My Kitchen RulesMon-Thu 7:30pm, Ch7

Welcome to North Queensland

While David & Scott take Nic & Rocco on a Tropical North Queensland “holiday”, the rest of the teams have to compete in the latest variant of the Amazing Race Australia. What a convenient cross-over. Settle in, people – tonight’s 100 minute epic is no sprint.

The teams walk into the marshalling area in the Daintree in North Qld – moaning the whole way about the heat – to be greeted by Pete & Manu telling them that here lots of people explore by road, stopping at food stalls along the way collecting the food of the region, finally stopping to cook wherever they find themselves at day’s end. The contestants are to shop at the roadside food stalls for their ingredients for the challenge. No storeroom or local Coles today.

“I work best when I have ALL the ingredients available to me, so the thought of just a few honesty boxes… that’s concerning,” says Thomas in a classic deluded Thomas kind of way. Unless Carla can talk him out of serving honesty boxes for dinner though, they’re in trouble.

Their final destination is a camping ground, and their guests will be a group of campers passing judgement on their food. Amazingly Princess Jen reveals she doesn’t “do” camping, the same way she doesn’t “do” working. Pete tells the teams they need to prepare between them three exceptional main courses and three exceptional desserts, and who cooks what will be determined by a race – enter the Campervans. The first three teams to get to the camping site will cook the mains; the last three will cook dessert, and as usual the team that presents the weakest dish will go into the sudden-death cook-off against Megan and Andy.

Jen doesn't camp, and Leigh doesn't like playing second fiddle to Jen.

The teams are sent on their way, noting there’s maps in each van, and the judges will see them all the campsite. Each team will have to purchase all the food for their main AND their dessert so that they are prepared for the dish they’ll have to cook based on their arrival at Port Douglas. The teams start talking up their menu options as they navigate their way to the first stop, and everyone’s jockeying for position in the top three as nobody wants to cook a dessert. At the first stop the tensions are obvious as Angela & Justine are paying for their goods, adding items as they go when Simon tells them to move away if they’ve not finished shopping.

Proving map-reading skills aren’t necessarily equally gifted, Leigh & Princess Jen stop to ask for directions and promptly ignore them. Angela & Justine remind us that Nic & Rocco are off holidaying with David & Scott – cue pictures of the four boys about to go snorkelling on the reef, followed by a helicopter joyride over the reef. Later on they’ll pick up their holiday rhohypnol for some other reason, possibly medicinal.

Thomas & Carla are finished shopping at the Farmer’s Market and head back to the campers and Carla gets in the wrong one. The wrong camper. Once this piece of classic slapstick humour is done with the Victorian hipsters start arguing over eggs and where they should have purchased them and who said they should have purchased them and do they now need to back-track to purchase them. Carly & Emily seemed to find eggs OK. A lesson for the ages.

Simon & Meg are pretty confident they’ve got everything they need except for their seafood, so that’s their next stop. “It’s absolutely imperative that we get a main, because we’ll be gutted if we get a dessert,” says Meg, “Like literally gutted. I’ll be slicing Simon sternum to groin and removing his innards.” They’ve made it to the Seafood stall at Port Douglas, just behind Carly & Emily and Angela & Justine. Carly & Emily, noting there’s not very much seafood available, decide to decimate supplies by pretty much ordering everything for their main. It would seem we have new bitches in the MKR village, with Carly & Emily having learned at least something from Peter & Gary.

"What are these things?"

Leigh & Princess Jen arrive to see Carly & Emily walking away with pretty much everything, and a cutaway has Carly asking Emily if they’ve got enough seafood. Well played indeed. Simon & Meg get whatever they can from what’s left, with Angela & Justine taking the dregs. Leigh & Princess Jen cut their losses and give up on the seafood, and everyone races back to their vans – remember, first three teams back make their main course. As Justine is backing her van out so Leigh is backing her van out and we hear something break. An ad break.

They don’t collide, but their egos do. “Sorry, it’s a race,” says Leigh, “What do you want me to do – give way to the whole town?” Thomas & Carla finally collect their eggs. Finally. Steve & Helen are racing to the campsite, and turn into the first caravan park they find. After a conversation with one of the “helpful” staff they determine that they’re not in the right place. Everyone else is still looking too. Steve & Helen ask a local for directions, sending them the wrong way. WHO WILL BE THE FIRST TO ARRIVE?!

Simon & Meg are first to arrive, followed by Angela & Justine and Leigh & Princess Jen – they’re all on mains. Steve & Helen arrive not too long afterwards, as do Carly & Emily (with Thomas & Carla MILES behind) – they’ll all be making dessert. How Carly & Emily went from first (with all that seafood) to fifth is indeed a conundrum, and in doing so they screwed over their fellow contestants good and proper. Once the teams park they have to set up their awning and kitchen and wait.

That’s right, they can’t start cooking immediately, they have to be reminded of everything they and we already knew and turn this into a timed competition! The main courses have 90 minutes to deliver their dishes, and Simon & Meg don’t want to fail (as opposed to every other team who are just itching to come last). At least now we get to learn what everyone is making for mains…

Simon & Meg – Prawn, Scallop and Avocado Salad with chilli mayonnaise
Leigh & Princess Jen – Beef Fillet with green papaya and wing bean salad
Angela & Justine – Asian Prawns and Coconut Mussels with rice and herb salad

Carly & Emily will need pretty much all this seafood for their main

Meg’s struggling to get her head straight, unable to work out where to get water from. Princess Jen reminds us that they’re cooking beef because Carly & Emily have all the seafood – even though they’re cooking dessert. Angela is tasting the chilli to see how hot it is(!), and manages to melt her tongue. With Meg noticing the WA girls are also cooking prawns, she’s deemed it to be “the ultimate rivalry”. Look out Ali & Frasier, there’s cooking to be done and this is the NEW Rumble in the Jungle – now with added boobs. Thomas & Carla think what Simon & Meg are offering is pretty dated, straight out of the 70’s, and not a Peter or Gary in sight. Meanwhile Jen is struggling with the mandolin slicing her papaya, and no, that’s not a euphemism.

Angela & Justine remind us again that Nic & Rocco and David & Scott will be having more fun than everyone else, and what do you know, they are. One hour to go and all the teams have yet to start cooking. Angela tells us that cooking outside is a lot harder than she’s used to. Princess Jen is so stressed out having to cut the papaya by hand – “Who does that?” she asks seriously. The mandolin is long since discarded and it’s a beepity beep fest. “I’ve never cooked like this before, never ever,” says Jen. It’s positively third world right now.

Everyone, judges included, is making a big deal of cooking outside. Are their memories that short that they forget the challenge ‘yesterday’ in Ingham where they all cooked a dessert outside? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? It’s almost like the Ingham challenge was days ago. Meg’s head has still left her and the mayonnaise she’s trying to make isn’t thickening at all – Simon’s no help at all when all he suggests is “needs salt”.

Angela’s lost her kaffir lime leaves and is on the warpath. “These leaves are critical to the mussel sauce,” she says and rages about their kitchen looking for them. A peace accord is reached as Justine finds the leaves, and everyone in the Middle East rejoices as one. Princess Jen is telling us how she’s really excited about finding wing beans when the bowl of chopped beans promptly falls off their table and onto the ground. Oh noes! It so good we have to see it again after the ad break. “Just grab it and soak it in water and wash it – it’ll be fine,” says Princess Jen. Amazing how those with exceedingly high standards think it’s OK to offer food that is unsanitary to others.

"This isn't what I signed up for..."

Manu pops in (“Aloha!”) to Leigh & Princess Jen’s kitchen where they are “stressed to the max – that’s the understatement of the century, by the way,” offers the Princess. “Yeah.” He notes all form of discarded bottles and unpeeled vegies on the ground already, and saves at least two other bowls of prepared food from falling on the ground in his time there. The Princess gives him a hug of gratitude, which he seems to raise his arms and look at her as if to say, “Where did this limpet come from?” It’s a touching if sickening moment.

With 30 minutes to go Angela tells Justine to get the prawns on already. Justine thinks it’s too soon but Angela reminds her who is in charge by staring her down. “You know how rushed it is at the end, just go for it,” she tells Angela. Simon’s already cooking his prawns and scallops. All of the teams on mains are hard at work, cooking this and frying off that. The curse of the lopsided table also strikes for Meg as the dressing she was preparing falls on the ground and spills when her back is turned, and she spends a couple of minutes looking for it.

The guests start arriving into an amazing dining setting with lights set amongst the trees. Megan and Andy are guests as well, and Megan is stressed waiting to find out who they’ll be competing against. The plating has started, though for Leigh & Princess Jen that equates to just having a pandan leaf ready and that’s it. One minute to go and there’s beards on mussels, there’s missing peanuts, and dressings are still being made. When it times out, Leigh & Princess Jen know what they’ve delivered is missing a lot of elements – the clock got the better of them. With the mains served, the teams are excused and have to tell the dessert teams they have 90 minutes to prepare and plate their course.

The guests tuck in, and Pete & Manu get to tell us how they feel about the three mains. Simon & Meg’s prawn & scallop salad looks great and tastes good, but Pete’s concerned it’s more of an entree than main. Leigh & Princess Jen’s beef fillet is cooked to perfection but not rested and the salad isn’t seasoned. “They haven’t finished this plate,” says Manu. Angela & Justine’s prawn and mussels are lacking sauce (from Manu’s perspective) and the prawns are overcooked. Time for the judges to interfere with the dessert teams as we learn what they’re preparing:

Steve & Helen – Blueberry Mahalabia with strawberry sugar syrup and berries
Thomas & Carla – Peach & Raspberry Streusel with cream
Carly & Emily – Passionfruit Brulee Tartler with drunken pineapple and cream

Tastes like burning

Helen tells us a mahalabia is a poor man’s custard and they need to work fast to get it completed and cooled as the dish is served cold. Thomas & Carla have reverted to making up fancy words for what they’re making, considering it’s essentially peach & raspberry crumble. Thomas is also kidding himself if he thinks he’s delivered anything close to a 5 star quality restaurant meal in any of his past outings as a cook. Carly & Emily have decided to tempt their fate with their own Failets(tm), and Pete & Manu think they’re crazy trying to work with shortcrust pastry in this heat.

With Thomas & Carla chosing to use their BBQ as an oven, all Angela & Justine can brand is “crazy”, though the interchange is more like Kath ‘n Kim just saying “crazy” a lot. “It’s crazy, it’s silly, it’s noice, it’s different, yeah, it’s crazy.” Steve & Helen know if their custard doesn’t set they’re done, though ever the optimist Steve thinks he could pour it in a bowl and serve with corn flakes. Mmm tasty.

With 45 minutes remaining, all the teams are furiously starting to bake or cool. The mini-oven they’re using isn’t helping anyone, and there’s all sorts of concern with times and things cooking evenly and so on. Thomas & Carla can’t even get the oven racks right. As Carly & Emily have had success with their first batch of blind baking their tarts, they’re both all smiles. “How fun is camping?” smiles Emily. “Very fun!” smiles Carly. It makes you want to punch them in their ovaries. At least Emily accidentally drops one of the pastry shells which puts them under some pressure: “If we ruin another one we’re cactus”.

Steve is starting on their strawberry sugar syrup but hasn’t put enough in, and Thomas has ruined his whipped cream (which he simply discards to the side like so many girlfriends before). Carly & Emily are filling their tart cases, and Thomas & Carla are bickering. Manu tells the teams there’s 10 minutes to go and the plating is game on. Steve checks on their custards setting in the fridge and “they’re not quite ready” – Helen’s in a world of pain.

Those trees don't look like they'll stop too much rain

The final minutes tick by, and it’s all about the plating. Final touches aren’t necessarily working, and Thomas is looking for a spoon. A SPOON, CARLA! Time’s up and all the teams are presenting their dishes and everyone’s proud of what they’ve delivered. Pete sends them away and the guests and judges tuck into dessert.

Carly & Emily’s tart is fantastic, though the pineapple is a bit bland for the judges. Steve & Helen’s blueberry mahalabia has great flavour, and the berries with yoghurt cream works really well. It gets big wraps from the guests too. It starts to rain on the party (welcome to tropical North Queensland) as Pete & Manu try Thomas & Carla’s streusel. It’s OK, but the base is half burnt. Manu’s disappointed that the peach is too acidic, not juicy and sweet. The rain kicks in harder and the guests are thanked and sent on the way.

With the judges almost soaked to the bone, it’s time to reveal who has survived and who is up against Megan & Andy in the next sudden-death cook-off. After the feedback from the judges Leigh & Princess Jen think for sure they’re the ones going through to the elimination round. With Thomas & Carla’s burnt bottom to their streusel it’s wide open though. No time for pontificating though, as it’s Thomas & Carla back up for elimination. “I’m done,” he whispers.

“To go home now wouldn’t be right,” says the all-knowing oracle that is Carla. “We’ll just have to give it our all tomorrow.”
“We honestly think we’ve got what it takes to beat them,” says Megan.

Tomorrow night is crunch time as the team’s stay in tropical North Queensland continues, and Thomas and Carla show that when the going get’s tough, the tough get snarky with each other. It also looks like one of the teams offer a hat tip to Peter & Gary’s Pooganoff(tm) – “It tastes a lot better than it looks,” says Pete to Liz Egan. But that’s what he says to all the girls…