#MasterChef recap (Tue 05/06/12)

MasterChef AustraliaSun 7:30pm; Mon-Fri 7pm, Ch10
http://www.masterchef.com.au/
Last night on Masterchef, the blue team led by Sam made the most money and won a shot at immunity in an extraordinary challenge involving buying, cooking AND selling food, just like real people. Tonight, they’re off fishing with the odds heavily stacked against the fish, and in an uncanny turn of events they also get to cook the fish they catch, and one of them will cook off against a real world chef for an immunity pin.

The opening scenes show a gorgeous early morning Hobart as mist shrouds a nearby mountain and a multitude of Tasmanian sins. It’s not called the Sexy Isle for nothing. Amina says she wants her own immunity pin, because she’s sick of trying to win one for everyone else, otherwise known as Mindy. For her part, Mindy laughs with relaxed ease. They travel 40kms away from Hobart as Gary marvels at the serenity. Two rounds, one against each other and one against an undisclosed super being, which will probably just end up being a chef.

It’s a disparate group says Preston as he tells them they’ll be cooking Tasmanian salmon. BUT, before thinking about preparing it, says George, they’ve got to catch it. Well, not exactly catch it but put a net in the water and wait for it to swim in. Kylie says she wants a pin as a security blanket, to cover and warm her on those lonely boyfriend less nights.

George says it doesn’t get any better than this, confirming for viewers that they really have gone back to basics this year if Tasmania is the “highlight”. Just off Bruny Island, thousands of beautiful sustainable fish, not to mention a few hundred ugly ones too. The bigger the fish the longer they get to cook, but also the longer they take to cook so it all evens out in the end. “So shall we go fishing? Well let’s grab Annette” says George, as he kidnaps a female tourist visiting from the mainland.

Ben gets a fish first and it weighs 2.7kg, giving him 27 minutes of cooking time. Amina “catches” one next and hers weighs 3.1kg, giving her 31 minutes. Sam lands a beauty which is 4.3kg, giving him 43 minutes. Mindy gets 28 minutes and Kylie gets a measly 20 minutes.

Sam starts first by virtue of his big fat fish. He’s making pan smeared belly of salmon, or perhaps seared, and he says he’s comfortable cooking salmon because he loves it, much like Jeffrey Dahmer was comfortable cooking his victims and eating them because he was in love with them, and which is also why he kept their bodies in his house. He delicately pin bones the fillet (Sam not Jeffrey), but because it’s so fresh the muscle just won’t release the bones. This is not dissimilar to the problems Jeffrey faced as well. It really is a small world.

Amina starts next and she races into the filleting. She’s making a sashimi dish so she’ll save time on cooking. While this is going on the judges stand to the side and rate the contestants’ chances. George says “bally” instead of belly, but no one takes a cast iron pan to his head which is a clear breach of the rules. Preston is excited by something Amina is doing with her hands, before Mindy gets underway with her Thai style Salmon. Meanwhile Kylie bides her time.

Ben finally kicks off and he is doing a Salmon ceviche with a fennel salad. He’s clearly forgotten the bit in the rules that say he must include tortillas in all his dishes. Finally Kylie gets to start and she races to dry the fish before filleting it. But Gary wastes no time finding fault with her technique and throws in a John Inman impersonation to boot.

With 10 minutes to go Gary lets them know they have 10 minutes to go. Sam needs to get his fish into the pan, but Preston does his best to put him off. A seagull plants itself atop the clock and eyes off the contestants, seeing them only as giant, odd shaped chips. Kylie is worried she won’t get anything on the plate, Sam struggles to present his dish, Amina spills her sauce, and the seagull flies off in disgust. The clock winds down and time is up. Sam is worried his is overcooked and Amina is worried hers is a little simple. Kylie admits that all she’s served is salmon and bread on a plate. And she was worried she wouldn’t get anything on a plate!

“You’ve caught the salmon” (no they didn’t they just used nets) “you’ve now cooked it” (actually three of them are serving it raw) “and now it’s our job to taste it” (eating food is not really a job though is it?) Kylie presents her dish with a side order of tears as she regrets catching the smallest fish and not doing anything interesting with it. George confirms that it lacks something, suggesting it could do with a hat and a fur coat, and perhaps take up the pimping business.

Ben gets short shrift, while Mindy’s is too salty, proving that on her own she’s no chance of winning immunity. Amina presents her sashimi salad. The judges like it and each say fresh in many interesting and varied ways, which is a clue to their thinking perhaps.

Sam is last serving a pan seared salmon with beurre blanc. He says it’s cooked medium, but George says it’s on the edge of being overcooked and over the edge of reason. Preston says it looks like a dish that’s stepped straight out of a restaurant, sadly confirming that he has fallen deep into the seedy world of hallucinogenic drugs and now believes that plates of food can walk.

With the tasting behind them all that remains is to name who will be fighting for immunity. Sam and Amina have the best dishes, but Amina’s is the better. She performs an uncomfortable dance and rap to prove that any affection the audience felt for her so far has been seriously misplaced.

Then they go to Hobart’s Mona, famous for being famous and having something to do with art. Preston says they’re going old school, so no picking teams, it’s just one on one, fair and square, one home cook against 25 years of experience in the form of Philippe Leban. Nothing could be fairer and more even.

George explains the challenging concept of a blind tasting to the bewildered stares of the contestants. Matt Moran arrives with the sternest of glares causing Philippe to try and lighten the mood with a little humour. Moran lifts the cloche to reveal some kind of demonic dessert according to Amina’s reaction, as we go to a break.

When we come back, the dessert is revealed to be raspberries, pistachio crème and orange crème chiboust, which really sound made up. Amina has 75 minutes and Philippe has only 60. Amina begins and does nothing of any significance so that when Philippe starts he almost instantaneously catches up with her. Audra believes Philippe is like a well oiled machine, or that at least she’d like him well oiled. Philippe says that the chiboust cannot be over mixed, but Amina makes a liar of him by over mixing hers.

Audra explains that everyone was going “come on Amina, come on Amina” but didn’t really make it clear why or for what purpose they wanted someone to do that on Amina. With only five minutes to go Amina thinks this might be a good time to be concerned about the fact there is only five minutes to go, and in fact it is the most convenient time to do so. Philippe has already finished as Amina starts plating so he tries to distract her by telling her what to do. Everyone counts down to zero as Amina manages to finish: JUST. IN. TIME!!!!!

The dishes are taken into the judges by nameless waitpersons that are shot after serving lest they reveal who cooked what. The sanctity of the blind tasting is of the utmost importance after all. Philippe’s dessert goes in first and George correctly identifies the chiboust, winning a round trip to Tahiti for two. Gary is critical that it’s clumped together but praises it for its space, which goes to prove he’s a dick. Preston talks about smoothness and flavours as if they’re somehow relevant. Amina’s dish is next, and George notes it’s more spread out and he prefers the former plate. As George serves Preston says it’s like prising and octopus from a rock, something he does regularly in his spare time because he enjoys the cruelty factor. For all of the judges the chocolate mousse stands out, but the chiboust has split according to Gary, and “that ain’t groovy man”.

After a break, Gary explains the immunity challenge is all about immunity, and not about winning a Range Rover or anything. Gary gives Amina a seven, as does George, while Preston gives her an eight because he’s not actually a chef and doesn’t really understand quality. Gary explains to Philippe how much he needs to score to win, because Philippe’s obviously stupid and can’t add numbers together. He gets an eight from Gary and an eight from George, but a nine from Matt, because he’s not actually a chef etc. So Amina misses out but she laughs heartily anyway, shrugging off the disappointment like a drunk koala that has fallen on her from a tree.

Gary explains to the contestants that their week long Tasmanian adventure still has till the end of the week to run, much to the contestants’ relief. Tomorrow, they go back to basics to find and produce their own ingredients and then create the perfect afternoon tea, with the loser facing elimination. And in a tragic sequence, someone will leave a bit of plastic in their food.

Author: Chris Owens

By day, public servant and lawyer. By night, avid television watcher. Avid television tweeter. Avid television critic. Avid. Follow my biting twitter commentary: @Chrisd_Owens

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