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Masterchef – Mystery boxes and favourites

Sunday nights are for the Mystery Box Challenge and the Invention Test.  Before the action starts, we are reminded that the contestants are playing for “the chance to work alongside Australia’s culinary elite”and I would really appreciate it if somebody could help me understand what this part of the prize really is.  Has anybody in “Australia’s culinary elite” offered to take the winner on? I mean, there’s a Nando’s a couple of doors down from MoVida – does working the registers there count? It’s close to Frank Camorra.

The mystery box this week contains “all that crap I would never cook with, if you paid me”, according to Sam.  Blasphemy!  He should be cast out for referring to chocolate as “crap” .  The judges seem to have accepted Kate’s self-designation as “Dessert Queen”.  She looks unutterably smug when the contents of the box is revealed.  Trevor had interviewed earlier that he was nervous about having to tackle dessert, so is very pleased when his delicious-sounding pudding with coconut dumplings in custard is selected as one of the three.  (I hesitate to use the term “top three” here – see the bullet points). Geni is also selected for her Intense Orange thing, and Poh’s chocolate pikelets get the nod.  So, I guess Kate will be taking off that Dessert crown.  All desserts receive favourable comments from the two judges – yes, two! – but I’m surprised when Poh is given the win.  In his assessment of her dish, Gary uses the word “quite” to qualify all his compliments, whilst George congratulates her on not burning them and says they are “nice”.  Hardly resounding, and I think it’s weaker praise than Trevor gets, so why did she get the win?  All will soon become clear.

The theme for the invention test is… Chinese.  It’s Poh’s turn to look smug.  She gets to pick the core ingredient and will get five minutes in the pantry to the others’ two.  How much help can they give this woman?  Seriously.  She chooses mushrooms over the prawns and roast duck (which George says is “Peking Duck”, but I very much doubt that it is).  She explains that the others might struggle with mushrooms, whereas she’s very confident.

Ingredients are gathered, dishes are prepared, time runs down.  George alerts the cooks to the approaching deadline with “As they say in China – chop chop!”.  Oh, god.

Judging!  Matt slunk back in at the beginning of the Invention Test, so we have a fully-powered-up panel.

Positive comments (of varying degrees of enthusiasm) for:  Lucas, Aaron, Justine, Chris, Poh, Julie, Tom, Geni and Julia.

Negatives for:

  • Michelle, although not one judge mentions what her food actually tastes like, it’s all focussed on the presentation.  George tells her that “food should fall on the plate like autumn leaves”.  I’ll be judging the autumnal presentation when I lunch at The Press Club today.
  • Sam. George can’t believe his dish took him an hour, and Matt uses the word “cluggy” more than once.
  • Kate, whose dish is “crap”, according to Gary.  She cries.  She’s never failed at anything and seems to imply that she should get through because “I’ve given up law school for this”.  Does she expect people to give a fuck?

Missing in action: Andre, Josh, Trevor and Sandra.

Top three are Lucas, Julia and Poh, with Julie overcoming all the advantages the producers could throw at Poh.  Well done, Julia!  Although, as we know, winning is a bit of a backhander.

Bottom three: Kate, Sam and Michelle.  One of them will go home!

Other thoughts:

  • Where’s Matt? His absence is unexplained, as is his subsequent arrival.
  • Love that the gender stereotypes are still strong with these judges.  Gary wants to taste Geni’s dish because “You’re a mother, you’re a grandmother, you must’ve cooked hundreds of desserts”.
  • The way the final three selection works for the mystery box challenge is problematic.  On the basis of what the judges see, they only select and taste three dishes.  As we saw tonight, Geni – who was selected as one of the three  – had not properly cooked her dish.  You just can’t tell if a cake or pudding is properly cooked, moist or dry, from looking at it.  They need to try all dishes, which doesn’t mean they need to show them trying all dishes.  That way, I’ll be satisfied that the “winner” actually, you know, made the best dish.  Tonight, I am left feeling that the “winner” of this section was a complete set-up for the next test.
  • Sarah continues to say that “the bottom three will face possible elimination”. At the end of the show, she did say that somebody would be going home tomorrow, but are they leaving the way open for future rounds to have a “non-elimination”, a la Amazing Race?  I hope not – that always drives me nuts.


1 Anonymous { 05.18.09 at 5:31 pm }

Hi Injera,

* Totally agree that it was a setup for Poh to win because the theme was Chinese and they knew she would pick the mushrooms, therefore making for a more challenging/interesting Invention test

* Couldn’t agree more that all the dishes from the mystery box challenge should be tasted, as this is the only way to truly judge the best dish. Picking the top 3 based on description alone is ludicrous.

* Haha – I had to laugh at how smug Kate was when the contents of the mystery box were revealed : “No-one else will be cooking a zabliogne” and then she didn’t even get picked in the top 3. HAHAHAHAHAHA

* What happened to Sam’s “rice paper rolls 2 ways”? He was going to have some fresh and some deep fried – he must have burnt them to a crisp if the crappy raw ones he served were better than the cooked ones.

* I think it is pretty much a dead certainty that Michelle will be leaving tonight as Sam and Kate are both favourites, judging by the amount of positive airtime both have had so far. And let’s not forget Kate gave up law school for this!!

* I totally cringed when George said “As they say in China, chop, chop”. I can’t believe that comment wasn’t edited out it was probably very offensive to a lot of viewers.

* This show is heavily scripted and everything is known well in advance no matter how much they try and make out it is all happening on the fly. One example is the day after Brent was voted out and Gary says to the group “Someone’s missing? Who is it?” then “Oh, Brent!” AS IF THEY DIDN”T ALREADY KNOW WHO WAS VOTED OUT – sorry for the caps lock, it just annoys me that they pretended they didn’t know. Why do this????

2 Injera { 05.18.09 at 6:31 pm }

I agree on your elimination call, Anon. I’m really suspicious of the way Michelle’s been edited. Something’s not right. She seemed very upset after her team lost last week’s challenge – they showed her being comforted by a couple of team mates who were saying “it’s not your fault”. I wonder why she feels so vulnerable, particularly since Curtis singled out the fish dish as being really nice and she was giving Lucas lots of help on that.

The Josh/Sam/Kate alliance Brent alluded to in his TV Week interview is just going to wind me up – soooooo Survivor. Hopefully they are as dense as many Survivor contestants turn out to be and lose sight of the fact that, in the end, the alliance will break down! Then there’ll be tears! Oh, that’s right, there have already been tears. Hmmm.