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Masterchef – Mystery box

Well, so much for a graceful exit. I should have taken my cue from Josh, who – despite the graceless behaviour of a particular friend in the house – departed with dignity last week. Anyway, Raver is back – as those of you who have checked out the pic of Kara Di Guardio in her bikini already know – and is tackling homeMADE tonight as a way of countering the effects of jet lag. For tonight, I remain your Masterchef poster and will endeavour to convey the excitement of the mystery box challenge. A word of warning – I have set up macros for the following: Kate pouts (Ctrl+K,P), Kate sulks (Ctrl+K,S), Kate cries (Ctrl+K,C) and Julie panics (Ctrl+J,P). I’m hoping not to need them, but forearmed is… something… an RSI case averted? Anyway, let’s go!

Keep us on our toes, narrator. This week, instead of “working alongside Australia’s top chefs”, the winner will be “working in Australia’s top restaurants”. I still need the details of this part of the prize clarified.

We see Justine very early on, which bodes well as far as I’m concerned. Did Justine just say “eh?” at the end of her sentence? Is that why she’s been ignored so far?

In case you had lagged behind, Sarah makes one of her brief appearances to let us know that we’re down to the lucky 13. What do these lucky people have in front of them? 30 minutes to create from the mystery box, which contains a whole snapper, eggs, potato, chilli and beer. Chris cracks a smile at the beer. Again, the judges (which this week includes Matt) will only taste three “stand out” dishes.

Gary tells our hopefuls that “it’s about winning, not avoiding losing”, although I haven’t seen much (any?) evidence that winning the mystery box challenge is any advantage at all. And today there’s a twist! The judges are magnanimously prepared to taste five, but only if there are five dishes that appeal to them. What’s the bet there will be?

Sandra’s making ceviche and the judges are excited. This means that it doesn’t matter if the dish is a mess – the judges are going to taste it.

Andre (Andre!) is doing an open lasagne. I’m not sure what that means and his explanation doesn’t really help. He’s never made it before, and seems stressed, but the judges seem interested. Tom is savvy enough to name-check The Red Lantern, with his whole snapper, so naturally the judges are hot for that. Kate chooses to completely ignore the fish, which means she’s working with eggs, potato, chilli and beer. In the words of Sir Humphrey Appleby, “Very courageous”.

Time’s up! Sarah recaps and Kate pouts.

The judges want to try Sandra’s dish (wow, big surprise). Sandra gives us a brief lesson in “cooking” with acidity. Gary’s judgement uses words like “fresh”, “healthy” and “acidic”. George says it’s a cracker. Julie’s pleased that they want to taste hers, as she’ll get some feedback, which is a clear criticism of the process so far. Geni’s lemon potatoes are undercooked, which is something you don’t want to serve to George. Tom’s praised for taking the learning on board and he’s pleased to get positive reviews from Gary and Matt. Clearly he cares nothing for George’s opinion. Andre’s dish has bones. Cue the fail SFX.

Tom wins! Sarah continues to try selling this as a “massive advantage” and Trevor’s had a decent swig of that Kool Aid. The theme for the invention test, for which Tom is streets ahead of the competition, is French. Justine is happy, and we all offer a prayer of thanks to the editing gods for actually allowing us to see her in the previous ep, so we’d know she was still in the competition.

Tom is given a choice between gruyere, sweet shortcrust pastry and rib eye. In his five pantry minutes, he selects blue cheese – amongst other things – to stuff his beef, so to speak. Stuffing rib-eye with Roquefort seems like an unusual way to squander his advantage, but there you go. The remaining contestants run around the pantry in their two minutes. Julie panics.

The “inventions”

  • Chris: Gary explains that steak tartare is raw (thanks, Gary) and queries the cheese Chris has. Chris says it’s “to eat”, and I’m just a bit in love with him for that.
  • Trev’s doing a red wine sauce with beef, carrots and onions, or – as he describes it – steak and veg.
  • Poh’s says she’s cooking “beef and fries”, but instead of “fries” she’ll serve “smashed potatoes”,
  • Aaron’s making pastry. Ambitious.

Gary and George say that Chris is looking good, while George thinks “the world’s concerned about Aaron”, but that he has a soft spot for him. Tom starts a bonfire. Sandra thinks Sam looks nervous, as well he should. His celeriac puree has escaped from the blender.

“Cook like you’re going to save the world!” exhorts George and… really? That’s where we are now with this?

With the clock ticking, Chris settles back for a nibble of cheese. Trev thinks his looks fancy compared to the others, which obviously means that it’s going to be crap and he’ll get stick from the judges for trying to polish a morceau de merde (translation courtesy of a free online tool – feel free to correct it!).

The good

  • Sandra’s steak and mushroom sauce gets a furrowed brow from Gary, which means it’s nice. George likes it, as do the helplessly-raised hands of Matt.
  • Lucas’ is fine
  • Chris’ tartare looks good and Gary says he’s “achieved the freshness” of the raw beef. Surely the freshness of the beef has about, oh, nothing to do with Chris? Still, I’m happy for him. George doesn’t like raw beef and I think he even uses the word “icky” to describe how he feels about it.
  • Julie’s gets a rave.
  • George loves Andre’s.
  • Poh’s is fantastic.

The bad

  • Geni’s
  • Justine’s… sauce doesn’t pull it all together. WHAT!
  • Tom’s stuffed ribeye is overpowered by Roquefort and garlic. Also? It looks like a hideous mess.
  • Trevor’s dish is described as “a funny little dish” by Gary. His heavily reduced sauce is reminiscent of vegemite.
  • Kate’s is too much
  • Sam’s looks a bit crappy and is “on the verge of being overcooked”. I’m now regretting making Kate macros, as Sam is pouting. He doesn’t take criticism at all well. Also, he’s crying, so there’s another wasted technical effort. Gary tries to press him on the “ya still want to be here?” but Sam’s not biting.

The it’s-hard-to-call

  • Aaron’s pithivier :”weirdly nice”

Matt has his hand tucked into his blazer and looks even more pompous than usual as Sarah limps through her lines as though she’s learned the spoken language phonetically and has no idea as to the meaning of her utterances.

Called forward: Aaron, Justine, Geni, Andre, Julie, Lucas, Kate. They are all through, but not top three.

The six left are the top and bottom three. Called forward: Poh, Sandra, Chris. No surprises for guessing that this is the top three. Chris is the winner and will have a crack at the cook off. This time, his competition is being billed as “one of Australia’s most respected chefs”.

Sam, Tom and Trev will cook for their lives. So, I guess that winning the mystery box is not such an advantage. Do you think the narration next week will be changed to reflect that?


  • Sam goes, and that is what prompts Kate’s threat to leave.


1 Reality Raver { 05.24.09 at 11:25 pm }

Great recap and thanks for doing it as there is chaos currently occurring

What is the story wiutt the mystery box thing. They get their ingredients and then it appears they can use ingredients which I did not see in the box. Are they allowed to use kitchen staples as well like flour and ginger?

Tom deserves to go just because there was far to much going on. It may have been ok if just kept to cheese and a simple jus on top.

The scene when Gary went up Sam and asked him if he wanted to be there was too staged. Also Sam is just suffering a deflated ego considering it had been so puffed up in the first week.

On non cooking related issues what is the story with George Columbari’s facial hair? And was Sandra’s upper lip larger in the auditions? It appears to have deflated.

2 CG { 05.25.09 at 8:37 am }

Great recap. Some more observations:

–in the opening, they showed Kate and Sam waking up in same room? perhaps this was shown before (did Josh used to sleep in their room as well)? I’m not a prude (really) but on every other reality show the girls are with the girls and the guys are with the guys in terms of sleeping arrangements….and I don’t care how cool Sam’s new wife is, I wouldn’t be happy to have him sleeping alongside little pouty Kate given her antics the last few weeks…maybe the producers are hoping something will happen as on the last season of Top Chef

— speaking of Top Chef and many of the other reality shows, I’m surprised at the distinct lack of alcohol and drinking…in fact very little focus on what goes on in the house. this is a good thing. just curiuos why the producers havent’ resorted to some of the in-house, Top Chef, Top Model-type drama

— whats the deal with how they select who goes into the pantry after the winner? the group that went in first (after Tom came out) was a mix of persons in top-3 and bottom-3 in the mystery box challenge. surely it is an advantage to go in later after the “core ingredient” is revealed so you have more time to think about what you are going to cook? so why don’t they let the other “top 3” (or top 5?) go in last as a reward for having the “more interetsing” dishes?

– from the trailer it looks like perhaps no one goes home on Monday night after the pressure test? could you tell by who was / was not there in the preview of the next group challenge? maybe because Nic quit the show they had an extra week to fill so can get away with not eliminating someone this time around? Chris is in the preview of the team challenge (you can tell it is his hands/body in one of the shots) so cleary he doesn’t beat the professional chef on Tuesday night

— final comment: Matt putting his hand on his breast inside his done-up, too tight suit jackets kinda yucks me out, almost as much of the closeups of how he puts food into his mouth…

— oh final, final rant: can they edit out the shots of Aaron biting his fricking nails all the time…it is really gross.

3 Injera { 05.25.09 at 9:32 am }

Raver – Staples are available for the mystery box challenge, but it’s kind of vague as to exactly what those are. I mean, in the Egg/Bacon/Tomato/Bread one, I think cheese was available – why not stick it in the box, then? Generally, it’s safe to assume that they have access to basic seasonings, oil, and flour but it wouldn’t kill them to make that explicit now, would it. I mean, they’re not averse to recapping the bleeding obvious in other circumstances!
– haven’t noticed George’s facial hair. Will give it some attention tonight… Wouldn’t be surprised if Sarah’s lip has deflated, although she should be speaking more clearly if that’s the case.

CG – Wow – great observations!
– Good pick-up on the sleeping arrangements. I thought “that can’t possibly be…” so must have erected an SEP field around it. It would definitely be by choice rather than design. Even if there was a shortage of beds in the “girls” dorm, spots would have opened up with Melissa, Michelle, Julia and Linda’s departure, wouldn’t they? I hope Sam’s wife is enjoying her honeymoon by proxy… I just hope we don’t have any Hosea/Leah shenanigans. That was foul.
– agree that having access to the pantry last is an advantage and it would be good to get some sort of explanation as to how the order is decided.
– god, I hope tomorrow’s not a non-elimination, although I have noticed that the phrasing of Sarah’s intro is ambiguous and I figured that was probably deliberate. I hate non-elims. Particularly as the judges didn’t seem capable of picking a clear “worst” dish last week but still gave Michelle the boot. I’m going to have to make sure I’m surrounded by soft things tonight, because if Sam’s dish is dodgy and they save him, I’ll be throwing things at the telly.
– As for Aaron, somebody send him Control-It, although by the sounds of it, it tastes so hideous it might ruin his palate.

4 RetroGirl { 05.25.09 at 9:42 am }

CG – I also noticed that Sam and Kate woke up in the same room and agree that it was pretty strange. You are right that every other reality show separates men and women into different rooms (maybe to avoid sexual harrassment claims?) and while I don’t think there is anything romantic going on with Sam and Kate, I think it would be more appropriate for a newly married man to sleep in a different room than one occupied by a 20 year old girl.

5 bella vita { 05.25.09 at 2:20 pm }

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Sam cant go! I love him..well not literally..but would rather see whiney Kate go then him..I mean honestly..all she can cook is desserts.

I personally would love to see all of them telling Aaron what a dead set wanker he really is. That guy needs a reality check…Aaron no-one likes you…you think you are better than everyone else and you need to go back to uni to do accounting..give up the dream of the 3 chef place

6 Anonymous { 05.25.09 at 2:20 pm }

Thank you all for fantastic re-caps. I missed this ep and not quite prepared to watch it online. I did, however, dream about Masterchef last night. Aaron was actually a major mister-cool-hunk and was playing the dork on the show to somehow win the hearts and minds of other contestants…through lovable dorkiness. I think I have a problem. Help.

7 Injera { 05.25.09 at 3:01 pm }

Bella Vita – I’d much prefer to see Kate go, too. Maybe that’s the devilish twist tonight. Matt says “none of you deserve to be in the bottom three”… dramatic pause… “so we’re sending Kate home”! I would like to see that.

Anon – I think tickets to the live Dr Phil show at Rod Laver are still available, although it sounds as though you might need one-to-one time to fully resolve your Aaron issues. It must be the way he wields the pipette in the opening credits that has got under your skin!