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‘Celebrity Masterchef’ 2020 Heat One Saw the Judges Clear a Low Bar

Gregg Wallace and Jon Torode returned, and managed to judge without misrepresenting anything

Celebrity Masterchef line-up for 2020 BBC [Official Photo]

Celebrity Masterchef 2020 is here, with Jon Torode and Gregg Wallace welcoming another suite of 20 celebrities into their realm, where “cooking doesn’t get tougher than this,” except when it does, like in Masterchef and Masterchef: The Professionals, where the challenges are, well, tougher. Here’s what happened in the first heat.

Celebrity Masterchef 2020 Contestants: Heat One

  • Thomas Skinner, erstwhile Apprentice contestant.
  • Shyko Amos, star of BBC drama Death in Paradise.
  • Myles Stephenson, of X Factor-made band Rak-Su.
  • Judi Love, comedian and Loose Women panellist.
  • John Barnes, former international footballer.

Thomas, most famous for not succeeding, attempted to succeed in the Market Challenge with some fish en papillote, while Shyko went for a Caribbean-influenced chicken stew, with broccoli and oyster sauce. Jon Torode did his traditional “two global influences? On the same plate? In this economy!”2 bit and it felt as 2005 as ever. John went in with chicken in soy, garlic, and ginger, while Judi took dishes from her Jamaican heritage. Myles — after failing to find stock and rosemary at the market, served a rack of lamb with Parmesan potatoes. Here’s what the public thought:

It’s always interesting to see which London restaurants will debase themselves for entertainment. Yeni, which arrived in Soho with a glowing reputation in 2019, and Patrick Powell’s swank high-rise Allegra were the victims destinations this week. But:

So on the merry train goes. The most notable part of the third round was Jon and Gregg breaking from tradition and not trampling all over contestants’ dishes with a Eurocentric perspective. Jon acclaimed Myles for doing what Jamie Oliver could not and using the correct jerk spices in a dish labelled as jerk; Gregg didn’t try and call plantain a potato-banana or something. These are low bars, but in a show seen by enough people to affect perceptions of food, it’s a welcome improvement. Ultimately, Shyko leaves the competition.

The next challenge is by far the strangest. Myles and Thomas are one team; John and Judi the other. Myles and Thomas cook scallop siu mai and pork and prawn jiaozi; Judi and John cook duck broth with noodles. This is not strange at all, except they are separated by a wall so they can’t see each other, and the judging criteria are whether or not the dishes are identical. The chaos is somewhat entertaining, but that’s kind of all it’s for. The same is true of the catering round, which skips through the same process each time — start well, minor error, time is tight, mild panic, major panic, rush, everything’s fine. There is no need to go over this. There is need to go over this vision from the future:

The final task is impressing the critics, who are not critics, but give the same amount of insight as the actual restaurant critics who are the critics in later rounds. Whomst, does this say more about?

The critics are last year’s winner, Olympian Greg Rutherford, and runners-up Dom Parker of Gogglebox and Vicky Pattinson of Geordie Shore. Thomas wants his fish and chips to “cook baby cook,” Myles is keeping it possibly too simple with bruschetta and keeping it definitely making Italians furious with carbonara using cream. Making Italians mad at food is good praxis, so this is fine. Judi is doing a duo of Caribbean brown stew and curried chicken, which has more Indo-Caribbean influences. She also drops a pretty good burn about being used to marinating food for days. Hours is not enough, folks. John brings scallops with pea puree and a chicken and chorizo paella which is more of a pan of rice.

Thomas makes it through, despite his toffee sauce quite literally setting solid and being likened to caramel chewing gum, alongside Judi, who makes it through, like, on merit. Myles played it too safe, despite being an early front-runner, and John’s lurch to European dining — attempting to show a versatility he probably didn’t need to — cost him. Choice judging phrases: “I’m not going to bodyshame his tart; garlic garlic garlic; I’ve had worse.”

Tune in on Friday for heat two!