MasterChef Australia – Sun 7:30pm; Mon-Fri 7pm, Ch10
Last night on MasterChef Australia, Amina got to face off reknown Chef Unknown after catching a fish and then cooking it better than the other four. Try as she might, her pretty dessert wasn’t good enough despite the faux glances and asides from Matt, Gary & Crazy George when they tasted it. Still – she’s a legend and took it in her stride and was very happy for Chef Unknown to beat her at the challenge. Tonight, it’s a team challenge and everything they make has to be from first principles. None of your store bought stock, sauce or glasses tonight – the teams have to push through and show us what they’re made of (from first principles). Mostly water, for the record. All of this culminates in making afternoon tea, BYO plastic – but we’ll get to that later.
Yes, we’re still in Tasmania, or lower Middle Earth as it’s known locally. Ben’s proud and Tregan’s just confused but everyone assembles at the Cowington Mill, because allegedly there’s trouble at mill. Gary welcomes them, beaming, and offers his own opinion piece on the state of the Mill. Matt P advises their road today leads them from the Mill to Launceston, wacky racers style, so they better get busy. Each team must produce 4 dishes: a scone, some choux pastry dish, a jam and other things – two and a half hours to prepare for 100 guests, and the losing team is up for elimination. Mario’s nervous because he’s not known as a cooking person.
Every item has to be made from scratch – mill their own flour, collect their own fruit, do their own work. There’s looks of concern until the ‘master miller’ Benjamin is welcomed to explain the milling process. There really is trouble at mill. He’s quirky but he’s helpful. Teams are decided by literally drawing straws and Andrew ends up as captain of the red team, while Amina lands the role as captain of the blue team. “Oh no,” she says, “Not again! I never win anything.” Tregan wants to be on the red team because she feels she works well with them but none the red team agree as they look away and whistle.
We get a reminder that Andrew is a good leader because he is a good hairdresser(?). Sure. The teams work their strategy and send various members on their way, leaving 5 a side behind to be the millers. Each team has 30 minutes and the blue team is up first with Filippo declaring as a baker he wants to see where the goods he works with come from. A SHOP, DUMMY – DON’T BE DISTRACTED BY THIS FIRST PRINCIPLES CRAP. Gary gets an explanation as to how the process works while Filippo jumps straight in, adjusting things and turning knobs like he knows what he’s doing. All of a sudden there’s a burning smell and Benjamin jumps up to see that Filippo has turned the knob too much and not let enough flour through, causing the stones to heat up and burn the flour. Who’s the knob now, Filippo?! (Benjamin looks like he’s gonna punch him.)
All seems to have sorted itself out though, and the Blue team crack on making their flour. Alice over-emotes again whilst Gary recaps everything we’ve just seen happen. It could explain why he thinks the flour floating around in the mill is like fairy dust – he’s definitely on some kind of dust. Wade of the eybrow thinks they’ll need about 25kg of flour, and when Alice updates him to say they’ve got about 12kg there’s all sorts of furrowed brow.
Mindy overstates the nature of the challenge while recapping, as she’s been sent to find local produce while the hard work is back at the mill. “It’s just crazy,” she says in her now trademark crazy way. “Crazy.” One-shot-wonder Julia starts talking about her bloody biscuits again like they’re the saviour of the universe. There’s so much pressure on the strawberry picking, so much so that there’s a near coup in one of the blue cars over it, but Mindy settles everything down by assuring Amina that they’re all behind her. With a knife.
The red team choose to stop at every farm they can find, starting with the apricot farm down the road. “I think we might make apricot jam,” says Andrew. He’s so inventive. Meanwhile, there’s trouble at mill – the blue team still don’t have enough white flour. After the longest countdown from 10 since ever, time is called and all that worry is for nothing as the blue team discover they’ve actually now got 30kg. Which proves two things: no one should ever listen to Alice, and Alice can’t estimate. Alice recaps what’s happened with too many facial expressions for anyone to care.
The red team of millers dive in to start their flour production just as the blue team strawberry pickers arrive to collect their tasty wares. They manage to pillage the field, taking 30kg of berries before heading off to the apricot farm back up the road. Mindy is noted as the collector of the most strawberries and everyone laughs uncomfortably. The red team foragers have moved on and collect apples and plums, though Emma cries the entire time, citing some rubbish about apples experiencing separation anxiety and only she can feel it.
Overconfidence is the order of the day for the red millers until they realise that those sifting the flour (mainly Tregan) have jabbed when they should have jigged and managed to clog the machine and possibly break it. Benjamin rushes into action and it doesn’t look great – all the while Tregan is standing around telling it doesn’t look good and she’s not sure why there’s a problem. A Fireball erupts from the sifting machine and Lara Bingle appears on our screens. Ew.
Benjamin manages to save the day – all of Tregan’s jabbing disloged the beater, but he fixed that now. “Resist the stick,” he reminds her. Trouble at mill indeed. Meanwhile at the strawberry farm the red team foragers have collected and moved on, just as the blue team foragers have visited the apricot farm and collected goods also. Julia starts to talk about keeping it simple but no one cares, because simple equals no drama and that’s not MasterChef. “Just because we didn’t get apples and plums doesn’t mean we’re gonna be making an inferior product,” she says. If she says it enough she’ll believe it, so that’s all good.
With all the problems ironed out, the red team millers are frantically finishing their milling and discover they’ve made 50kg of white flour. “SCREW YOU BLUE GUYS!” says Ben casually. Everyone has thanks for Benjamin who saved both team’s arses throughout the challenge. But time and mill-cleaning waits for no man, and all the teams descend on Launceston to start cooking their yummy treats.
Gary & Crazy George remind the teams of what they have to create: 4 beautiful pastries using their flour and the fruit they’ve collected, to serve to 100. Once made, they then need to transport the goodies to Cataract Gorge where the expectant noms will take place. The red team will be making scones, jams by 2 (apricot and strawberry), a jammy dodger biscuit, apple tea cakes and profiteroles with chocolate custard. The blue team will deliver scones, lavender cream and strawberry jam, eclairs, apricot tarts and Julia’s melting moments. Crazy George advises the winning team wins, while the losing team loses and must face elimination. Two and a half hours to go, starting just then.
Amina’s straight into directing blue team traffic and ensuring the quality of the flour is checked by getting a test batch of scones made before anything else uses it. It’s Alice’s recipe vs Filippo’s, and we’re all really sure how that’s gonna work out. Ben, cooking for the red team, is also making scones and flashing back to his nan who he used to make scones with. Gary’s worried about the jam process for the red team, but Sam’s in charge of that and not Andrew so all should be well.
For the blue team, Julia’s used to baking in bulk because that’s what she does with her stall she keeps reminding us about. Just buy a fricken ad for it and be done with it! Amina thinks Julia will be the hero on the plate today. Queen Bee Amina (QuAmina?) feels very in control and pleased to have all of her worker bees hard at work, at her beck and call, be it to gather food, bake scones or impregnate her. The test batches of scones are still cooking, but QuAmina says they need to come out now and the taste testing must begin. Julia is called in and it is decreed that Alice’s scones are rubbish so Alice has to remind us that Filippo’s scones are chosen for better “process and uniformity”. Sounds like the mating call of the loser bird.
“Andrew, do you want to come over and try one of these scones now, mate?” asks Ben.
“Totes,” says Andrew.
If a 45 year old straight male hairdresser is saying “totes”, no one else should EVER again.
The red team’s shortbread isn’t coming up anywhere near trumps for Gary, so this throws those involved into a flap for their 3rd, 4th and 5th batches. Mario is working on the melting moments for Julia because she’s all involved in the choux pastry. “I’m gonna be watching him like a hawk,” she says. If that’s the case why didn’t she just do the damn biscuits herself?! Mario’s in a flap because he can feel the the weight of Julia’s expectations bearing down on him. Gary & Crazy George can’t help themselves but wander around the teams and poke their noses in and start or feed the second-guessing.
This sends Amina into a flap and checking on the jam and the melting moments. Along with Wade and Julia (poor Mario). Then Gary & Crazy George swing by to get in the way a little more. Andrew’s quoting Crazy George, the red team’s shortbread isn’t looking crash hot – there’s just too much going on in the kitchen! Andrew relaxes by washing up(?!) while finding out what is and isn’t done before they need to move to the restaurant where the final prep begins. The profiteroles are being piped but Gary asks if this is gonna make the choux pastry soggy, which makes Tregan look awkward – just like she does whenever she never knows the answer. The panic sets in as they all realise they have 20 minutes to pack everything before they move. As an aside, Gary thinks the blue team menu is by far superior and he thinks they’ve got this in the bag. Or container, whatever they can fit things in to transport them.
As if by magic everyone and everything arrives at the restaurant in Cataract Gorge in one piece. A miracle in itself. The MasterChefers catch on that Lower Middle Earth has turned it on for them scenery wise, but no time for that as there’s food to prepare. There’s screams of “Tarts! Tarts!” and “Don’t touch me there, you dirty prick!” but in the end both teams deliver all the required amounts of all the expected varieties of food.
The food is delivered for the high teas, and each of the contestants turn on the charm for the cheapskate guests, explaining who they are or what they do. Ben says his scones are named after his nan, so they’re “Shirley’s Scones”. Shirley Strachan would be spinning in his grave. Everyone gets to feed each table their treats and there’s oohs and aahs as they’re tasted and enjoyed. Alice proves to be as pushy with the guests as she is with the other contestants so at least she can claim consistency. Sam (on the red team) is concerned that the blue team’s food looks better. Only an intercut of a running stream can wash away those fears and the editors are happy to oblige.
Matt P, Crazy George and Gary get to settle in and try the food for themselves. For the blue team the melting moments were claimed to be good, but not as good as when Julia made them (of course). The eclairs are a triumph, too. The red team’s apple tea cakes are cast away for their plain jane-ness while the jammy dodgers are thought to be not very nice – too big and didn’t taste good at all. The red team’s scones are getting wraps from the guests but it’s the blue team’s food overall that is receiving praise, until plastic man shows he found some plastic in one of the apricot plastic tarts. What else did he expect?!
When Amina is informed of the plastic incident, the colour drains from her face. Audra is livid and quick to suggest it might have been Alice’s fault, which is entirely reasonable. The last of the food is pushed out and Crazy George calls service to an end. Everyone’s really happy with their efforts and now it’s all down to the guests and how they vote. Who can do it? Who’s cuisine will reign supreme?!
When the teams are assembled they’re all excited about the work they did for the afternoon tea. Crazy George reminds them that this entire thing is serious and as a result eventually someone will go home. Staring with the red team, Gary offers feedback good and bad: Good work at the mill and in foraging for food; Andrew struggled as leader and it was seen in the quality/consistency of the food. Crazy George shares for the blue team: it wasn’t just about milling and foraging, and the judges were surprised at the lack of stuff they brought back; the judges thought Amina was a stand-out as leader for her team; Julia identified as sous chef if only to make special mention of her because the judges like her.
The blue team’s apricot tarts were the sweet treat of the day, BUT leaving the skins on didn’t help and the kinder surprise plastic in one tart was a noted concern. But when it came down to the voting by the guests it was a landslide: all blue (60 to 12). Red loses AGAIN. Amina and her crew will be off to enjoy lunch and a special masterclass while the losers are up for another multi-round elimination. It’s all coming up black tomorrow…