MasterChef Australia All StarsSun 7:30pm, Mon-Thu 7pm, Ch10

Feel the bluey glowing warmth of the warming bluey glow…

Great. What a way to start a new series – someone forgot to pay the power bill (looking at you, Calombaris). Additionally, the MasterChef Kitchen has proven to be haunted by the ghosts of the three judges. Still, looking back on the past seasons of MasterChef we’re reminded of the mediocrity that can be achieved simply by appearing on a cooking show. Sure, you may get a TV show out of it (Schofield, Ling Yeow, et al), but so did those kids from The Shire, so don’t go thinking you’re all that. Callum’s managed to come back having not aged a day. At least this time they’re all doing it to raise money for charity (and, for some, offer proof of life to their family so that the ransom will be paid).

The past contestants, resplendent in their coloured aprons, walk up to the MasterChef Kitchen doors because the producers couldn’t secure another Hyundai sponsorship this year. Wait, what?! A blue scooter?! No, this is too much. How can people be expected to invest in a franchise if they go and change so much in the first 20 seconds?

Julie’s already scared; Marion tells us she’s been doing her own thing for two years which has included acting as a gun for hire for the Nicaraguan Government; and some woman claiming to be Kate tells us that she has no idea why she’s walking back into the MasterChef Kitchen – all that country air has finally gotten to her.

Chris tells us the nightmares have stopped, but only for him. Aaron hasn’t lost his knack of being able to say so very, very many words and not actually say anything meaningful, but he has been working on his hand gestures and now they’re much bigger. Poh’s been impregnated by simply walking into the MasterChef Kitchen and is now feeling a little bit sick.

“Wow that is utterly weird,” says Gary, “Because this is just like a sex dream I had last night.” He continues to spout on about how excited he is, and reminds them all that he’s “said it a million times, but I’ll say it once more: Is this the best we could find?”. Gary asks Marion (typical) what she’s been up to, and she informs them all she’s started her own food range and now over 100,000 people per month reconsider eating her food.

Julie has a special place in the judge’s hearts because she’s the series one winner and because they still don’t know how she beat Poh in the final. Julie’s just delivered her third book, titled “Crayons and all things waxy”, which will be ready for Mother’s Day next year. Nobody else has been doing anything important enough that made it worthy of asking.

As MasterChef All Stars is all about raising money for charity, each of the Cheftestants is representing their own charity and each challenge will be worth money for their charity accordingly. Winner gets bragging rights, a trophy, and their pick of the remaining Cheftestants to become their gimp for a year.

George reminds the teams that each of them need a captain – Julie for the blue team and Kate for the yellow team (the others breathe a sigh of relief as finally the sting in winning MasterChef hits home). Like venom dripping from George’s lips has to report that Adam is “busy filming his own TV series so can’t make it, which is fantastic for him…”. Ouch – that’s the last we’ll hear of him again. Callum is instead crowned as the replacement captain mainly because he was standing at the front.

Matt P, resplendent in 2009’s boots, 2010’s pants and 1973’s haircut smiles Chershire Cat-like while making a reference to the Lord Of The Rings that no one gets – they just all laugh at Chris being called a Halfling. He reminds them that in the MasterChef Kitchen “jolly is folly”, that the “earlybird gets the worm”, and “boom boom shake the cloche”. He welcomes Adriano Zumbo to present them with their first challenge – a croquembouche.

As Zumbo walks in, Julie admits all the therapy she’s had in the last three years falls in a heap, but that’s just from having to look at Matt P’s retina-scarring yellow jeans. Aaron says something but nobody cares to listen.

This challenge is a special one because it’s shared – the teams have two hours and 15 minutes to make their best replica of Zumbo’s insanity but they have to do it individually in 30 minute shifts. If one person doesn’t get enough done it’ll have a knock on effect for the rest of the team. Or, if they get more done then it’ll make it easier on their… BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA like that’s even gonna happen.

We’re reminded by how annoying Dani is from her saying just one word. At least the Lego sponsorship has stuck with her, looking at her necklace.

George asks the Cheftestants why they fear the croquembouche, and Dani says what everyone’s thinking: “It’s about half the size of you, George, and I’m not talking about your height.” Chris thinks it’s simple – “profiteroles, custard, caramel… it’s easy, but put it all together with a time limit and it becomes like coming home late to your partner after a night on the turps. Am I right, fellas?!” George tells them all “what’s lovely about today is that nobody’s going home”, allowing Aaron to breathe a sigh of relief.

The teams meet quickly to strategise and work out who’s going to do which part and what they expect to get done within each time bracket. Again Aaron speaks, everyone ignores him. With the order sorted and weaknesses noted, it’s game on – Julie to start for the Blue 2009 Team, Callum for the Red 2010 Tean & Kate for the Yellow 2011 Team. They dive into cooking and Julie notes that in the first series she was always known for having a messy bench, and while she planned to come back and do things calmly and neatly, she literally explodes next to her bench sending cookware and ingredients everywhere.

Justine laughs at Julie cooking because, let’s face it, she’s a condsecending twat. Matt P & Adriano pop around to intimidate the contestants, though Julie manages to engage with them while still dropping eggs on the floor. Kate reminds us she won MasterChef 2011 and she hopes everyone remembers her (is that who she is?!). Her career hasn’t stagnated at all by staying in Orange as she’s busy cooking a meal once a month for people in a bookshop. A. Book. Shop.

Callum’s working hard to ensure the profiteroles are in the oven before his time is up, while Aaron is working hard to ensure we all remember why he was called “Beanie Douche” the first time around, even though he’s sans beanie now (though his charity is “Douches Sans Beanieres”).

The first 30 minutes are up and it’s time to swap out, and in comes Justine (2009), Jonathan (2010) & Kumar (2011). Justine tries to put more choux pastry in the piping bag but it’s too stiff (just like George – WA HEY!), and then proceeds to wax lyrical about her little cooking show that just happens to be on Channel 10 4pm every afternoon. If only people watched it. We see a flash back of Matt P’s hair and wonder if he cut it short to shed some extra pounds. Justine’s pleased to be supporting her charity ‘Father Chris Riley’s Money-Grubbing NRL Clubs and their Necessary Pokie Rooms’.

Adriano & George pop by to recommend that the choux pastry be thinned out a little more with a couple more egg yolks, but Poh – who knows everything about french patisserie – yells down from the balcony to ignore them and keep going. Adriano would scrape it all together and fix it than deal with what they’ll end up with. Justine’s just about to do it while her team members shouting at her to shove them in the oven? “What do we know?” says George as he pushes Adriano away. “We’re the Blue Team,” says Chris, as if it means something. Julie’s busy rocking in the foetal position and sobbing to herself.

Somehow forgetting that 45 minutes of the challenge has passed, Dani tells us “the game starts now”. Was she really worth it?

Jonathan’s running around like a chook with his head cut off – which surprises Aaron as he’s a lot more… arm wavy… “This is not quite the Eliminator I remember”. During his time on season two, Jonathan eliminated 8 contestants, and since leaving MasterChef he’s dined out on that fact every chance he could. Short of finding a real charity Jonathan is supporting ‘OzHarvest’.

When Adriano and George stop by the egg yolks that Jonathan’s completed are a mess. “Remember that egg whites cook at a lower temperature than egg yolks, so you could end up with lumps of racist whites in your profiteroles”. He calms down soon enough to be mixing two bowls simultaneously while completing his tax return and acknowledging George’s general toss-pottery.

Sweet, sweet Kumar, still wearing that deluded smile, is frantically trying to get their profiteroles in the oven. His hands are shaking and his pulse is flattening out. Attempting to find some common ground with Kumar he pops by for a chat, but Kumar’s not having a bar of it. There’s choux pastry to get in the oven, custard to be made, and ostrich eggs to crack into a bowl. His life has changed since MasterChef because now people ignore him for both his cooking AND his art and not just the latter.

Dani is so happy that Kumar is back in the MasterChef Kitchen because it takes all the pressure of being the worst away from her. Oh, and he’s a gentleman and all that. Aaron has proclaimed Jonathan as “the king of multi-tasking”, but only because he’s jealous of his ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. The Blue team’s profiteroles are declared “not ready” and have to go back in the oven in shame.

The next change over happens, and it’s in with Chris (2009), Aaron (2010) & Dani (2011). Aaron is straight into commentating everything he does and reminding us he doesn’t like cooking desserts – from memory he doesn’t like cooking pizza either, instead opting to surprise people with pizza from a specific pizza chain. Adriano checks his profiteroles and also declares them “not dry enough” after Aaron does the smartest thing EVER… he asks Adriano what he thought rather than telling the chef how things were. More profiteroles of shame.

Aaron’s sweating like a pig, shaking like a leaf, and relieving himself in his pants – otherwise acknowledged as another normal Friday night out for the Rock Chef. His team mates are yelling at him from the balcony while Adriano is calmly correcting him whilst standing beside him, and again Aaron uses the best judgement yet by opting to listen to Zumbo and do what he says, not what the crazy balconistas say.

Gary directs the Cheftestants to be filling their choux buns now and have them dipped in caramel or they’re not gonna finish. “Move your buns,” he says. Even the classic pun writers are back.

Marion reminds us that “the best thing to do in an Adriano Zumbo challenge is to do what Adriano Zumbo says”, despite what she says. Confused? Aaron is. So is Dani: “Where do I enter from?”. “From the bottom,” shout her housemates. Nuff said, really.

Aaron wasn’t the fastest in the kitchen he acknowledges, but he still gives himself an ‘A’ for effort. It’s an important part of his therapy that he wins at something. CHANGE!

Down come the last four contestants – Poh (2009), Marion (2010) & Hayden (2011). Gary & Matt P recap where we’re at – all three teams in the shit – and Matt P acknowledges that the contestants have become soft in the outside world and are no longer battle hardened from being in the MasterChef Kitchen. “Battle-hardened” like he is round the middle, I guess. Gary accuses the Cheftestants of having Banker’s Hands, while we all scream at the TV that he has hands like a Banker, but starting with a ‘W’.

Poh’s begun construction for the Blue Team, but her very small amount of caramel is causing the profiteroles to stick and she’s running out of everything because of it. Hayden’s loving being back in the MasterChef Kitchen because he’s been homeless since the series last year. Marion’s now furiously assembling for the Red Team as well and her and Poh are burning their fingers as they go (having forgotten that the caramel would be hot).

Poh’s sticking unfilled profiteroles on the bottom as she’s run out of custard and doesn’t have time to make more – “after all, they’ll only be tasting the ones at the top and not the bottom, and it’s not like the custard adds any structural integrity to the profiteroles.” Famous last words indeed.

Marion remembers lots of toppled over croquembouches from season one, and she doesn’t want that to happen. She leaves the mould on, but Poh removes hers (which her team is quite happy about) until it starts to squish down on the unfilled profiteroles and lean like it’s gonna fall. Adriano screams at her to put the cone back on, which she does – when she finds it.

Marion removes the cone mould and the Red Team’s tower is a great success – as is the Yellow Team’s. Five minutes to go and Poh has removed those that were squished and now their leaning tower of choux is more like a speed bump of profiteroles. Hayden’s flicking out the sugar like a pro or someone who has a little too much alone time with the pornography, and it excites Dani no end. She just hopes he knows what he’s doing. No worries there…

Hayden was lucky enough to do some work experience with Vincent Gadan but that had nothing to do with croquembouche making and everything to do with being Cleo’s Bachelor of the Year. Time runs out and it’s a great success for two teams and a liveable nightmare for one. Aaron manages to overstate their position by offering his team has “scaled the summit of the croquembouche and now we’re on top, looking over the world.” It’s barely three feet high, dude.

The judges retire for judging, and the contestants retire for silent panicking. Before we can find out who’s first, Mitch from the Shire has to consult a tarot card reader to learn that he’s going to break up with someone and he’s about to enter a relationship that should never be… perhaps the one with the producers of the Shire?

The Red Team are first, with the croquembouche carried in triumphantly by team leader Callum. He puts his skill at piping the choux pastry down to making over 1,000 macarons a week to sell at the Adelaide Markets. He didn’t sell any, he just liked to over cater. The Cheftestants are kicked out so the judges can taste, and George drops his first “allagant”. The more things change, the more George befouls the English language.

Gary thinks the caramel is perfect, while the profiteroles are spot on with the custard. Adriano agrees the caramel was good, but inconsistent on coverage. George manages to ignore everything the others have said and declares there’s too much caramel on this dish, but enough – time to taste another.

Julie leads the Blue Team in carrying the most spectacular of croquembouches. Then the judges realise they’ve brought in Adriano’s tower, and the team are sent to get theirs. THOSE WACKY FUNSTERS! If this is what we can expect from the Blue Team, we’ll all have to keep our good eyes on them.

Noting the sugar is only on one side of the dish, Matt P offers it looks like one of those really bad comb-overs. “Or George’s back,” says Gary, offering far too many questions about how he knows what it’s like to comb George’s back hair. With the Cheftestants kicked out, the judges agree there are too many elements that haven’t quite come together as they should. You know it’s shorter than the others when you can see George’s face over the top of the tower when he starts serving the dish.

Adriano lucks out and gets the top profiterole which has no custard at all! “I’ve been stitched up!” he says, but none of the judges offer him a filled one. There’s concerns with the choux buns, but the caramel and custard is good for George – but not good enough for Adriano. The caramel is, sadly, the highlight.

The Yellow Team enter and there’s oohs and wows from the judges. Kate’s confident it’s OK, and Hayden gets to remind us again of his special relationship with Vincent Gadan. Visually the Yellow Team think the Red Team are their main competition – just as well it’s judged on taste. They contestants are booted, and the final considerations are made.

Gary smacks at the caramel on his protiferole with a spoon like he would a naughty female MasterChef contestant. There’s silence as the judges eat except for George smacking his lips too close to the microphone. Gary loves the custard, but George finds it all sickly sweet as the “caramel hasn’t been taken further enough” (good lord, my ears). The custard is deemed the best custard of the three dishes, except for George who decides to snark about Adriano’s custard. It’s come down to Yellow vs Red as Blue was discarded early for so very many reasons – not least of which was Justine wholly ignoring the advances of the judges from minute one.

The judges have conferred, and the winner of the first charity $20,000 is Team Yellow – $5,000 to each of their charities. Dani puts it down to her Lego man necklace. Jonathan’s smile is unconvincing in defeat. The Red Team are lauded for their efforts, and the Blue Team are made fun of for theirs. George lists the charities that will receive money for the Yellow Team win, and Kumar goads George to say his charity’s name in French (Medecins Sans Frontieres), but nobody needs to hear that abomination against another language.

The Cheftestants are sent packing, in preparation of the next episode where we get to hear Chris say: “I’m so out of my depth here – does anyone have a pig’s head?”