The original group of nine are now down to the last six and everyone is fighting for a quarter final place.
Pookie is interviewed again “I’m looking forward to cook again. I’ve made it through to now, so I think just a little bit more, I can get through to the quarter final” she smiles with a little jump for joy.
Once again just before they’re invited into the main kitchen area they all wait. “OK you can come through" and once again Haylee opens the door for the day to begin. “This is a big round, you have been asked to cook a dish inspired by a holiday!” The challenge was set by Tom Parker Bowles who helped the judges make a decision on who goes into the quarter finals. Pookie was nervous and she was right to be. They had 1hr and 30 mins to cook a dish inspired by a holiday and 2 people would be leaving the competition with only 4 going through to the quarter finals of this group. “Oh Wow…” said Laura and Lisa just put her hands to her head in nervous excitement. John did the introductions and added “Take us on a holiday of a lifetime… let’s cook”
Pookie started with the Squid and tomatoes and looking at Pookie’s squid, Tom said “Gosh there are some very serious ingredients in there!"
“I was in the restaurant by the sea and I ordered squid ink dish, I loved the flavour I loved the combination so I’m going to do that dish but Pookie Style”
Tom “OK Pookie, what are you cooking for us?”
“I’m cooking a Mediterranean dish because I just came back from the med, I just recently bought a boat”
“Wow!” said Tom obviously surprised.
“I’m cooking squid ink rice with mixed seafood and a squid ink tuille, so I hope that turns out right for you”
Greg was concerned... “Pookie as always you’ve got a lot to do”; “Yes!! Why am I doing this to myself??” she answered, leaving Tom laughing.
John then turned to the cameras for a summary “Pookie’s going big that’s for sure, She’s got clams which need to be opened first, then make sure there’s no sand in them, they can’t be gritty. She’s got King Prawns and she’s cooked the heads, cause she likes to get the full flavour of them, and she’s doing squid as well. There’s a lot of elements to get onto the plate, but go for it Pookie, go for it!”
Tom “Pookie doesn’t make things easy for herself, Arros Negros is a great Spanish dish. You watch some of the great Spanish cooks cooking dishes like this and you need experience to know what you are doing… but it looks like Pookie knows what she is doing”
Even though there was longer than usual, the hour and a half flew by and Pookie cooked until the final seconds and was so stressed for time that she didn’t put everything on each plate. Thinking it was all over she dropped to the floor and said “Oh my god, I’m done!” thinking that an missing item on John’s plate would mean that after all that effort she’d undoubtedly be going home.
Pookie cooked squid ink rice, topped with a king prawns. The squid had been cooked in white wine and chicken stock. Clams had been opened, cleaned and garnished with olive oil, garlic and parsley. It was all served with a tomato, paprika and saffron sauce, black Garlic Aioli and a squid ink tuille.
John tasted first “Pookie there is a huge amount of work on this plate, I think your rice is cooked beautifully, I love the fact you have a sweet vegetable flavour running through it and a small amount of fish stock because the seafood round the outside is what’s giving it the seafood flavour, and I think your little bit of black aioli is delicious. It’s completely different to anything you’ve cooked for us before, and you seem to understand how to get flavour into food. It’s really nicely done.”
Pookie buzzed “Thank you”
Tom was next to give his assessment “The seafood of clams and squid are beautifully cooked, the tuille very cheffy and adds some texture. But the main thing for me is that it all comes together as a dish. It is a very, almost professional, thing on a plate”
Greg finally made Pookie smile from ear to ear “Pookie, it’s good food, it has gone beyond good food, it’s now show-offy chef food. Good on you, this is a cookery competition.” Noticing how his words had impacted Pookie, Greg asked “Tears of joy there Pookie?”
“Yes very much so.. Thank you ever so much, it means a lot and I didn’t realise I can cook and serve to you and you’d like it…. that just makes me happy.” She said with tears of happiness running down her face.
Moved by her passion and honest reaction got the judges also emotional “Oh stop it for crying out loud, you’ve got me going now!” said Greg wiping away his own tears. Pookie walked back to her station feeling on top of the world, the other contestants looked on knowing how it feels to be praised like that and congratulated her.
After the assessment of the dishes they left the room and Pookie was interviewed once again. How do you feel? Asked the producer “I feel… weee!! I feel, what do you think!? I feel absolutely ecstatic. Ooh. If I could jump up and down in there I would but I didn’t have energy to after cooking”
When deliberating on TV the judges agreed that Pookie was going through “Pookie today stepped her food up to another level..” John nodded in agreement “Pookie is Class, she works hard and her flavours are delicious”. As they all nervously stood in the kitchen Pookie remembered that her name was given first as the person going through “There were two cooks today that were technically brilliant, Pookie and Eddie.” However, when it was televised this was not how it was shown on TV, during the TV show Eddie’s name was said first and this confused Pookie. Laura was named as the third person to get through as she really impressed all three judges with a wonderful dish.
Now by now it might be difficult to imagine, but the group had grown very close and bonded very well together. It was going to be terrible to see two people go home. The one place left was down to Rishi, Hayley and Lisa. Hayley’s chicken coating too thick, Rishi’s taste profile didn’t work and Lisa had also made mistakes. In the final decision Rishi got through to the last 4 and Hayley and Lisa were left devastated but happy they’d taken part.
Once again after all the announcements Pookie was interviewed “Its like a firework in my stomach, I’m extremely excited for the next challenge… it’s cocktail time!"