Chef's exit lets him mourn mom
Masterchef SA entered the final straight last night, with the Top 3 being revealed after Sarel Loots left the show.
Loots' exit leaves Manisha Naidu, Sue-Ann Allen and Deena Naidoo to fight it out for the title of South Africa's inaugural Masterchef.
However, the 42-year-old from Sabie in Mpumalanga had no regrets. Indeed, his exit on the prerecorded show proved well-timed as, tragically, his mother died two days later.
He said yesterday: "It was very disappointing, but in a sense it worked well for me.
"It was my time to go, because my mom was very ill. As I got home after the show, I had just enough time to say goodbye before she died.
"It just showed me that there was a bigger picture, in terms of me leaving the show."
He said his friend, Naidoo, had his vote to beat out the two women.
Last night's episode saw the hopefuls unwittingly cooking for their family members (along with the three judges), who did a blind tasting, for the Mystery Box challenge.
They were tasked with creating an "incredible dessert". Sweet potato, oranges, pear, risotto, coconut milk and cocoa powder were among the ingredients in the Mystery Box.
While his competitors made a chocolate fondant with a crème anglaise, poached pear tart, custard infused with Amarula and baking crisps biscuits, Loots chose to make "a simple cupcake".
For the Pressure Test, they had to cook roasted duck breast with hazelnut milk gel, confit duck pastilla and honey-roasted figs for guest judge Peter Tempelhoff for a spot in the final three.
Tempelhoff is from The Greenhouse at Cellars-Hohenort - part of the Liz McGrath Collection of restaurants and hotels.
While the judges complimented Loots for using mushrooms to replace the missing hazelnut milk gel, and on his duck breast, his spring roll was disastrous.
The final trio will visit Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek to meet its executive chef Margot Janse, where they will cook for a spot in the final.