MasterChef Australia – Sun 7:30pm; Mon-Fri 7pm, Ch10
Last night on Masterchef, Audra won immunity, but not for herself as Mindy led Team Mindy to glory by selecting the right team and also doing something else. For his part, Shaun Presland celebrated failure by undertaking ritual suicide. Tonight, two teams battle it out for charity as the pressure of cooking for the famous and barely known takes its toll.
After the frightening opening credits, where a group of people do gut churning and possibly illegal things to food, it’s funky Sydney time as the jangly guitars and the punchy bass lay it on thick. Everyone’s happy for Mindy, well except maybe Kevin, Lydia, Matt and Kath. However, the mood is deflated with the arrival of refrigerated trucks working for a charity. Nothing brings down the mood like charity.
The challenge is simple. Three hours to collect food from well known restaurants and other food related commercial enterprises to serve at a black tie lunch the next day. The catch? The food must be donated FOR FREE!
They rush to select an apron of various colours, those colours being blue and red. Everyone goes for blue, as if sensing some kind of curse has been placed on red. Perhaps Howard Carter was wearing a red Masterchef apron when he opened the tomb of the boy king, Tutankhamen. Perhaps not. These things are never clear. In any event, not everyone can have blue, and so various contestants are forced against their will into wearing red. Amina will be their captain, and for blue the man or woman of the moment is Ben, or Benox as Beau has taken to calling him.
The red team struggle with their identity: are they searching for ingredients to be donated from quality restaurants and businesses so they can cook a three course meal for Australia’s best loved chefs and most tolerated captains of industry? Or are they egg yolks trapped inside the shell of life. The blue team suffer no such qualms as they get down to business.
The red team believe that they need to get what they can get, rather than adopt the more traditional approach of reaching for the stars. The blue team don’t want to get lost, so they make sure that each car is stocked with a person familiar with the streets of Sydney. Wade has experience getting lost in Chinatown and is an obvious choice.
They race around the mean streets of Sydney, armed only with maps, GPS, mobile phones, drivers and assault rifles. Wade places the calls to restaurants seeking their charity; his eyebrows prove no hindrance over the telephonic medium. Alice is similarly safe with her glasses.
The blue team jump out of the cars and run directionless, like headless chickens without heads, picking up supplies but failing to check the use by date. They call back to base, where the others are sitting comfortably chewing the fat, the fat they will no doubt need for their menu later on. Red team pick up supplies also, in eerily similar scenes. They’re off to the Hilton next but Amina wants them to go to Darrel Lea to satisfy a particularly urgent craving for Rocky Road.
We go to a break and when we come back Emma explains what this rather complicated task of collecting ingredients and cooking is. Then the blue team arrive at Darrel Lea and take an order of over 100kg of chocolate and chocolate related items, originally meant for the red team. Red team arrive soon after and are shocked to find the blue team have pulled the rug out from under them. Back at base Julia negatively laments the lack of chocolate and eggs for her chocolate and egg dessert.
Both teams consider their odd bits and pieces of foods and wonder how they are going to feed twenty five people, but generally people in restaurants feed themselves. The teams continue picking up menu items as Julia is still lamenting the lack of chocolates and eggs, until finally Alice lands one kilo of the pure, unadulterated, uncut dark chocolate from a seedy back alley. She says “suck on this blue team” not making clear what she wants them to suck, and our only clue is the fact that Mario is with her.
At the Intercontinental the blue team pick up a 5kg Barra, which may be barramundi or may be a very small chap called Barry. Back at red team, Julia laments her lack of chocolate and eggs, particularly eggs, because she actually already has chocolate. Somehow, Julia’s dreams come true as eggs are sourced from an Italian restaurant in Pyrmont, and, three hours later, both teams return with their plunder.
After the break, Alice explains the rules of the challenge, as Emma has taken the day off. It’s a new day as the contestants walk in wearing their colours. Look, Jules is still there, surprisingly, though I doubt it’s for long. The teams are quizzed about Wade’s eyebrows, before the serious moment of Masterchef arrives. “So many people don’t have enough to eat” says Preston, “lacking their own personal amateur chef brigade. So let’s get in there and make 25 completely unnecessary meals to serve to chefs, critics and business people who can cook for themselves, or pay if they can’t!”
Gary lays down the ground rules and explains that Matt Moran is there to enforce these strict service guidelines. They have two hours, and two hours only, to cook before serving. So it’s really only one guideline. And as guidelines are usually flexible, it’s really more of a rule.
As they start the traditional cooking methods of cutting, mixing and heating, Deb shouts encouragement to her fellow red team members, while offering them the best assistance possibly by standing back. Moran comes over to check on Ben, asking him what he’s cooking. “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS BALDY” Ben doesn’t shout, disappointingly. Instead he explains his menu. Moran is not happy about the waste, and suggests, with all the different types of fish, that a fish pie would be a good idea. Ben rejects Moran’s advice initially, but then second guesses himself and tells the camera he’ll be back in a minute. The camera remains mute, like some futuristic visual image capturing device, incapable of emotion.
After we come back from a break, Ben’s consulting his brains trust, which oddly includes Beau. “Should we do a fish pie?” he asks, only partially joking. They decide to go for the pie, Audra confident she can whip up some puff pastry in a short time without eggs. Meanwhile the red team have their own issues, centring around Jules and TK. While Jules was mixing the wasabi mayonnaise, TK, trying to taste it, got her tongue stuck in the mixer. A combined team effort manages to extract her, but as soon as they’ve dealt with one problem another one rears their ugly heads and Gary and Moran sow the seeds of doubt in Amina’s mind, suggesting that braising the beef is boring but mincing it would be the apex of excitement. She falls for the ruse and they decide to make koftas.
After the break, the red team’s mayonnaise is being improved by the addition of more egg yolks, and TK spreads it over the salmon salad. The blue team assemble their fish pie. Gary yells that there are 10 minutes to go, and Andy crosses everything on his body in the hope they’ll make it. Blue team are only just putting the pastry on their pies and no doubt there may only be just enough time.
Even though there are barely minutes left to put on those finishing touches, all the contestants stop to stare in awe at the illuminati walking through the door. They’re all there: that guy who wears the shirt, the lady from you know where, and the fella who’s always at these things. Such famous faces. Preston explains to them that what they’re about to eat today would have ended up in a landfill, and they sit down to look forward to a meal of broken house bricks and shards of glass.
Red team’s salmon tartare is served and instantly the guests begin complaining. A woman with crazy hair and a man with an enormous forehead give their opinions, as it becomes obvious that the guests have been sourced from the latest X-Men movie. Moran reminds them to serve on clean plates, an important but often overlooked step when serving landfill to one’s guests.
Meanwhile Dr Joanna McMillan continues her one woman crusade against bloating and bad bacteria. The world needs more heroes like Dr McMillan.
After the break the electric guitars hit the right notes as the fish pie goes out. Blue team have decided to tell their guests where the food came from, a risky strategy where the ingredients are landfill. A guy with short hair points at his head as if to shoot himself; while another thinks the pie looks utilitarian, or perhaps totalitarian. A man called Colin Holt says he wouldn’t have done a fish pie, preferring instead the opposite sex.
Blue team are powering through their main course but the red team are struggling with their koftas. Red team don’t even have enough time to wipe their plates as the strict service guideline rule thingies are strictly enforced. Enormous forehead man tries to speak, but the size of his skull has rendered him mute, and can’t express an opinion. A man who spells his name ‘Miccal’ is given permission to talk, for some strange reason.
With 4 minutes to go until mains go out Mindy is struggling with the plating as the rest of the blue team stand around staring at the back of their hands. Moran offers the very useful suggestion that they get a system in place for plating up, at the very useless time of one minute to go. With chaos ruling, Ben puts his teacher skills to work at the wrong time and yells at everyone to stop, which is probably the last thing they should be doing. The guests, their years in the rough and tumble of a commercial kitchen forgotten, are shocked to hear someone raise their voice.
When we come back, the blue team serve their raviolo (their word, not mine) with diced Turkish sausage. It’s a big hit, and Preston says he could have it again, next week when he recovered. On desserts, Emma makes a reference to Rocky, before Gary criticises Julia’s meringue. In a rage, she crushes the puny meringue, which surprisingly improves the appearance and calms her down. “It’s a little messy” says Amina, but adds “I would eat it”. This may be elephant in the room time so I’ll shut my mouth. An extra from a martial arts movie that has snuck in for a free feed is critical of the presentation but pipes down when people start wondering who he is.
Meanwhile, Kylie’s dog poo on a biscuit looks suspiciously like a dog poo on a biscuit. Preston asks a guest if it appeals on looks alone, which is the pot making a phone call to the kettle to discuss issues around colour and hue. There is cruelty in this dessert, as the homeless, who are a focus of the very charity involved in this challenge, sometimes have to make their beds in fields soiled by dogs.
After eating, the guests give their scores, in terms of what they would pay for each course. Preston announces that, combined, they raised a total of $32,012. Alarmingly, one dish raised a single donation of $20,000, suggesting that some representative of a large corporation may have indulged in more wine than they should have and accidentally added a couple of zeroes. Nevertheless, it would be bad form to back out now. Preston says that the team that made that dish will probably win the challenge. In fact, the team that made that dish WILL win the challenge, because the donation alone is more than half of the total. However, maths does not figure strongly in the suite of Masterchef judges’ skills, as the score of eleven out of ten for the runner up in Junior Masterchef 2010 will attest.
After the break, Gary says “Wow!” And it’s only at this stage I realise there has been no George all night. Wow! Ben says something about coming quick, and Amina talks about obstacles. I suppose coming quick is an obstacle. Preston talks about the positives as the piano keys are touched lightly. However, following this is the criticism, accompanied by the jarring synth music.
So it’s down to the totals, less the $20,000 donation. Red team made over $3000, which is commendable, but blue team made over $8,000. With the $20,000 donation to be the defining figure, Preston announces that it was donated for the fish pie, so well done blue team. For the red team, there is the prospect of elimination tomorrow. “Celebrate, recuperate, even masturbate”, says Preston, “for tomorrow you may die” he continues, a little dramatically.
Amina says the colour red has to be cursed. Tutankhamen stirs.