Thursday 22 February 2018

Last night’s TV: Masterchef

One of last night’s losers was gutted, but at least he wasn’t filleted, or worse still minced, says Eithne Tynan

You can have Dessert Demons, it was revealed last night on Masterchef Ireland. Pierce, 34, unemployed, has them, and they were to bring about his downfall.

“I've made it clear that desserts wouldn't be my forte and wouldn't be my strong point,” said Pierce at the outset of the programme. Pierce had spent five-and-a-half hours cooking a two-and-a-half-hour dessert on the previous programme. I'm sure we've all been there.

This time, all seven remaining contestants were cooking for actual paying customers at Ananda, an award-winning Indian restaurant in Dublin, supervised by executive chef Sunil Ghai. Pierce was given responsibility for pudding - some sort of caramelised pear confection involving carrots. (You probably don't have to be a foodie to enjoy Masterchef Ireland, but it might help you to understand it, at least.)

“Can Pierce finally overcome his Dessert Demons?,” wondered narrator Lorraine Pilkington.

Before we could find out, though, there was lunch to be got through, served by Mary, a serene 28-year-old business manager, Christine, a 21-year-old student with an adorable baby munchkin voice, and Clare Anne, a market stall assistant aged 34. (Reliable sources have let it be known it that Clare Anne is secretly a gifted writer, and so will surely get something out of this game show, even if she doesn't win it.)

“Two fish! Two guinea fowl! One guinea fowl! One aubergine! One aubergine! Two fish!,” barked Sunil. It was impossible even to keep count of the orders, never mind cook them.

When dinner came round, two of the contestants began to show the strain. Shane, aged 40, is a pharmaceutical specialist, and so might have had things all his own way just by adding a little something to the marinated rack of lamb, but he didn't. As a result, he had to get help from the professional kitchen staff.

“One scallop! One lamb! One chicken! Two chickens! One scallop!,” said Sunil. He sounded like Noah on embarcation day.

Meanwhile, Pierce was applying a blow torch to the pears, and by now we could see his buttocks over the top of his trousers, like two whole peeled turnips. Pierce fans will not have been feeling hopeful. If only Pierce had been able to cast his Dessert Demons into the swine, but sadly there was no pork on the menu.

The unofficial winner was Bridin, a 28-year-old occupational therapist with large, frightened eyes. She was the one Sunil would hire.

The next days the contestants had to dash around a supermarket and pick up the ingredients for an inventive meal in 15 minutes. Shane made a chicken curry.

“Shane, I have to be honest, mate. I think this is shocking,” said Dylan McGrath, one of the judges. The other, Nick Munier, agreed. “It's actually boring,” he said, looking cruelly at Shane over his National Health glasses.

Pierce, perhaps hoping for the intercession of a Main Course Angel, cooked sea bass. The judges described it, crushingly, as “good takeaway food”, nothing more. He and Shane were both sent packing.

Pierce was philosophical enough about having come joint sixth, but Shane described himself as “gutted” which, on the scale of culinary emotions, must be quite a lot worse than filleted, though probably not as bad as minced.

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