The Wednesday night tinned/frozen Individual Challenge his week proved one thing. The amateur chefs this year can not cook.

The assembled throng were presented with a challenge to make whatever they want, and take from the pantry as much as they want so as to prepare their dish for the judges. The sting in the tail for the contestants was when they entered the pantry all they had on offer was tinned goods and frozen food. Cue expressed looks of horror on their faces! How can I prepare a masterpiece with this?!

It was on one level hilarity for 60 mintues. Oh how we laughed. See the amateur chef open a tin of clams. See the amateur chef drop her poorly prepared soft-shell crab just before the end of the cooking time. See the salmon be stuffed into filo pastry and be overcooked. Chortle. How can one expect amateur chefs to turn out anything close to decent with that in the pantry?!

In the same way the contestants in 2010 embarrased themselves in the CWA challenge by not having the skills to prepare a consistent batch of scones, so the class of 2011 showed they haven’t really cooked for a family or to a budget for some time. Every night across the country mothers/fathers/grandparents/carers open the pantry, freezer and fridge and go “what’s for dinner tonight?”. It’s no sin to prepare healthy meals from frozen or tinned goods. To have asked the amateurs to do so made it look as if they’d been asked to craft the Sydney Harbour Bridge from polenta. While the judges did point out that it’s a common occurrence, there was still a feeling that this wasn’t real cooking – just another circus trick for the show.

There were some shocking dishes, too. Andrew’s clam mousse & sausage a lowlight. As was Alana’s ejaculating chocolate cake thing.

I’m an unabashed MasterChef Australia fan, and I know it’s a marathon. You have to hang in for the real payoff and you’ll be surprised along the way. I’m in for the long haul. But last night, a little bit of me died inside knowing that these amateurs are not real cooks. They’re wanna be restauranteurs, champing at the bit to have the freshest herbs, meat and seafood delivered to their establishment, looking at hours of preparation for their special dishes for their paying customers, prepared to pay through the nose for the privilege of supping at one of the many tables in their kingdom. A real chef will work hard with the ingredients they have to present a great dish. Billy proved it was possible, Shannon less so but still successful. The rest… well… They were disappointing.