This week on Masterchef, we were taught a lesson in the wastefulness of restaurants. We were taught a lesson in the class divide that exists in air travel. And we were taught a lesson in idolatry, in hero worship, and in the highest form of love: the love between an aspiring chef and his or her food hero.
Neil Perry, well known celebrity chef and part time Steven Segal lookalike competition entrant graced the screen with his presence again this year to spruik his inflight meals and dazzle us all with his personality and charm. This time he brought with him a challenge requiring the contestants to cook 8 dishes from his Qantas first class menu.
Michael was shocked and surprised to see his idol, Thomas Keller, make an appearance to judge the contestants efforts. Keller was joined by another well known celebrity chef who most of us had never heard of before, Andoni Luis Aduriz. In a display of wanton arrogance not see since Marco Pierre White refused to cook until all other kitchen staff had had their eyes removed so they could not gaze on his munificence, Aduriz refused to talk directly to the contestants or other judges, choosing instead to communicate through a third person, laughingly described as an interpreter.
The contestants paired up to cook each of the dishes. As they threw themselves headlong into the task, Gary and George exercised their now regular habit of purposely interupting contestants to make things more difficult. “I can see you’re in trouble” says Gary “and that’s why I raced over here to waste more of your time asking inane questions, such as “What do you love about rhubarb?”, “Who’s your greatest food inspiration?” and “Do you think my bum looks big in this?” Next, I will introduce some element of self-doubt when I ask you “Are you sure you should be doing this in that order?”, “Is that really supposed to go in there?” and “Is it supposed to smell like that?” Finally, I will leave you while helpfully pointing out that “You don’t have much time left so you better get a move one” or “There’s only 20 minutes left on the clock, or at least there was when I got here and in fact now there’s only 5 minutes left on the clock” while George shouts meaninglessly “BOOM BOOM SHAKE THE ROOM!” and believe me, if we could shake the room and make your life more difficult, we would!”
Kate and Danielle managed to win the challenge with their snapper poached in garam masala and coconut milk. On the other hand, Craig, Rachel, Shannon and Michael managed to lose the challenge with their inability to follow simple instructions and to manage time effectively.
Craig, Rachel, Shannon and Michael, uncommonly known as the four tops, headed off to elimination together. On the way there, Rachel had the others in stitches with her impression of a mountain goat trying to get into an R-rated movie without the correct identification, but upon arrival at the Masterchef kitchen the time for fun and games was over, as they set themselves for the serious task of making burger, chips and a milkshake.
Michael was shocked and surprised to see his idol, Heston Blumenthal make an appearance to judge the contestants efforts. It was, in fact, Blumenthal’s recipe for burger, chips and milkshake, that the challenge was based on, continuing his exciting journey of upsetting diner’s expectations, usually by presenting a food in a form completely unrelated to the food, though in this case by presenting a very simple food and making it take three and a half hours to cook.
Each of the contestants had their own particular issues with the challenge. Craig misunderstood the recipe and instead of cutting his bun in half and placing the burger filling in between, he used two whole buns, which made the burger so tall he was served with a notice from City of Sydney Council requiring him to either “(a) reduce the height of said burger to a size that would not obscure the view currently enjoyed by residents in the vicinity, or (b) lodge a Development Application including all architectural plans and environmental impact statements whereby the council will consider carefully all objections to the said burger and undertakes to provide the applicant with an answer sometime within the next 5 years”.
Michael, on the other hand, dazzled the judges with his lime milkshake, a milkshake, he said, close to his heart because “…it was my father’s business partner’s uncle’s favourite milkshake and he had so many over the course of his life that his life was actually cut tragically, but unsurprisingly, short, when he suffered an acute myocardial infarction. Oh well, at least it wasn’t an ugly one. Get it? A cute myocardial infarction?” This touching explanation had the judges close to tears and it was undoubtedly Michael’s decision to play the food memory related to death card that kept him in the competition.
Of course, in life there is always one loser and this time, as in many other times no doubt, it was Rachel. Rachel made the fatal mistake of working on her buns when she should have been working “on her meat”, a mistake that had schoolboys and immature men across the entire nation sniggering into their hands. Although she tried to save herself by attempting to flirt with Blumenthal, her statement that he was “the cruellest man that I have ever met in my 40 to 50 years on the face of the planet as Queen of Western Australia” didn’t quite have the desired effect.
At the end of the show we discovered that Rachel had begun a career as a food demonstrator, demonstrating how to prepare, cook and serve food whilst never forgetting where you come from, so long as you come from Western Australia.
Following the execution of Rachel, her best friend Kate prepared for her immunity challenge. On the way there she had herself in stitches with her impression of Rachel trying not to burn toast, but as soon as she arrived at Masterchef kitchen she was still giggling to herself about her impression of Rachel trying to flirt with a celebrity chef.
Michael was shocked and surprised to see his idol, Darren Purchase make an appearance as the professional in the immunity challenge. The task was to cook a dessert entitled, “Banana, Caramel and Rum”. It was actually more complicated then it sounded, having 13 separate elements, including a straight banana. Sourcing a straight banana is an extremely difficult task, as straight bananas are considered defective in the banana community and are routinely discriminated against and, to this day, they are precluded from the right to marry other straight bananas. Thankfully humans are nothing like bananas.
Kate did her best with a most difficult dish. She managed to caramelise the white chocolate. She managed to caramelise the straight banana. She managed to caramelise the milk solids. But she failed to caramelise the judges hearts leaving them uninspired and unimpressed.
The next challenge for the contestants involved a pop up restaurant, Green House by Joost. The concept behind Green House is to run a restaurant in an environmentally sound manner, minimising waste where possible, so that people who live less than 10 kilometres away in trendy inner city houses designed 100 years ago without the benefit of energy efficiency can travel in their four wheel drive behemoths and “do their bit for the planet”.
Michael was shocked and surprised to see his idol, Matt Stone, running Green House, but that paled in comparison to everyone’s shock when Sun was made captain of the blue team. Craig was made captain of the red team, and the teams had to make six dishes, with the amount of waste being counted against the amount of votes either team received. The blue team wasted no time in minimising waste whilst the red team dithered and puzzled over what to use and what to throw away. As the customers milled outside ready to take their seats, Michael was shocked and surprised to see his idols Luke Nguyen, Kylie Kwong and a host of other celebrity chefs whose names he didn’t know but he was sure he idolised, amongst the customers who would sample their wares on that day.
In the end, the blue team were clear winners having served the better dishes and created less waste. Hayden’s idea to deep fry entire prawns, head, shell and intestines included, was typical of their approach and the red team’s less successful idea to deep fry and entire pig, head, tail and intestines included, was typical of theirs.
The red team were all invited to the elimination challenge, which was broken up into rounds, with the best to be eliminated in each round until only two were left for the final cook off. On the way there, Craig had everyone in stitches with his impression of a very successful musician trying to convince everyone that he wanted to change his career and become a chef, but once they arrived at the Masterchef kitchen everyone had their game faces on. On arrival, Michael was shocked and surprised to see his idols, George Colambaris and Matt Preston, locked in a passionate embrace.
The end result saw Craig and Shannon face each other in the final round, with both allowed only nine ingredients. Craig made an elaborate prawn thai curry, so elaborate in fact that George became entangled in it. Similarly, Shannon made toast. And she used all nine ingredients in making toast. Surprisingly, she lost.
After her elimination, Shannon reminded us that she had spent three years getting there, which is a reflection of Sydney’s continuing transport woes. On a brighter note, the credits informed us that Shannon was currently waiting to secure a pastry apprenticeship. Hopefully, she’ll spend the four years wisely and be a fully qualified pie by the end.
MasterChef Australia – Sun/Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri 7:30pm, Ch10.