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MasterChef: The Professionals 2012 semi-finalists - Karl Byron

From pan-roasted gurnard with Parmentier potatoes and squid salad to Gressingham Duck three ways, Karl's dish-by-dish MasterChef journey... logo
Published: Wednesday, 14th November 2012 at 8:19 pm
Karl Byron
Age: 40Job: Gastropub head chefFrom: London




Semi-final: Chef's own dish

Creamed oysters wrapped in marinated sea trout, a smoked trout mille-feuille, an oyster foam, saffron aioli and chilli, lemon and shallot vinegar balls

Monica: “What were you thinking, Karl? I honestly can’t recall when I’ve seen a plate like this."

Michel: “It looks like a picture postcard… Karl, there are things on this plate that I really, really love. And others that I don’t. I really like the smoked trout mousse – good flavour, good texture and those little balls that you made: clever. But your marinated sea trout could have done with probably another half an hour just to firm up the flesh and give it more taste. The oyster froth is not bringing anything to this dish. For me, it’s not working.”

Quarter-final: The critics

Main: Gressingham Duck three ways: breast roasted with thyme and butter; leg as a Scotch egg; leg with liver as a ballotine, with carrot purée, morel and shallot sauce

Tracey MacLeod: “This actually tastes fantastic. It’s complicated, it’s ambitious yet he’s managed to pull it off.”

Charles Campion: “Mash is good, the duck sausage – or ballotine, if you’re posh – is really nice.”

William Sitwell: “The duck itself is amazing. It’s really tender, the breast. And, given the fact he’s got so much to do, he’s still managed to get the egg yolk just slightly runny, which I think is genius.”

Dessert: Two-chocolate marjolaine with hazelnut brittles

Tracey MacLeod: “The chocolate part of it is nicely made. I think the sponge – if that’s what it’s supposed to be – is very dense and compacted.”

William Sitwell: “This is the sort of dish you might get on a little tea trolley – you need either a big dollop of cream or you need a cup of tea with it.”

Quarter-final: Invention test

Guinea fowl breast stuffed with pine nuts, prunes and lardons; celeriac purée; pancake soufflé with thigh of guinea fowl

Michel: “I liked the pancake, I thought it as good, but there were errors there – the celeriac purée was grainy and watery.”

Gregg: “Karl is a quality, quality chef. The breast of the guinea fowl with that stuffing was superb and the depth of that sauce was just beautiful.”

Round 2: Chef’s classic dish

Poached zander with a shallot butter sauce and seasonal vegetables

Gregg: “The one chef that really stood out was Karl. He shone, because that zander dish was superb. It’s difficult enough to impress a diner with ingredients and produce he does know. It’s completely changed my mind on that fish. I thought his dish was just outstanding.”

Michel: “I definitely think that Karl’s plate of zander was the best dish today. The sauce was great and the cooking of that fish was bang on.”

Round 2: Michel’s classic dish

Suprême de volail Agnes Sorel – poached chicken breast with ox tongue, chicken mousse and a suprême sauce

Michel: “I like your presentation, it looks neat but the slices of tongue are too thick for me – that’s lacking in elegance. Everything on this plate is beautifully seasoned, the chicken’s good, your sauce is great as well.

“Unfortunately, the mousse has got sinews and skin in it, it’s not as light and as smooth as it should be. I don’t think you passed that through a sieve. It’s not right – that’s basic skills, basic knowledge. To be a great chef you don’t cut corners. Such a shame… spoilt by one little mistake – or, dare I say, laziness?”

Round 1: Invention test

Pan-roasted gurnard, Parmentier potatoes, squid with chili, apple, basil and raisin salad

Monica: “The potatoes – wonderful, absolutely love it, with the garlic. The fish, cooked wonderfully, seasoned wonderfully. And then we come to your squid salad, and unfortunately you’ve made something wonderful taste of nothing - for me, it’s a let down.”

Gregg: “I really like that squid salad. But hot fish, hot potatoes – in the middle, cold, fruity salad? But on their own, really good.”


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


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