MasterChef: The Professionals 2012 finalists – Keri Moss

From pan-roasted brioche pudding with sautéed pears to roasted cannon and rack of lamb with wild mushroom and white bean cassoulet, Keri's dish-by-dish journey...

Keri Moss
Age: 40 Job: Head chef      From: London

Final: Chef’s three courses


Starter: Mackerel tartar with crispy quail eggs, marinated cucumber cubes , prosciutto crisps, horse radish sour cream and a green apple vinaigrette

Michel: “This is a really beautiful plate Keri, absolutely stunning. It looks like a little rock garden, really wonderful…

“I think it looks beautiful and it actually tastes even better. It really does.  I’ve never had a mackerel tartar with a little bit of smoked mackerel in it – and it’s just a hint – but it lifts the whole taste of mackerel and it works, it’s lovely. And then when you bite into the tartar you just occasionally get a crunch of apple as well and then it’s anther flavour. And the apple dressing is sweet, sour and it’s a perfect accompaniment. So it’s got the texture, it’s got the flavour, it’s got the look. What can I say? Just ‘well done Keri,’ great, brilliant, love it.”

Gregg: “The unmistakable oily, fresh strength if mackerel, matched brilliantly with little sharp buts of apple. Texture comes from the crisp ham, you’re made the egg crispy – that’s perfectly seasoned as well – and it’s stunningly good… It really, really is fantastic.”

Main: Chinese five-spiced duck breast, confit duck leg cubes and duck sausage with roasted pak choi, spiced baby beets, spring onions and a duck jus

Michel: “A very beautiful plate of food again, Keri. A lot of thought has gone into this presentation…

“Beautifully cooked duck. Pink, nice skin that’s been glazed with that almost Asian-style kind of glaze.  The sausage, well seasoned. Your confit shaped into little cubes – really very good. Crisp on the outside, very tender and moist on the inside. The pak choi has got a nice crunch to it. There’s lots of textures going on in this plate here, which is great.”

Gregg: “This for me is a perfect fusion dish. This is East meets West, very successfully, which s very difficult to do, but you’ve done it brilliantly. I love the five-spice on that duck, it gives it a Chinese duck feel. I like the sausage, I like the duck breast, I like the confit cube, I like the lot.”

Dessert: Green olive and pistachio cake with a white chocolate parfait, marshmallows, fresh raspberries and a raspberry coulis

Michel: “A very well made pistachio and olive cake. It’s really light, rich and goes beautifully well with the white chocolate parfait. White chocolate parfait – very light, creamy, the right amount of white chocolate in there. It’s hitting the right notes. Your dessert is held together by a beautiful raspberry coulis – there’s a real sharpness to it and not too much sugar. It’s a really fine dessert, showing off great skills, which we knew you had in pastry.”

Gregg: “You are just making me really, really happy with your food today. I mean really, really happy. I absolutely love it. The white chocolate parfait is just a beautiful texture and taste sensation. It’s so mellow.  But the one that gets me, that I love – because I’ve never had anything like it – is the olive and pistachio cake, it is delightful. I love this, absolutely love it.”

Final: Chef’s Fat Duck inventions

Salmon cooked sous vide with pickled melon, cucumber flowers and cucumber and gooseberry fluid gel and candied onion seeds

“The plating on the salmon, I really like it, it’s very clean, very pretty… For a first attempt at cooking fish in a water bath I think you did a good job. I really like the fluid gel. What I really like about it is the black onion seeds in there, I think they come through really well.”

Chocolate and star anise ice-cream with a cherry jelly and an almond crumble

“I get a really big bang of chocolate and star anise, which is delicious, I think it goes really well. I also like the way you’ve made a really smooth ice-cream. I think the highlight of the dish is the ice-cream.”

“Together, the two dishes, I think you’ve really shown a particular style that’s common between each in terms of presentation and very clear flavours. I like your style.”

Final: The master chefs

Dessert: Goats cheese semi-fredo topped with a butter tuile and apricot kernels served on apricot purée and toasted quinoa, with cubes of raspberry jelly, fresh raspberries and caramelised apricots

Anton Mosimann: “When I read the menu, at first I thought ‘not quite sure’ but tasting the dessert, the combinations, it was not overpowering, it was well balanced. So, well done.”

Michel Roux: “Keri, I call what you just gave us a Rimbaud of pleasure. It is a perfect dessert. You’re doing wonders and it will go on and on and you will get better, believe me. Well done Keri, you can be proud.”

Final: Joint invention test

Dessert: Summer cherry mousse topped with slices of nectarine and caramelised pistachios served with a roasted apricot soup


Final: Two course vegetarian invention test

Starter: Panko-crusted tofu marinated in vinegar, saffron and sugar with pickled mushroom, pickled daikon, sweet potato and an Asian dressing

Michel: “For me, the star of the plate is that daikon, with the pickled mushrooms and the tofu. Put those three together and it’s very, very good. For me, it’s a lovely light starter, which means I can indulge in a very rich pudding. Perfect choice.”

Gregg: “I do like that daikon radish against the blandness of the tofu – I like it as a texture too.”

Dessert: Dark chocolate tart served with caramelise hazelnuts and white chocolate cream

Gregg: “I absolutely love it… Very good, very, very, very good. Little crunch to the pastry, rich beautiful dark chocolate and then the cream to mellow you down, make your ready for the next bit. And the next bit would come, for me, very, very rapidly. De-licious.”

Michel: “The filling of this chocolate tart is absolutely superb. It’s light, yet it has the intensity of dark chocolate. For me there’s a little bit too much white chocolate cream on there – that’s for me, not for him…”

Semi-final: Chef’s two courses

Main: Roasted cannon and rack of lamb on a sweet onion purée with wilted rocket, a mixed wild mushroom and white bean cassoulet and a white wine, vegetable and lamb reduction

Michel: “Lovely colours, the black of the slate and pink meat – very, very pleasing to the eye… That lovely reduction of white wine, vegetables, lamb trimmings and stock: lamby, sweet and flavourful. The cooking of the lamb I think is bang on – beautiful and pink.  The chop, some people may find a little under – but not for me. The sweet onion purée is sweet, as it should be, and brings a lovely roundness to this dish. That little cassoulet of white beans, cream, herbs and mixed wild mushrooms has got bags and bags of flavour. It’s a great idea and it’s a perfect accompaniment for a light dish. My only issue is it could have done with a pinch more seasoning. But if I’m honest, this is a very, very fine dish and it shows a great eye for presentation. I think you’ve got it.”

Gregg: “I love the mushrooms and the beans in that pot. That’s creamy, it’s mealy, it gives texture. And the white onion sauce and the jus that you’ve made just brings out the lamb’s sweetness, just emphasizes it completely. I just love it. Beautiful pink lamb, with a jus, sweet onions and a pot of beans and wild mushrooms – job done.”

Dessert: Deconstructed gooseberry crumble – gooseberry compote, gooseberry and elderflower jelly, ginger and almond crumble and a quinelle of crème brûlée custard

Gregg: “Deconstructing that crumble and putting jelly on there, you’ve managed to be traditional, clever and fun at the same time… That’s a fine blend of flavours. It doesn’t matter what angle you come at that from, it’s lovely. You get toasty and a little bit of ginger, you get the vanilla hit of the cream, you get the sweet sharpness of the gooseberry, and that jelly is divine. This is magnificent. Magnificent food.”

Michel: “As a dessert, it’s lovely. Really good to eat, not too sweet, the right level of sharpness, you can taste the gooseberry, you can taste the elderflower, the jelly is really yummy – really, really good. Your set cream or crème brûlée is hitting the right notes of vanilla, it’s rich and it’s a perfect combination, a perfect foil, for that quite tart, sharp gooseberry. You’ve judged it just right. Seriously, Keri, this is very, very good. I’m very happy for you, very happy.”

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: “It looks absolutely stunning. The duck may be a little overcooked. The skin is fantastic, though, and the flavour comes through beautifully. The gravy, the sauce – the flavour is fantastic. The peas are cooked beautifully. Very, very tasty. The chips – these are fantastic. Overall, last night and today, absolutely brilliant. Well done chef.”

Semi-final: Chef’s own dish

Roasted pollock, prosciutto mash, a crispy prosciutto filo cracker, asparagus, summer beans, a broad bean purée and a minted pea velouté

Michel: “Keri, I like what I’m seeing. The pollock, perfectly golden, neatly cut, and this little garnish here, very elegant. Beatifully cooked pollock – it’s flaking away just as it should. I really like the crispy prosciutto or ham that you’ve done on top there – it’s salty and is a really good addition to this dish. We’ve got a broad bean purée here and a velouté of pea, flavoured with mint. The mint is overpowering here and taking over the delicate flavour of the pollock.”

Gregg: “I believe everything on there is cooked really, really well. When you get a piece of ham with that fish – wahey! The whole world and the whole plate comes alive!”

Quarter-final: The critics

Main: Roast rump of lamb, asparagus, globe artichokes, crumbed roasted feta cheese, roasted rosemary potato

Jay Rayner: “After all the prissiness I’ve seen today, I rather like this – I want to get in there… I like this little rosemary potato, smooth, soft inside a little bit browned on top – bit of a hit. The feta, she’s roasted it, it’s a nice little burst… This is food made by someone who wants to feed you.”

William Sitwell: “I really like this, I think the lamb is beautiful. It’s slightly caramelised on the outside, tender in the middle… I actually really like the tapenade – I like the slightly bitter kick that it gives. I think it marries rather well with the sweetness of the lamb.”

Charles Campion: “The feta works very well as a kind of seasoning. I’m very pleased to see potatoes coming towards me… It’s a very nice, well constructed, well balanced array of bits and pieces.”

Dessert: Buttermilk parfait with elderflower and raspberry jelly, raspberries and a vanilla lemon syrup, candied puffed rice and honey cress

Jay Rayner: “The parfait does have a slightly wobbly look to it and I like a bit of jelly. It’s mildly promising… I’m often asked when we do this judging whether we eat all the dish and I say we just taste a little bit unless the dish is really nice and then we eat the whole thing. I think this is one of those where I’m gonna be eating the whole thing.”

Charles Campion: “There’s a sort of fresh, summery strawberiness from the jelly with a bit of that elderflower perfume. Even the candied puffed rice work really, really well. I think it’s a very satisfactory dessert.”

William Sitwell: “It seems quite a simple thing but she’s added a few little extras and she’s produced something that’s actually very beautiful. Yeah, this is great.”

Quarter-final: Invention test

Pan-fried gilthead bream topped with fennel served on sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes with a warm salad of clams, girolles, carrot, samphire and artichokes, and a clam-infused beurre blanc

Michel: “Very well-cooked fish, nice crispy skin. The warm salad of samphire and mushrooms and carrots is very good. I actually like this fennel on top of the fish, it adds anther dimension and it’s well seasoned. It’s a good dish. It’s very good cooking as well.”

Gregg: “The fish, crispy and soft, that creamy mashed potato and then little bits of woodiness from mushroom and artichoke – I think it’s lovely.”

Round 2: Chef’s classic dish

Sole Véronique – baked sole, grapes and white wine sauce with fondant potatoes, pan-fried spinach and asparagus

Michel: “I think your sole Véronique looks rather nice. It’s not classic presentation, it’s a modern interpretation – looks good. The sole is poached to perfection, seasoned beautifully, the sauce is bang on. My only issue is that you have left the chopped shallots in the sauce, which is fine if they were fully cooked but they were not and they leave a tiny taste of raw shallot in the mouth as an aftertaste. Which is a shame, because otherwise I would say it’s a faultless dish. “

Gregg: “Kerry, that is nothing short of lovely. Buttery, well seasoned, the veg have got just the right amount of crunch – got a little bit of butter on them as well – the fish is just perfect. There’s a little bit of acidity, there’s creaminess. Mate, that is lovely, lovely. That’s quality, quality cooking. That’s cracking.”

Round 2: Michel’s classic dish

Petits pâtés de Pézenas – a sweet-savoury mutton pie served with pickles

Michel: “You had three goes at making your pie because you weren’t happy with the shape – that is almost the right shape… The pie didn’t go into the oven quite soon enough and you whacked the temperature right up, therefore the pastry hasn’t quite cooked all the way through – but the meat has and it tastes perfect. The pickles are really good, they’ve got lots of spice in them and they’re still nice and crunchy. Maybe not enough of them there. And I would have liked two or three different kinds of pickle. This is not a perfect pâtés de Pézenas but it’s a very good attempt.”

Round 1: Invention test

Pan-roasted brioche pudding with butter-sautéed pears, candied roasted almonds and a salted almond crème Anglais

Monica: ”Kerry, that’s a lovely dessert. I love the salted almonds that come through on your sauce.  Your lovely brioche – it doesn’t do any credit to it to have it in such small pieces, it doesn’t look as lovely as it should. That’s the only criticism because you can cook, this tastes wonderful – I’d love for Michel to try that.”

Gregg: “I got creaminess and toasty nut flavour and a little bit of salt. Then I went into the sweet bread and then I got the juice of all that pear – I thought ‘that is delightful’. I’ll tell you, for a first-up invention test – you are good.”


Meet the rest of the semi-finalists and enjoy a load of tasty features at our MasterChef page