MasterChef Australia All StarsSun 7:30pm, Mon-Thu 7pm, Ch10
Dawn breaks across the MasterChef house, and while Kate, Julie and Justine partake of their morning coffee, Poh rants about cupcakes and bondage. Kate reminds us she saw all the other MasterChef contestants go through their journey before she undertook her journey, and breaks into “Don’t Stop Believing”. What a journey. Dani reminds us only three things are inevitable: elimination, taxes and sexually transmitted diseases from chefs who corner you in the MasterChef pantry.

Chris and Aaron sit uncomfortably discussing strategy and the relative douchiness of hats.

The contestants enter the MasterChef Kitchen to a surprise – no benches. Justine smells a rat but that’s just the core ingredient for the upcoming challenge. Gary welcomes the Cheftestants with his best Drill Sargent impression and then tells them they are now competing as individuals, no longer as teams. Which is what Hayden has been doing all along.

Tomorrow they have to face off in a pressure test, and two will be eliminated and sent back to real life and relative infamy. But today it’s an immunity challenge (of course!) – one that trumps all others. The Cheftestants will be going one on one against the hottest chefs in Australia today. They all applaud as the 12 Apostles of cooking enter and line up in front of them, ready to face off in a fight to the death. Hayden’s intimidated because he saw them all getting changed before and how he feels less than 100% man.

“This is what we call the ultimate face off,” says Gary, “As the winners will get to trade faces in a remarkable new technique pioneered by John Woo.” If the Cheftestants want immunity, all they have to do is beat the chef they’ll be paired up against. Chris knows the benefit of a pig’s head to the solar plexus so he’s already prepared.

Introductions/pairings are offered: Julie v Adrian Richardson; Poh v Dan Hong; Justine v Jeremy “MASSIVE HEAD” Strode; Marion v Martin Boetz; Kate v Darren “Face Like A Kicked Arse” Purchase; Dani v Alessandro “Give Us A Kiss, Toots” Pavoni; and introducing the others doesn’t count.

With all that excitement out of the way, there’s barely time to cook. But first they have to decide between bacon OR eggs as the core ingredient (no rat?), and choosing anything less than bacon would be a grave, silly, rookie error. The Cheftestants get to choose, and Julie reports they’ve all opted for: eggs. ARE YOU PEOPLE SERIOUS?! WHY NO PICKA DE BACON?! NO SPEAKA DE ENGLISH?!?! If nothing else the professional pastry chefs are pleased. I mean – why wouldn’t you challenge the people you have to cook against? Zero strategy, people.

It is decided – no bacon, only eggs, and it’s game on. The Cheftestants get 90 minutes to deliver their dishes; the Chefs 60 minutes. In a final twist of the pairing knife it is announced that the judging won’t be by George & Gary… and we won’t find out who will judge until later, other than it’s a blind tasting by three of the best food critics in the country (well, two and Preston, obviously). Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhh! There’s no way Gary or George would judge 12 of their peers. 11 sure, 10 absolutely, 13 in a heartbeat, but not 12.

The Cheftestants start in, and are subjected to the professionals standing at the end of the bench, leering and eyeing off their work. Also, Kumar seems to have taken to wearing a headband. And Aaron still won’t shut up about Nirvana and how Nevermind was the pre-eminent grunge album of the 90’s. Kate’s panicking about cooking against Darren Purchase again, while Darren is busy warming up his punchy fingers on the sideline.

Dani decided the way to beat an Italian is make Sri Lankan, while Kumar has decided the way to beat an Aussie Japanese chef in Shaun Presland is to make a fucking mess. Or as he calls it, a “Soba noodle bird’s nest”. Whatevs.

Hayden’s making a duck egg ravioli against his nemesis Vincent Gadan. It won’t be enough – Gadan gets what Gadan wants, and today Gadan wants Hayden as his bitch. Gary thinks it sounds lovely (the ravioli, not Hayden being his bitch) but once Vincent starts he knows he’s in trouble.

Gary tries to convince Alessandro & Vincent that the dishes their Cheftestant pairings are making will make it “hard on the judges to tell who’s cooked what”. Who’s kidding who now, Gary? Vincent doesn’t muck around with the double entendre and has decided his dish will be called “Menage a Trois”, which is french for “I’m doing your wife AND your sister”.

Kumar’s too busy stamping out a fire at his bench to notice that Aaron has devolved into rambling to himself about the next ingredient he needs to add to his sauce. Maybe Aaron has that ponytail tied too tightly. The Chefs look on with a mixture of contempt and joy at the chaos that is unfolding – this will be a walk in the culinary park.

Justine tells us that Chef Massive Head has a fish & chip shop and Mixed Business attached to his restaurant, so she’s in a spot of bother. All she has is her own TV show. George pops over to ensure Justine knows she should be scared in competing against Chef Massive Head. Chef Massive Head laughs and nearly topples over backwards as he leans back in mirth.

Marion’s decided her Eggy-egg-egg-duck-egg dish should be enough to do away with her professional. If she hadn’t already over cooked her duck, that is. “They look like little bullets,” she offers. Now that would be a dish – chocolate duck bullets. Mmm… bullets…

The first 30 minutes have flown and the professionals are let loose on the MasterChef Kitchen. It’s a flurry of knives, saucepans and arrogance. Dani’s already stealing Alessandro’s pan, trying to put him off his game. He still finds a way to secure a hug, a kiss and a touch up from Dani.

At the encouragement of Martin Boetz Marion will be cooking some new duck breasts while he stands nearby looking FABulous, if a little bit Hitler-youthy. Hayden tries to distract Vincent Gadan with his boyish charm but it won’t work – Vincent knows what Hayden does and doesn’t have to offer.

Chef Massive Head is making scrambled eggs with duck eggs and brioche and stuff, and George thinks it sounds wonderful (mind you, he could have said eggs on toast too). Kate knows she’s in trouble when her opposite number mentions “eggy bread”. You don’t get that in the Orange Bookshop.

Gary and George confer and decide that today, the real winner is eggs. Gary sees Kumar falling in a heap so suggests to Sensei Presland that he could help him, OR choose to finish him Mortal Kombat style. He chooses to save the latter until he’s finished cooking and so everyone can see his finishing move properly.

Marion’s second round of duck is complete, and Martin suggests she should cook it a little more. Not overcook it, but only he knows what she means. Kumar is caught in the disaster of not being able to peel his quail eggs. It’s the hero of the dish and it’s facing off against it’s natural enemy in a small, elderly Sri Lankan. Sensei tells him to use a different egg in place of the quail egg and with the look on Kumar’s face you’d think he just gave him the six winning numbers for the lottery this week. Kumar races off to be muddled elsewhere and is later seen talking to a supporting beam.

Justine explains to Chef Massive Head what she’s doing and he smiles and nod and slightly puts the earth off-axis for a moment. Hayden is pleased that the dishes that he and Vincent are making compliment each other so well: “You could have my dish for main and his dish for dessert,” says Hayden, which is just how the ladies and some men like it.

One minute to go and the plating is very pretty from some quarters and horrendous from others. Kate decides at the last minute that what her deconstructed lemon meringue pie needs is blueberries. Time runs out and the Cheftestants gush over the professional chef’s dishes. Kumar likes to think his dish looks appealling, but he knows that Sensei Presland’s dish has all the flavour AND the crane technique, so he’s really screwed.

The food critics have arrived: Guy Griffin, Myffy Wrigley (looking stunning, I might add) & Matthew Evans. Gary explains everything they already know and the they’re let loose on the kitchen to move through the benches and taste the food. Sadly they’re not experienced TV food critics and introduce every dish and talk unnaturally with each other like they feel they should be offering a stilted explanation of everything they’re doing. Bring back Preston (but keep Wrigley).

It gets long and boring from here, so the highlights package offers thusly:
– Chef Massive Head’s eggs on toast is considered a winner because of the “salty explosions”.
– Martin Boetz’s salted duck egg & prawn salad is determined to be a party in one’s mouth.
– There’s something wrong with Marion’s dish. Tastes like failure.
– Kate’s lemon meringue didn’t need the blueberries.
– Crispy noodles are hard to eat (Kumar). News at eleven.
– Random food is eaten and gushed over that we never saw people cook.
– Hayden made chalky pastry, and that’s a real turn off for Ms Myffy.
– The food critics talk about food like it’s wine. Hacks.
– Dani thinks she’s cooked really well, and she thinks that Alessandro has cooked a good dish too. Dani “thinks” a lot.

The critics report back, and then front the assembled throng to have their moment in the sun as the winners of each pair are announced. Matthew was expecting food when he walked in today and was thoroughly disappointed there was no wifi available so he could live tweet his tasting experience. Myffy was amazed at the sheer diversity on the plate, which is interesting considering that the most diverse bunch are actually the visiting chefs (not that you’d know there was a female in that group, though).

Only three Cheftestants managed to put up dishes that the critics liked better than the Chef’s dishes. Obviously it wasn’t a dish from Chris, Julie, Poh, Callum, Aaron or Jonathan as we’ve barely seen them cook this episode. There’s lots of expectant breathing from the remaining six – the first winner is Kate! Importantly now the critics have remembered their best MasterChef colloquialisms (“you took it to the next level”). Darren is gracious in defeat, offering $1,000 for Kate’s chosen charity and promising not to punch his commis chef when he gets back to his kitchen.

Dani is the next winner and she’s really surprised. Myffy can’t stop saying nice things about it, and Alessandro offered even he preferred Dani’s dish to his own. Mind you, Alessandro spent most of his time showing Hayden how to cook – so who’s the real winner?

Justine is the third winner and is just as surprised as Dani (as well she should be). Guy acknowledges he never has to fly to Paris again to get the floating islands; he can now just stalk Justine. Chef Massive Head admits he was worried all day, and then unzips his costume and out steps a midget with another midget on his shoulders holding a beach ball. The whole thing has been a set up!

Justine, Dani & Kate are now safe from the elimination challenge tomorrow, and everyone is dismissed from the MasterChef Kitchen to walk into the night together, with at least one Cheftestant vanishing into the night with Darren Purchase walking suspiciously in the other direction.