MasterChef Australia All StarsSun 7:30pm, Mon-Thu 7pm, Ch10
Last night on MasterChef All Stars, those not exempt were forced into slave labour and had to produce 30 pairs of Nike runners before Gary & George would let them go home. At least that would have been a tad more diverting than seeing them all cook something they’d already cooked once before. In the end, Kate won the cash AND immunity AND a roll in the hay with Matt Preston at any point in the future should she choose to play her joker. Tonight, it’s “the ultimate game of chicken” without any hyperbole WHAT.SO.EVER.

But hark! What light through yonder window breaks? ‘Tis the east, and Sydney Harbour is the sun. Kate is conflicted – everyone else us up for elimination except for her. She doesn’t mind that they’ve all got to pack up, she’s just conflicted in that one of her favourites might have to go home. Poh admits to being highly strung as Jonathan walks past and tries to string her up with her own apron.

On arriving at the MaserChef Kitchen, it’s the awkward sideways layout that draws oohs and aahs from the All Stars. Kate, as we are, is reminded she won yesterday and is told to “chillax” by George. Totes amazeballs. The challenge the All Stars will face is in three rounds, and after the final round two will be sent home in disgrace, covered in chicken gizzards. The hero ingredient is chicken, and for the first challenge the All Stars have to make it save Gotham from a psychopath who’s set a nuclear bomb in motion.

Gary reminds us that it’s the “ultimate game of chicken”. Again. But the twist is the All Stars only get one chicken each. If they fail after the first round they have to use what’s left in subsequent challenges. Should be easy really, as they’ve free reign on the MasterChef pantry and George is wearing his best chastity belt.

Lining up to make whatever they want in 30 minutes for the judges, but only the top three dishes will be safe. Round two gives them 20 minutes and round three is a very short 10 minutes. It’s basically Gary’s recipe for foreplay.

The All Stars race into the pantry to grab what they need. Gary & George pontificate as to what they’d do and naturally they’ve got a plan. Poh’s already setting fires, and Hayden feels he’s got an edge over the other competitors because, basically, he’s the hottest guy in the room now. Poh’s decided to poach some chicken in coconut milk; Dani is making popcorn chicken by nicking out to the local KFC; and Julie’s making a chicken parma as seen at Central Coast Leagues.

The first 15 minutes vanishes as George struts like the cock of the walk. Marion’s decided a ballatine is the way to go, given there’s “so much time”. Gary & George continue to interrogate the All Stars asking them if they’ve plans for the future rounds if they need it. Jonathan has laid his hand on the table with “3 star chicken nuggets” and a 5 star punch in the face for George but being an arrogant prick.

Poh’s really intimidated by the high calibre of cooking while Hayden is making a Peruvian Jerk Chicken when he really meant to make a “Calombaris is a Jerk” Chicken. He’s hoping the dish will keep him safe – which it will, see earlier note about hotness.

In the final two minutes Dani still magically finds time to recap everything that’s happened in the first break. Then Gary appears to try her dish and walks away satisfied, and not just from what he’s tasted. Julie’s sweating and noting the limited time decides to kneel in front of the oven and pray. Marion looks down on her dish like she’s created a TICKING TIME BOMB OF UNCOOKED CHICKEN.

– Chris’s Panko Fried Chicken is considered a good effort.
– Julie’s parma is tasty, but the cheese hasn’t done what it should have.
– Poh’s poached chicken breast with Asian salad is really tender, and there’s a punch in the groin from the fish sauce hiding in there.
– Justine’s Chicken Roulade is Roully, Roully good. The chicken’s dry, but “wow” from George.
– Marion’s Ballatine Chicken is revealed as cooked – HOORAY! George is ready to marry the accompanying sauce.
– Callum’s Chicken Taco’s look as good as they taste. Gary’s ready to smash & grab six of them.
– Jonathan’s Chicken Nuggets are the cause of great division.
– Hayden’s Peruvian Jerk Chicken is questioned about it’s ethnicity, though it’s taste can’t be questioned.
– Dani’s Chilli Popcorn Chicken looks good enough to be on a fast food menu! A bearded Southern gent is seen scarpering in the background. Dani loves her iceberg lettuce. LOVES it.

“So many good techniques,” says George, “but none of them as good as I could do it. Still, the judges had to pick three dishes to win (or, rather, six dishes to lose) and those safe are revealed to be Dani, Marion and Poh. Spot the favourites, huh? They gather on the balcony with Kate and all embrace as one. Someone kisses someone else. An apron is seen being thrown over the railing and it all gets a bit blue from here.

Meanwhile Gary is goading the remaining All Stars. “I hope you’ve left enough chicken to do something with this time,” he says with a characteristic smirk. The second round kicks off with the judges looking for the top three dishes and only 20 minutes to make it in.

While Hayden, Justine and Chris race into the pantry, Jonathan, Julie and Callum put their pans on first which doesn’t go unnoticed with Gary & George. Neither does Justine’s VPL.

Hayden has decided to serve the fattiest pieces of the chicken to the judges this time around in the hope one or both will suffer a mild cardio infarction and he’ll be immediately safe from round three. “I’m even using the butt of the chicken so that they’ll think of my butt when they’re tasting it,” he doesn’t say.

There’s more random sizzling, chopping and Callum talking (not that anyone pays any attention). George can’t help but remind him that two years ago he prepared one chicken dish that wasn’t cooked all the way through. Get over it, George – I’m sure you’ve made you’re share of dud dishes.

Justine’s making chicken lollipops and a chunky mayo. Nothing funny about that except the concept of being a chicken licker. Gary gives Chris’s dish the nod, and Julie’s frantically making chicken meatballs with two dipping sauces. We all know how that’s gonna end. Jonathan’s accused of burning his chicken if only for the fact there’s smoke emanating from his pan.

Time moves ever faster in the kitchen – only 10 minutes to go and Gary has declared Hayden’s dish ruined and that he should start again. Gary notes to the All Stars that many of them have used the wings this round when possibly they should have saved them for the final round of 10 minutes. This immediately falls in the category of stuff he should have told them FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO!!!

Five minutes. Chop, cook, slice. Justine has been gotten to by big Brussels Sprouts as she spruiks the benefits of raw Brussels Sprouts. Chris completely forgets his pan has been in the oven for 15 minutes and grabs the handle and burns his hand. He’s angry more than he can’t now use the cooked flesh on his hand as part of his dish.

Times up – Jonathan’s really happy with his dish. Only he cares.

– Chris’s Roasted Chicken Wings is “a yummy dish”. Thanks George.
– Julie’s Thai style Chicken Meatballs cause her to admit she served something similar at her 40th birthday party. George makes a massive deal about it as he thought she was 63. Gary doesn’t talk; he just eats.
– Justine’s Pan Fried Chicken Drummettes look nothing like a group of female percussionists. Gary & George get into the chicken licking a little too heartily – but they love it. Just like your Mum loves it. They declare it the dish of the line up and Justine is sent upstairs immediately.
– Callum’s Moroccan Chicken Salad is considered to be just like Christmas for Gary.
– Jonathan is first asked if he has anything to say in defence of his dish. He launches into a lengthy spiel defining what chicken is and why it must first be appreciated before it can be eaten. His Sticky Barbecued Chicken sticks George’s lips together which helps at judgement.
– Hayden’s Yakitori Chicken looks good except for the lump of carbon that is the parson’s nose he’s plated up. He blames the carbon tax, quite rightly. There’s no way he’ll be safe this round.

Joining Justine in being safe from this round is Chris (sympathy vote for burned hand) and Callum (Christmas came early). This leaves Jonathan, Hayden and Julie to cook a chicken dish in 10 minutes from what remains of their chicken carcass. Three All Stars enter, two people leave.

Game on. The balconistas explode in a fury of indecipherable shouts. George speaks in the hushed tones of a billiards commentator of Jonathan and how well he’s doing, but Hayden has nothing in the pan as yet. After three minutes Hayden is struggling. Julie doesn’t want to speak with George who’s popped by, yet he persists.

Jonathan’s making a board-dressed chicken steak, just like Jamie Oliver taught him and Callum in their special MasterClass two years ago, except entirely different. Five minutes is called and the chopping and shaking only gets more furious. Callum is dragged in to add his special comments from the balcony and no one seems to listen.

George isn’t convinced that Hayden’s chicken is going to be cooked in time, and Julie’s turned into a machine. The MasterChefinator. Two minutes to go and Hayden’s working on his dressing while the others are effectively plating their dishes. Everything is done – conveniently – as time runs out. Julie passes out after cooking frenetically for 10 minutes… she knows her match fitness will have to improve if she’s gonna make the finals, but the boys played a good game and they really held it together – it was a game of two halves and they were just lucky on the day. Tasting time.

– Julie’s Deep Fried Chicken wings are a hit before Gary has a chance to taste them. He can see the flavours and that’s enough for him. George has run out of words and just repeats the “yummy” to himself. The judges joke about this dish being Julie’s best of the day, so they consider giving her five minutes and a wishbone next time to offer something spectacular.
– Jonathan’s Pan-Fried Thigh Fillet is “packed full of flavour”. Gary loves it. George suggests he should have only two minutes. Jonathan punches him in the liver.
– Hayden’s Southern Fried Chicken is devoured by the judges. Both wax lyrical over the crispy coating and Hayden’s stunning head of loose locks.

Gary declares it to be a difficult tasting. Now the judges offer their ruling on who survives – Jonathan and Hayden’s dishes are judged to be good but not as good as Julie’s dish. “It was a spectacular dish, and it was great to watch you work like an absolute dynamo in the kitchen,” says Gary. “Oh, and that $50 dollars that I ‘found’ in the pantry will go to a good home, so thank you.”

It’s a fond farewell to the male model and the Eliminator. The mutual appreciation society gets a little bit much so I’ll spare you the detail. Gary had forgotten Jonathan’s quirky sense of humour, and by “quirky” he means “weird”. Both Hayden and Jonathan have won $5,000 for their respective charities, and the balconistas are welcomed down to say “cheery-bye”… as if we’d forgotten that Gary was a Brit.

Driving away, Jonathan and Hayden hold hands and gaze adoringly into each other’s eyes in the back of the limo. We cut to an exterior shot to see a misted window suddenly have a hand placed on it and run down the side, as if we were watching Titanic for the twenty-third time again.

Tomorrow, a little bit of the country comes to the MasterChef Kitchen – who will survive a cake challenge when judged by the Country Women’s Association? Whatever – CAKE!!!