MasterChef Australia All Stars – Sun 6:30pm, Ch10
Last week on Masterchef, the 10 most spectacular amateur chefs in the country, save for Adam Liaw, Andy Allen and thousands that never applied to be on the show, were whittled down to three as Chris, Callum and Kate, one each from 2009, 2010 and 2011, were left to battle it out for the title of Supreme Masterchef All Star, $25,000 towards the persons nominated charity and a small independent island nation in the pacific (once the locals are moved on).
The camera pans over the water as Gary’s voice echoes in our ears. Chris really wants to win it. Callum is really determined to win it. Kate is willing to fight to win it. And for the Masterchef producers, fuck the environment, lets put them in three cars.
“Are you nervous” asks Gary, sporting a grin that gives them every reason to be nervous. The failures look on from above. A cheap looking trophy is on offer for the winner.
The special guest is introduced as Maggie Beer, who comes out with her arm in a sling, the outcome of her most recent cage fight apparent. “This is Maggie’s larder” says Gary, pointing at her head. “We want great food, using whatever you want in the pantry and some staples under the bench to stick things together” says Gary. “You have to cook well” offers Maggie, being paid $150 hour for this pearl of wisdom. They have two hours to cook whatever they want.
“Kate’s a mum” says Chris, surprised by this shocking turn of events. “I’m going to go out in a ball of flames” he continues, eschewing the more traditional evening wear. Callum is doing a vegetarian dish because he hates himself and everyone around him. “Are you doing meat as well?” asks Dani from above, not quite grasping the concept of vegetarianism. “My plan is to serve 14 meat lovers a vegetarian dish” says Calum, “and follow it up with opening a “welcoming refugees” themed pub in Penrith”.
Callum gets his celeriac puree on which he plans to cook really gently, like an experienced lover with nothing left to prove. Chris is making a salt crust which “encapsulates the chicken”, but laments the fact that he doesn’t know what encapsulates means.. Meanwhile, Kate is cooking pheasant. Maggie suggests that Kate needs to separate the legs as they tend to get a little mischievous when still attached to the thighs. Callum believes he should be “cooking more shit right now”, but with a vegetarian menu, he’s cooking plenty of shit. After some undermining by Maggie, Callum relents and follows Kate’s pheasant lead.
Kate’s feeling time slipping away a bit, as she recognises she’s been on Masterchef for two years now. Maggie tells Callum to use pliers on his pheasant, which is ironic as that’s how Henry VIII used to torture many of his peasants. Gary has a funny feeling that Chris’ chickens wont cook, and a funny feeling that Maggie Beer is actually a woman. But Chris cooks on ignorant, until Maggie whispers “black pudding” seductively in his ear. Callum and Kate struggle with their pheasants, as this final becomes dangerously close to being remembered as the Pheasant’s Revolt.
George offers a subdued “boom boom shake the room”, while everyone works feverishly in the last 15 minutes. Chris pulls out his chickens, Callum dresses his salad, and Kate prays to some deity, as they all plate up.
Chris is first and gets some help with his chickens from a passing weightlifter. He describes his dish, and when he mentions putting quince with the vegetables, Maggie scolds, “I wouldn’t have thought of that”. Clearly Chris had forgotten the rule they could only cook things Maggie had thought of. Some of the chicken is a little undercooked,and George admits to not being a fan of Raw Parsnip, a progressive heavy rock band from Dapto.
Callum follows with his vegetarian pheasant, to the jeers of the assembled guests. “We are so lucky to sit at a table like this” says Maggie, admiring the wood work and pointedly ignoring the food. Gary and George gush over the celeriac puree, while Maggie is positively orgasmic over the addition of verjuice.
Finally Kate arrives amidst fears that her pheasant is undercooked. She describes each dish, starting with the words “We’ve got…”, an admission that she’s had assistance from professional chefs the whole time. “There’s not much fat on the wing of a pheasant” complains Maggie bitterly. “I love the carrots” says George, the simple fool, but feels let down by the beetroot, which promised to be here 40 minutes ago.
With the eating out of the way it’s time for the scoring. Chris gets an 8 from Maggie, an 8 from Matt, an 8 from George and an 8 from Gary, giving him 32 out of 40. Callum gets a 9 from Maggie, a 9 from Matt, a 9 from George and a 9 from Gary, as groupthink seizes control. Finally, Kate gets an 8 from Maggie, an 8 from Matt, an 8 from George and a 7 from Gary, as she uncannily just falls short of the score needed to beat Chris.
So into the final final go Callum and Chris. Maggie Beer runs into the night, a date with a bottle of verjuice beckoning. Callum starts the next round on 36 and Chris on 32. And of course the final of Masterchef wouldn’t be complete without some over idolised fat headed chef presenting the final dish, as Peter Gilmore saunters out with his infamous snow egg.
Because Callum has had experience with a snow egg in the past, Chris will be given the advantage of being allowed to plate up a practice snow egg first, while Callum looks on. They have three hours and they have to make four snow eggs, one for each judge.
Chris carves into a jackfuit as Callum describes Gilmore as large and cumbersome. Chris adds too much before the gallery warns him. After one hour Chris and Callum are neck and neck. Callum pipes his meringues, but Gilmore suggests Chris should redo his egg whites, advice that he blithely ignores. It’s a decision that comes back to haunt him when he discovers the meringues “are shit”.
With 30 minutes to go the boys work feverishly. Chris’s errors have put him three steps behind, but his second round of meringues prove successful. “This is when it can all go wrong” says Matt encouragingly, of the last ten minutes. “I need to not make any more stupid mistakes” says Chris, defining the essence of life. “It is stupid for a grown man to be intimidated by a dessert” he offers, but remains silent on grown men being intimidated by urinating next to other grown men.
He assembles his first and serves it up to the judges. “The finesse is not there” says Gilmore, “but it WILL come down to flavour” he demands. The jackfruit is heavy, according to George, while Gilmore worries about the texture. Finally, they write down their scores.
Callum assembles his dessert next. He snaps a large number of tuiles as the pressure takes hold. His hands shake relentlessly as he lowers the egg into the glass. As he serves, Gary quizzes him about the experience, as well as firing questions at him about his love life. The judges crack the eggs and find the ice cream has melted. Gilmore laments the lack of granita and the meringue is too crumbly.
Back in the kitchen, before the enthralled crowd, they wait for the final verdict. Callum’s tuile was crunchy in some parts and crispy in others, though technically they are the same thing. Chris gets 7 from Peter, 8 from Matt, 8 from George and 7 from Gary, virtually ensuring he won’t win. Callum gets 8 from Peter, 9 from Matt, 9 from a theatrical George and 8 from Gary, giving him the crown, his charity $25,000 and the right to assassinate whatever contestant on Masterchef 2013 that he wants. He provides Chris’ charity with a $10,000 share of the win, showing how little regard he has for his own charity. Callum is showered with glittery specks of paper as the rest mob him, trying to pry the trophy from his grasp.