Dessert trio doesn’t have sweet ending for one the final three cheftestants

Devin Hogan, Head Chef and Owner at SMAK Delicatessen and Restaurant in Cape Town, last night bowed out of Top Chef South Africa in the penultimate episode of the series on SABC 3, leaving two cheftestants to go into next week’s final episode. Devin’s pastry work in the dessert themed Elimination Challenge let him down and saw the judges send him packing. 

The pressure was on from the get-go when the remaining three cheftestants went straight into an Elimination Challenge. Judges; Neill Anthony, Lesego Semenya, Lorna Maseko and guest judge; celebrity chef Yudhika Sujanani asked them to each prepare a sweet sensation which included three different types of desserts; one baked, one set and one confectionary item. Yudhika, a self-titled ‘foodpreneur’, cautioned the cheftestants to ensure their desserts didn’t just look the part but that these also tasted good.

With three hours to cook the three cheftestants set out to wow the judges and claim their spot in the finale. Ayabonga Gope admitted to hating desserts but said he knows his flavours well enough to wing it. He made a lemon and lime cheesecake, truffles with shortbread, roasted coconut and berries and a wheat free chocolate cake with cream cheese icing.  Devin, who felt confident going into the challenge, slowly lost his way while making a chocolate sponge filled with cinnamon and chocolate mousse, a strawberry and maple panna cotta and a banoffee pie inspired slice.  Annemarie Robertson was meanwhile intent on out-cooking the other competitors with her basil panna cotta with blueberry syrup and pistachio brittle, peanut butter chocolate cake and passion fruit and white chocolate truffles.

Tension mounted as Ayabonga and Annemarie started plating while Devin was still scrambling to temper chocolate to decorate his chocolate sponge cake. Tripped up the clock he served a rather sad looking cake to the judges. But it wasn’t just his cake that was a let-down for the judges. Devin’s panna cotta garnish was criticised for being strangely salty and his banoffee slices failed to impress.

Devin admitted that he should’ve done more to cook his way into the final. He said he was sad to leave the show, but had an amazing experience that can never be taken away from him.

Meanwhile the closest menu to dessert perfection was that of Annemarie’s. The Executive Chef at Burrata, Bocca and Open Door sailed into the finale and will go head to head with Ayabonga Gope from The Deck House in Cape Town. Catch the finale of Top Chef South Africa on SABC 3 next week Tuesday at 8pm as the remaining two cheftestants, whittled down from fourteen, battle it out for the title of South Africa’s very first Top Chef and R100 000 in cash.

The local version of the hugely successful American TV series by NBCUniversal International Format is produced by Urban Brew Studios.

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