My Kitchen RulesMon-Thu 7:30pm, Ch7

"Just friends."

With Steve & Helen safe after being selected as the People’s Choice, and Peter & Gary up for elimination this week, it’s a battle royale between the other teams to ensure they don’t have to face off with the bitchiest gays in the village. “I want to see justice done,” says Peter. Don’t we all, mate.

Pete & Manu address the teams, telling them they want something “surprising and clever on the plate” from today’s 30 minute rapid cook-off. Carla complains immediately, offering “you can’t even get a pizza cooked and delivered to you in 30 minutes, let alone a meal that’s gonna impress”. Good to see her sights set high in this challenge. The twist in today’s first challenge is only one team member will cook – the other will sit on a stool, remaining hands off. “This is all about trust,” Pete tells them. The teams make their choices, and those sitting out are asked to take their seats. It’s all very formal.

The cooks are sent into the storeroom to collect their ingredients, where David was looking for prawns but instead is distracted by the dancing octopus. Scott labels him as immature, but David insists they’ll make millions on Broadway with their dancing octopus. Princess Jen comes back with her ingredients and is confident she’ll be fine with her menu as it’s just her and she knows the process inside out. Pete surprises everyone with the news that the trust element is important – the person who is cooking today isn’t the person who just chose the ingredients. They have to swap places, making the one that was sitting out now the cook, and the planned cook will sit on the stool and convey in a delightful and relaxed manner all the information their team mate needs to know to complete the dish successfully. BOMBSHELL. “Do you trust me?” asks Megan to husband/brother Andy. “Uh… uh… uh…” he stutters. That’s the wrong answer in any language.

Their time starts… NOW!, and there’s a cyclonic fury of confusion and bowl collection. As the teams are working next to each other space is limited, and now with the added noise of 8 people directing 8 other people on what to cook and how to cook it, immediately there’s a fraction too much friction. Pans are heated and ingredients start being chopped up as we learn what each team will be making:

David & Scott (Qld) – Tempura Octopus with tempura vegetables and soy sauce.
Megan & Andy (Tas) – Chocolate Volcano Cake with strawberry coulis.
Carly & Emily (Vic) – Chocolate Brownie with chocolate ganache and praline.
Leigh & Princess Jen (SA) – Thai Cured Salmon Salad with raw vegetables.
Angela & Justine (WA) – Pistachio Crusted Pork Cutlet with tomatoes, asparagus and sweet potato.
Nic & Rocco (SA) – Capsicum Tart with salad and stick balsamic.
Thomas & Carla (Vic) – Ricotta Ravioli with tomato and vegetable sauce.
Simon & Meg (NZ) – Whiting with smashed potato.

Meg made it look easy.

Megan is on the back foot as Andy chose a dish he’s never cooked her(!), and all she can hear is him barking orders at her. “I wasn’t barking orders, you just thought I was,” he says. “I was being calm.” Carry on then. Carly is directing traffic and Emily, and gets her to rush the brownie into the oven as it needs 20 minutes – they’re very efficient and immediately on to their ganache. Back at Typhoon Tasmania, Megan is struggling to keep up with Andy’s ‘calmness’. This is a challenge tailor-made for Peter & Gary; it’s a shame they’re sitting it out.

As expected, Princess Jen is an expert at directing people and has Leigh on a very short leash (not just in the kitchen). While Leigh’s away collecting some oil, there’s time for Princess Jen to notice how Angela & Justine are doing, and she’s unimpressed that all they are doing is meat & vegetables. This from the lady who is serving raw vegetables as her accompaniment. Double eye-rolls from both ladies when they mention that the meat will be pistachio crusted. Angela & Justine seem to be working pretty well together though, with not a lot of shouting and a pretty even plan. But what they are making *is* pretty simple.

Rocco has no idea what they’re making, but Nic seems to be leading him through well. They blind bake their packet pastry for the tarts, though Peter & Gary notice it’s only for a couple of minutes. “For once in his life Rocco’s listening to my instructions,” smiles Nic. 20 minutes left, and Scott is being lectured by David as to how to best prepare the tempura batter. Scott holds up a whisk filled with doughy batter, smirks, and gets back to it. The connection these soldiers have that’s been developed over 23 years of combat duty side-by-side doesn’t go unnoticed.

“In this test, silence is not golden,” Pete tells the contestants. “It’s also not how you move like Jagger and it ain’t nothing like a hound dog too.” Manu insists the seated contestant needs to talk their partner through it, and David & Scott are still struggling with that tempura batter. Scott tosses what he has and starts again with better results, and quickly does a test fry with one of their octopus – a success, finally. Swinging to the other side of the bench, Angela & Justine are doing OK but they know they’re running behind a little.

"It's right there, babe..."

Carla is in her element telling Thomas what to do. There’s liberal use of the word “babe”, though Carla is worried she may have underestimated how long it takes her to normally make this meal. At least for Thomas to make it, anyway. He’s a little slower than everyone else. Simon & Meg are kicking on pretty well… for only making two things. Meg doesn’t usually cook fish, but “I trust her,” says Simon. He’s being very encouraging while the camera is on him. Leigh & Princess Jen are so mixed up they’re now pulling the piss by cutting little willys out of cabbage to serve with their dish. 7 minutes to go.

The tempura batter seems to be failing for Scott; Megan’s struggling with the strawberry puree and Andy’s repeated requests for strawberry fan as a part of their presentation. She makes one just to prove to him the judges will think it’s stupid. Poor Simon is seated between Andy & their oven, so he’s in the middle of all the yelling and it’s doing his head in. No one sees him secret a small knife so he can exact revenge later in the show. 5 minutes.

Carla, completely ignoring the fact that Thomas is still in the closet, continues to berate him with rapid-fire calls of “babe” like a sort of misguided evangelistic preacher. “If she’s nervous about getting it done,” says Thomas, “I’m freakin’ out.” Knowing they wouldn’t have a lot of time they’ve chosen to use pre-prepared wonton skins for their ravioli pasta. It’s sticking and Thomas is using too much filling and why can he never find love and there’s nervous clock glances and EVERYthing. Pete laughs like a crazy person at the chaos: “We’ve set a great challenge for the teams today, and by “we” I mean the producers, and by “challenge” I mean torture, and by “today” I mean six weeks ago when this was filmed.”

Everyone’s plating or prepping their final steps. Thomas is still making his ravioli while Carly directs Emily to collect the praline and finish their process. Leigh feels like she’s cooking with a blindfold on – a special blindfold called “Jen”. “Where’s the parmesan? Where’s the parmesan?!” pleads Thomas. “There!” says Carla, pointing to the packet she had stashed behind her back. One minute. Megan & Andy are gonna come to blows, and Leigh & Princess Jen have nothing on the plate. Not even the plate is on the plate. “That one’s got a crack in it!” cries Andy, pointing to Megan’s bum, and then to the cake on the plate. Someone’s gonna punch someone. TIME’S UP, STEP AWAY FROM YOUR COOKING PLACES! Everyone’s high-fiving & hugging, except for Megan & Andy who having a domestic. It’s not awkward at all. “Well, we’ll be cooking again,” says Megan looking very defeated by a simple cake.

"I don't know what this is either?!"

Pete & Manu taste all the dishes like emotionless robots. If you listen carefully you hear at least one “does not compute” whispered between the two. There’s also a dog loose in the kitchen somewhere, though that’s for he elimination challenge tomorrow night. When it comes time for the contestants to hear how they went, Megan’s “really stressin'”. So much so that she no longer pronounces her trailing ‘g’s, and that she reminds us that the bottom four teams from this challenge cook off again immediately to identify the other couple up for elimination against Peter & Gary. So much stressin’.

Pete & Manu’s delivered their judgement thus:

Simon & Meg (NZ) – Pete: “The whiting was cooked perfectly.” SAFE.
Carly & Emily (Vic) – Manu: “I was not impressed. It was just a chocolate brownie.” NOT SAFE.
David & Scott (Qld) – Pete: “I think for half an hour you could have done more.” NOT SAFE.
Megan & Andy (Tas) – Manu: “I really enjoyed your cake.” SAFE.
Leigh & Princess Jen (SA) – Manu: “The balance of flavours was quite good.” SAFE.
Nic & Rocco (SA) – Pete: “It looked great on the plate but I was disappointed in the flavour.” – NOT SAFE.
Angela & Justine (WA) – Manu: “Where is the sauce?!” NOT SAFE.
Thomas & Carla (Vic) – Pete: “What you put in the bowl was lovely.” SAFE.

Carly & Emily having to compete again raised a quiet smile for Peter & Gary. The relief is obvious for Thomas & Carla. Thomas even exaggerates his relief while Carla tells us that it’s a word she’s never felt in the competition. So glad they know everything. There’s kisses and hugs from Peter & Gary as they join the other safe teams in the dining room.

Meg & Simon's Whiting

The teams that were deemed not safe now cook in the showdown side by side. “This test is all about presenting your team on a plate,” says Peter. On a plate? ON A PLATE?! What on EARTH does that mean anyway – “On a plate”?! Stupid chef talk. SPEAK ENGLISH, MAN! “We want to see a dish that characterises you as a team in this competition.” Why didn’t he just say that in the first place? They’ve only got one hour, so it’s branded the “ultimate in team work”. The teams decide their fate accordingly:

Angela & Justine (WA) – Fettuccine with salami, tomato and fennel sauce.
Nic & Rocco (SA) – Herb Printed Ravioli with sage butter sauce, asparagus and pancetta.
David & Scott (Qld) – Roasted Spatchcock with sweet potato puree, broccolini and buerre blanc.
Carly & Emily (Vic) – Duck with Cherry Marsala Sauce with potato gratin and asparagus.

“It’s a pasta-off!” notes Peter. Scott took a little longer than he like stuffing the spatchcock(!) that by the time they go in the oven he and David will have less than 10 minutes left when they’re ready to come out of the oven. Pete reminds the teams they are looking for “personality on the plate”. He’s just getting more and more delusional, expecting the intangible to be served for judgement. Peter & Gary hope to face off against Carly & Emily, as there’s unfinished business between the teams. I love a good grudge.

18 minutes to go and all the teams are wondering where the last 40 minutes have gone. So are the viewers, not that we need this challenge in real time. Scott hopes their “creamy burre blanc” should go well with chicken, not that they’ve made it before (what a time to start!). Justine’s fussing over the pasta she’s made, as are Nic & Rocco, but then the boys are offering “herb printed pasta”. 5 minutes to go and the pasta is going in the pot and the roasts are coming out of the oven. All four teams are frantic but deliver completed dishes at the end of their allotted times. “I don’t think it’s enough,” says Scott.

Nic & Rocco's showdown dish.

Pete & Manu taste Nick & Rocco’s Ravioli, giving them the third degree (including asking where the sage butter sauce was, as Pete’s plate seemed to miss out). Justine & Angela’s Fettuccine is questioned over the amount of sauce delivered. A pattern is forming. Carly & Emily’s Duck gets a grilling as Pete bites into a cherry pit that was secreted in his sauce. Peter & Gary called it “poetry in motion”. David & Scott’s Spatchcock is delivered and Scott launches into a metaphor of how he and David are gazelles leaping about on the African plains while they’re up against the “big 3” when asked about the burre blanc sauce. Pete returns serve: “I hope you don’t think we’re the hunters, but don’t give us a big target.” Yes Bwana.

Pete & Manu deliver their judgements. Nic & Rocco’s pasta was fantastic, great presentation, but there wasn’t enough sauce – everything else was perfect. “Nic & Rocco are back,” say Nic & Rocco, and also Pete. Angela & Justine’s dish was simple, amazing Italian food. “It was a very honest, no frills, less-is-more dish – just like you two,” says Pete. For a truck driver at a mine site Justine is a bit girly still as she tears up a little at Pete’s comments. Carly & Emily’s dish was good but the sauce was “totally out of place” – and the cherry pit was a major disappointment. David & Scott’s spatchcock was unbelievable, but the burre blanc let the whole dish down.

“One team will soon be fighting for their lives against Peter & Gary,” says Pete, and all the teams chortle heartily at the thought of a gladiatorial combat sequence facing off against the Gold Coast boys. This week it’s Carly & Emily, and Peter & Gary cannot contain their delight. Pete & Manu expect bit things from the girls, and they’ll need to deliver against Peter & Gary. “Carly & Emily, pack your bags & go back to Melbourne,” says Peter, already gracious pre-battle. Tomorrow night – it’s on like Donkeyed Kong.