Day 1: Offsite team challenge
With Mariam’s elimination in Week 10, there were only 8 contestants left. This week cam the much awaited and most challenging offsite challenge: the restaurant service challenge. The remaining contestants were taken to the À la carte La Mamma restaurant of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. The contestants that accompanied the to La Mamma restaurant were Zain, Madiha, Saad, Khurram, Amna, Gulnaz, Rayyan and Ammara.
The contestants were divided into two teams as decided by the judges. Since in the previous challenge, winning dishes weren’t selected, the teams chose their captains by discussing among themselves. Red team comprised of Rayyan, Madiha, Ammara and Gulnaz, while the blue team included Khurram, Saad, Amna and Zain. Both teams chose their captains uninamously; Rayyan was to lead the red team while Saad was chosen to lead the blue team.
The teams would be judged on their food quality, taste, presentation, customer service and satisfaction. This finally was the challenge that was supposed to bring the contestants out of their comfort zone. Even though previously there has been an offsite challenge at Port Grand, but this challenge expected 5 star dishes, while at Port Grand the teams had to work on the food carts preparing fast food. In all aspects, the restaurant service challenge was tougher that the Port Grand challenge.
The teams then decided their menus. Since La Mamma is a fine dining restaurant, they had to serve an exquisite 3 course meal. Red team decided to make Grilled Prawns with Mango Salsa as their entrée, Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom sauce for the main course, and Cheese Mousse with Cherry Coulis and Chocolate Truffle as dessert. Blue team, on the other hand, decided to make Ceaser Salad with grilled Prawns as the entrée, Tagliatelle with White Sauce and Grilled Chicken as main course and Red Velvet Cheese Cake as dessert.
The dishes sounded nice, but menus could have been more exotic and complex, bringing the contestants truly out of their comfort zones. A much tougher twist could have been the judges deciding the menu for the teams and then judging them. Since this is the first Master Chef in Pakistan, let’s let that slide.
Both the teams had 3 hours to prepare the food for around 60 guests. After 3 hours the service started. The teams were expected to keep up with the orders. All the plates leaving the kitchen had to look same, had to have properly cooked food, and had to be pushed out without any unnecessary delays. At this step, the function of expeditor, which is very much stressed upon in the international Master Chef, was under-acknowledged.
As service started, the red team was handling the pressure well. On the other hand, blue team faced difficulties. There plates came out with delays while the red team was putting their plates out relatively quickly. At the time of judgment, the judges mentioned the red team had some plates returned because they weren’t cooked according to the customer’s wish, but this wasn’t shown during the service.
After the service ended, the judges came up with the customer’s responses and their own judgment. They liked the red team coordination, food, its taste, presentation and quality. For blue team, the judges felt the food tasted good but the salad lacked color, found the pasta slightly over cooked, and the red velvet cheese cake a bit too thick. Along with the judges’ comments, the diner’s comments decided the winning team. The judges also read out some comment cards for the teams. After creating suspense with their comments, the judges finally announced the red team as winner. This meant the four contestants of the red team were safe, while the participants of the blue team had to face the much dreaded elimination test.
As per the traditions of Master Chef Pakistan, the second day of the challenge brings the elimination test. Four contestants were safe as their team won. As a result Rayyan, Madiha, Gulnaz, and Ammara headed up to the gallery. The contestants of the blue team; Khurram, Saad, Zain and Amna, came in clad in the dreaded black aprons and headed to their stations. Rayyan was quite happy, as this was the first time he wasn’t participating in an elimination test.
The judges invited the 4 contestants at the front where a table was adorned with bottles containing Shan spices. The four contestants had to guess the spice mix by tasting it. They had only one chance for a mistake. And the one contestant who guessed correct would be safe and join the other in the gallery.
Amna got saved by sheer luck hile Zain, Khurram and Saad had to cook in the elimination challenge. They were given the challenge to prepare Kofte or meatballs, which are eaten all over the world in various forms and varieties.
Zain started with Nargisi kofte but changed his plan and made Chicken Meatballs with Fettuccine Pasta and Balsamic Sauce. The judges found the idea of adding parsley to pasta dough intriguing. They also like the presentation. But Zain’s white sauce was too creamy and thus heavy. The chicken meatballs were dry. Chef Zakir explained that chicken meatballs aren’t made as Zain made them, but they tasted great.
Khurram made Spaghetti with meatballs. He made the pasta himself. The judges complimented every aspect of his dish; the meatballs, the sauce and the spaghetti. Khurram dish was declared as dish of the day. Khurram rebounded back to the high performance level he had reached. Khurram was safe from elimination
Saad wanted to make Nargisi Koftay. He made 3 meatballs nargisi style and put 3 meatballs plain in the onion curry to cook. He got confused when Chef Zakir pointed out that nargisi kofta are not prepared the way he was making them. At the end he plated the plain koftas with chapatis and served them before the judges. The judges found the kofta too dry, the curry bitter due to excessive garam masala, and the curry to be semi cooked.
Zain and Saad both had problems with their dishes. One of them had to go. After deliberation, the judges announced their result. Zain was declared safe while Saad was let go. This elimination leaves only 7 contestants in the competition. Each competitor equally strong, let’s wait for the upcoming episodes to see who becomes the first Master Chef of Pakistan.
Unedited version of the post appearing at HIP