When Masterchef season 3 began, I said to myself, “Unless I’m wrong, it looks like the contestants this year are amongst the most talented to appear on Masterchef ever”. It turns out I was wrong, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that most of these people, rather than work on their kitchen skills, have been spending the last few years practicing stating the obvious.

We started off the week with the contestants jetting off to the dazzling delights of the Western Australian mining district, and area known for its fresh food, so long as that food is scrub and roadkill. The contestants were forced to cook for 7813 hungry miners over a 24 hour period, with the miners voting on the team they thought did the best at each of breakfast, lunch and dinner, or as they are known in the effete mining industry “brunch, high tea, and refection”.

Jay was nominated captain of one team and Danielle captain of the other. However, because they were surrounded by not only hungry but possibly horny miners, Dani and Kate were nominated vice captains to organise prostitutes and pornographic materials, and any other vices that the miners admitted to having.

The task set temperatures soaring in the kitchen. Sun, for the blue team, blasted the red team when she discovered that the hot plate cooking their curry had been turned off. However, Kumar, also for the blue team, admitted to Sun that it had been he who had turned it off. Sun blasted the red team for taking their seventeen lamb racks from the oven. However, Kumar, again, admitted responsibility, stating that he had been a little “peckish” and thought no one would notice. Sun blasted the red team for the continuing divide between the haves and the have nots in the world. However, Kumar, again, admitted responsibility, stating that in his former role as economist for the World Trade Organization he had been responsible for putting in place many of the policies that enforced, rather than dealt with, that very divide.

For the blue team, Rachel spent most of the challenge telling anyone who would listen and many who would not that her husband had worked that very mine for 10 years, that she, and her husband, were West Australians through and through, and that she understood the the hard, unforgiving, terrain of the mines took its toll on the men and women that worked there, because she had “read some books about it”. Jay attempted to deep fry the bacon to promote crispiness, earning a sharp rebuke from Gary who called Jay a “cowboy”, cowboy’s being well known for the propensity to randomly deep fry things.

For the red team, Danielle burnt the chicken cacciatore and they failed to have their salad ready for the lunch service. On the flipside, Andrew served up his speciality Barramundi, frozen in the middle and on the outside. This was a salutary lesson for Andrew, on the importance of checking every dish that goes out as well as the relationship between heat and things being hot.

Notwithstanding all the chicanery, the blue team prevailed. The miners voted with their little coloured tokens for the team which caused fewer urgent trips to the latrine, which just goes to show that the old adage “7813 hungry miners can’t be wrong, unless they are illiterate, misled or uninformed” was proved right again.

The blue team’s reward was to cook in the confines of the beautiful Margaret River area, using some of the freshest produce the location has to offer, while for the red team their punishment was to go back to the miners and do another 24 hour shift. One wonders why the miners were similarly punished.

At the stunning Margaret River, the red team were each given a protein indigineous to the area with which to produce something special. Kumar, receiving a giant ostrich egg, began by attempting to recreate Humpty Dumpty, but had great difficulty corralling enough horses. Instead, he went for seasonal vegetables in an egg basket. Peter went made a crab salad with seasonal vegetables. Jay made poached marron with seasonal vegetables. Sun made venison in a red wine sauce with seasonal vegetables. Rachel cooked lamb rump with seasonal vegetables. Michael served up olive oil poached goat with, you guessed it, seasonal vegetables.

The best dish came down to Jay and Michael. Guest judge Jake Drachenburg thought that both had done a great job with the seasonal vegetables. George thought Michael had included vegetables that were seasonal to a greater extent than Jay, whereas Mat Preston stated that, considering what season it was and considering what type of vegetables had been used, Jay had provided a better representation of the season within those vegetables than Michael had. In the end, Jay was pronounced the winner, though there was barely a seasonal vegetable between them.

Jay’s reward was a long walk off an even longer pier, where he was up against executive chef Tony Howell, cooking a seafood stew using fresh (and seasonal) produce from Western Australia. Howell let the viewers in on his philosophy of keeping it fresh and keeping it simple, ignoring the market for hundreds of people around Australia and the world who enjoy complicated, rancid food.

The competition was hot from the get go, with both men making elementary school boy errors, such as leaving the abductor muscle on the scallops and forgetting to carry the two in long division. Although Tony Howell said it wasn’t rocket science, he ignored the fact that rocket science includes an element of fresh food preparation.

The contest went down to the wire in Jay’s underwire bra, but in the end Tony Howell showed the great divide between professional and amateur when he beat used car salesman Jay by a massive one point.

After their West Australian jaunt, the contestants arrived back exhausted and very exhausted. However, they weren’t given a minutes rest, rather 10 minutes in a pantry made to look like a Coles supermarket in an effort to appease the sponsors.

Shannon stockpiled all the cans of condensed milk, obviously concerned that the world has reached peak condensed milk, or banking on the possibility that when the oil starts to run out that some zany, yet loveable, yet misunderstood, yet dangerously underqualified, scientist, discovers that the only substance on earth that can provide power AND tasty deserts is condensed milk.

Andrew continued on his quest to be portrayed as the fun loving, game playing, clown slaughtering jester of the group. He made crab and clam mousse tart which Gary thought was over handled. Andrew said it wasn’t his hands that he’d used. Gary said the mousse was “ gag material”. Andrew thanked Gary and said he’d been working on his comedy routine.

Shannon and Billy were deemed to have cooked the two best dishes, whereas Andrew and Kumar were chosen as the two most reprehensible cooks of the day. As a result, they would face elimination together.

At the elimination challenge, Peter revealed that the contestants had taken to referring to Kumar as “the panther” because he is propensity to wear pants, while Andrew had earned the nickname POI, which in police terms means “person of interest”. The challenge involved “improving” a massaman curry. Kumar started by suggesting it be sent to a course to learn about “workplace ethics and conduct”, but Gary noted that in this case improving referred to the taste. While this setback initially threw Kumar, he set about the challenge with gusto, whereas Andrew set about it with thinly veiled contempt for human life.

The final two dishes presented by Andrew and Kumar were contrasts in flavour and texture. Kumar’s meat was tender and tasty, whereas Andrew’s was inedible and suspiciously smelt of chloroform. However, Andrew’s sauce was luxuriant and velvety, whereas Kumar’s was chunkier than a female body-builder’s g-string. Matt and Gary were split on who had the best dish, forcing viewers to wonder why you would have only two judges there, but they found a way around the impasse by choosing the winner based on kissability. It was a contest Kumar was born to win.

Andrew left with his head held high, partly because of the stench coming from his dish, but also because he knew he had given his best. The end credits informed us that Andrew is still looking for work in a commercial kitchen, putting his sauce range on hold while he takes time off to raise kittens.


MasterChef Australia – Sun/Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri 7:30pm, Ch10.