MasterChef: liveblogged

Who did the nation's toughest food critics send home? Follow Anna Pickard's live blog, with extra Jay Rayner

The temperature in TV's most blogged-about kitchen is rising to boiling point - it's only a week to go to the final of MasterChef 2009.

Anna Pickard liveblogged thursday's semifinal as the semi-finalists cooked for three of the country's toughest food critics (and believe us when we say food criticism doesn't get tougher than this). Find out how it all went down: click below to follow the show. Ooh, that rhymes.

As always we're after your recommendations for the most bizarre banter from John and Gregg to add to the ever-growing MasterChef random nonsense selector, and if that weren't almost too much on its own, come the final next week we'll be inviting all and sundry to play MasterChef Bingo with actual prizes!

What we'll do is this. From your suggestions for the random nonsense generator thingie, we'll pick the best and we'll divvy them up in the comments box amongst those of you who have confirmed you'll be playing. Then whoever has the most matches to actual phrases on the night, wins. Simples. We may throw in a couple of dead certs too. Masterchef themed prizes from the Masterchef people will be included.

So limber up your laughing gear and prepare to suspend your disbelief because

7.55pm ... It. Doesn't. Get. Tougher. Than this.

Not brain surgery, nor ice trucking (it's a thing, I saw it on the Discovery Channel) nor battling against the elements and guerrilla forces to bring aid to war-torn communities. No. Prepare to watch some people make some food and two shouty gastromen shovel it into their waiting mouths. For it doesn't get tougher than this.

Yes, only four men remain, and this is the last semi-final-final before the real final. What's more, it promises not only our own lovely Jay Rayner, but our own lovely jay with a marvellous tan, he says.

What's not to wait for? I'm on tenterhooks here!

Back in a few minutes...

8pm Now there's John and Gregg, in perfect harmony with food, television, and each other: but most of all, with the power of shouting:
"This, is ONNNNNE tough competition!"
"Whoever WINS will changer their life. For Ever."
"Cooking DOESN'T get tougher. Than this."

They're now basically interchangeable - it's a beautiful symbiosis of flavour (John) and texture (Gregg). And within seconds, Gregg hits us with a perfect piece of WoM-Bingo ggenius:

"That's a perfect, perfect harmony of tiny dancing flavours."

Or, as the rest of the world knows it: food.

8.05: Today, all the men will be sent to kitchens where, their individual weaknesses will be addressed - Chris has problems with timing (and I think many will be able to relate to that); Andy needs exactitude; Christopher is inexperienced - Matt, big, hearty Matt with his shiny head and the Ming the Merciless beard, is going to learn elegance.

Elegance in cooking, that is. They're not going to put him in a ballgown. Though we can hope. Would be nice to have a little feminine influence on the proceedings.

8.13: After a morning of learning their individual restaurants signiture dishes and attempting to reflect upon their personal flaws while doing that, the cooks have to prepare their dishes for a busy lunchtime crowd.

Timing gets the better of Chris - unsurprisingly, and he has to make his main again.

Andy's been preparing a Poulade de Breast, which seems to go well; a lady by lunchtime is presented with a whole chicken, which she likes. "It seemed to be cooked all the way through..." she says. Brilliant. Andy's managed to find the most easy-to-please consumer in the history of restaurants.

This can surely be beaten by one of the critics coming up with a glowing "I loved it! I mean, it wasn't OFF, was it? So yeah! Top marks."

Well, we can hope. Meanwhile, I'm trying to work out why I can't see all your comments in another window, and whether it's something I've done. So if I'm not responsding to your comments quickly - apologies.

8.20: Hearty Matt has the most trouble: his first piece of lamb is basically uncooked - but he manages to sort that out soon enough. His next task, having to cook things in the perfect order, perfectly, and with grace and skill. He does it! We cheer! I can see the headlines now:
Man Puts Things On Plate Triumph!
but that's probably why no one employs me to write headlines.

Now, the contestants must cook a dish based on their experiences...

8.24: Chris is making ... well, something; I missed it. Sorry, I can't rewind on iPlayer. But he's looking cool and confident, and makes a big thing of how few ingredients he's using. Oh Chris Chris Chris: just because you're not using many ingredients, doesn't mean it can't be faffy.

Matt's making Scallops and Other. Big flavours, but with a sense of refinement gleaned from the ktichen of his morning experience: "I'm a big chap, so it'll be unexpected to have me come out with something with flowers on!" he says.

I may have been only half listening, but Andy seems to be wrapping veal in lard. I'm never eatin' where he's cookin', and that's the end of it.

8.27pm "It's a light dish, with a big flavour ... and"
Sorry, I lost track of that when I initially typed it as bug flavour, and then became too amused to type the rest. They really like Chris' dish, though. John particularly likes it.

"It's long, it's elegant in your mouth - just keeps on coming and coming and coming" Says John.

And that's just so perfect - I have nothing to add to it.

8.31: Has the voiceover lady always been this sexy and disapproving sounding? She really does come across as Mean Mistress Masterchef, Punisher of the Puddings, Dominatrix of Dessert and Whipper of Cream.

"By the end of today one dream will be OVER" she says.

Yes. Who's been naughty?

8.33: Chris is calm - and determined. He's starting quickly in order to get his timing right, and he's in it to win. You'll have to excuse me if I don't get all the ingredients here - as I say, no pause button, so I may have to improvise around the edges...

Steamed Seabass wrapped in lettuce with a mumble, widget and dill foomph on the side.

And then beef. But beef pronounced in a 25-syllable way.

Andy's making seared tuna served with 'something that goes with tuna'.

And for his main - Rump of lamb with bulgar wheat and a spoon full of yum, with a whojamaflip confit on the side.

For Matt, Surf and Turf, beef and something, mashed potato and a handful of stuff, possibly liquid stuff.
The man's doing a dessert - a nice little lime tart. But how will that delicate little tart balance his beef, asks Gregg (heh!). My tart? It's not that delicate. Says Matt. Oh Matt, learnt nothing?!

Christopher's doing Steak and Mash, followed by Pear Tartin. Which is "right up" one of the judges "strada", the ponce. Still, it sounds like a good menu, and Christopher is confident, for once. Go go gadget-neckbeard. I mean 'Christopher'.

8.40: The Critics Have Arrived. And most importantly, Jay Rayner, with his beautiful flowing locks.

Jay's fish isn't cooked - worries that Chris might be trying to kill him. I doubt it; he's proably just jealous of your tan, Jay.

Chris's main ends up unappealing, a large lump of beef balanced on top of a smaller - now bloody - mashed potato.

If your mate cooked it, you'd like it enough for a dinner party, say the judges. Not impressed. At all.

8.44: Andy's seared tuna and fancy confit, meanwhile, goes down a treat: it's light, it's fresh. Jay's impressed by this, and even more so by his Middle East-inspired main.

Jay thinks it makes sense Charles Champion agrees. Kate Spicer just eats.
So she likes it then.

You know who I'm surprised not to see here? Toby Young. You should have seen the lead up to his judging appearance on Top Chef: "Famed Food Critic Toby Young", they shouted over the flashing images. Eyebrows were raised, I tell you.

8.47: Matt's beef and oyster gets mixed reviews. "Looks like a bogey on some meat" says Spicer, which at least explains why her mouth isn't full.

His desserts are late - he needs to get them out of the tin unbroken, which means letting them cool. The judges are unimpressed, though you have to note that Jay's getting all the witty quips and bon mots today: "It's certainly a lime tart." He says, gurning - "though marginally better if you have the dessert wine: it's the kind of dish that'll turn you to drink"

Boom BOOM!

8.51: Christopher is entirely made of WIN. His steak is a good piece of meat, his mash wins the mash pf the day award from the critics - not hard when you have three mashes to choose from (now that's what you get with a mainly male final)

His pear tartin, meanwhile, is the best thing EVER, say the judges.

8.53: The judges sum up: "You can usually depend on one dish to be completely laughable" says Kate Spicer, disappointedly "Today they were all alright".

Christopher and Andy get the big thumbs up: Chris and Matt are the wobbly ones.

We go over to the John and Gregg's secret cabin to watch their deliberations.

8.57: And after those deliberations, in which John and Gregg say the same things as the critics, as me, and as everyone at home - but with more close up nodding, they line the men up and...

CHRIS - you're going home

That's Chris the father of two desperate to move out of his call centre management job and into the world of food ... he ... well. Isn't. Not today.

Sorry Chris.

8.59: But thank you to you all.
And thanks to star of screen and page, Jay Rayner, for giving his take in the comments. Apparently he's in the States for Top Chef. You know, like Toby Young, but ACTUALLY a famed food critic. So hurrah for that.

(Meanwhile, I'm now starving, it's lunchtime where I am, and I'm off to get a burrito from the taco truck down the road: best in town, they say. Masterchef THAT, Torode)

Thank you for your comments and your kind attentions, and good night.

Next week: the final!


Anna Pickard

The GuardianTramp

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