Do you ever have the feeling that the world is against you? That people are waiting for you to fail. That every little thing you do is being analyzed in the hope that you screw up. That no matter what you achieve, those bastards will find some way to bring you down?
If the answer is yes, then you should probably seek some help.
But sometimes it’s not an undiagnosed psychiatric condition that is the problem. Sometimes, the forces of evil are against you and mean only to do you harm. And this is what Cleo must surely have been thinking when she was eliminated in controversial circumstances on Thursday. Without a doubt, and with hardly a shred of evidence on my part in making this assertion, she was one of the better cooks amongst the contestants. And yet she is part of Masterchef no more, all because she misunderstood the rules. What a crazy, mixed up world we have become.
The downward spiral into insanity all began on Sunday, as most weeks do. The contestants were split up into teams of three and the mystery box and the invention test were combined to make the intervention mystery or the box test or something and away we went. There were a number of different mystery boxes, each containing a different kind of protein (or “meat” to you and me) as well as a number of cloches containing a word or two. One member of each team had to lift a box and a cloche and combine the meat with the word. Each of the words were verbs (or “doing words” to you and me) which had, for the most part, something to do with cooking.
Alana, Kate and Arena got lucky when they chose lamb as their meat and frying as their word. Kumar, Billy and Adam scored when they got venison and roast. Danielle, Matt and Andrew hit the jackpot when they picked up scallops to braise. Jay, Michael, and Hayden must have thought they’d won the lotto when they got fish and en croute (or “in pastry” to you and me). Sun, Peter and Craig were over the moon with pork and en papillote (or “in paper” to you and me). Danielle, Cleo and Dani were a little bit miffed to discover that they had poach and squab (or “absoutely vile” to you and me).
However, the real losers in this challenge were Rachel, Chelsea and Ellie, who had to smoke an octopus. This IS as hard as it sounds. Firstly, Tally Ho just don’t make papers big enough. Secondly, if you thought it was a chore to light wet tobacco, you just try and start a fire with a cephalopod as the only available fuel. Finally, the flavour is no better, and possibly worse, than menthols.
And of course, unsurprisingly Rachel, Chelsea and Ellie were the actual losers, meaning the three of them would up for elimination. George variously compared their dish to a tragic farce and “the stolen glance of a 90 year old man’s ‘bog catchers'”, whilst Matt Moran suggested that the dish could have done with any flavour other than ineptness.
Conversely, Sun, Peter and Craig were the non-losers (or “winners” to you and me), meaning the three of them would have a chance at an immunity pin. Matt Preston suggested that their dish was the “warm air that wafts from the car heater as you lie in the back seat of your FJ Holden experiencing your first romantic interlude”, whilst George entered into similar hyperbole when he stated it was “great”.
Rachel, Ellie and Chelsea were packed off to elimination where they had to cook an old Aussie Chinese restaurant favourite, sweet and sour pork, a dish that has probably never, ever been cooked in China. Rachel’s twice cooked pork was, according to the judges, cooked one time too many. Ellie’s rice infused with soy was, according to the judges, too strong on the soy. And Chelsea’s attraction to Alex was, according to the producers, pointless since he had been eliminated.
And so it was that Chelsea too was eliminated. Last anyone heard, Chelsea was living out of a plastic shopping bag and begging for scraps behind Quay, except on Thursday nights when she could be heard reading the bingo numbers out at Merrylands RSL. Oh wait, that’s my Uncle Chester. No, Chelsea has, in fact, since elimination, followed her food dream and now works at Donnini’s in Carlton, where she makes pasta in the morning and works as a waitress in the evenings. She has also started catering small events, such as missing a train and answering the phone when it turns out to be a wrong number. Apparently there is a big market for that sort of thing.
Next, Sun, Peter and Craig faced off against champion professional chef Adam D’Silva for the right to hold the fabulated (made up word alert) immunity pin. They had to cook crispy noodle salad with pork, Coffin Bay scallop with tapioca, and seared ocean trout with a pepper sauce. They didn’t fare well in that the trout was raw and the scallops were overcooked. And they fared even worse in that the trout was freshwater and the scallops were from Botany Bay, and the salad was neither crispy nor noodle. Still, their hearts were in the right place. In the middle of their chests, slightly to the left. Nonetheless, no immunity pin.
Next, all the contestants jumped into black cars and headed to Cronulla beach for a sausage sizzle of massive proportions. On arrival, Gary suggested that Kumar might like to wait this one out in the car, as the locals milled around him shouting barely discernible chants, presumably to encourage him. However, Kumar, being the trooper that he is, agreed and legged it.
The purpose of the seaside visit was to cook sausages that the contestants had to make on the spot. That’s right, make on the spot, sand and all. The contestants were split into two teams, the ever reliable blue and red, and Hayden, who knows beaches like the inside of a dumpster, bellied his tender years when he provided all the other contestants with this pearl of wisdom “The ice cream has to be cold. There are no ifs, buts, or ifbuts about it. Cold ice cream good. Hot ice cream bad. Imagine some young tadpole or whatever you call prepubescent lifesavers biting into a piping hot ice cream cone and burning their tongue so much that they can no longer taunt non-anglo saxon people with racist threats, I mean sing in the local Hillsong choir. Nipples, that’s what you call them. I mean Nippers. Young lifesavers.” What ice cream has to do with sausages only Hayden knows.
The upshot was that the red team ended up making more money than the blue team. Not because they were better than the blue teams, but because, instead of meat they stuffed them with pork, fennel and heroin and shipped them to Cabrramatta via Central Station, using the anuses of previous contestants of Masterchef to get them there. Sometimes it’s the only way to make a living.
And so the blue team were forced into another elimination. This one involved cooking a sponge, custard, toffee and ganache, with each one to be completed before moving on to the next. Then the four had to be combined into a dessert of some description.
This is where the shit hit the proverbial fan (proverbial fans being like other fans only with a super fast setting). Each of the contestants bar one where able to follow the rules and do each component before moving on to the next one. However, Cleo, in such an overt display of cheating not seen since George W Bush stole the 2000 US election, began to prepare her ganache before she had finished her toffee. You could literally hear jaws thudding to the floors of ordinary Australian families.
But wait, there’s more. Not only did Cleo engage in an act of subterfuge that was so low she had Tony Abbott taking notes from the gallery, but, even after receiving clear instructions from George that she should not work on her ganache until the previous “allament” was finished, she worked on the ganache before the toffee was finished! It was as if she didn’t know what an “allament” was! What is she, hard of hearing?
Still, the judges saw through her tissue of lies. As a result, they decided to judge her only on her sponge and custard, which they thought was wonderful. Sun, on the other hand, had made custard that tasted like Himmler, sponge that looked like Ed O’Neil, and ganache that smelt like the Ganges after a serious case of dysentery had run through half the population of Kolkata. In fact, the only thing that saved here was a brown substance smeared on some paper. Yes, that’s right, the toffee.
So even though Cleo was one of the better cooks; even though her dessert was ten times better than most of the other contestants; even though Sun had all but said her farewells and walked out the door; Cleo was eliminated. Yes, that’s right, eliminated!
And why? Because they could no longer trust her. Because once a cheat always a cheat. Because she would take advantage of the judges’ kindly natures time and time again. Because a leper never changes its spots.
Yes, that’s right, a leper. Bloody lepers.
MasterChef Australia – Sun/Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri 7:30pm, Ch10.