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  • Writer's pictureHeath Tredell

EP18 I’m a MASTERCHEF FINALIST! – Let’s make some Scallops…

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

The last round had seen two people leave the competition and they were now down to the final six contestants. Her next challenge was now to become a Finalist, but as she entered the competition only hoping to get an apron she was also really having fun. In an interview before what was to turn out to be Episode 18 Pookie told the producer “I don’t want to go home just yet, I’m having so much fun!! SO, just keep me!”

Each round had been quite different and as we’d never really watched the show before Pookie had no clue as to what was next – and then it arrived. Pookie received an email saying that she had to watch #Masterchef from 10 years earlier and see a video that had been produced to raise money for charity. The email read that the next round needed to celebrate the Top 40 single “Buttery Biscuit Base” – A song she didn’t know existed let alone had ever heard. She immediately went onto #YouTube to listen to it

According to the presenters the song had over 20 different food references and they had 1hr and 40mins to make a dish that represented the song. With a place in finals week at stake she really had to get this one right, but this made her very nervous. She listened to it so much at home it made her head spin.. Heath told her that a buttery biscuit base was essentially the base of a cheesecake, and this is what made her nervous – She’d never made cheesecake before!

As she never made many cheesecakes before and was without any ideas she listened to the song a few more times and decided it said “seafood!” She started to think of which seafood dish could represent the song best but, in the end, decided to turn that completely on its head and make a sweet dish that looked like a savoury dish.

It was getting colder now and her walk on coat was even bigger as she was suffering from a cold and sore throat. Anyone that knows Pookie knows that when she has a bad throat her voice gets higher and higher until it finally stops working, and this was going to be obvious on the TV. Anyway, once inside and out of the cold the usual preparations were made and they were once again stood in front of the judges. They once again informed her that it was 10 years since the release of a song called buttery biscuit base and it reminded her that it was also her 10 year wedding anniversary (that she had completely forgotten).

Once again whilst cooking the judges asked about her dish. “My dish is going to be tropical fruit, I am going to use a creamed cheese and rambutan and then set it in the shape of a scallop. – it will be scallops in Pookieland, so no scallops” she said laughing.

John turned to the camera and said “She (Pookie) is taking pineapple flavoured yoghurt, spherifying it and turning it to look like the roe of a scallop, when you open that up you will actually ooze out the sauce” Greg then added “it’s a classic savoury dish but as a dessert, what we have is a dessert but inside a scallop shell that looks like a scallop. Then you’ve got the butter biscuit crumb, so it looks like it’s on the sand, if she can actually recreate the look which I think she’s going to do, of a properly baked scallop John that’s extraordinary.”

Greg then decided to ask Pookie more, “Before we gave you the song had you ever Buttery Biscuit Base?” “NOPE!” replied Pookie. “I have never heard it before and I just heard that it’s to celebrate 10 years of the song, and actually it is my 10 year wedding anniversary as well at the same time but because I’m in the MasterChef kitchen so I didn’t have much time to cook for my husband so I will use this occasion to celebrate both for you and for me. You’re going to have the buttery biscuit base, you’re going to have a nutty base with the peanut butter, and you’re going to have a jelly wobbly base so I think you’re going to find quite a lot of elements in it.”

John smiled and said “This is extraordinary Pookie, I hope it tastes ok?” “I think so, I think it tastes delicious” replied Pookie playfully.

Despite the extra time it was once again down to the wire and once time was called Pookie put her head in her hands in exasperation. The Masterchef experience forces people from all over the country with a wide array of backgrounds and experiences to spend a lot of time together with the one common denominator of food. So by now Pookie had got to know all of the contestants really well and there was a bond definitely forming between them all.

The show described Pookie’s dish as “Scallops in Pookieland - is Pookie’s sweet take on a scallop. A rambutan and lychee creamed cheese mousse, topped with pineapple paste, a chilli and pineapple cookie crumb, chilli pearls and lychee tuille coral with pineapple yoghurt roe. Served on Peanut butter sand, with a rum cocktail and pineapple “magic” dust”.

Once time was up they once again presented their efforts one by one. Pookie was presenting after Sarah and Pookie sprayed the dish at the last minute with her pineapple dust, causing Greg to immediately start laughing “What is that!?”

Instead of answering she simply said “Welcome to Pookieland”. Pookie let the judges eat but was once again nervous to see their reaction to her dish, she needn’t have been worried, they loved it. John was the first to speak “Pookie, when you put your technical ability with your imagination and you come up with something like this, I am gobsmacked. I think this is SO CLEVER but it also tastes great. The mousse in the middle, you can slice it like a scallop, the texture is very very good. The thing I love the most is this pineapple yoghurt which is the sauce of the whole thing. Incredible!

Greg was also very very impressed “I love your flavours, its really really clever I mean that actually looks like sand and when you put it in your mouth it actually turns into salty peanut butter on your tongue. I love the addition of chilli with that pineapple and rambutan, it tastes amazing and looks great.” Pookie walked back to her station delighted.

Afterward each had presented their dish and were all in the waiting room, the producer asked her about her dish “It was a risky dish to take on and I think it paid off because they loved the flavours, I definitely took John and Greg to Pookieland”

Meanwhile John and Greg discussed the dishes of the day. About Pookie’s Greg said “Pookie took a pineapple a lychee and a rambutan and turned it into s scallop in a shell!” “Its extraordinary, its phantasmagorical but also tasted good” replied John.

It was unanimous, Pookie was going through.

In the final analysis, despite having all her flavours right Sarah suffered with her presentation, they loved Olayemi’s three desserts but thought it was one too many and with Ioan they thought his dish was very creative but criticised the texture of part of it. With everyone cooking very good dishes the decision was the closest yet and very hard to split into who stayed and who went.

After another long wait with everyone staring at each other and talking about their dishes they were finally called in to the kitchen to hear the result. In summary Greg was the first to speak

“We are finding this (decision) tough and so we should. Brilliantly well done all 6 of you, what a lovely way to celebrate our own personal anniversary, 10 years of the buttery biscuit base.”

John added “As you know there are only 5 places in Finals Week, and the person leaving us is Olayemi, Olayemi, thank you very much you have literally spiced up the competition.” Olayemi was sad but rightly very proud of herself for her skills and bringing Nigerian food to the MasterChef competition. The final five all breathed a sigh of relief

Heath was in Spain when Pookie first contacted him to say that she had an apron. He wished he’d made sure that conversation was being recorded as her excitement was joyous. She called him again after this episode and with almost as much excitement as getting an apron she announced that she was now a FINALIST on Masterchef.

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