MasterChef viewers have grown used to the spectacle of dishes wreathed in dry ice or foam by young chefs keen to push the boundaries of their craft.
But the latest passion for ‘extreme’ ingredients appears to have left a nasty taste in their mouths.
When BBC MasterChef contestant Natalie Macfarlane presented the judges with a chocolate mousse made with sweet potato it did not go down at all well, with some of the programme’s viewers decrying it as “one hipster idea too far”.
And seasoned chefs have warned that would-be cooks should concentrate on the basics before turning to experimental techniques and ingredients.
Natalie used sweet potato as one of the principal ingredients in her chocolate mousse dessert, leaving the guest judges, previous MasterChef champions Peter Bayless, James Nathan and Mat Follas, complaining about the dish’s “grittiness”.
Natalie's chocolate mousse, with sweet potato
In the end she made it through to the next round, but many viewers were less forgiving, leaving a string of acerbic comments on social media.
Cate Tyrrell, the poet and children’s author, said: “Who puts sweet potato in a chocolate mousse? That’s one hipster idea too far.”
Lauren Brown, from Wellington, New Zealand, wrote: “Can we agree that you probably don’t like the mousse because potato has no place in a chocolate dessert?”
Now award winning chef Richard Turner, of the Hawksmoor restaurants in London and Manchester, has warned that too many young cooks are rushing to experiment with novel ingredients before mastering basic techniques.
Custard ravioli, served on BBC MasterChef
“Chefs constantly try to outdo each other with amazing new things and often they’re not focusing on cooking nice food,” he said. “It can get a bit silly. If you’re a young cook get the basics right first, with classic French or modern British, and then move on to the interesting combinations.”
Natalie’s bizarre combination followed another contestant’s decision to stuff pasta ravioli with custard for a dessert, while a number of others in the current series have used ash in dishes such as ash baked celeriac and leek ash.
That prompted derision from several of those watching at home.
One wrote: “Next time I burn something whilst cooking, I’m going to pretend it was deliberate and call it ‘ash’” while Jasmine Rose said on Twitter: “Feta and pineapple spring rolls and leek ash. Only on MasterChef! Eww.”
#MasterChefUK Who puts sweet potato in a chocolate mousse? That's one hipster idea too far 😬
— Cate Tyrrell (@catetyrrell) April 19, 2017