MasterChef AustraliaSun 7:30pm; Mon-Fri 7pm, Ch10
Last night on MasterChef Australia the Cheftestants were asked to take the concept of a dessert centrepiece to another level which they all did, except it was to a much lower one than anticipated. For goodness sake, a Dalek-clone won! Kylie was amazed and Ben needed to be told three times and three separate and increasingly longer intervals. Julia cried, proving even robots have emotions when you ensure the reservoir is filled before they leave the house.

Tonight Andy, Mindy, Julia and Alice will battle it out to join Audra, Kylie & Ben in the final 6 – someone has to go. Actually, someone has to go every episode for the next four shows, so harden up bitches and let’s get into it. For tonight however, the loser gets an extra-special treat: they get to be embarrassed in front of their family too.

Does anyone remember TK? Didn’t think so.

Without the establishing shot reminding us we’re in Sydney today’s episode could almost be anywhere. Athens. Alberquerque. Alexandria. It’s of little consequence as Julia reminds us everything we’ve just been told about the format for the elimination tonight – one person is going home. Gary greets the four in black aprons and exclaims, “This is a bit different, isn’t it?!” Everyone looks around and agrees that nothing is different.

Mindy is questioned if she’d get to this point of the competition, and she offers she didn’t think she’d be here but then she doesn’t make plans usually as she lets the wind guide her. Andy farts and offers a quick “‘Scuse I”. Julia admits to be still just as stubborn now as when she started – NEWS AT ELEVEN – and nobody cares what Alice thinks.

There’s a lot of emphasis being put on this as being the Cheftestants last chance to make it into the final 6. Oooh, “the final 6″… it’s not like it’ll get you into the Big Brother house or anything. As Matt P continues to ramble, Julia smirks knowingly to herself. She knows what’s coming: A mish-mash of celebrity chefs are coming to cook, but not individually, rather in vehicles that come together to form Voltron – the manga inspired el grande robot chef who must defeat Godzilla whilst preparing choux pastry for a profiterole tower.

Julia’s bitterly disappointed to learn that they who will be eliminated are cooking for their family. Especially since she had them ritually slaughtered to ensure she made the show in the first place. Who would turn up for her? This is just like her birth all over again.

The family members enter the MasterChef Kitchen and embrace their much-loved contestants. Even those competing get to see their loved ones. It’s mostly a beautiful and touching moment, with Audra seeing her kids and husband, Andy seeing his Mum, and some guy turning up wanting to see a “Melinda”. As Maree (Andy’s Mum) describes what she thinks of Andy we get a sneaky cut shot of Ben who looks to be forming a plan to have her bumped off as she’s just getting in the way.

Mindy’s dad is a cook in the Air Force and he describes the fond memories he has of working in the kitchen with his daughter. Julia’s husband Justin reports that the house is still in order and the dogs are still alive. This is enough for Julia to nod her approval. Alice’s partner Nick reports that at home she can be “sometimes very normal, but not often”. He likes her puns, though everyone knows he meant “buns”. For those that are safe seeing their families is very important too – mainly because it’s proof of life for the claims of kidnapping they currently have lodged with the Australian Government.

George loves family day too. He likes to watch and observe how normal people relate. He also accurately points out that the family members will have missed their Cheftestants and the food that they cook for them, though not the gagging and swallowing of the many failed creations in the past.

For this challenge, the Cheftestants have to cook the food that their family members have missed, as stipulated by their family members, and what they present must reflect how they’ve changed and improved as cooks during their time on MasterChef. For Alice this will mean presenting edible food; for Andy it will mean presenting food; for Julia & Mindy it will be much tougher as it will mean coming out to their respective family members of their love for each other. A love story for the ages.

Maree wants Andy to cook her favourite lamb dish with potatoes and a “pine-nutty” mousse. Andy’s in shock as he’s never cooked anything like that for her before. Justin wants Julia to cook her lemon syrup cake with ice cream (fancy that, he wants her to cook something she specialises in). “With ice cream?” questions Julia. Justin knows he’s in for another hour or two in the gimp suit when he gets home.

Gary wants Mindy to cook a non-descript Thai dish. Alice notes she only ever cooks something once for her man Nick, so she’s happily expectant as to what he wants her to cook. Nick says he wants her to do a spiced lamb roast which, conveniently, a producer has asked him to say as a condition to being flown to Sydney for this episode.

The Cheftestants have open access to the pantry and 90 minutes to deliver their dishes for judgement by Gary, George & Matt P as well as their family member. Time is called on and all eight people race to the pantry to go shopping. Andy doesn’t care what the judges think which proves after all these weeks he still doesn’t grasp the competition element that is core to the MasterChef process. Alice has already changed her dish by offering to cook for her life… if only she could find her life on the shelves of the pantry.

Just to make things even more challenging, the family members get to hang around for a short time the benches and annoy the crap out of the Cheftestants as they start preparing their dishes. Mindy’s Dad is an interesting one as every cut to him speaking feels like he’s just been fed a line before it. Maybe all those years in the Defence Force have made him distant and tortured. Maybe he’s just deaf. MAYBE he’s an actor hired to play Mindy’s Dad and he doesn’t have the full story so feels he can’t emotionally connect with his ‘daughter’.

“Wow, your knife skills are better,” says Nick, Alice’s partner.
“I bet you never expected me to be filleting rib eye,” says Alice, who in close up is already wearing a band aid from having cut herself. Alice is worried about her place in the competition because the other three she’s battling against she expected to see in the top 3. Alice never expected to see herself in the top 3. That’s some bold self-esteem issues there.

Julia’s a bit surprised that husband Justin has asked for her lemon syrup cake with ice cream as they never usually eat cake with ice cream. Nor do they use the good silver when they don’t have company or sit in the good room ever. As condescendingly as possible Julia laughs that Justin probably wanted ice cream because he lacks the ability to shop for food and feed himself at all and so he’s probably been living with and empty fridge for a long time. Oh. My. Goodness.

Alice terrifies Gary and we all know it’s the glasses. George thinks Mindy’s quite the alchemist and has her working on a lead to gold recipe whilst preparing her curry. He also thinks that Andy’s got everything sorted and so should cruise in, but Gary agrees that Julia has the hardest job in making her cake look restaurant quality. Nobody wants to leave the MasterChef kitchen – especially Mindy, she never wants to go home. Look for her in the upcoming All Stars series as the Phantom of the Kitchen, skulking around the depths and playing her pipe organ after she sends her true love Julia home with her husband.

Julia shows she’s learned a lot during her time in MasterChef by inventing a word – “lemonyness” – which George and Gary blindly accept as being a proper adjective. Justin reveals the motto in his and Julia’s house is: If you cook, you don’t clean or be a bottom. This is explanatory of their relationship and more revealing than we’d hoped.

60 minutes left. Alice is still caramelising her shanks and hasn’t got her roast in the oven. Julia has her cakes coming out (of the oven and the closet), and Andy’s burning his potato galette. George comes over to save his day by showing him the same technique he showed the MasterClass not three weeks ago – if only Andy hadn’t been playing with Ben and Beau at the time and actually paying attention.

No one is paying attention to Mindy because she obviously has things well in hand. Andy’s problems are classic MasterChef editing mis-direction and no one dare cross Julia. So when Gary and George pop over to see how Alice is doing and offer a suggestion re: her shanks and she listens… well, it’s at this point that seasoned MasterChef fans can start to see the writing on the wall (or on someone’s extremely over-sized red glasses).

Julia’s got everything in hand, including the lemon curd she’s making with a new technique she picked up while in the MasterChef kitchen (but it only works for her) – she simply looks at some butter and lemon and the stare alone is enough to get them to combine and curdle. Mindy’s Dad declares her to be “good enough”, but only after Gary prompts him to say it.

George is paying close attention to Alice, who has decided to use some other grain she’s never used before. He tastes it and asks her if she used salt (she had), and suggests she should put in some more water as she may haver retarded the skins (and by “skins” he means “Alice”). Gary asks Julia if there are any smears or foams in her presentation she’ll be using to keep George happy. She replies, “No, there’s only one man I’m cooking for today and it ain’t George.” “I like that,” says Gary walking away, thinking full well she meant him.

Andy’s panicking a little, but a quick visit from Gary with five minutes to go only makes it worse. There’s chaos as Matt P announces the final 30 seconds, and Maree panics that Andy’s undercooked his lamb (“because doesn’t everyone like lamb cooked well done?”). The time is counted out and it’s all done. Alice’s lamb roast looks like a big long poo on her plate, just as she says that “food is an expression of love”. She must really hate her partner.

Mindy over-emotes to the camera as she recaps and tells us she really wants to make the finals, completely forgetting we the audience have absolutely no say in her staying or going. Has she learned NOTHING?!

Andy is called in as the first dish, presenting his Roast Lamb Rack with garlic and rosemary, with mushroom mousse and potato galette. Maree thinks Andy’s proper grown up now and is entirely impressed with his dish – no criticism from her, though she does lean over and smack George’s hand a number of times for his poor table manners. The judges agree with Maree’s claim that it’s absolutely perfect except for all the criticisms they have of the dish.

Mindy’s next, and delivers her Crispy Skin Duck with red curry and lychee sauce. She’s really proud that her dish is reflective of the skill she’s picked up during her time on MasterChef, but more importantly she loves that her Dad can see it first hand. George offers he could eat bowls of Mindy’s rice, which we presume is a euphemism and a game one at that to be offered in front of Mindy’s Dad. There’s minor controversy over the cut of duck used in the curry, but George palms it off claiming the taste alone makes her a ‘magician’. It’s not bloody MasterMagician, is it?

Julia leads Justin into the tasting room, offering her Lemon Syrup Cake with lemon curd ice cream. “As soon as I plated it up I worked out how I’d re-plate it better,” offers a confident Julia, “But I am happy with it – as much as one can be with an abject failure. And I blame Justin.” Julia knows she’s continuing into the top 6, so the tasting is a fait accompli. While George refuses to shut his mouth while eating, Justin inhales the cake and is unable to talk due to the diabetic shock he’s experiencing. George lost the flurry of the lemon curd in his ice cream, which is no surprise considering he ordered his with Oreos. Matt P feels that Julia hasn’t delivered to brief, but he hasn’t tasted Alice’s debacle yet.

Finally, Alice presents Nick as her dish. She’s told they wanted her food, not her dessert (zing!) and she offers her Spiced Lamb Fillet with freekeh, figs and yoghurt foam. She admits she likes to potter in the kitchen, which is marvellous for a 70 year old woman which Alice isn’t. Her poo log is much loved by Nick – he thinks her skills are evident and he’s partially correct. He’s also a realist as he’s not expecting it to taste very good. On the first cut Gary is sceptical of the colour as it seems overdone. Too many furrowed brows for this to be good for Alice – George loves everything except the lamb. Matt P thinks it’s a great dish except for the meat. Very clearly Alice can’t handle her meat… and Nick must pay.

The judges waffle about how it’s gonna be a hard decision by blind Freddy could have told us who was leaving if only by reading this week’s Woman’s Day.

After much lollygagging over who should stay and who should go and the gravity of the decision and ‘oh the pain of having to decide’, it’s up to Matt P to deliver the criticisms to each of the contestants standing in line with their family members. Mindy is relieved to learn her dish is considered the dish of the day and she’s through. Andy is quickly included in the top 6 also.

It all comes down to the team that worked together in this week’s team challenge – Julia and Alice (and we all know how this is gonna end – the judges have their favourite). But because it’s MasterChef, we can’t find out until we know which is Gary’s favourite in the latest series of MasterFood’s spice rub range. I do hope it’s the lemon rosemary garlic one.

Coming back from the ad Julia is announced as the superior loser and it’s all yays, claps and awkward hugs from Alice. Blah blah blah Matt P thinks Alice has improved blah blah blah the other judges are eerily silent about her cooking “skill”.

“Alice, Alice, who the freekeh is Alice. I’ve been wanting to say that for a while now because we all know who Alice is and that’s some stupid bint who wears glasses.” George is nothing if not a word puzzle wrapped in a sudoku.

The judges say goodbye and line up for their own special hug, which she misinterprets as being allowed to hug the other contestants before running out of the kitchen like a mad woman. “It was the perfect dish to go out on, and I think the perfect way to go out on too,” says Alice in the car, limpeting herself to Nick. She’s so lovely when she’s delusional.

The safe Cheftestants are back at the house, showing their family members around when the winners arrive home and there’s much rejoicing at the demise of Alice. Ben asks Andy to tell him every last detail so that it can be savoured like a fine wine, which they’ll now be opening to celebrate the completion of the top 6 sans Alice.

Nobody believes Julia when she says she’s really going to miss Alice as she’s one of her closest friends in the house. Not. One. Person.

Alice returns home in an oversized jumper and is greeted by someone with oversized hair. Alice is circumspect: life is all about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and wearing an oversized purple jumper. And something about tongue, but it’s best ignored. Oh, and there was this one really important thing she wanted to remember but now can’t and wishes she wrote it down when she first thought of it.

We’re told that Alice is now working on a children’s book about food. It’s titled: The Floor Is Not A Big Plate (and other recollections of Italy – Ciao!). She then wants to put the book in a bus and tour the country assaulting kids with her glasses and sense of style. WHO WILL THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?!

Tomorrow night it’s the final MasterClass, with Gary & George teaching the Cheftestants how to fix the dishes they made this week, and Matt P stops by to show off his new green shirt (sans cravat – he actually has a neck!) and is cajoled into cooking stuff for the banquet later. What a guy…

Oh, and next week is finals week. Yada yada yada.