MasterChef Australia – Sun 7:30pm; Mon-Fri 7pm, Ch10
Previously on MasterChef Australia, two teams created pop-up food poisoning joints and the Red team again conquered despite being lumped with Alice while the Blue team lost despite having Amina. Debra made a stand for menopausal amateur chefs around the world and Mindy & Kylie acted like they’re untouchable. At some point Andy may or may not have stabbed one of his fellow blue team members for not plating his dish right but we can’t be sure because the editing is always so repetitive because the editing is so repetitive because the editing is so repetitive.
Tonight the Blue team – Audra, Amina, Jules, Andy, Wade & Debra – all battle it out in a challenge personally managed by “the godfather of modern cooking” – some guy from England called Mark Peter White. It’s do or die as two of the six will be sent packing without passing go, collecting $200, or packing their bags to go to Italy. Shit, you’re not supposed to know that yet – except for all the promos that started earlier in the week. They will, however have the chance to be condescended to in the most spectacular of manners by the most spectacular of self-absorbed egotists.
Audra feels pretty crap about leading her team to abject failure last night. So much so she starts the day by contemplating suicide by jumping out of the MasterChef House ground floor balcony, but her inner monologue talks herself out of it. She is given the honour of presenting the other losers with the loseriest of black aprons ready for whatever challenge awaits.
The 6 enter the kitchen to the applause of the winners of the last challenge. Audra makes a break to the front and throws herself on the mercy of Gary & Crazy George. “Who thinks they’re going home tonight?” asks Gary. Debra sticks her hand up, noting her menopausal tendency to do exactly what nobody thinks she’ll do. Wade cries at the though of leaving his bunkmate Ben, and Amina professes her undying love for the competition. She starts to cry as she admits she wants to leave nursing, even though she loves it, to have a career in food.
Crazy George continues to spew forth falsehoods in assuring the Cheftestants that whatever they put up is “you on that plate”. The sheer physics of them being on the plate while carrying it forward aside, it just sounds dumb. Gary prepares this bottom 6 by telling them to put their shoulders back, tits out, turn around and bend over. “We want to give you every opportunity to succeed,” he tells them, before they all hear the very distinct sound of pants unzipping.
Moments later Gary again addresses them, looking a little sweaty. Tonight they’ve brought in one of the very best chefs in the world to mentor them. Unfortunately the aforementioned Mark Peter White wasn’t available, so instead they go his French-sounding anglo cousin Marco Pierre White instead. The Cheftestants explode with delight – only figuratively (sadly not Alice literally) – as the uber-confident chef strides into the arena. White is like the ultimate bond villain – calm, ego-centric, disturbed, silent as he walks, smug, slightly deranged hair. “I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time with you,” he says, his eyes glinting. Wade faints.
Gary asks MPW to recount why he loves cooking, and a random dissertation of “cooking’s a quote a day calendar” quotes spew forth from the tall chef. Things like “Always wash your hands before preparation” and “Say hi to your mum for me”, along with the old chestnut of “The more you do to food, the less it becomes”. He’s so inspiring Mindy ovulates at the thought of him glancing up at her.
The Cheftestants get read the rules: an open pantry, and 20 minutes to prepare an entree for Gary & George as judges, while MPW stalks them in the kitchen as they work. The bottom three from that round have to then prepare a main and a dessert in an hour – the best combo saves that person, the other two are eliminated. Sounds easy, huh? It is until MPW is asked for his last words of advice: “Keep it simple. Keep it so simple that the complexity amazes me with it’s simplicity. Complex simpleness, that’s the key.”
MPW continues: “In a very short while, I will know exactly who you are by the way you hold a knife, by the way you touch food, and the way you put it on a plate. You can’t lie. I’m going to be your friend… for a very short while.” SEE! COMPLETE BOND VILLAIN!
ROUND ONE – BIG FLAVOURS
All six Cheftestants are let loose on their entree, and after the customary running the judges note Debra has gone straight for the griddle pan which she wields like a demented Diana Prince. “Very interesting,” says MPW, “As this tells me she’s got an iron deficiency.” So insightful.
Audra’s cooking(?) an ocean trout sashimi, Debra’s cooking bruschetta (with a side of unresolved menopausal anger), while Andy’s cooking the blitz machine. Jules is making pan-seared prawns until MPW appears next to her, simply offering a time check. This forces Jules to rethink everything she’s ever believed in, starting by questioning her parentage… why did she look so like the milkman and not dad?
“What are YOU doing?” MPW demands of Amina. In her ever-lovely way she explains she’s preparing an ocean trout carpaccio with a middle-eastern twist. Wade gets a visit from Gary where he of the brow explains he’s cooking brussels sprouts. All you see remaining of Gary is a smoke-cloud in the shape of him before he ran away. MPW saunters up to Andy to check his blue-eyed cod for him. “I’d turn that quicker than a lesbian apprentice,” he offers, followed by a curt, “You’re being ambitious, you big hunk of man”. MPW lectures Andy on the correct heat of the pan and how he’s scorched, not caramelised his fish, all because his pan is too hot.
Five minutes to go and MPW continues to skulk along behind the Cheftestants, all the while wafting his pheromones up to the balconistas who take turns in being simply overwhelmed by his presence. “Don’t you think you should get dressed before you put your micro-herbs on,” MPW offers to Audra, who immediately races off to do something, thanking him profusely as she exits. The time is counted to zero by Crazy George as MPW stands to his left, ever watching, ever judging. He tells George his technique in counting was poor, and his fake accent is horrendous but that his execution was passable – 2 stars.
All the Cheftestants tell us they’re really happy with their dishes and are confident they’ll get through. Clearly it’s up to Gary, Crazy George and MPW (who looks thoroughly disinterested to even be on set) to make that decision, so we’re regaled with their views on the six entrees.
Debra’s bruschetta is deemed “not the prettiest of food” by MPW, but that it has “big flavours”.
Jules’s pan-seared prawns are questioned by MPW to see if she’s made the dish before. When she says no, he declares it “high risk”, but that it has “big flavours”.
Amina’s ocean trout carpaccio has “big flavours”, but that her salmon could be a little bit thicker, which is strange as she’s served ocean trout.
Andy’s blue-eyed cod isn’t as good as it could be because, as MPW tells him, “perfection is lots of little things done well. It also, however, has “big flavours”.
Wade’s brussels sprout salad is considered by MPW to be a “very pretty dish” and to have “big flavours”. Crazy George can’t get enough of it. “Your bluberries, your nuts, your anchovies – they make flavours,” offers MPW. “All you had to do was assemble it with your sprouts. Genius. And now copyrighted by me for my next cookbook.” Wade’s picked as the first one safe and sent upstairs, mainly because of excellent lobbying by the people at the brussels sprouts board.
Audra’s ocean trout sashimi gets no words from MPW as he spins his fork wildly as he eats, but then he declares the dish to have “big flavours”. The three judges fight to lick the plate clean.
Consequently, Audra and Debra(!) join Wade upstairs with the other balconistas as safe, leaving Amina, Jules and Andy to cook for their very lives and prepare a main and a dessert whilst MPW walks around the now circular kitchen area with a sharp knife, ready to stab two of them at any moment.
ROUND TWO – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!
The three elminiatrixes get the briefing: a main and a dessert in one hour, three portions of each, mains complete in 45 minutes with dessert prepared in the last 15. Gary & Crazy George will be judging while MPW stands as executioner.
Amina gets into her tagine of fish as if her life depended on it. Which, the way MPW is looking at her, it very clearly does. Jules is making a salad with fish and some dessert, while Andy is preparing a pan-fried duck breast with truffles and gold leaf – because he can. Ben rushes downstairs and embraces Andy as if it’s the last time he’ll see him (even though there’s still 50 minutes of the challenge left) before security tears them apart and forces Ben back to the balcony. There’s also talk of aromats but no one can find a Palestinian anywhere.
As MPW asserts himself in the space, he demands of each of the contestants their dessert. Jules will prepare a passionfruit & basil marscapone; Amina an Egyptian rice pudding (indeed she is – ZING!); Andy will prepare grilled figs with a sauce of some kind.
The judges confer as to the chances of the bottom three, and come up with the amazing decision that all three will do remarkably well! Fancy that in a double elimination?! MPW continues to walk in circles, alternation between a long knife and a spoon as his weapon of choice. With 20 minutes to go he warns them he wants all three plates from each of them for their mains on the pass, ready to go. Or else he’s gonna nobble them. Literally – he’s gonna smash their knees.
“Ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds,” says MPW for about 12 minutes, most of it directed at Andy. At the fifteen minute mark he declares to the Cheftestants to stop plating their mains, and Andy knows he hasn’t wiped his plate or any other euphemism for nicking out to the toilet to quietly rub one out. Amina also hasn’t put cherry tomatoes on her third plate, but Jules is happy with her dish.
So conditioned to stopping and relaxing after finishing their dish that MPW has to remind them they’ve only got 15 minutes to prepare/finalise their desserts. All three instantly jump back into action. Andy proves that numbers aren’t his strong point by telling us that they’ve got an extra 15 minutes to prepare dessert. Poor little guy – he’s not gonna know what hit him.
The tasting begins for Gary & Crazy George, and they start with Andy’s duck. George’s table manners continue to present themselves at an abhorrent best. The only criticism Gary can offer is that they were presented a dirty plate, and MPW offers “It’s better than I thought it would be”. At the recognition that his serving of Amina’s trout has no cherry tomatoes, MPW grills her: “What did I do to upset you, Amina? Was it my country’s rampaging ways on the crusades or the fact that I’m an arrogant, intimidating pig?”
Gary & Crazy George LOVE Amina’s fish – it’s perfectly cooked. The cous cous is too simple for Gary, and maybe he’ll even say that about the whole dish. Crazy George doesn’t like that Amina used bottled tomatoes in her tagine because it doesn’t allow the spices to “sing a bit louder”. They both agree that her dessert had better be great.
MPW makes his point with Jules by adding his own micro-herbs on top on the fish, announcing “it’s much prettier, isn’t it?”. Just when you thought Crazy George had poor table manners we cut to a shot of MPW hooking into Jules’s fish with the large kitchen knife and his fingers. Mmm, classy. George wants more seasoning, Gary wants a new co-host.
All the mains are tasted, and time is about to run out for the desserts. Andy’s not sure how but he has a real knack for quinelling stuff. Might be all the quinelling practice he does. You can see him sitting out of the verandah, just quinelleing quietly to himself, alone with his thoughts and many quinelles. “Come on, Quinny!” yells Ben. Another touching MasterChef moment.
Time expires, so now it’s dessert judgement time. Amina’s rice pudding is first and while it’s lovely the rice isn’t quite cooked. Jules’s marscapone trifle is just a trifle too creamy. Andy’s figs are grilled nice (and George comments on his quinelling) but if you’re not a fruit person – which Gary’s not – it’s not all that. The judges invite MPW in for his view as to who should stay. The MasterChef FIREBALL launches from his mouth as he explodes in frustration at the simplicity of the question. MPW has left the kitchen, stroking a cat as he leaves.
Super seriously, after Andy, Amina and Jules share their final words (and Alice has a chance to be a complete dick), Gary & Crazy George announce that the person who prepared the best main and dessert was Andy. OUTRAGEOUS, I know, as this means Amina’s going home when it should have been Audra at the very least.
There’s hugs and tears and Mindy continues her stupid tradition of leading three cheers for the eliminated contestants and more hugs and tears as the balconistas are invited down to say goodbye to the ladies who’ll be leaving. A special moment is shared between Amina and Audra; Julia and Jules, with the former writing the latter a letter; and Ben & Andy smack each other on the bum and give each other a knowing wink.
Goodbye Amina. Oh, and Jules.
Gary takes the chance to fondle all the contestants again by giving them a slap and telling them to “wake up!” as they’re now in the MasterChef Top 10: Mindy, Audra, Debra, Julia, Kylie, Alice, Wade, Andy, Ben & Beau. They all go bezerk as George announces that next week they’ll be cooking in Italy! Yes, all those promos of George and Gary on a scooter in Rome weren’t just promotion for a sponsor, they’re actually about the Top 10 going over to the home of pasta. Kylie’s bouncing around because she loves Italy, and Andy can’t wait to “scope it out, because I reckon it’ll be an awesome time”. The man should write novels.
Jules and Amina return to their respective houses and it’s all very touching and bittersweet and not Italy, but they won’t have learned about that until after they were eliminated. Salt, wound. The disturbing thing is that Jules (who lives in Darwin) has taken on two roles within fine dining restaurants – in Darwin. Where “fine dining” usually means “please wear shoes and a shirt with sleeves”.
At least the Cheftestants get to go to Italy. On the plus side, Matt will know all the good places to eat. On the minus side, George.