What a second week of Masterchef it has been. It’s like that week you have after that first week, where all the things that happened in that first week logically and inexorably lead to those things that happen in the second week. It’s like that thing that follows something else, with each thing broken up into units of seven, so in terms of length they resemble each other almost exactly. It’s like having 24 things one week, then only having 23 at the end of the second week. What happened to that one? Did you lose it? Did you throw it away? Whatever the reason, it is likely that you will have forgotten that first thing you got rid of when the time comes to get rid of the second to last one.

The first challenge for the aspiring chefs this week involved no elimination. However, this did not mean that they were not under pressure. Au contraire! The concept of the challenge was that each contestant had to cook a dish that had changed their lives. You could see from the outset that some contestants were under enormous pressure to make up some life changing event involving food. It may have been different if one of the contestants was a Vietnam vet who’s first taste of raw, squirming rat was an indication to him that he could survive the tortuous hell hole of a POW camp. It may have been different if one of the contestants was medically brain dead after eating a wrap containing chicken that had been dropped on the floor not once, not twice, but thrice, before being dusted off, put back into the wrap and served to the unsuspecting contestant. It may have been different if one of the contestants had chocked on a piece of meat in her beef bourguignon, had been declared clinically dead, and had either (a) seen the light, or (b) realised there was nothing at all, before being brought back from the dead by a doctor who refused to kowtow to the “bean counters and administrators who run this damn hospital! And nurse? Get me 10ccs of 10cc on this damn record player, while I bring this patient back from the dead, STAT!”

So with each contestant having to cook a dish that was vaguely relevant to their lives (eg, I surf, prawns live in the ocean, so … or, I like hiking through grassland, cows eat grass, so… or I like shooting unsuspecting passers by from a bell tower, unsuspecting passers by like veal, so…), the judges had to select the dish that they thought was the best representation of a life changing dish.

The winner was Hayden, with a dish known as ‘moules frites’, which I understood to be a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, but what do I know? Hayden’s logic was that moules frites go well with beer, Hayden likes beer, so … As a result of his win, Hayden was invited to partake in a cook-off against a professional, and, if he won, Hayden would be given an immunity pin, along with, presumably, the right to stick it wherever he sees fit.

For this challenge, Hayden replaced his blue $2 trucker’s cap with his white $2 truckers cap (which is incidentally the same cap he wore to his year 12 formal), in an effort to match his cap with his white challenger’s jacket, having long ago retired his red $2 truckers cap. Viewers would have expected that Hayden would have been up against one of Australia’s premier chefs for this challenge. In the past, we have seen the likes of Pete Evans, Frank Camorra and Martin Boetz, so the expectation was of a chef of similar, if not greater calibre. Instead, we got a 4th year apprentice of one of Australia’s premier chefs. Except the chef wasn’t one of Australia’s premier chefs, but he had met someone who watched an episode of last season’s Masterchef which featured Martin Boetz. And the apprentice wasn’t a 4th year apprentice but rather the flatmate of the dishwasher at the chef’s restaurant. So, you know, a real up and comer.

Hayden managed to win the challenge. The “professional” managed to poll 7 out of 10 from each of George, Matt and guest judge Justin North. Hayden scored the same from Matt and George but managed to extract an 8 from North. I would suggest that he also extracted a win in this challenge from his arse.

With Hayden gaining the immunity pin the contestants enjoyed a small celebration into the wee hours of the morning. So it was with shock and disgust that they were awoken from their alcohol induced slumbers by a creepy hunchbacked bald man, sneaking into their bedrooms and whispering into their ears “Get out of bed, okay? We’re going on a little trip, okay? Mumble mumble allagance mumble mumble alaments mumble mumble”.

To the contestants surprise they were whisked away to a secret location, which turned out to be an artisan bakery. The purpose of their nighttime tryst was to “bake some bread”, which is a euphemism for baking some bread. The teams were split into two: the tradition red and blue teams. Tom was nominated the captain of the red team, because of the ease of pronunciation of his name and because of his popularity with the rest of the contestants, and Sun was nominated the captain of the blue team, for entirely unrelated reasons.

Sun was desperate to end the blue team curse of always losing. The blue team curse first reared its ugly head when Howard Carter, contestant on the first series of Masterchef – Egypt, opened the tomb in which the boy-king, Bluetenkhaman, had been sucessfully interred some 4,000 years previously. Since that time, any team on Masterchef which wears the colour blue has been subject to some unfortunate incident or another.

And it was Sun who did indeed lift the blue team curse, leading the team to bake the better bread overall. For the winner, dinner at an exclusive restaurant in Palm Beach. For the losers, dinner at an exclusive restaurant in need of a visit from the health inspector. And elimination.

Tom and Kumar put their hands up for elimination. Tom, because he was the captain of the team, and Kumar, because Jay had tickled his armpit with a feather.

Kumar hinted at the possibility of the obscurity that is a consequence of being the first one eliminated from Masterchef when he said “As the first one eliminated, you’re unlikely to get much in the way of endorsements. Oh sure, in the first week you’ll make an appearance on Kyle and Jackie O, the Circle, 7pm Project, Hot Dogs Up Late Game Show, and be the lead story on the following nights Ten news buletin, but after that it’s all downhill. I mean, you’ll get a couple of appearances at a Westfield in one of the more bogan areas of Sydney. You’ll get a run on some daytime cooking show where the only people watching are bored uni students and geriatrics filling their pants. You might even get to be the guest of honour at some nightclub event or another… Sorry what was the question?”

Tom, on the other hand, was prepared for an early elimination. Knowing full well that leaving this early meant that Australia wouldn’t get to fully appreciate his cooking abilities, Tom took the necessary steps to ensure at least one other avenue of non-obscurity was left open to him. His choice of apricot coloured trousers was a clear warning to Matt Preston that he may not be the only bizarrely dressed man in the food industry for too much longer.

The challenge involved three secret guests each bringing out their favourite dish for Tom and Kumar to make something of, without a recipe. First out was the doyen of the Lebanese restauranteur community, Alba, with baklava, leaving Tom and Kumar to work out how the f**k to make it.

Next out was Sean Presland, the doyen of the Anglo Japanese food cooking community. He brought with him some Tempura flour, indicating to Tom and Kumar that he would “like shit deep fried”.

Finally, out came Matt Preston, the doyen of the over dressed. He brought with him a bag of limes. Hopes that he intended to inflict an evidence-less beating on one of the contestants, much in the way that police services around the world like to work over a “perp” with a bag of oranges, were soon dashed when he asked the contestants to make him something “light, airy, barely there, with a kilo of fried chicken on the side”.

Though both contestants showed courage, skill, class, and just a hint of thigh, as usual it came down to the final vote, with Kumar winning the day, and Tom left to wonder what he would do next.

Fortunately, viewers didn’t have to wait long, as we were informed that upon leaving Masterchef Tom has started a business called Mr Perkins and Co, an internet gourmet food home delivery service.

Which begs the obvious question: what’s wrong with the traditional “failed Masterchef contestant releases a line of gourmet sauces” method of forging a career after being eliminated?


MasterChef Australia – Sun/Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri 7:30pm, Ch10.