Billy & Jack got to the Masterchef final, but can they impress Giles?
Regardless of the pressures of competitive cooking on live TV, MasterChef is still a place where you’re given a framework and clear direction.
Many forget that becoming a finalist in MasterChef is just the start. Step-two is applying what you’ve learnt to the real world. This is the part of the show, or rather lack of it, I find the most interesting.
Now that the culinary curtain has fallen, Billy and Jack are trying to work out what their cooking really looks like, and just like so many before them, they’re trying to define themselves beyond the lens of the cameraThomasina Miers, winner in 2005, found success with her chain of 15 Mexican restaurants, Wahaca.
2013’s winner, Natalie Coleman, as well as writing her own cookbook, has worked with the likes of Tom Kerridge, Michel Roux Jr and Marcus Wareing. Tim Anderson won in 2011 and has since opened his first Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban, in Shoreditch, and has released his first cookbook Nanban: Japanese Soul Food.
So what about the self-proclaimed’MasterChef Losers 2016′, Billy and Jack?
It’s been little more than a year since the show finished, and I was lucky enough to get invited to the MasterChef finalists first big unveil Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Billy and Jacks Summer Supper Club.
Lodged in the beautiful St. Pauls Pavilion at London’s Southbank Centre, the Supper Club has spectacular views out over the Thames (even better when you wander down to the viewing platform on the floor below). The colourful setting certainly matches the food too, which feels like a rich blend of Mediterranean and English.
The first wave of starters included charred mackerel, cucumber, squid ink and crÃƒÂ¨me fraiche and a mischievous marmite butter with sourdough. Amongst arguments over whether you’love it or hate it’, the latter dish drew huge affection from our table.
Another notable dish was that of English peas spiked with mint, dotted with Hampshire burrata and dressed in lemon oil. It was a refreshing combination that sung of summer. Using British produce where foreign alternatives were clearly available, indicates the thoughtfulness of its creators.
Mains were up next. Tender BBQ lamb was served with a charred spring onion pesto, which wasn’t as bitter as it sounds, rather it was sweet and slightly smoky and an ideal partner for the lamb.
Carbs came in the form of Farro, another niche grain that is growing in popularity. It was drizzled in sweet pomegranate molasses and smothered with fresh green herbs.
Best of all was a side of courgettes, grilled to intensify their sweetness. They were served with creamy, salty ricotta, mint leaves and a black olive oil. This dish was simple but moreish, to the point where I’ve now cooked a version of it myself twice since the event.
At this stage of the evening I was quietly satisfied with Billy and Jack’s menu, it was humble and unpretentious yet bold in flavour. This is perhaps best summed up with their pudding, this was a concoction of gin strawberry jelly, milk chocolate and clotted cream ice cream.
This was a confident showing from Billy and Jack. I’ve often found myself wondering if the TV show presents a fair representation of the contestant’s skill. In the case of Billy and Jack, it’s clear they are more than merely cooks: they’re chefs.
If you like the sound of Billy and Jacks supper club, you can buy tickets for their August seating here.