Day 1: Weekly Challenge
With only 9 out of 16 contestants, Master Chef is becoming tougher and tougher. Week 10 started with the promise to bring the contestants out of their comfort zone. The participants were shocked and most of them gagged when the core ingredient was revealed.
Before revealing the challenge, the judges prepped the contestants with the goodies. The participants who will cook the best 3 dishes will not only be safe from elimination in the elimination challenge, but they will also act as judges with the veteran chef judges.
The participants accompanied the judges to the pantry where the core ingredient was waiting for them. The 3 judges, Chef Mehboob, Chef Khurram and Chef Zakir enjoyed the look of horror when they revealed the challenge of the week, the Offal’s challenge. Offal are the organ meats i.e. heart, liver, kidneys, brain etc. These are the internal organs, excluding the meat of the butchered animals.
Back in the Master Chef kitchen, Chef Zakir announced the advantage for the winner of the previous week. Khurram, who won the previous challenge has an enormous advantage. While the rest of the participants had to cook there dishes in 1 and half hour, Khurram had an extra 10 minutes. He also had the chance to deduct 10 minutes from one of the participant’s time, leaving that contestant with only 1 hour and 20 minutes. At this point, everyone waited with abated breath and prayed that Khurram does not choose them.
Khurram deliberated and chose Saad, who has previous been a strong contender, despite a couple of downfalls. Khurram entered the pantry 10 minutes before the rest, chose liver and lungs and started cooking. Sonce the rest of the crowd was waiting for their time to start, they were all focused on what Khurram was doing thus confusing him.
After 10 minutes, the rest of the contestants except Saad were allowe din the pantry, where they chose the ingredient of their choice. 4 contestants chose “paye” or trotters (both of beef and mutton). 2 chose brain, and Gulnaz chose the ojhri or the guts. Even 10 minutes after these participants, Saad was allowed in the pantry and he chose liver and kidneys. It was fun to watch Amna and Zain in their hesitation to choose a piece of offal variety in front of them.
When the time was up, the judges tasted the various dishes. Maryam made “paye” which the judges found slightly on the bland side. Chef Zakir had one advice for Maryam: No tomatoes in “paye” next time. Rayyan chose brain and made brain masala, but he also was criticized on his use of tomatoes.
Khurram served liver pate’ and liver sandwiches. With the advantage he had, he did not utilize it properly and could not impress the judges. It came as a blow as Khurram had been performing well in the previous weeks. Gulnaz, the only contestant to choose “ojhri” was also reprimanded on her excessive use of tomatoes. Amna the hesitant contestant, made mutton “paye” which were flavorful but lacked spice, playfully called Arabian paye by chef Mehboob. Amna also used too much cinnamon.
Zain, the other reluctant participant, chose brain and made brain masala cheese balls which were well received by the judges. After the setbacks in the initial episodes, Zain has made quite a progress and continues to impress the judges week after week. Madiha made mutton “paya”, which was again praised by all the judges for being flavorful, balanced and tasty. She also had made a spice mix which was complimented her dish and was liked by all the judges. Ammara also made mutton “paya”. She started with beef “paya” in one pan, with mutton “paya” in another. Since her beef trotter did not cook through , she just used the stock in the mutton paya dish, elevating the flavor and gaining praise. Saad can with two dishes, liver and kidneys cooked in onion gravy. His kidney dish was his worst ever performance as the kidneys reeked because they were not cleaned properly.
By this time it was quite clear who the top 3 contestants. The judges, as predicted, announced Ammara, Zain and Madiha as the top 3 contestants, who would be safe in the next day’s elimination challenge and will serve as judges along with Chef Mehboob, Chef Zakir, and Chef Khurram. Madiha was continuously in the middle after her success in the initial competitions and thus made a much waited comeback. Were the contestant judges fair in their judgement? Read on to find out.
Day 2: Elimination Challenge
Every week 2 episodes of Master Chef are aired. Day 1 is the weekly challenge (which in this week was Offal challenge) while Day 2 is the elimination challenge. The day started with 3 excited-to-be-judges contestants. The top 3 contestants from Day 1 were not only safe from elimination, they were also serving as judges. Madiha, Zain and Ammara were called to join the host judges on stage.
At this point, the host judges sent the three contestant judges to the Master Chef restaurant. They wanted their judgment to be fair, and it was best they don’t get to know who served what. In this way their judgment won’t be clouded by any personal vendetta. Before sending the 3 very excited contestants, the theme of the challenge was stated. With Ramadan in full swing, the challenge went along with the occasion, and that was the “Iftar” challenge.
Master Chef team made a very sweet gesture by placing photographs of the contestant’s families on their counters, and motivated them to keep their families in mind while preparing “Iftar” dishes. With the 3 contestant judges away, the participants ran to the pantry to get what they wanted.
Quite a few emotional scenes were witnessed when the participant looked at the photographs of their loved ones. The judges went round listening and asking about the photographs while tasting the food being prepared.
The judges were surprised to see so many different menus being prepared, since they thought all the menus would be almost the same. There were many traditional and non-traditional dishes being prepared. Ramadan has a very unique spirit, and every participant was excited to express their way of celebrating this spirit.
When the tasting time came, it seemed appropriate that the contestant judges were invited only when all the platters had been placed in front of the host judges. This setup eliminated any chance of a biased decision.
The first platter tasted was Rayyan’s which had cottage cheese samosa, “Qeema dahi bara”, “Aloo batata”, a mango muffin and a drink. The judges criticized the amount of salt in samosa, but liked the muffin and the overall idea of the platter. Chef Zakir, in the final stages of the show pointed out that Rayyan’s dahi baray were not actually dahi baray as they weren’t made from gram flour, “daal mash” or “daal moong” .
Mariam’s platter had “Dahi Phulki”, “Pakoray”, Patties, Chicken Sandwiches and a drink. The judges found the sandwiches bland and “pakoray” and “dahi phulki” undercooked. Khurram presented fried fish, fried prawns, fried chicken and mashed potatoes. The judges criticized the platter to be uni color, and the elements to be non-differentiable from each other due to same color.
Gulnaz made “Pakoray”, “Mantukh” (Chitrali dumplings) and a “chana chaat” with cream. All the judges found problems in Gulnaz’s “Iftar” platter as well. The dough of the dumplings was undercooked, while chickpeas in the “chaat” were undercooked. Saad served “chaat”, “pakoray”, “Meethi khajoor”, puff pastry and a kind of toasted biscuit. Biscuits and puff pastry had a burnt taste which put off the judges.
Amna’s platter consisted of honey wongs, buffalo wings, chicken patties, shwarma and tri colored drink. Chef Mehboob criticized the buffalo wings because of the marinade used to make them which wasn’t the actual buffalo sauce. Chef Zakir advised Amna, at the end of the show, not to serve a heavy drink at Iftar.
As the tasting ended, the judges unanimously picked Khurram, Gulnaz and Mariam’s platter as the bottom 3 platters. In the Master Chef kitchen, the contest judges finally learnt who made which platter. They were shocked with Khurram’s platter, as it was not at par with his past week’s performance.
Gulnaz was chastised by Chef Mehboob. Gulnaz had earned an immunity pin, and Chef Mehboob criticized her for not using the immunity pin. He based his argument on her performance in the elimination challenge.
Finally it was Mariam who was let go this week. With the competition in this phase, and all contestants being strong contenders, it is heart breaking to see any one leaving Master Chef Kitchen. With Mariam gone, only 8 contestants are left to fight for the title of first Master Chef of Pakistan and a prize of five million rupees.
This post originally appear at HIP.