The Deli Meat That Ended Blake’s ‘MasterChef’ Journey
Blake Werner was pretty confident that his Italian heritage would help him sail through Yotam Ottolenghi's deli challenge.
Faced with nearly 50 different types of cured meats, cheeses, olives and dips, Blake, Anushka, Ben and Tati had to correctly identify each product, picking out the parmesan from the provolone and the morcilla from the mortadella.
As Blake stepped up and confidently picked a hunk of meat labelled number 26, he declared that it was something he'd eaten "a lot of".
"My mum's side of the family is Italian so I'm pretty confident I know what it is," having a chew of the tasty mystery meat.
Blake landed on 'coppa' -- aka capicola -- a cured pork product, but was quickly informed by judge Gary Mehigan that he was incorrect and would be joining Tati and Ben in the second round.
The sneaky meat that was his undoing? Bresaola! A type of cured beef that's salted and dried for two-three months until it turns a gorgeous dark red.
"I usually trust my palate pretty well and growing up with my Italian background, I’m pretty familiar with all the deli meats," Blake told 10 daily over the phone after his elimination.
"It was literally just that brain fade for a minute when I said the wrong thing," he explained, adding that although he's grown up eating both coppa and bresaola, he "just got the two mixed up!"
We had to ask if there was going to be any major fallout from his mum's Italian side of the family after they watch Blake's deli meat faux pas, or as the Italians say, an 'inciampare'.
"I’ve tried to avoid that conversation," he laughed. "It’s probably not ideal but they’re all super proud of me, anyway," Blake said.
The Victorian added that with his Italian relatives all the way over in NSW, he doesn't get to see them that often but will "probably get a few text messages" about bresaola-gate.
After Blake, Tati and Ben were sent into the second round, they were tasked with cooking a dish with one of the deli products they'd identified correctly. Blake's bacon and herbed crumbed beef was cooked perfectly, but his blender blitzed mash didn't stack up, and his 'MasterChef' journey came to an end.
Blake told 10 daily that, although he would have loved to stay a little longer in the 'MasterChef' house, the competition helped him to become laser-focused on his culinary dream.
"I think now I’ve found my calling and that’s working in kitchens," he said, adding that, "as a whole experience, it definitely helped steer me in the right direction".
The 23-year-old recently made the move from working front of house as bar manager at his parents' Spanish restaurant in Patterson Lakes -- Puerto -- to sweating it out in the kitchen as a full-time chef.
"It’s so different to ‘MasterChef’, obviously there are no cameras pointed in your face!" Blake laughed.
"But I guess you’ve got to learn pretty quickly to find that next gear, to really keep up in a commercial kitchen and it’s really invaluable, I’m learning so much," he said.
Blake ultimately dreams of opening his own restaurant in Spain, a country that he describes as his "second home" and secretly rates the Spaniards' version of cured pork as superior to the Italians'.
"I don’t think my mum would like me for saying this but prosciutto doesn’t really come close to a good jamon," he told us.
We're going to miss you, Blake! But at least we'll always have your recipe for quail and jamon with pumpkin romesco.