MasterChef semi-finalists battle broken ice cream machine

The semi-finalists struggled to feed 70 guests in time at a special dinner celebrating MasterChef's 20th anniversary after technology failed them.

MasterChef Semi-Final 20th Anniversary Dinner John Torode, Gregg Wallace
MasterChef celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a dinner cooked by the semi-finalists. (Shine TV/BBC)

The MasterChef semi-finalists struggled to finish preparing their banquet on time after their ice cream machine broke down.

Eight contestants have reached the semi-final of the BBC cooking competition, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2024. To mark the occasion the semi-finalists were tasked with preparing a banquet for 70 guests at London's Fishmongers' Hall.

But the dessert team almost didn't complete their dish after the industrial ice cream machine broke down.

MasterChef S20,14-05-2024,Semi-Final 1 - 20th Anniversary Dinner,Franc Roddam, April Jackson, Gregg Wallace, India Fisher, William Sitwell, Nieves Barragan Mohacho, Monica Galetti,MasterChef 20th Anniversary dinner at Fishmonger’s Hall, London.

Guests at the banquet included voice of MasterChef India Fisher [centre front], who narrates the show. (BBC)

Contestants Mary, Abi and George were put on the dessert team making meringue tart with coconut and mango ice cream. Abi and Mary struggled to prepare 70 neat pastry cases under time pressure but things really took a turn for the worse when the ice cream machine repeatedly broke down on them. The contestants were eventually forced to spoon the ice cream mixture out into a smaller machine with service on the starters about to start.

Host John Torode donned his chef whites and stepped in to help the semi-finalists plate up. First it was a starter of red mullet and scallops, which was served on time. Guests at the banquet included past MasterChef winners, past guest judge professional chefs, and voice of the show India Fisher. Louise and Chris made the starter and were judged to be the best team, going straight through to the next round.

Cliodhna, Tom and Brin served the main course of pigeon wellington and duck breast. They forgot to put the fenugreek into their Duxelle mixture for the wellington but added it in at the last minute. Torode feared they would not cook the wellington in time, but they did and the feedback from the guests was positive.

Mary, George and Abi were relieved to discover that their ice cream had set in time to serve.

Brin wants to put his skills to the test on MasterChef. (BBC)
Brin said he thought the MasterChef banquet was a bigger day in his life than his wedding. (BBC)

Torode and Gregg Wallace joined in the applause for the cooks as they congratulated one another on 20 years of the show. Vet Brin, 28, from Bristol told the guests: "It was the biggest honour to cook for you guys. I'm getting married next year and I don't think it's going to be as big as today!"

Cliodhna has burst onto our screens on MasterChef. (BBC)
Cliodhna was sent home from MasterChef in the first semi-final. (BBC)

After Louise and Chris were put straight through to the next round the remaining contestants had to cook a dish including their least favourite ingredient. Mary cooked rabbit, Brin used grapefruit and Abi declared her most disliked food to be blue cheese. George cooked with pear, Cliodhna admitted she hates chocolate orange and Tom used mussels, confessing: "Can't stand the sight of them."

Tom, 42, from Carlisle and comeback contestant Cliodhna, 25, from Lancashire were sent home.

MasterChef continues on BBC One at 9pm on Thursday.