MasterChef: The Professionals 2012 semi-finalists - Ross Marshall
From goat's cheese tortellini to rabbit and langoustine with baby potato fondants, Ross's dish-by-dish MasterChef journey...
|Age: 27||Job: Hotel restaurant||From: St Andrews|
Semi-final: Chef's own dish
Spring lamb with flavours of Provence – lamb rack, sweetbreads and braised shoulder in a crispy potato case served with a red pepper foam, courgette purée, roasted aubergine and confit cherry tomatoes
Michel: “Some great butchery skills. The bones are beautiful and clean – I like to see that… Very well cooked lamb. Nice and pink and juicy, just as it should be. Your little vegetables, tomatoes and everything else are very good but you billed it as Provence and for me this is not Provence. Provence would have needed a lot more garlic and rosemary and basil... and the list could go on.”
Gregg: “You had me at the first bite, Ross. Sweet lamb with mint, a deep meaty sauce that tastes like a good old-fashioned gravy and you’ve got the shoulder there which is soft, crisp, wrapped up in potato."
Quarter-final: The Critics
Main: Rabbit and langoustine with baby potato fondants, carrot ribbons, carrot purée and shallot rings
Tracey MacLeod: “It’s very pretty. It almost loks like it’s been art directed... The langoustine are lovely, perfectly cooked, sweet and plump. The rabbit is under-seasoned."
Jay Rayner: “If he’d made a really deep, luscious, meaty jus we’d probably be singing it’s praises.”
Wiliam Sitwell: “The problem is, nothing is singing here. There’s no overwhelming texture, flavour, idea. The whole thing is just muted.”
Dessert: Custard panna cotta with three textures of rhubarb
Tracey MacLeod: “Well this does look like the three textures of rhubarb you don’t want to eat doesn’t it? And it might be the first time I’ve had a slice of panacotta. But on the plus side, I love the smell of this little biscuit.
“But Ross’s dessert has got what his main lacked, which is big, clear, distinct flavours.”
William Sitwell: “I really like the texture of the little strips of rhubarb and the shortbread is just fantastc.”
Jay Rayner: “A lot of this is just let down by the way it looks. If he’d piled it up in a glass, it would have been terrific.”
Quarter-final: Invention test
Pan-fried sea bream with artichokes, fennel, carrots, samphire and cubed roasted potatoes with a clam, caper, chervil and parsley velouté
Michel: “Beautifully cooked fish, and all your vegetables taste as good as they look. The potatoes have been roasted but cubed to a perfect shape. This whole plate is a melody. It’s beautiful and elegant, restaurant food at its best."
Gregg: “It’s the quality of that sauce. That is just wonderful. Creamy and deep, and the zing of capers giving you a little bit of sharpness with every mouthful. It’s really quality. It’s flavour that envelopes you.”
Round 2: Chef’s classic dish
“Coq au vin” – a chicken ballotine stuffed with a pancetta, mushroom and chervil mousse with mashed potato, baby vegetables and a red wine sauce
Michel: “Presentation: I think it looks very, very classy, sophisticated... Beautifully cooked chicken ballotine, very, very moist and I love the idea of marinating the chicken meat before rolling it in the ballotine so you’ve got that lovely colour of red wine. It needs a lot more sauce, that’s where all the flavour is in a coq au vin. There’s some very clever cooking here, that I can see as a chef – but you’ve let down the diner a bit.”
Gregg: “That chicken is so moist. Beautiful, smooth, creamy purée, enough bite on your vegetables. But it doesn’t deliver big coq au vin flavour. Coq au vin – a big steaming bowl – is like a hug in a bowl. This is more of a handshake."
Round 2: Michel’s classic dish
A trio of monkfish liver – a pan-seared liver, a cold ballotine and a pâté
Michel: “It’s a very elegant plate of food. Visually, you're almost there. I like it... Really nice leeks, well-seasond, well cooked. The ballotine nedds a little more seasoning, but well cooked. There was a little bit of nerve and sinew running through it, so attention to detail there. The pan-seared liver, very good, but the leeks [garnish] are over-cooked. Your chutney is more of a salsa, it doesn’t taste as if it’s been cooked. Actually, it works. The monkfish liver pâté is smooth and perfectly seasoned. Little errors, very small – not far off.”
Round 1: Invention test
Goat's cheese tortellini with toasted walnuts, sliced peach and a lentil and peach vinaigrette
Monica: “You’ve taken all that energy and skill and effort to make this beautiful tortellini and you put two slices of raw peach on it. For me that doesn’t add anything extra. If anything, it takes away from the presentation of your plate.
“You obviously know how to make pasta, that’s been rolled out very thinly – the tortellinis are wonderful."
Gregg: “That vinaigrette is inspired because it’s sharp and it’s also slightly fruity. It’s a real big-flavour palette-filler and it goes really, really well with the goat’s cheese.”