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MasterChef Australia – Quail, Quail and More Quail

“Standing before me are the ten best amateur cooks in the country” said Sarah Wilson, host of MasterChef Australia, with a straight face. Fast forward five minutes to seeing one of these “best” cooks munching on  a piece of star anise.

Andre deserves to go for this major lack of knowlege. This is the culinary equivalent of  nibbling on a cinamon stick or munching on a bay leaf. Amateur all right but not in a complimentary way.

No surprise that he came last in the taste test challenge. The challenge was to identify as many of the seventeen ingredients in  Kakavier which is a  greek fisherman soup. They had two minutes to identify and write down as many flavours as they could. Judge Gary Mehigan helpfully pointed out there were four types of seafood in it.

Also Geni who is Greek should be walking the hall of shame for coming in second last and only identifying nine ingredients.

Chris and Tom were equal first with twelve out of the possible seventeen. The tie-breaker winner was the person who could shout out the main ingredient of taramasalata. Chris was the first to shout out mullet roe and won. He obviously buys a more upmarket brand then I do as most of the time the main ingredient is canola oil,with the roe being about 12% of the dish. Maybe the tie-breaker question should have been what is the the key ingredient in taramasalata?

Now this was a great challenge to win as the invention test was to work in pairs to cook a two course meal in an hour, and the winner got to pick who he cooked with and allocate the other pairs.

Chris picked Poh which surprised me as I thought he would pick Justine. The other pairs were Sam and Sandra, Tom and Julie, Lucas and Justine, and Geni and Andre.

They had 7 mins to decide the menu. Also they were not restricted by just 10 ingredients, but they did have a one hour time limit. 

By the way did anyone else think Matt Preston looked like a dandy tonight as he strode into the room wearing two cravats? Now before I get flamed for being homophobic I am using the word in the strictest sense whic is a man who is excessively concerned about clothes and appearance.

Also I figured the contestants must have been told some of the ingredients in the pantry as four of the teams included quail in their menu.

Andre’s cuttlefish filled bon bon  with zucchini cream did not look very good. In fact he had to make the pasta twice as the first batch was a  bit dry. However I will give him points for being inventive.  Surprisingly he got postive feedback with just some criticism on how it looked on the plate. Geni’s quail dish which Matt Preston called the kama sutra of quail did indeed look sexy. Out of all the quail dishes this one looked the most appealing to me. However I get the feeling she has probably made that dish many times before. Gary Mehigan did criticise her for leaving the back bones in.

Justine and Lucas’s salmon ceviche with crab remoulade was called cracker entree by judge George Calombaris. And their main of quail with port and eschallot reduction was received positively as well.

I thought Poh cooking a dessert particularly a clafoutis was not a great idea, as it does not stretch your culinary skills.She did not cook it well – she was told the batter was heavy at the bottom. Also she apologised for her presentation saying it was clumsy. However if I was in a restaurant I would have been pretty happy to get that many raspberries on a plate. 

Chris who was feeling confident with his quail done a few ways including stuffing the quail legs with blood sausage. The judges particularly Matt Preston thought his was a bit diffused and lacked generousity. Indeed it did look like an entree.

Sandra and Sam were not communicating, and I thought the flavours they had put together were unoriginal. Scallops, with blood sausage and caramalised apples, and ocean trout with potato and mussel sauce.

Sandra’s entree looked disgusting. She was criticised for having way to much apple therefore to much sweetness so the flavours were unbalanced.

Sam’s main was praised for being a well cooked piece of fish, but shouldn’t that be a given at this stage of the competition? I thought his main looked boring and just standard pub bistro food. Even the type of fish he cooked was mainstream. I was bitterly disappointed that this pair were safe this week.

Julie and Tom did warm duck and quail salad the judges said they thought the salad was sharp underneath. Gary said it was a  bit of a disappointment. Julie did the crab lasagne with bisque which looked and tasted great.

Justine and Lucas who are the best mates in the house won. They had to decide which one of them would do the cook off on Tuesday night. Justine quickly offered it to Lucas as she had done it last week.

The bottom two team were Chris and Poh, and Tom and Julie. I felt sorry for Julie as she was there through no fault of her own this time, and they were inquisitioning her about whether she was good enough to stay in the competition.

Tomorrow night a good cook is going to go, it would appear the judges prematurely ejaculated with the all are safe week a fortnight ago as they will not be able to do it again. And it looks like a huge challenge of making and decorating a croquembouche.

Chris was a bitter about his lack of strategy in this challenge and was a bit peeved that he had been beaten by simple dishes. But as  Gary confirmed “It only matters what it tastes like.”


1 Injera { 06.08.09 at 12:12 am }

Good call on Andre and the “ten best amateur cooks in the country” intro! I must say, I nearly spat out my dinner when Sarah said that, and then had another near miss when Andre decided to eat the star anise. It’s hard to believe he’s managed to get to this point without having tasted it before; having munched on a whole one it’s unlikely he’ll taste anything for the next couple of weeks.

I was surprised when Chris chose Poh, but the reasoning behind his other match-ups seemed sound. It does bug me when they oversell “winning” the first challenge as “a major advantage” because… it never has been. So shut up, Sarah.

It was so obvious they’d been tipped off as to the contents of the pantry – so many bloody quail dishes – so I really wish Ten would stop patronising us poor viewers by hiding these things. Also, I’m getting REALLY sick of the clearly post-recorded interviews edited into the judging sections. Sam, you knew you were safe when you did that interview, unless you expect us to believe that Sarah called you forward, and then everyone was asked to wait while you did an interview about how you felt! Jesus.

Wish they’d show more consistent judging footage, as they show all three judges commenting on one dish, but only one or two on others. I felt that Matt’s commentary on Chris’ dish missed the point – he wasn’t cooking “for Chris’ beer barn”, he was cooking for a competition and he did something quite fiddly and risky. It would help for the judges to say – or for it to be left in after editing – what the dish tasted like in cases such as this.

Sam’s dish was a very basic mid-week dinner dish. Unless Chris’ tasted absolutely foul, I can’t understand how he wasn’t given more credit for ambition. Seriously – fish and mash?

I love Justine and Lucas!

2 Laura { 06.08.09 at 12:51 am }

I love Justine and Lucas too, I could tell from the get-go that they would do very well together :)
I also felt sorry for Julie when the judges were questioning her skills after putting her in the bottom 4 – it wasn’t her fault!
I really want to see Sandra gone, she is clearly the weakest chef by far. She really irritated me during the taste test too, there was no reason to make such a bg deal about it as there are no consequences for the loser. Such a drama queen!
I hope Poh or Tom leave tomorrow. Julie shouldn’t be there and Chris is awesome.

3 CG { 06.08.09 at 2:28 am }

Interesting show, not so much for the food but for what was revealed about personalities and relationships.

Some random thoughts and observations:

— all teams were boy-girl, do you think this was intentional or Chris was told to do it that way?

— Chris putting Sam and Sandra together shows Chris still has a hang up with the remaining member of the Kiddie Mafia and it was his attempt to get Sam in trouble (backfired)

— Justine says Lucas is her best mate in the house, I thought they were “close” but how come on last week’s fishing challenge she picked him second last, esp when she would have known he had experience with fishing?

— Lucas’ and Justine’s body language on leaving the warehouse was pretty touchy-touchy, if Lucas was my husband I would be a little uncomfortable seeing that (combined with last weeks shot of him walking into Justine’s bathroom and giving her a kiss!)

— and speaking of sex! well…last week we had Matt caressing the crust…and tonight we have him comparing quail to kama sutra with the “legs flicking around” … he really quite the dandy sexoligist isn’t he? (sarah has also mentioned on her twitter that Matt likes to come in and give her foot massages…)

Anyhoo, I thought Tom would go tomorrow but someone one another blog said they saw Tom in previews of the trip to Hong Kong? Hmmm. In that case my second guess is Poh to go even though the preview making it look like she is having a breakdown in the pressure test has always been a red herring?

4 Anonymous { 06.08.09 at 5:51 am }

I love Poh, I like how she isn’t the typical touchy feely fake reality tv contestant. Plus I usually like the flavours she has done in the past. I like Tom, too. Chris makes me feel dirty and I think Julie is absolutely useless! Can you see her working under the pressure of a professional kitchen? I’d like to see her go home.

5 Injera { 06.08.09 at 10:36 am }

Anon, probably one of the reasons Poh doesn’t seem like a fake reality TV contestant is because she’s had time to hone her “TV persona”. This isn’t her first time – the others are novices. I agree that Julie really couldn’t handle the pressure of a 3-hat kitchen, but is that what she wants? She might be ok in her own cosy little place.

As others have said, it seems unfair that she’s in the elim challenge this week, as her dish was universally praised. It was clear that each person took responsibility for a dish in each pair – totally unnecessary to put the “team” in the bottom, particularly since the winners’ reward was only for one member of the team. Oh, consistency, it’s not a friend to Masterchef!

6 Reality Raver { 06.08.09 at 11:21 am }

CG – Good point on the boy girl match up I think it was done by accident rather than design. I think Chris thought he had put to weak teams together, Geni and Andre, and Sam and Sandra.
Clearly there is an alliance between Lucas, Justine, Poh and Chris. I wonder how it will survive if they are all fighting for the prize.

Maybe Chris could be a shock elimination tonight? Has anyone spotted him in Hong Kong? It is a tough one have to do choux pastry. You can be a great cook, but choux pastry is one of those either you can or can’t do it dishes.

Laura and Injera – I agree Julie should not be in the elim challenge tonight, should be only three. I think it is anyone’s guess who goes tonight. Memo to self not to watch Channel ten or open TV Week as of them will give it away and will spoil the suspense.

Also agree more footage of the judging would have been good, to really get a handle on what the judges really thought of the food. Yes Matt Preston had a go at Chris’s food, but he did not once discuss flavours.

CG – LOL re: Matt Preston’s sexual pecadillos. NOt sure Lucas would be that stupid to do anything with Justine, he probably has a harmless crush on her. They both seem very nice.

7 Anonymous { 06.08.09 at 12:50 pm }

Injera, yeah, I just like Poh because she isn’t afraid to be fierce, whether it’s an act or not, I don’t really care!

Totally get what you’re saying about Julie, and I agree – but out of the other contestants in the bottom and the performances overall during the season, I’d like to see her go home.

If it was up to me, Sandra and Sam would be in the bottom, and most likely eliminated.

8 Anonymous { 06.08.09 at 1:12 pm }

Actually, I”d like a double elimination of Sandra and Sam! lol

9 Batterly { 06.08.09 at 5:32 pm }

Definitely notice the sun outside going out, coming in the afternoon, all over the place really. Sloppy editing when you’re playing with nature.

With all that quail on the menu, and them knowing it, it would have been a great shocker for them to walk in and find no quail at all. That would have been a twist to fix up them all knowing what’s in the pantry beforehand.

The only thing missing as Justine and Lucas were walking out was the kiss. There’s close and then there’s a step beyond.

10 abc { 06.08.09 at 9:45 pm }

Even more funny was that Andre forgot to put star anise down despite it being in his mouth the whole time.

CG – ewwww….foot massages? are you serious? that is so…disturbing

11 Laura { 06.10.09 at 12:23 am }

I agree abc, the image of Matt giving Sarah foot massages makes me want to vomit. My pet hate on the show is Matt talking with his mouth full & making wet noises as he chews. And licking his fingers noisily. Ewww. He is a goodjudge though.
Injera (or RR) – can you please enlighten me on the experience Poh has had in reality tv? Thank you :)

12 Reality Raver { 06.10.09 at 1:13 am }

Laura – you are so right about the way Matt eats. But agree he does add a bit of colour to the judging panel.
The show Poh was on is in 2005