Sunday started with the contestants being roused from their beds before the sun had a chance to break and before Sun had a chance to express her feelings about her own inadequacies. They were dragged under cover of darkness to an empty field in the middle of nowhere, also known as Green Hills. Green Hills, in Caloola, is the name of the farm the Moran family has been farming for generations since 2005, and is known for its lamb, potatoes and lambatoes, a genetic mix of lamb and potatoes and an abomination against nature. Caloola is a region know for it’s hobby farms, including the one that grows model aeroplanes.
Once there, rather than the hoped for “dig your own graves” scenario, the contestants were told they had to cook for 200 of the farming community’s closest relatives, mostly brothers and sisters and husbands and wives, over an open fire whilst taking part in an open debate about open relationships in the midst of being openly racist, such as when Sun rejected her lamb as being “too black”. The dishes the contestants cooked needed to be something that pulled at the heart strings of the average country person, so Michael and Billy were on a winner with their Rocky Roads, because no one knows the rocky path of self sufficiency and being at the mercy of nature better than country people. Plus, their roads are, literally, quite rocky. On the other hand, while Peter may have cooked the most flavoursome and best looking dish with his lamb wraps, this cooking contest called Masterchef is about many things, the least of which is cooking and finding the best chef.
So as the contestants finished off their dishes: Hayden with his lamb tagine; Billy with his lamb curry; Danielle with her lamb ragu; Michael with his lamb rocky road; the guests, all 200 of them, began appearing over the horizon, descending on the contestants like Charlie Sheen on a brothel, eager to try each of the many delights on offer.
The guests had to vote for the dish that they liked the best. However, one wonders if their own ignorance and bias played a part in their votes. Even though Peter had prepared one of the best dishes, he was in the bottom three. Is it possible that these country people couldn’t see past their own prejudices? That, because they felt uncomfortable with Peter’s lifestyle choices, they took it out on his food? I mean, if they have no problem with his sexuality, why can’t they also accept that some people actually like to watch “The Ghost Whisperer”? Does it make him any less of a man? Well, yes, it probably does, but that’s beside the point.
For Danielle, however, rather than being a case of bias, it was clear that her dish was one of the least impressive. Her decision to cook gnocchi for a society that is still coming to grips with the introduction of such foreign and bizarre foods as “spaghetti”, “spring rolls” and “Chicken Tonite”, was her downfall, as was her decision to serve it.
And of course Ellie was the other one in the bottom three. But you probably already guessed that.
Ellie, Peter and Danielle were packed off to elimination. The challenge for the three was to put a new spin on that classic dish from the 70s, duck a l’orange. Peter didn’t waste any time using his imagination and so straight away threw himself into the task of cooking duck with an orange flavour. Ellie, on the other hand, initially decided to do duck three ways, because of the old saying “give 1000 monkeys 1000 saucepans, 1000 ducks and 1000 oranges and, if they have an infinite amount of time, it is unavoidable that one of them will become Michael’s food idol” but, upon realising that, although she had access to duck, oranges and saucepans, she had no monkeys and not enough time, she decided to do one dish and do it well.
However, it was Danielle who let everyone down with her orange duck pasta stacks when she left out the orange sauce. As such, she was the one, this week, whose Masterchef journey came to a grinding halt. At the end of the episode, the credits informed us that she was undertaking a part-time apprenticeship and that in the near future she would be doing some work experience with Zumbo. That’s Frank Zumbo of Frank Zumbo’s Plumbing of course, whose slogan is “Shit stirring for 30 years”.
With the elimination out of the way we moved on to the immunity challenge, where Billy, as a result of his rocky road and lamb curry combination, would go up against a professional of the cooking world for the chance to gain an immunity pin. Or would he?
In fact, this week’s professional turned out to be 80 year Merle Parrish, who is the doyen of the cake making world. Merle stole the hearts of viewers and the wallets of the judges when they weren’t looking.
Like most women her age, Merle enjoys nothing more than watching daytime soaps, swapping recipes with her friends, giving children boiled lollies, complaining to the ABC, and looking at naked pictures of Dolf Lundgren on the internet. However, when it came to this Masterchef challenge, the sweet little old lady was replaced by a cake making robot.
Christine Mansfield, who is the doyen of sauce range releasing chefs, was on hand to do a spot of guest judging. Billy and Merle had to replicate Merle’s peach blossom cake and her cup cakes, “her cup cakes” not being a euphemism for any part of her body. Viewers were probably disappointed that Merle didn’t agree to share her recipe for urinal cakes, but that’s a recipe that she’ll probably take to the grave, next week.
Of course, it would be too much to expect Billy, who is the doyen of food bloggers and web designers amongst the contestants, to outdo Merle who has had 65 years experience. So, once again, the opportunity for an immunity pin went begging.
Next up was the team challenge, the teams being broken up into men and women, with Mat having hired a vagina for the day so he could be on the women’s team. The men’s team had to prepare a three course meal for a boardroom of 12 high powered lawyers, whereas the women’s team had to prepare party food for 50 21 year olds.
Peter was the team captain for the men, and their brief was to make a light lunch for the lawyers who had to be out by 2pm to begin ruining someone’s life by 3pm. Peter hit upon the idea of beef cheeks. The logic of beef cheeks being part of a light lunch escaped most, though canny viewers may have seen the relationship between a profession that includes a high proportion of arseholes, and cheeks, which is affectionate name given to a part of the body that encompasses arseholes.
For the women’s team, Ellie was made captain because she had recently celebrated her own 21st, and as such it was thought that she would be better than any of the the other team members at empathising with her cohorts. To save time, instead of hitting the shops for the ingredients, Ellie asked Mat to do a bit of online shopping on his smartphone.
In the end, the women’s team won because they stuck to their brief, while the men’s team lost because they had lawyers for clients who think it’s fun to ruin someone’s day. And it is.
So it was Kumar, Peter, Billy, Michael and Hayden who went off to the second elimination challenge for the week. Hayden wasted no time in using his immunity pin to save himself from the challenge and left the other four to fight it out. The first part of the challenge involved a blindfold and food items, though hopes that Kumar and Michael would recreate the scene made famous by Mickey Rourke and Kim Bassinger in Nine and a Half Weeks were dashed when the contestants were told that they had two minutes to feel and taste a dish and one minute to write down the ingredients.
As the contestants have been reminded by the judges ad nauseum to “taste with your eyes”, this challenge was presented with added difficulties. Kumar had taken the judges advice so much to heart that he had forgotten that tasting food is done predominantly via the taste buds in the mouth and instead tried to taste the food with his hands. As a result he could only think of 4 ingredients out of a possible 726. On the other hand, Michael selected 11 whilst Peter and Billy selected 8 and 7 respectively.
In the second round, Peter and Billy both cooked chicken wrapped in prosciutto, and both ended up being safe. Kumar and Michael, on the other hand, produced dishes that left the judges uncertain. Kumar’s herb crusted pork steaks were a triumph of flavour but suffered from the lack of any discernible crust. Kumar expressed surprise at the failure of his crust to harden. He said it was “odd that the crust was so uncrusty, as I was very careful to spoon litres and litres of hot melted butter over it. So I can’t understand why the crust wouldn’t harden with all that liquid over it.”
In the end it was Kumar’s crust that resulted in him being cruc(t)ified and eliminated from the show. Gary claimed that Kumar had left an impression on the contestants, but Kumar was quick to deny that it was him that had tatooed “Cartman” on Jay’s forehead. Walking out, he earned a handshake from Gary and an uncomfortable man hug from Matt Preston, but he exited with his head held high.
At the end Hayden informed us that Kumar had been much loved in the house. “He was a mentor to everyone and he was a beautiful human, though I presume that now he’s left he’s no longer a beautiful human but a bitter and twisted lonely wretch, because that’s what happens to people who leave Masterchef otherwise why would we all cry all the time at the thought of being eliminated? It’s the only thing that makes sense.”
In his final words, Kumar stated that he would “really love to teach people how to cook, and as soon as I learn myself I’m going to give it a go.” At the end we learned that he is working on a cookbook which he will illustrate himself. With drawings of Gary, George and Matt being tortured.
MasterChef Australia – Sun/Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri 7:30pm, Ch10.