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MasterChef strog sparks spicy debate

By Amanda Pitcher
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MasterChef contestant Sharnee Rawson was booted from the current season of the cooking show for failing to include paprika in her recreation of the classic '70s dinner favourite, beef stroganoff.

Rawson said she had never eaten the dish, which originated in Russia and consists mainly of slices of beef sautéed and served in a sour cream, onion and mushroom sauce over pasta, according to Beefstroganoff.net.

In the latest elimination episode, Rawson was required to recreate a beef stroganoff from taste — without recipe books or a list of ingredients.

Judges were pleased with Rawson's dish — with cravat-wearing Matt Preston declaring the dish "delicious" — but they concurred her failure to include what they claimed was an essential stroganoff ingredient was a critical flaw.
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Fans of the reality TV show reacted quickly to the episode on the MasterChef forums, pointing out that paprika was never included in the original strog recipe.


"To the judges, from my Russian wife and Russian mother-in-law (both excellent cooks), please learn the ingredients of a true original stroganoff first," member Angler03 posted.

"There was never ever paprika used. This spice was not available until fairly recently in Russia. It [is] also a spice not liked by Russians."

The argument that the task was to recreate the dish they had tasted, which contained paprika, not to recreate the classic original, held no water with one MasterChef forum member.

"If a dish to be replicated on the show is given the name of 'beef stroganoff', then only the authentic recipe should be used!" forum member AndieCapp wrote.

"If, on the other hand, the contestants are asked to replicate some weird New World concoction of what the judges or chefs on the show deem to be 'beef stroganoff', then the contestants should be told that it is not an authentic recipe but a 'MasterChef-adulterated creation' and the dish should be given a suitably new name. Maybe 'beef stroganoff with an Aussie MasterChef twist'!"

Other forum members questioned the authenticity of having paprika in even an Australian version of the dish. "[Even] Aussie stroganoff hasn't got paprika. Check '70s recipes ... Margaret Fulton, or [Australian] Women's Weekly or other recipes," MsPinkPiglet posted.

Rawson hasn't let the strog get her down, saying in a post-elimination interview she had achieved everything she had wanted to on the show, and is now working in her mother's catering business.

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