The MasterChef South Africa episode of 3 April was the final leg of Boot Camp to determine which 18 hopefuls would enter the MasterChef SA Kitchen at the Nederburg Wine Estate in Paarl, and which seven would have their MasterChef dream terminated once and for all.
The nervous contestants arrived at Roots restaurant at the Forum Homini in the Cradle of Humankind to find the judges waiting for them alongside a roaring fire, hinting at the nature of their last Boot Camp challenge. In a uniquely South African twist, the Top 25 were told to go back to basics – cooking on an open fire. With access to an amazing pantry stocked with a wide variety of produce, but only 45 minutes to create a mind-blowing dish that would secure their spot in the final 18, the heat was officially on.
Tasked with creating a meal that is worthy of Roots’ restaurant menu – one of the top restaurants in the country – contestants such as advertising executive Fortune Kangueehi were thrilled at the prospect of showing off their culinary skills on a braai, while others like Natalie Turnball, a shop owner from Kwa-Zulu Natal, were petrified because it would be the first time they attempted to create a meal on an open fire. On top of this, the 25 home cooks had to contend with red-hot coals – their only source of heat and an element that they could not control.
As the sun set over the Cradle of Humankind, the judges counted the contestants down for the challenge that was to determine their fates in this gruelling competition.
The 25 hopefuls dashed into the pantry to grab their produce and before long, the smell of open-fire cooking filled the air at the Forum Homini. Some contestants opted for red meat – thick-cut steaks, lamb and venison. Others ventured closer to the coast with seafood – tuna, hake, prawns and calamari. There were even two contestants who attempted to make two dishes each in the 45 minutes allocated for the challenge.
Despite a mad scramble in the final minutes of the challenge, MasterChef SA judges Pete Goffe-Wood, Benny Masekwameng and Andrew Atkinson were treated to a variety of dishes, ranging from springbok fillet, traditional “pap and vleis’, seared tuna, grilled vegetables, lamb belly, grilled fruit stacks, stuffed roasted peppers, “surf and turf’, seafood platters and even a dubious chocolate and Amarula sauce accompaniment.
After the tasting, the judges sent the emotionally and physically exhausted Top 25 contestants back to the Bus Factory in Johannesburg’s CBD to await their final verdict.
Functioning on zero sleep and with their nerves on tenterhooks, the sun rose over the City of Gold as the extremely emotional Top 25 contestants finally faced the judges to hear their fate.
Despite the difficult job of terminating the dreams of 7 contestants, the MasterChef judges were thrilled to grant the following people passes into the impressive MasterChef kitchen in Paarl:
Fortune Kangueehi, age 36, an advertising accounts manager from Windhoek, Namibia
Lwazi Mngoma, age 26, an artist management entrepreneur from Johannesburg
Berdina Schurink, age 35, a financial and admin manager from Pretoria
Khayakazi Silingile, age 27, a marketing coordinator from Johannesburg
Manisha Naidu, age 29, a housewife from Johannesburg
Mmutsi Maseko, a 34-year-old stay-at-home mom from Johannesburg
Sarel Loots, age 42, is an adventure camp owner from Sabie
Brandon Law, age 22, an IT consultant from Johannesburg
Thys Hattingh, a 29-year-old bookkeeper from Rustenburg
Samantha Nolan, age 41, a stay-at-home mom from Cape Town
Charles Canning, age 40, runs a family panel-beating business in Cape Town
Sue-Ann Allen, a 30-year-old lighting designer from Cape Town
Guy Clark is a 30-year-old property broker from Cape Town
Babalwa Baartman, a 27-year-old buyer for clothing store Poetry in Cape Town
Ilse Fourie, age 32, a model from Cape Town
Jade de Waal, a 21-year-old jazz music student from Cape Town
Deena Naidoo, age 45, is an IT specialist from Durban
Lungile Nhlanhla, 21-year-old fashion design graduate from Durban
MasterChef South Africa airs on pay-TV channel M-Net on Tuesdays in the 7.30pm time slot.