Last night in the BBC hit series MasterChef, the second batch of six knockout week contestants cooked at the famous Roux restaurant in London's Parliament Square, and also faced an invention test. Sligo woman Shauna Kelly, who has been living in London for 14 years, earned host chef Steve Goves’s respect for her cooking of his barbecued Iberico pork with spelt risotto, carrot ketchup and roasted onion. “You’re doing a great job, really nice and precise.”
“I’m loving this, I could be doing this all day,” the former advertising director told The Irish Times.
But Kelly’s bubble burst in the invention test. After saying that she preferred cooking savoury dishes, but was doing a dessert this time, and was “a bit scared”, the warning bells began tinkling. They reached a crescendo when she introduced her dish to judges John Torode and Greg Wallace.
Poached pear with walnut crumb, treacle ginger cake and red wine granita sounded ... interesting. But with beetroot crisps and blue cheeses mascarpone? That’s not inventive, that’s suicidal in a MasterChef knockout round.
“Wow” Torode said, in a manner that suggested he’d rather eat his shoe than this dessert.
Edinburgh chef Tom Kitchin, brought in to give his expert verdict, was also unconvinced. “I’m really sorry, it didn’t work for me,” he said, sounding genuinely apologetic.
“It just didn’t work, there’s too much going on, it’s a cacophony,” Torode decreed, sealing Shauna's departure.
“I’m deflated and upset,” the mother -of-one said in her exit interview. But she also managed to find a positive. “I’d love to have my own boutique catering company and it’s really given me the confidence to pursue my dream.”
'Impetus and courage'
The Strandhill native and former Ursuline student continued, “Never did I think I’d get the chance to wear chef whites and cook in a professional kitchen, especially one like Roux. The attention to detail, the buzz, the precision, the heat ... it was everything I imagined and more.
“It has now given me the impetus and courage to start my own catering business in London, called HOMEmade Hampstead. Competing in MasterChef has been so rewarding and changed my life for the better. I urge anyone who is passionate about food to apply and just enjoy the ride.”
Dubliner Alison O’Reilly’s rollercoaster ride continues tonight, Friday when knockout week comes to an end, with the final 10 cooking their “showstopper dish” in the hope of a place in next week’s semi-finals.The show airs on BBC1 at 8pm tonight.
Link Sligo Today 26/4/2017