My Kitchen RulesMon-Thu 7:30pm, Ch7

"Welcome, Losers, to the making of your own demise..."

It’s a match up for the ages – Megan & Andy versus Thomas & Carla. The Tasmanians have got a fire in their belly that bubbles up at the best of times, and the Victorian “best friends” have already been tested in the fires of an elimination cook-off. This is winner-take-all, take-no-prisoners cooking action, proving the winning team has got what it takes to go all the way. I’d like to thank Channel 7 and the match day sponsor. This one’s for the boys who gave it all out there on the field today.

(Big thanks to Nic & Rocco for providing the intro.)

Sweeping shots of tropical North Queensland listed from the Tourism Queensland website remind us we’re still out of Kitchen HQ. The boys are all back from their ‘holiday’, and everyone is drawn poolside for the start of this week’s big elimination battle. “Carla and I live for eliminations, and this is what we do best,” Thomas assures us in his best resort wear chic coupled with Crocs. At least Carla has some part of her psyche rooted in reality when she tells us “It’s gonna be do or die”. She means it literally, too – she wants to see Megan & Andy die.

“Welcome, losers, to the making of your own demise,” says an awkwardly smiling Pete. Ominous bongs from tuned wooden percussion remind us just how serious this is. “Today, one of you will be cooking your last meal in this competition,” says Manu. The day spa at the resort must have gotten a work out as he’s looking very ‘fresh’. Andy’s pumped. Like ‘roid pumped, but with less anger control. Pete tells the teams competing that today’s elimination has a special twist to it – they have to include 3 key ingredients as stipulated in the contract with Tourism Queensland. The items are: Moreton Bay Bugs, Macadamia Nuts & Mango. “You can use these ingredients any way you like, but they must shine through in your three courses,” says Pete. Thomas immediately suggests to Carla they could do a dish with all three, while David & Scott chuckle to themselves knowingly. Megan knows that if she and Andy win today that they’ll prove to the judges they can go all the way – though that online video of them having ‘special cuddles’ has surely already proven that to the 1,462 viewers who’ve seen it.

Bugs, Mango, Macadamia... and some other stuff

The teams are sent to the Resort kitchen where they quickly realise it’s a tight squeeze for the four of them, and they’ll have to share some of the appliances. That nasty glint in Thomas’s eye isn’t allegedly just some leftover random ejaculate from last night – it’s a plan hatching. Carla (because, really, who believes Thomas has a say in that team AT ALL?!?!) and Megan & Andy have decided on the following as their menus:

Thomas & Carla
Entree – Moreton Bay Bug Cakes with sweet chilli sauce
Main – Paneer and Macadamia Kofta with coriander sauce
Dessert – Mango Cream with coconut tuile

Megan & Andy
Entree – Mango Salsa with prawns and rocket
Main – Angel Hair Pasta with moreton bay bugs
Dessert – Pear and Macadamia Tart with honey glaze

The teams are straight into prep, with Megan & Andy talking up their method to each other to ensure they get the most screen time. Megan wants to serve their entree in a mould to ensure it “stands really high, with a big prawn on top” – just like her hair. Team Tas know that they need to push on quick as it’s their presentation that has hurt them in the past, be it their food or Andy’s horrible PowerPoint skills. Thomas & Carla are also preparing, though Carla is somewhat disheartened having to shell 35 Moreton Bay Bugs for their entree – “they’re so small,” she says, and Thomas gives her a sideways look like he’s heard it all before.

They look like little hockey pucks of love

The judges think that Team Vic’s plan to use Bugs in their entree is “a bit indulgent, but if they get the balance of payments right the country will be the real winner.” Joe Hockey skulks from the kitchen with a Pete Evans mask hanging out of his back pocket. The real Pete & Manu think that the fruit/seafood mix is a bit dated, but they’ll see what happens. Maybe Gary left his 1972 Women’s Weekly Cookbook lying around?

Andy learned nothing from his last outing with prawns (Melbourne, anyone?) by announcing that he’s just got to de-shell, clean and chop up a bunch of prawns for their entree. Megan’s on his case, but he’s suitably nonchalant. While 12 minutes may have whisked by for the contestants, what seems like 30 minutes has passed for viewers as so much drama with so little action has meant this is already taking too long. Carla has enveloped herself in the Stockholm Syndrome that is her preparing the Bugs, asking one to “come to mummy, darling” as she rips it unceremoniously from its shell. It’s a sobering sight, ensuring this episode will be used in all sorts of marine high schools to warn future crustaceans of the dangers of humans.

Thomas entrances us with his justification for making a “vegetarian meatball”. No one cares – just as Manu’s catch cry is “Where’s the sauce?!”, so the entire world is screaming “Where’s the meat?!”. Will Thomas ever learn? The answer: No. Pete explains what Paneer is, and tells us that “It’s a beautiful preparation if done properly”. What do you expect he could mean by that? Who knows, but “after the break, things heat up, and more kitchen metaphors are found in the large utensil drawer second from the top.”

Look at all that "caramelization"...

Where are we again? Oh, that’s right – the home of coral. As the peanut gallery can’t fit in the kitchen with the contestants and crew, it’s up to the judges to stand there and watch what’s going on. “An ‘our to go!” yells Manu. It reverberates around the kitchen as everyone repeats it. Madame Megan foretells the future of her dessert: “We’re using Macadamia meal instead of flour in the dessert, and if it doesn’t work it’s just gonna turn out like a big lump of goo,” she says. The Failets(tm) continue to cast a long shadow. Carla’s taken 30 minutes to shell the Bugs, and blitzes them with the other ingredients and prepares them for cooking. “It’s crazy,” says Andy, “She may as well have anything in the cakes, you won’t be able to taste (the Bugs). Just like our dessert.”

Andy reminds his sister/wife that they need to leave at least 10 minutes for plating as they don’t need to impress just Pete & Manu but the other four as well. We cut to Grossi, Puttock, Martini & Egan settling into their poolside table, ready for “something special”. How many of these have they done now? How many “something specials” have they been presented? Exactly. There’s 30 minutes remaining and Carla’s lecturing the camera how she wants her sweet chilli sauce – exactly like her (“the right mix of hot, sweet, salty, & cold, heartless bitch”). Thomas is so pleased he’s curdled the milk(!) but is afraid he may have over-committed himself with the main he is preparing. “I’ve just go so many things going on, I can’t even keep up with what I’m doing,” he says nonsensically.

Andy’s marinated the prawns, and cooked them off already. Thomas jokes about Andy being the seafood king when Carla reminds him that “I might be the seafood queen?”. Come on, Carla – there’s only room for one Queen on your team and you aren’t it. She drops their fish cakes in to deep fry(!) and offers a puzzled face when they don’t look so great. 10 minutes to go before they deliver entree and Thomas starts on the coriander sauce for main. Andy’s fussing with the final prawns for he and Megan’s entree when the clock ticks over to 5 minutes remaining. It’s really brought an interesting dynamic to the competition with both teams working side by side – mainly because they can bitch about each other and the team can hear it, and each team can hear the other’s meltdowns.

This rocket looks nothing like space ships. Worst case of false advertising ever.

Carla asks Thomas for help with plating the entree, and he palms her off saying he’s still got too much to do for the main. Eyes on the prize, Thomas. By contrast: Megan remembers that they haven’t prepared the grilled limes to go with their entree and shoos Andy off to get them ready; Carla asks Thomas (“Babe”) for help again and he gets angry that she can’t see he’s busy with the main and they start to implode. OMG, this is gonna be delicious.

“Really Tom, just be a team player, seriously,” demands Carla. No “babe”… she must be serious.
“Would you just pull yourself together, and just relax,” says a tantric Thomas. “OK?”

The urgency of the one minute call from Pete & Manu has Megan & Andy plating furiously, with Thomas & Carla furiously plating. Time’s up and everyone seems pretty happy with what they’ve delivered, especially Team Vic. The four contestants are sent back to the kitchen with one hour to deliver their main course, while the judges tuck in and try and outdo each other with comments of ever-increasing wankiness.

The judges agree that Thomas & Carla’s fish cakes taste nice, but the Bugs are wasted in it. Tobie Puttock wasn’t sure why they’d included the pea shoots but when he added the sweet chilli sauce it “added a nice textural component”. Sheesh. The other teams don’t think much of thehockey pucks either. Megan & Andy’s Mango Salsa gets better wraps across the board, no complaints combining the seafood and fruit. IN YOUR FACE, EVANS! As expected Princess Jen complains when she tries the Mango Salsa because of the “one lonely prawn looking at me”. Princesses – can’t live with them, can’t overthrow their tyrannical reign without facing a murder charge…

Manu's puzzled; Pete's skeptical (or about to pass out)

Manu & Pete pop back into the kitchen to see how the teams are faring with main course. Andy’s whining about having to prepare the Bugs for main after preparing the prawns for entree. “Well, you are the seafood king,” says Megan. “Seafood king my bum,” says Andy. COUGH Thomas is looking over now COUGH. Thomas & Megan, meanwhile, are pushing on with their koftas and Thomas is making the coriander sauce. Helen & Steve have to remind us that this Victorian team have a history with koftas after their first instant restaurant offering was very poor. In the pan the koftas are miraculously transforming into CHOKEtas. He’s hovering as Carla’s cooking them and fussing over the cooking style and how much oil is in the pan. These choketas aren’t gonna cook themselves!

In full pasta making mode, Megan says to Andy they’re taking a risk making pasta for Guy Grossi. Andy tells her not to worry as Grossi’s palate died years ago and now all he can taste is bitumen. How he knows this is puzzling, but he seems confident so the show pushes on. Besides, Andy’s got Bugs to prepare and “get the poo track out of ’em”. Sorry ladies, he’s already married.

With Manu barking the 30 minute warning it sends Thomas into full flailing mode, ordering Carla to “do something else” while he cooks the choketas. They’re not staying together and all he can think about was the last instant restaurant and how he tried and tried to get Manu to love him, but he just ignored him. “Why won’t Manu notice me?” says Thomas, converting to inner-narrative mode. Don’t worry Thomas – your self-sabotage looks like it’ll do the trick and get you all sorts of attention. Just like in high school.

Manu swings by Team Tassie’s bench, to see how they’re going. Megan proudly announces the pasta is already done, but with 15 minutes remaining on the clock Manu reminds her that the pasta will keep cooking even in the colander – it’ll stick together and go gluggy. Which Megan promptly confirms, but realises she doesn’t have time to remake it so they’re stuck(!) with it.

Koftas or Choketas - you decide

Thomas & Carla, meanwhile, are about to kill each other. Thomas is falling apart as his choketas do the same, and when Carla comes to offer some support he tells her to “Shut up, just get away from me, just do your own thing.” Not a “Babe” or “please” or anything. If only Thomas could cook. The tension between Thomas & Carla is increasing, and Thomas’s shouting raises the eyebrows of Andy at the next bench and the other contestants out in the dining room. Princess Jen’s impersonation of Thomas is uncanny – except for everything but the angst. “I don’t want to do this anymore,” whines Thomas. Poor butterfly. “Just keep it up, babe,” assures Carla (whispering under her breath, “The way you’re acting you’ll get your wish for both of us”).

Between the choketas and the pasta, both teams have got some worrying to do. With 5 minutes to go, plating has begun. Megan’s stressed her pasta is overcooked; Thomas is all but crying over his choketas, containing spilt split milk. “The flavours are there and that’s the most important thing,” says Carla, forgetting every element of the competition. The clock times out and there’s acres of rebuilding to be done for Thomas & Carla, mainly Thomas’s ego. “Big smiles,” she says to him as they take their plates out for judgement. “The one redeeming feature of the dish,” assures Thomas, “Is that the flavour is spot on.” IN WHAT UNIVERSE?!

Plates delivered, and with 30 minutes until dessert – hop to it, teams. Thomas has already accepted the finality of he and Carla leaving so he’s all sooky-la-la and telling her to be nice to him as “this is our last dish in the competition”. The judges start with Megan & Andy’s pasta and confirm that it was prepared too early, but it’s no disaster. Thomas & Carla’s paneer & macadamia choketa, however, isn’t exactly as bad as Thomas is expecting. “It tastes a LOT better than it looks,” says Pete (something Thomas has heard all too often in the kitchen AND bedroom). Everyone seems to be quite buoyant about it, but then the scores aren’t in.

Like so many of Thomas's dreams, the cream has melted, pooling on the plate

Time’s ticking away for dessert, and Carla placing her tuiles in the oven notes by accident it’s too hot, so Megan scarpers over to check on their tarts – which are now burnt. Carla wastes no time in pointing it out to Thomas and the drama builds. Thomas is so much more at peace noticing that “they’ve burned their dessert”. All aboard the Schadenfraude Express, with your hosts Thomas & Carla.

Now Carla is stressing over the tuiles and it’s Thomas telling HER to relax. I guess it’s easy when you know the woman you’re telling to calm down already has your balls hanging over her mantelpiece. They’re busy trying to roll them (the tuiles, not Thomas’s balls) but it’s not working. Megan overwhips her cream but it has to go on the plate anyway. 5 minutes remaining and it’s all the plating carnage you’d expect. The mango cream hasn’t set for Thomas & Carla, and it’s nut-gate for Megan & Andy. STOP COOKING! “We’re the first ones to admit that desserts are not our strong point,” says Megan. “Ahh whatever,” sighs Thomas – intending it for Carla but it works on a number of levels. The teams are dismissed to go and take a well-earned break (who’s cleaning up the mess in the kitchen??) and it’s time for a dessert savaging.

As if a metaphor for Thomas’s life, his and Carla’s dessert looks like a tower bleeding yellow cream from the base. The judges are a little more understanding – Tobie can understand how it’s failed due to the temperature, but Guy thinks it’s just been poorly delivered. No Christmas card for him then. Megan & Andy’s tart is very well received, Manu enjoying the ‘caramelization’ of the dish. Pete notes the cream is over-whipped (story of Andy’s life) but the tart is great. Pretending to add drama of his own, Scott adds, “We’re all in agreement then, it’s only going to be within a couple of points,” when discussing the judging. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA who is he kidding?!?!

The teams are called back for judgement, and Andy rolls out the same old line about how “his heart is beating out of his chest and he can’t believe how cooking can do this to you” yada yada yada. Time to hang that up, mate. It’s crunch time:

Megan & Andy
Guy Grossi – 7 (“When the tart came out, I could smell it. It was fragrant.”)
Tobie Puttock – 7
Liz Egan – 6
Karen Martini – 7 (“Your entree looked really snappy and it won me over.”)
Manu Feildel – 7 (“You’ve cooked the Moreton Bay Bugs fantastically again.”)
Pete Evans – 7
Total score – 41/60.

“This is good news,” whispers Megan to Andy.
“I wish Thomas & Carla the best, but not really,” says Andy in full self-aware recap mode.

Thomas & Carla
Guy Grossi – 6
Tobie Puttock – 5 (“I didn’t think your entree was the best way to present the Bug.”)
Liz Egan – 5 (“Your coriander sauce was fragrant and gorgeous.”)
Karen Martini – 6
Manu Feildel – 5
Pete Evans – 5 (“The ratios were so out of place.”)
Total score – 32/60.

This is the one face Tobie packed with him for the trip

Before the scores were finished, Andy whispered “It’s close” to Megan, further bringing into question his ability as a sales rep – aren’t they meant to be good with numbers? What does he sell – calculators?! It’s all for naught anyway as they’ve thrashed Thomas & Carla and it’s time for a hug and push them out the door. The music swells and the faux pleasantries begin, though Manu does note that they are “better cooks now than when they started, and thank God for that”. Whoever is responsible for picking the music to go with the farewell montage does a bang-up job, using Pink’s “So What?!” to highlight the ebbs and flows of Thomas & Carla’s time on the show.

With both Thomas & Carla and Peter & Gary eliminated from the show – who’s gonna be the bad guy?! And who are the VIPs in tomorrow night’s episode?! If it’s just their families… well that’d make them the WORST. VIPs. EVER.