My Kitchen RulesMon-Thu 7:30pm, Ch7

These ARE their happy faces.

Welcome to Melbourne and the home of the dancing penguins with moves like Jagger. All the contestants think it’s hilarious to make fun of the weather, though Thomas & Carla are confident that as they live on the Mornington Peninsula they’re cooking on home turf today being in the CBD.

Pete & Manu welcome the teams to an industrial kitchen, and remind them that “Melbourne is the culinary heart of Australia and for this reason, the diners of Melbourne are considered foodies in their own right”. T&C think they’ve got it in the bag as Victorians are parochial and will support them just because they’re Victorian too. This goes entirely against what Pete & Manu just said, but, you know… whatever, dudes.

Today the people of Melbourne will be the critics of the food the teams prepare and sell on the streets. Peter & Gary note their professions are completely exclusive of the ability to sell; Megan and Andy tell us as sales reps they’ve got the advantage already. The People’s Choice will be the team that makes the most money and they’ll be safe from this week’s elimination. The weakest meal as judged by Pete & Manu will see that team sizing up for the sudden death cook-off. They have 90 minutes to prepare, cook and pack their meals, and all the teams are off and racing.

There’s great debate within the teams as to what would make good street food. Random ingredients are grabbed, and random sponsors are happy. Steve & Helen (NSW) agree it needs to be able to eat on the run, so they intend to make a Mezze Platter with Lamb Souvlaki. They’ll be leaning on the Greek population of Melbourne to come and support them. Not stereotypical at all. Pass the Greek yoghurt. Megan & Andy (Tas) are making San Choy Bow with Prawn Skewers and think that their easy to handle as finger food/eat by hand – “We’ll give it a go,” says Andy ominously. Thomas & Carla (Vic) have decided on Beef & Bean Tacos with Guacamole & Salsa, noting there’s not enough Mexican in Melbourne and they’re the team to bring it. They’ve got 60 tomatoes between them to prepare and Thomas notes that time is “bloody slipping by”. Bloody.

Mmm... Floor taco...

Peter & Gary (Qld) are cooking Deep Fried Chicken Strips & Vegetable Skewers. “I hate to lose,” says Peter. “I’m not used to it.” Clearly having missed the “Thomas & Carla are bringing the Mexican to Melbourne” meeting, Leigh & Princess Jen (SA) are making Pork Tortilla with Salsa & Cheesy Corn. Yeah. To make it even more interesting they’re using a pressure cooker, which they’ve never used before. “If it doesn’t work out, it’s disastrous. Pack & go home,” says the Princess. Nic & Rocco (SA), attempting to “think outside the square”, are making Profiteroles with Chocolate & Strawberries – “By being a bit different we should corner the market,” says Rocco.

Having missed Scott’s very ‘special’ curry at the Soldier’s second instant restaurant, Carly & Emily (Vic) have decided on Thai Green Chicken Curry with Rice & Roti. “Melbournites are willing to spend a decent amount of money so it means we can push our prices to the higher end and it will still sell,” offers Carly. Helen & Steve are proving to be the screen hogs of this episode, playing up to the camera at every opportunity. “You make a great souvlaki,” Steve says to his sister, Helen. There’s a pause… it’s a special moment. Unnaturally so.

In another instance of “What the hell are you doing?!”, Nic & Rocco admit this is the first time they’ve made choux pastry and they hope it works out. “If not, we’ve got nothing to plate up,” says Rocco. With an hour to go Thomas admits he’s over-committed with the tomatoes, and Emily has moved into baking the rice as they’ve not got enough cooktop space to boil it. Peter & Gary are working next to E&C, and Peter offers, “It’d give me a sense of enjoyment to beat Emily & Carly. They’re a bit over confident and, frankly, their cooking’s not that good.” ME-OW.

Proving their time management skills, Thomas & Carla have spent 30 of their 90 minutes chopping tomatoes. Thomas runs around looking for a lighter as they don’t yet have their mince on the cooktop and browning, and then when he gets one he can’t use it. He can’t operate it with the child lock on, and can’t turn the lock off. It’s a beautiful moment. Once he gets it started, the mince isn’t cooking fast enough, so he decides to remove a portion of the mince from each pot by pretty much dumping it anywhere – the bench top, another pot, his pants.

"...but first, you'll need to compete in a series of challenges, each harder than the one before it..."

Angela & Justine (WA) are busy making Chocolate Chilli Con Carne with Salsa & Guacamole – “It’s a little bit quirky but it’ll look good on the plate,” says Angela. There’s some friendly banter between the teams, though when Rocco stops to help Leigh empty water from their large boiler she goes on to make fun of Rocco showing off his guns. Clearly starting to show her true colours also – Thomas & Carla, you’re on notice. Simon & Meg (NZ) are making Beef Noodles with Coriander Pesto, something they chose because it’s one box and can be eaten really easily. Meanwhile Megan tells Andy to get a wriggle on and just put his prawns on the grill pre-skewering them. “No way!” he says, noting that while piercing 200 prawns onto skewers might be hard they won’t take long to cook.

“Teams, you have got 45 minutes to go!” shouts Pete, which Manu follows with, “And you’re halfway there!” What a team.

Manu pops by Thomas & Carla’s station to find mess everywhere and a very watery beef & bean mix on the stove. “If you work like this, you’re losing time,” he tells them, and quickly gets out of the way before Carla can punch him in his French thorax. “I’m not sure if they even know what they are doing, to be honest with you,” offers Manu from a safe distance. All of a sudden, the producers realise we’ve not spoken to David & Scott (Qld) as yet – they’re making a Mediterranean Club Sandwich with Chicken, Roasted Vegetables & Prosciutto. They’re in the middle of cooking anything and Scott notes while grilling chicken thighs that if he turns his eye for anything “they’ll burn and we’ll lose the lot of them”.

With 30 minutes to go there’s lots of shouting, and Emily & Carly know they’re in trouble as they’ve not got one curry pot on the stove and Carly’s still cutting up chicken. They finally get a pot on and pour their chicken in. Good luck, ladies. Leigh & Princess Jen are checking to see if their pressure cooked pork is ready… and it has. It’s perfect. Everyone else is rushing to get elements completed and ready for transport, though Thomas & Carla are having a shocker. Thomas tries to reduce the beef with lids on the boiler and it takes Manu to remind him that to reduce something the steam has to leave the pot. D’oh! Megan has an incident with peppercorns, and Nic & Rocco are furiously deep frying their profiteroles (all the while deflecting Leigh’s snide comments).

You should see her in her other helmet.

There’s no love lost between Peter & Gary and Carly & Emily according to P&G. They want to see them lose mostly so Emily will stop talking about how good they are. David & Scott had grand plans but note with time against them they’ll only have time to make 40 units “so at least we know whatever they’re tasting is spot on”. 15 minutes to go. Simon & Meg are well behind too. The risky baked rice has worked a treat for Emily & Carly, but Peter & Gary’s vegetable skewers haven’t worked so they’re now focusing on lesser portions also. Andy & Megan haven’t started cooking the prawns because Andy hasn’t finished skewering them. Today’s lunch sounds like a massive disappointment for everyone. Random fights start breaking out with one minute to go.

10, 9, 8… “Chuck me the alfoil!”
7, 6, 5… “Just pour it in the container! Quick, quick!”
4, 3… “Where’s my contact lens?!”
2, 1… “That’s it teams, times up!”

Through some unnatural miracle, all the teams got everything completed, and move outside with their gear to find they’re all allocated bikes to transport their food to the spot they want to sell their wares from. It’s here we learn that not only does Princess Jen not drive, she can’t ride a bike or walk straight. What a catch she must be.

When they find their spot, the teams have to set up their marquee and get selling. Nic & Rocco decide to set up next to Peter & Gary, who are having trouble setting up their stall. “I’m not your DIY guy,” says Peter. “I can’t even use a power tool.” ‘Nuff said. Rocco offers to help, but Peter’s pride precludes him from accepting help. Funnily enough other teams are setting up next to other teams like it was arranged by the producers. Wow. The world of “unscripted reality TV” is crashing down around me.

All this for $6.90, with food poisoning thrown in for free.

Andy’s feeling a little vulnerable having to sell to all kinds of different people (isn’t he a sales rep in real life?), and David & Scott are straight into selling their sandwich for $3. There’s all sorts of prices being placed on food – $5, $7, even $10 on Carly & Emily’s curry. “It’s all about profit at the end of the day,” advises Carly. As battle lines are drawn very clearly on state borders, it seems somewhat unfair that the Victorian teams are yelling at the bewildered customers not to purchase the other team’s food. “I think I’m annoying myself,” says Emily.

Pete & Manu pop by the stalls to try the food, and starting with Carly & Emily think their curry is good but very mild. Nic & Rocco’s profiteroles have turned out pretty well, but the judges aren’t sure if people will buy it. Steve & Helen’s Mezze Platter is nice – Pete & Manu are really surprised how well it’s turned out. Then Steve ruins it by pretending to be Con the Fruiterer, infringing even more copyrights.

Peter & Gary can’t seem to giveaway their food, and are heard spruiking their food as Pete & Manu taste it. But what of Gary’s dignity? Duzzn’t matta, coupla days! The judges however like the crust of the chicken and the lime mayo, but collectively turn their noses up at the vegetable skewer. Angela & Justine are handing out free samples which Carla thinks is very smart. When the judges try her and Thomas’s Beef & Bean Taco they’re more concerned to talk about T&C’s desire to not be last. As for Angela & Justine’s Chocolate Chilli Con Carne, they agree it’s a steal for the price and really well presented and easy to eat. They prefer this offering from A&J to that of T&C.

Pete & Manu like David & Scott’s Mediterranean Club sandwich as it looks good and is easy to eat on the run. Megan & Andy’s San Choy Bao is really, really tasty but the lettuce cup is hard to eat on the run. Leigh & Princess Jen’s Pork Tortilla is nice but falling apart – “Maybe a little too much filling in it?” asks Pete. While attempting to overcome the language divide with their “Coriander Pisto”, Simon & Meg’s Beef Noodles are nice but a little dry according to the judges.

With only a couple of minutes to go, the teams are furiously trying to sell out of their wares, which leads Princess Jen to shout to whoever is listening that they have to sell all their tortillas or “we’re going to lose the challenge”. I think she’s mistaken the Melbourne public for a collective who give a damn. Time’s up, so it’s pack up time and back to the kitchen to find out the results. Peter & Gary over estimate their success by thinking they may be the People’s Choice.

This is what your chicken looks like before it's curried.

Pete & Manu are quite complimentary to Andy & Megan and Steve & Helen, and point out to Peter & Gary that their vegetable skewer detracted from their dish. Manu loved Angela & Justine’s Chocolate Chilli Con Carne, but noted they didn’t sell many. Leigh & Princess Jen’s Pork Tortilla tasted so good but the presentation made it tough to eat. The Mediterranean Club sandwich was good from David & Scott, but their price point was too low. Pete & Manu felt the coriander pesto let down Simon & Meg’s Beef Noodles. Thomas & Carla had the best selling skills, though the beef filling of their Taco wasn’t the best at all. The Green Curry from Carly & Emily was noted to be too mild, and even they know they’ve not sold enough to be on top. Nic & Rocco’s Profiteroles were called out as they didn’t meet the brief per se, but both Pete & Manu loved it – delivering two different types was a smart move.

In the end, there’s less than $20 difference between the two top teams – Steve & Helen and Carly & Emily. “Gobsmacked,” is Emily. The winner was Steve & Helen with $348. They’re over the moon, and so Steve busts out another Con the Fruiterer impression. Oh. My. God. The mood changes instantly as Pete & Manu announce someone will be straight into the sudden death cook-off based on the quality of their food. This week, it’s Peter & Gary (they knew it was coming, but didn’t rise to the challenge). “You can cook, you’ve impressed me many times before in this competition,” says Pete, “And whoever faces off against you has got a big challenge going up against you.” Carly & Emily grin like Cheshire Cats at the possible fate of Peter & Gary. In a rare moment of modesty, Peter says, “People know we can cook, and nobody wants to be up against us because we’ll send them home.” He’s such a little trooper.

As the credits roll it’s good to see the proceeds of today’s challenge have been donated to Meals On Wheels. At least some good came of all this. But tomorrow, it’s a challenge where only one partner in the team will cook and they can only do what the person sitting out tells them. This won’t be stressful AT. ALL.