MasterChef The Professionals viewers were left wincing at their screens last night after a contestant who had been tipped for the late stages of the show crumbled in front of a trio of high-profile critics.
Welsh chef Ieuan was the only cook of the four in the quarter-final heat, which aired on BBC One on Thursday, to try and make a dessert for food critics Jay Rayner, Tom Parker Bowles and Jimi Famurewa – and he quickly regretted his decision.
The culinary pro was making a lemon pie with sable biscuit base and Italian meringue – but he switched to a quickly whipped-up French meringue when his first attempt wouldn’t set.
After piping the raw egg French meringue onto his biscuit bases, a worried-looking Marcus 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.
At home, viewers of the cookery show were hooked on the kitchen drama.
One wrote: ‘Oh the poor man. This is physically painful to watch. Who knew meringue was such a fickle mistress?’
Another wrote: ‘What the actual sh***ing f**k was he thinking when he was piping raw meringue on his dessert?’
Many had nothing but sympathy for the Welsh cook, who had shined in previous rounds of the competition.
One penned: ‘Gutted for Ieuan! Great chef.’
Another added: ‘I really felt for Ieuan. Well done getting anything on the plate.’
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.
The latest series of the show has been fraught with culinary disasters so far.
Earlier this week, an episode saw two chefs fail to present a dessert at all to go with their main courses after they claimed to run out of time.
One of them, Ola, 33, who works as the head chef for a London sporting venue, went to pieces as the pressure of the show hit.
The experienced chef – who was born in Nigeria – had planned to make a frangipane using a Nigerian almond substitute and a dark chocolate cremeux served with macerated strawberries and celery.
However, he soon realised that his frangipane hadn’t cooked and his dessert would have to be re-thought – before he abandoned it altogether.
Gregg told him: ‘We can clearly see that your timing went to pieces because you haven’t completed the dish the way you wanted to and we also haven’t got a dessert at all, have we?’
Ola was eliminated, telling the programme: ‘I am sad and disappointed in myself because I know what I’m capable of,’ he said. ‘I haven’t put my best out there.’