TV cooking show Masterchef went vegan last night when contestants battling it out for a place in the semifinal were challenged to make a dish without any animal products in it.
The episode’s special guest was chef and restauranteur Alexis Gauthier who held a Michelin star for 12 years. He is the owner of high-end eatery Gauthier Soho, which boasts a fully plant-based menu.
Gaulthier described plant-based food as ‘the future’ during the episode.
Gauthier ditched animal products following protests by animal rights charity PETA in October 2015. [PETA activists] were saying I was a horrible person because I was using foie gras,” he has said about going vegan.
“I thought about it and started to listen to what people had to say about the suffering of animals and thought ‘what am I here for? Is this really the future?’”
He says it was ‘great’ to remove the butter and cream from his food after 30 years of cooking in a traditional French challenge. He now replicates classic dishes like foie gras and meringue using plant-based ingredients.
“It’s very difficult to be creative with plant-based but it offers you a lot of different aspects that you probably never used before,” said Gauthier on the show, talking to the contestants before they undertook their challenge.
“I will be looking for a lot of creativity and hopefully in each one of you there will be a lot of good things coming out.”
The contestant’s dishes included a Greek stew with fava puree, a selection of Italian antipasti including arancini and breadsticks.
One contestant made a dessert platter which included pannacotta made from agar agar, coconut milk, and tofu, cashew mousse, and mango and passionfruit sorbet.
Another offered up an Indian-inspired plate, with chana dhaal, pakora with sweet potato, parsnip, and carrot, and chutneys.
Rising to the challenge
Many of the dishes won acclaim from the judges, with Gaulthier saying eating panna cotta – without dairy – was like ‘being a child and eating it for the first time’.
Speaking to the contestants after judging the dishes, co-host Gregg Wallace said: “I have to congratulate you for how you rose to that challenge. It was just brilliant; thank you.”
UK viewers can watch the episode on BBC iPlayer here