The latest series of MasterChef: The Professionals is proving a tough watch for some viewers, as contestants falter under the extreme pressure of the judges’ glare.
The most recent episode of the pro cooking competition, which sees chefs face the fearful ‘Skills Challenge’ – while Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace watch – before cooking two courses for them, saw half of the contestants reduced to tears.
Episode eight saw Gabrielle, a 33-year-old private chef, unable to hide her emotions as the judges critiqued both of her dishes – and Malta-born chef Giovann was left so frustrated by his performance he uttered through tears: ‘I can’t believe I failed so badly’.
After flying through the skills test, London-based cook Gabrielle came undone in the second challenge, with her two dishes: poached turbot with sliced potato scales and a dessert of pannacotta, receiving mixed reviews.
Michelin-starred chef Wareing told her the accompanying croquettes were ‘a little on the heavy side’, while all three judges weren’t keen on her pannacotta, with Monica and Gregg agreeing it had too much setting agent in it.
After struggling to hold back her tears – with Galetti asking if she was okay – Gabrielle was embraced by her three co-contestants, and later told the show: ‘The MasterChef kitchen is so much tougher than any kitchen I’ve been in’.
She continued: ‘To have them looking at you and questioning your dish is a kind of pressure I cannot describe’.
On social media, the moment sparked sympathy. One person wrote: ‘Someone give Gabrielle a big hug. How incredibly difficult it must be to put your heart & soul on a plate, like these young chefs do, then listen to critique from professionals.’
Meanwhile, Giovann was praised for his rack of African-inspired lamb but none of the judges enjoyed his strawberry and almond tart.
He looked downbeat as Wareing told him ‘Your tart is dense and it’s heavy. As a dessert it doesn’t work’.
Wallace enjoyed the flavours but Galetti also said the dish didn’t work – with the ‘over-churned’ ice-cream left ‘grainy’.
Holding back tears afterwards, he said: ‘The amount of hours put in is ridiculous so it’ll be very hard if I go home today.’
Last week, viewers watched another contestant who had been tipped for the late stages of the show crumble in front of the trio of high-profile critics.
Welsh chef Ieuan was making a lemon pie with sable biscuit base and Italian meringue – but had to quickly whip up a French meringue when his first attempt wouldn’t set.
After piping the raw egg French meringue onto his biscuit bases, Wareing staged an intervention, telling the flustered chef: ‘Ieuan, it’s raw. You can’t eat raw meringue. Do you understand what you’ve done?’
Looking crestfallen, the chef said: ‘I haven’t got a dessert to plate. I don’t know what to do’… before he steadied his nerves, scooped out the lemon and meringue and conjured up a new dessert using lemon and piped cream.
Eventually, he made it through to the table, and while the judges were sympathetic, it wasn’t enough to keep the chef in the competition.