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Durban - Masterchef judges, celebrity chef John Torode and food writer Gregg Wallace, tune up their tastebuds for a new series of the popular cooking competition in the UK, airing on BBC Entertainment (channel) from January 6 at 8pm.
With 10 000 amateur cooks applying from across the UK, Torode and Wallace’s first titanic task is to consume and consider a vast assortment of dishes and choose the participants for the year’s cook-off. With just 20 places available and only 45 minutes to create a dish to impress, the knives are out and the heat is on.
Hopefuls plucked from their home kitchens arrive in London for the auditions.
One by one, they cook their hearts and souls out for the judges before they hear their fate. Only the lucky ones who become contestants and win the coveted apron will have the right to cook in the new, state-of-the-art kitchen.
As the competition heats up, watch the gradually whittled-down finalists face a series of increasingly difficult tasks, including cooking under top chefs at leading London restaurants for the paying public; opening their culinary minds to the instinctive, sense-based cooking approach of Michelin-starred master Alexis Gauthier; getting in touch with their veggie sides with an eye-opening master class by Yotam Ottolenghi; trying to impress the critical palate of world-class celebrity caterer Bertie de Rougemont; preparing a hearty lunch for 100 caber-tossing Scotsmen; and feeding the entire cast and crew of the award-winning BBC drama series Merlin.
In the first episode, the first five amateur cooks battle against each other. First, they must hold their nerve in the infamous invention test, where they have just one hour to cook an exceptional dish from scratch.
Next, they have to survive the extremely tricky palate test, a brand new Masterchef challenge, where chef John Torode demonstrates sweet stuffed courgette flowers with saffron custard.
Without seeing the dish, the amateurs are given just a few minutes to taste this dish before being asked to write down exactly what it is in it using their sense of smell, and taste. They are then asked to recreate Torode’s dish in just one hour – without a recipe.
At the end of these two challenges it’s the end of the road for two contestants.
The three remaining contestants are then thrown into a busy lunchtime service in London’s Chelsea Harbour Brasserie and after just an hour of learning the ropes, the home cooks are set loose to prepare dishes for paying customers.
The it’s back to the kitchen for the final test of the heat: cooking two of their own courses to impress the judges and earn a chance to win a place in the quarter-finals.
It’s only in episode nine that all amateurs from the heats go head-to-head. The challenge – to cook their finest two courses not only for John and Gregg, but for three previous Masterchef winners.
Be sure not to miss the world-famous Savoy Hotel, a London landmark, in episode 20. This is when the semi-finalists are tasked with producing a fine dining menu for 12 of the most iconic women in British cinema history, former Bond girls. Wallace will host the opulent dinner, while Torode runs the kitchen. The contestants will have three hours to prepare a four-course dinner comprising a starter, fish course, main course and dessert.
Only the best will survive, taking their first step towards being crowned Masterchef champion.