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MasterChef Australia – Is Winning The Mystery Box A Curse?

I cracked up when I saw Lucas for the english theme food challenge had cooked a curry as I thought that was the height of  english cuisine when I was living there some years ago. The way the english anglicised the dish was to served it with chips. Thankfully all that has changed now and there is some great food in the UK now.

Tonight’s episode started off with a cupcake challenge. It surprises me so many of the contestants freak out when they have to bake or cook a dessert. But they are not alone in this Top Chef contestant’s also have these issues. Is there some sort of snobbery which means they think real chefs don’t bake?

It was great that Chris said that there was an opportunity with the mystery box challenge to cook more adventurously as there was no elimination attached to it. He  took the opportunity to mix beer in with chocolate and this got his cake to be one of the three the judges would taste.

The other two were Poh’s Hazelnut and lime punch cup cake, and Julie’s lemon diva cupcake. Julie won and for this she got the supposed advantage of picking the ingredient for the main challenge, but this is turning into a poison chalice? Tom who won last week landed in the bottom three, as did Julie did tonight.

She had the choice between blue eyed trevalla, strawberries and a leg of lamb. She was not to pleased with any of them. The lamb because she said every challenge which had involved filleting has tripped her up, the strawberries because she said she is not a dessert chef, and the trevalla she had never cooked before.

So she went for the lesser of the evils and picked the leg of lamb. They were given 90 minutes to cook the dish so if they would have the time to roast if they decided to.

From a strategic viewpoint I would have picked the strawberries, I think there is an opportunity to knock some of the “stronger” chefs into the bottom three with dessert challenges. Sam has no clue on how to cook anything sweet, and Trevor and Justine also look nervous when the sugar and flour appears. At this stage you don’t have to shine but just keep on getting through with the group.

Anyway back to Julie, I like her but can someone give her a paper bag she appears to have an anxiety issue, she needs to calm down. This is affecting the amount of time she is taking to prep. She was going to do a stuffed and rolled lamb but ended up having to use the stuffing as a crust but it was still served up rawer than I have seen some beef carpaccio.

Sandra pushed the boundaries by stuffing the lamb in a potato wrapping, this resulted in being in the bottom three. Also Aaron needs to get over his obsession  with pastry, it was totally unnecessary for his Shepherds Pie. But that wasn’t his only sin he also over seasoned the pie filling. Has he cooked an edible dish since being on the show? He also will be fighting it out in the elimination challenge tomorrow with Julie and Sandra.

The special guest judge tonight was from UK’s MasterChef John Torode a chef who was born in Australia but has lived in England since he was 25 years of age (source wikipedia). He gave the Australian judges Gary Mehigan, George Colombaris, and Matt Preston a masterclass in how to be a judge on the show, with his zippy one liners and warm charm. I hope he is on tomorrow night as well.

The top three dishes were Chris who is shaping up to be a favourite with his confident and innovative cooking.  Justine who prepared a beautifully rolled roast, serving it with spinach and mint, potatoes with tarragon and some mushrooms, this girl can cook. Tom also picked himself up and dusted himself off to climb back to the top, and his dish was pronounced the best he had cooked in the competition thus far.

Justine deservedly won the challenge and will cook against Guy Grossi on the Tuesday night episode.

The unfortunate thing about the editing is you don’t get to see much of the dishes that are not in the top or bottom three, so it is hard to formulate an opinion or who should or should not be there. This type of editing was also seen in the cupcake challenge, which meant it was easy to pick whose cakes were going to get tasted.

However I think Geni should have been penalised by being in the bottom three  for producing a dish that was so outside the english theme. Her roast lamb with a garlic tomato sauce was pure mediterranean. For the sharp eyed readers out there who noticed bruises on her back when she was filmed in the bathroom at the beginning of the episode, they look like the result of a cupping therapy where glass cups are suctioned onto your back to remove toxins.

I think Aaron will be the one to go tomorrow night, he has had too many chances. As much as I like that he takes risks you do have to deliver with a decent dish sooner or later.


1 Injera { 05.31.09 at 11:39 pm }

I’m kind of hoping Sandra goes, only because it will add so much pathos to the Kate self-elim!

I think having Torode there really made Gary lift his game. There were a couple of comments from him that were much more punchy than usual. At one stage, I was waiting for a Gregg Wallace-esque “Corrrr!”.

Also, Sarah, Torode’s show is Masterchef, not Masterchef UK. If you really need to differentiate, call this Masterchef Australia!

Totally agree, RR, on not seeing enough of all the dishes to be able to evaluate whether the judges are making good calls. As with an earlier challenge, how do you choose the top three cupcakes just by looking at them? The icing may have been appealing, but the cake could have been dry and nasty. Chris has nailed how to play the mystery box – make something bizarre and the judges will want to try it. Good on him.

And good on Justine! I love her. As I’ve said before, I don’t know why that is, given her relative invisibility until late last week, but there’s something about her (a Disney quality about the eyes, perhaps?).

2 Reality Raver { 06.01.09 at 12:10 am }

Do you think they only try three for time reasons? I agree I think it is ridiculous. I would also like to know if you are able to keep your food in a warm oven to keep it warm until the judges get to taste it. Cold spinach is never great.

At this stage I think it is between Chris and Justine to take out the title. Poor Julia deserves to – she is missing out on all the fun.

3 CG { 06.01.09 at 12:16 am }

There was no question in my mind that Julie was going to win the cupcake challenge when it came to the final three. Both Chris and Poh have already won the invention challenge and picked the ingredient for the theme meal. Similarly, will they ever pick a contestant to go up against the pro chef twice? Doubt it. Which means the judging is rigged at one level.

As for tomorrow, I kinda think Sandra will go, unless the UK judge is still invovled. I think George and Gary had hard-ons for Kate and will pick Sandra as some sort of subconscious “revenge” for Kate falling on her sword and saving Sandra last week. And from a production standpoint, Aaron is more of a ratings grab because he is so freaking obnoxious.

4 Reality Raver { 06.01.09 at 12:28 am }

CG – I like your logic particularly as Aaron does give much better soundbites than Sandra. I so wish I got to see all of the George and Gary perving at Kate scenes, maybe they will move onto Justine now.

I agree I think there will be a certain element of “rigging” who wins particularly if the decision is borderline. However by the gushing of the John Torode, Justine did appear to the obvious winner tonight.

5 Laura { 06.01.09 at 3:15 am }

Ick I didn’t like the guest judge at all.He was overly harsh toward Julie as she was cooking which made her even more nervous & anxious. I think her cupcake deserved to win – it was so pretty! I agree that it was clear that she would win from the editing.
I don’t want any of them to go this wee. I agree that Aaron deserves to be eliminated but I have really come to like him!
I love Justine, she is my favourite, along with Trevor :)

6 Injera { 06.01.09 at 9:13 am }

I was thrilled that Lucas did a curry – shows he’s tuned in to food and able to think beyond a knee-jerk English/lamb/roast as most of the others did. Curry and chips, indeed, RR! Would have been good if someone had served up a kebab. Can’t believe nobody did chunky chips after that masterclass…

If, as somebody said in comments on an earlier post, Julie was one of the contestants spotted in Hong Kong, one of the production team must have been tuned into your advice and stocked up on paper bags. Or sedatives.

7 Reality Raver { 06.01.09 at 12:29 pm }

Injera – Do you think they will get bonus points if they stump up a recipe from the masterclass? In a pub once I was served curry with rice, bread and chips. At the time I kind of enjoyed it.

Julie looks like the stress is making her lose weight. The same cannot be said for Treveor or Matt Preston.

8 Wurstsemmel { 06.01.09 at 12:32 pm }

As a Brit, I didn’t realise we had any cuisine 😉

In fact, I was expecting the one British judge (well, Torode isn’t really British) to drown Aaron in his runny Shepherd’s Pie for making it with a pastry crust. Call me a purist but Shepherd’s Pie and pastry? When did that happen?

Does Julie have an anxiety problem? Well, outside of Masterchef who knows? I’d say it’s just the pressure. Some people cope well under pressure, others just don’t. A few deep breathing exercises, a touch of cognitive restructuring to manage her expectations better and she’d be probably right.

I wonder if there is a psychologist associated with this show? I’ve never checked out the credits.

9 Injera { 06.01.09 at 12:59 pm }

Wurstsemmel – I’m with you on Aaron’s dish. Maybe he’s only aware of Shepherd’s Pie in a theoretical sense and just assumed it would have pastry! I was giving lots of advice to the TV on that particular matter. Wasn’t convinced by his reasoning on why he ate it, although I’d imagine they’d get so damn hungry during shooting days that they’d eat anything.

RR – I think the chef/judges would be impressed if somebody incorporated lessons from the Masterclass into a dish – look how ecstatic they were with Tom’s work-exp inspired fish. As for curry with rice, chips and bread – that sounds like the perfect amount of carbs!

10 chocolatesuze { 06.01.09 at 3:40 pm }

just found your blog and i have to say im loving your masterchef wrapups! i agree chris knows how to catch the judges interest in the mystery box challenge and will most likely make it thru to the final. i hated aaron at first but he’s starting to grow on me altho the same cannot be said for andre. there’s just something in his eyes that makes me think he will snap and throw knives…

11 Reality Raver { 06.01.09 at 5:32 pm }

Wurstsemmel – I think they must have access to psychologists particularly around the time of eliminations. It must be hard to cook with a camera in your face and the cook ticking. Maybe Julie needs to take your advice and do some cognitive restructuring. LOL. In fact I might do that myself.

Chocolatesuze – I had not thought about that regarding Aaron I will keep an eye on him. He has not been getting much air time.

Injera – You are dead right, I had forgotten about Tom’s fish.

12 Emma Mcfarlane { 07.18.09 at 3:39 pm }

I really hope and Poh wins!
a friend of mine knows one of the contestants and..
The winner is Julie!
Oh no!

13 Injera { 07.18.09 at 4:45 pm }

Emma – your comment doesn’t make much sense, but if you do have spoilers, it’s customary to advertise a spoiler alert so that those who are wanting to see the action unfold as it’s televised can choose to look away.