds another flavour, another texture. It’s delicious. The cherries, soused in a bit of vinegar and mustard seeds, and your apple – all flavour combinations that work."
Quarter-final: The Critics
Main: Roast Creedy Carver duck breast with glazed duck hearts, broccolli purée, ale-braised carrots, hog’s pudding fritter and asparagus
Jay Rayner: “The most important thing here is there’s two big hunks of duck with proper caramelised skin, and once you’ve seen that you think everything else is gonna be alright...
“The little duck hearts throw a tiny bit of offaly bitterness in there. It’s a very good idea. He’s full of good ideas, isn’t he? Do you think we could take him home?”
Tracey MacLeod: “Oh wow, carrots that taste of beer, it’s amazing isn’t it? This duck is like a masterclass. It’s fantastic, the meat is beautifully tender, there’s a lovely layer of fat and then crisp, crisp, crisp. Everythng on the plate is just bursting wth flavour. It’s fantastic.”
Wiliam Sitwell: “The hog’s pudding fritter – which I’ve never had before, which is a revelation – is phenomenally good. Mixing the pork with the duck is brilliant. This is the sort of dish I dream of having on this show. It’s fantastic. It’s the sort of dish you tell all your friends about.”
Dessert: "Carrot cake" – chocolate soil with popping candy, cream cheese icing and glazed carrots
Tracey MacLeod: “You start with this light powdery rubble, the chocolate soil, which has got all these little bits of popping candy in it so your mouth is fizzing, then a lovely creamy layer of cheesecake frosting and then the warm, spice-scented cake, and then these little glazed crunchy carrots. It’s just full of surprises and full of interest and I could carry on eating it for ever.”
William Sitwell: “The thing about dishes in this genre of craziness is that fundamentally they have to taste good, and this really does.”
Jay Rayner: “This is witty, smart – and it works. It really works.”
Quarter-final: Invention test
Guinea fowl five ways – ballotine, confit leg, roasted wing, fritter, crispy skin. Marsala-roasted red onions; butter bean, carrot-top and bacon fricassée; butter bean and mushroom purée; cep and guinea fowl gravy
Michel: “It looks great, it’s visually very pleasing. It shows an incredible amount of work. What I like is that you've used every part of the guinea fowl, there’s been absolutely no waste. You croquette of guinea fowl is really moist, well cooked, crispy on the outside and a lovely scent of tarragon going through it. Your sauce is very, very rich and deep in flavour and reduced down to the right consistency. For me, the skin is a bit of a letdown. It’s slightly overcooked and therefore bitter. The end result is a very good plate of food – couple of errors."
Gregg: “I absolutely love it. To get confit really moist bits, to get crispy bits, to get a ballotine, to get that lovely meat with tarragon running through it – mate, I don’t know how you get this stuff done in an hour but keeping doing it ‘cos that to me was great."
Round 2: Chef’s classic dish
Mackerel two ways – pan-fried fillet, deep-fried tail wrapped in bread with Marmite on a chorizo, tomato and gooseberry jam. Mashed Jersey Royals with capers and chives, apple purée, samphire, black pudding crumble, radishes, pickled onions, pea shoots and gooseberries
Gregg: “That looks fantastic! That looks absolutely fantastic! You’ve taken a humble mackerel and given it superstar status…
“As a customer, mate, that is an absolute triumph. You’ve got a little bit of apple there with black pudding that gives it earthiness. Beautifully sweet, lovely bit of mackerel, I love your jam – the sweet jam with a little bit of smokey chorizo. You’ve then got a little treat of really creamy potatoes that have got a slight bit of citrus in them. It’s just lovely. It’s like a box of little gifts."
Michel: “There’s a lot going on on this plate with the pickled onions, the gooseberries, the jam – a lot of acidity. You just about get away with it. So balance-wise I think you’re just there. Textures: fantastic – you’ve got soft and you’ve got creamy, you’ve got crunchy, it’s all there. It’s a clever dish. I like your imagination, I like where you’re going.”
Round 2: Michel’s classic dish
Beignets à la crème – crème patissier, deep fried in a tempura batter and served with a selection of fruit garnishes
Michel: “We’ve got scraps and runny crème pat. I will have a taste… The batter is really light and crisp, the scraps are delicious. Such a shame that the cream inside is liquid. The raspberries, a little bit tart, the mango sweet, the crunch of the sugar caramel, would have worked. Such a letdown not having a beignet to dip into the garnish.”
Round 1: Invention test
Deconstructed peach crumble – a roasted peach, peach skin filled with goat’s cheese and lemon mousse, thyme and walnut crumble, caramelised sugar and a peach purée
Monica: “That is a lovely plate, Anton. I look at this plate and I want to know a bit more about you... It looked wonderful and it tasted just as good. Great dessert, Anton, I’d happily let Michel try it."
Gregg: “Peach juice and the thyme in the goat’s cheese with a really soft peach and some wlanuts is just delicious. There’s crunchy texture on there – it’s really, really lovely."
Meet the rest of the semi-finalists and enjoy a load of tasty features at our MasterChef page