Week 6 started with the foreboding knowledge that 4 of the children would be sent home to their dreary lives replete with uninspiring ingredients and inferior quality cooking utensils, as well as being forced “back to school”, a euphemism for returning to state sponsored or private education to learn. Gary asked the kids to let out an enthusiastic and joint scream, presumably to hide the scream from the producers who had seen the latest ratings. George, between bounces, explained to the bottom 8 that to stay in the competition, there would be two challenges. The first one involved cooking the perfect curry, the last curry having spoiled itself on Celebrity Apprentice.
Assisting with the judging was spice master, master of the spicerverse and former Spice Girl Kumar Mahadevan, who said that the perfect curry must have three things: some curry and two other things.
The children raced into the pantry to stock up on essential curry items. Gracie said she was cooking a lamb Rogan joss, a recipe made famous by sultry songstress Joss Stone. Meanwhile Harry went for that perennial Aussie favourite, butter chicken. On the other hand, Marcus went for something different with his chicken and eggplant “curry curry”, combining the very different flavours of curry and curry.
On the other side of the room, Stephen, in what may have been his first appearance on the show, was cooking a golden fish curry, because the time slot and rating precluded the cooking of a golden shower curry. Dee said he was cooking his grandpa’s beef curry. He described how his grandpa had grown up in India, but was so twisted by racism and hatred that, notwithstanding he had access to a range of different styles and recipes for curries, developed his own. And for Tom, his very spicy curry was the apex in his long running feud with George.
With 30 minutes to go, Jack continued honing his overacting skills when he mimed a life and death battle with the steam coming from his curry, a performance which Gary described as “wishy washy”. Harry, having almost completed his butter chicken realised that he had forgotten to add those ingredients so integral to the dish; butter, chicken and a range of spices.
Finally, with the cooking done, it was time for the tasting, or the reckoning as far as concerned Tom’s Super Hot Super Curry. Marcus’ curry curry was tasted first, and surprisingly no one suggested there was too much curry in the dish. Jack’s masaman curry was next, and the tasting had the judges nodding like bunch of lame dashboard figurines. Following Jack came someone called Stephen, and his golden fish curry got rave reviews, in that if you eat this you must be mad. For Kieren, his duck curry looked particularly unappetising, and that was the highlight of the dish. Gracie was up next and her rogan josh disappointed, while Harry’s butter chicken was described as “not a butter chicken”. Then Dee came up with his grandpa’s beef curry, and his grandpa was instantly eliminated. Finally, Tom presented his “thaiferno”, and George’s head literally exploded, but unfortunately only literally in the Masterchef sense. Tom said that he had learnt that chilli was particularly strong and that people “probably shouldn’t eat Tom’s curries”, rather than the more obvious lesson about just using less chilli.
Stephen, whose name is actually Steven, was the first one through to the next round, followed by Jack. He got rewarded for actually tasting his own food.
With 6 left, only 2 more could go through, with the remaining 4 going back to school. Matt Moran introduced the dish they would have to cook in the pressure test: his signature dessert mango cheesecake with coconut tapioca. Matt said the mango puree had to be smooth and the tapioca had to be translucent and soft. Marcus confessed to not knowing what tapioca was, while Harry confessed to not knowing who Marcus was.
Tragedy struck when Gracie discovered that she had misread the recipe and pureed two mangoes instead of just one, while for Marcus further tragedy struck when he misread the recipe and discovered that it was a recipe for cheesecake and not sneeze cake. With 30 minutes to go, Gracie and Tom realised their cheesecakes weren’t setting, so instead opted to create a diversionary fire. Kieren discovered his cheesecake had set, and screamed “suck Sess”. Whoever Sess is they had clearly bet Kieran’s cheesecake wouldn’t set.
With the cooking done, Harry served his up first. Anna said he had done a stunning job. Tom was next, with his runny cheesecake. Anna said he had done a stunning job. Dee followed Tom, and Anna said he had done a stunning job. Gracie came after Dee, but her cheesecake hadn’t set. Nonetheless, Anna said she had done a stunning job. Kieren was second to last, and Anna said she thought his name was Steven. Gary said he thought it was better than Matt’s. Matt called Gary a fat prick. Marcus was last, and Anna said he had done a stunning job.
After all the tasting, Matt said the decision would come down to the wire, and this turned out closer to reality than anyone expected when it was revealed that Kieren and Harry had been the only ones to NOT include wire in their cheesecakes, and thus were the 2 to go through.
With the final 12 decided, they were informed that there was something wonderful in store for them. They would be going to Los Angeles. The children jumped and screamed with joy, safe in the knowledge that, not only would they get to see one of the most famous cities in the world, but also that Michael Jackson was no longer a threat.
At the airport, the children were screaming “USA, USA” and on arrival, they were screaming “WE’RE IN LA”, and during the airing of this program, I was screaming “SHUT YOUR MOUTHS YOU’RE EMBARRASING US ALL” so it evened itself out in the end. We were then treated to the sight of a grown man flexing his muscles, which is what you expect in a show involving children. Then the show reached Die Hardesque proportions as the children met the judges on a rooftop helipad. It turns out this was for no reason other than to show that LA has helipads.
Then the surprises started rolling in. First, they were informed the scoreboard would be wiped clean. Then, they were told they’d be “cooking for the youngest chef in America” (as Doogie Howser lurked in the wings) “to be awarded a Michelin Star” (forcing Doogie to retreat to the shadows).
The kids were given $50 to spend on produce at the world famous LA Farmers Markets, which I’ve frankly never heard of, to make a 5 star dish. As expected, the clash of cultures, Aussie kids and American retailers, resulted in some hilarious misunderstandings. For example, Greta asked one overly enthusiastic shop keeper where the ochre was, and she was given directions to one of Oprah Winfrey’s 17 mansions. Harry wanted some mince for meatballs, but couldn’t figure out what kilos were in pounds, so just ordered 17 tonnes. Zac was $17 short on his shopping order, was arrested for shoplifting, and was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment under LA’s harsh but fair three strikes rule, having already jaywalked and accidentally propositioned one of LA’s harsh but fair Julia Robertsesque prostitutes.
Once the shopping trip was over, the kids and judges assembled at one of LA’s most magnificent mansions, overlooking the city skylines. There, they got to meat Perry ‘David Hassel’ Hoffman. Indigo felt that it was “so amazing to meet Perry Hoffman” before claiming that she was “a big fan”, but these two statements were in fact non-sequiturs as she began whirring her arms around to cool the other contestants. Hoffman, it transpired, is the grandchild of the owners of one of LA’s best restaurants from yesteryear: the French Laundry. Apparently early LA cuisine tasted like washed sheets.
Harry, a man of high class, was cooking up meatballs. Perry, a man of an American accent, said “good luck Hairy”. Indigo was making a Carpaccio, but in honour of the location, she decided to call it Leonardo Dicarpaccio. Both Zac and Greta were making a gumbo, while Mireade was making a Cob Salad, which contained “your avocado, your lettuce, your tomato, your chicken, your boiled egg” and was a favourite of early convict settlers as it contained so many ingredients the property of someone else.
With 30 minutes to go, Anna ordered that because they’re in the city of angels “we want you cooking like angels” and since angels are a figment of someone’s overactive imagination the children would have been justified in following her exact instructions and downing tools. Indeed, even if you believe in the existence of angels you would have to concede that they have little need for food and even less of a need to prepare food. It would have made just as much sense if she’d asked them to cook like angles, unless you were referring to that Germanic tribe of the same name that first invaded then settled parts of Britain in the Dark Ages.
With 15 minutes to go, Gary tells the kids to, either, shoot for, or at, the stars, each one replete with completely separate meanings. Fortunately the children opted for the former and continued with their cooking. A nearby Ashton Kutcher breathed a sigh of relief as the movie and TV viewing public expressed pangs of disappointment.
With the clock fast approaching zero, panic started to set in as Alysha realised that he chicken may be undercooked. Hopefully George won’t notice. And then they were out of time.
Indigo, Zac and someone named Steven presented their dishes first, and Indigo drew high praise for her actually raw involving no cooking whatsoever dish, whereas Zac’s deconstructed gumbo was criticised for being overcooked. Meanwhile, Steven was ignored. Gary tasted Mireade’s Cob Salad and said “I love a good Cob Salad” but failed to confirm whether Mireade’s was actually a good Cobb Salad or not. Jack, immersing himself in the culture of LA, showed the judges his impression of Hollywood’s worst ever actor, which had them rolling in the aisles. Alysha serve up undercooked chicken, but unfortunately George spotted it before he tasted it.
After the tasting, as the judges stood there, ready to call out the scores, Jack expressed his wish to be one of the top three, to such an extent that he said he was“ crossing my fingers so badly”. He was right of course. No one has crossed their fingers that badly since the one armed man in the Fugitive. However, his poor motor skills worked to some extent as he was awarded third place and 2 points. Indigo was second for not cooking anything, and got 4 points, and Greta got first for her gumbo, and was awarded 6 points.
Finally, all the kids were wearing mouse ears and viewers were left to assume that they were either going to (a) Disneyland, or (b) the sewers of New York. Let’s hope for the latter.
Junior MasterChef – Sun/Mon 7:30pm, Ch10.