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MasterChef Australia – Lucas V Ben O’Donoghue – Did The Best Man Win?

I always thought Ben O’Donoghue was a bit of a wanker and this was confirmed when he said the dish tonight would involve sous vide.

Now sous vide appears to be the current buzz term with the culinary crowd. In Top Chef Chicago and New York barely a challenge went by without someone vacuum packing a protien and plunging it in barely hot water.

I am not sure Tom Colluchio was a huge fan, and it would appear judge Gary Mehigan was not either as he poked at Ben’s dish of Kangaroo served with mushrooms, cream corn, mushrooms with a red wine jus. He said it looked medium rare but did not taste it. You got the feeling he would have liked it to have had a bit more time on the grill to give it a bit more grunt.

Lucas easilybeat Ben. Both judges Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris gave Ben 7/10, whilst they gave Lucas 8/10.

Now would Lucas have won if Ben had not pulled his kangaroo out of the water? Also with only two judges did it make it easier for Lucas to go straight past GO to the final? I think so.

Again tonight Matt Preston was not on the judging panel, and again they did not bother bringing in a replacement. It is becoming the George and Gary show, which could become a bad thing.  I really like them, but they are on our screens six night’s a week, and considering they are giving us nothing but an under utilised and scripted host Sarah Wilson maybe a few new faces would keep the show having a fresh dynamic.

So Lucas is the second person through to the final, how many people are going to be in the final? If it is maximum 3 or 4 that would mean there are only 1 to 2 spots left. What happens if the contestants keep on winning? Hopefully the producers will step in and stop this from happening as that could get boring.

Props to Ben who handled being beaten with grace, and to Gary Mehigan who had to handle another chef’s ego delicately. As he said the problem with being a teacher is that sometimes your student’s get better than you, and he then patted George on the back.

By the way did anyone else notice Justine holding onto a tissue and looking like she had been sobbing? Was it because it could have been her going straight to the final or because she would miss her best mate in the house?

Regular contributer Injera pointed out to me that when they announced the MasterChef series the prize was just going to be given the title of MasterChef,  a bit like winning MasterMind it was all about the honour. However now there is the $100,000 and the cookbook deal. Maybe they had to make it a really good thing to go straight to the finals and miss out on all the MasterChef Australia fun.

UPDATE: Lucas is working with Manu Feidel in his restaurant L’Etoile in Paddington.


1 Amanda (bugmum) { 06.09.09 at 10:16 pm }

I have a bit of an issue with the cookbook prize…I buy cookbooks (lots of em) from chefs/cooks who have a proven track record. Will anyone want to buy a collection of recipes from – to be blunt – a talented but inexperienced apprentice? I don’t.

2 Injera { 06.09.09 at 10:28 pm }

Hmm, I thought Ben’s reaction to being beaten was rather churlish – “Lucky I pulled the kangaroo out when I did”. Still, it would be a bit soul-destroying being beaten on your own signature dish by someone who only had a 15 minute head start.

I’ve got to say, I wasn’t expecting Lucas to win. The comments on Ben’s dish were generally positive and both judges could clearly tell whose was whose by the plating. George criticised the seasoning on Lucas’ mushrooms and didn’t seem to balance that with criticism of Ben’s. Of course, they might have really been trashing Ben’s dish but it was edited out… for drama!

I don’t know much about sous vide, apart from the fact that it seems to be everywhere, but I was under the impression that it was slow cooking at low temps – which would make it hard for Ben to achieve a completed dish in 40 minutes, yeah?

3 CG { 06.09.09 at 10:51 pm }

Justine sobbing? Good thing Lucas is going home to be with his wife while waiting for the finals. Lucas and Justine in Hong Kong would have been interesting if not tempting. Dying to see what Lucas’ wife is like. As it is his second wife I have a feeling she is much young er. Her name is Simone. hmmm.

Agree you now have to wonder how many are going to the final week. Surely it can’t be more than 3. So will they have celebrity chef challenge next week? Don’t think so. Or it will be totally rigged.

If only one spot left for the final week, look for the knives to come out the next couple of weeks.

4 Laura { 06.09.09 at 11:13 pm }

I still don’t think that they should score the celebrity chefs, I find it demeaning. I guess they have to withstand scrutiny in their restaurants from food critics all the time but to be compared to an amateur who is then given credit for a dish that you have taught them to make (on national tv) is unfair & fairly humiliating.
I don’t know if Lucas deserved to go through considering that
1. Although Lucas has been consistent throughout the competition, he has never been at the top. Justine and Chris are obviously stronger cooks than him yet they did not win their rounds with the celeb chef which indicates that either Lucas’ was an easier dish, or Ben was a weaker chef than the others.
2. Ben pulled out the kangaroo & the judge’s main praise of Lucas was that the meat was beautifully cooked. The seasoning, plating etc were all criticised. I don’t know if they should permit the celebrity chef to physically help the contestant. Maybe give advice from a relative distance but not actually be hands-on like that.
Anyway I really like Lucas so I am happy for him. I don’t think that Justine was crying because she thought that she could have been the one to go through, although I don’t think it was entirely because she was happy for Lucas. I think it is also because they are best friends in the house and she has lost her companion and ally for the rest of the competition which may hurt her in the team challenges & eliminations.

5 Batterly { 06.10.09 at 1:07 am }

Didn’t really notice Justine with the tissue, but it sure looked like the cameras were favouring her a lot. Which was a nice vision, but certainly raising the link between her and Lucas.

6 Reality Raver { 06.10.09 at 1:29 am }

bugmum – I agree with you regarding a cookbook – but they should sell some considering 1.8 million people watched Monday night’s episode. But Injera a regular contributor to this blog had some pretty strong thoughts on the matter as well as can be seen in the post

Injera – you are right about sous vide I googled and it is cooking over a long period. Mayb that is why the flavour was not there. I find it interesting that the two chefs I think are over rated Peter Evans, and Ben O’donoghue were both beaten.
I thought he took it pretty well – he is probably used to having his dishes compared because of the show he is on called The Best.

CG and Batterly – One shot of Justine was red eyes and face and tissue in her hand, I think it was the scene just before they walked down the stairs.

Laura – I think it could be an issue next year getting chef’s to go on to be potentially humilated by their peers. I would be very surprised to see Guy Grossi on their again. He did not like Gary Mehigan criticising him at all.
I was surprised Lucas got through as well, I don’t think it is going to be beneficial for him to have won. This taking competitors out for weeks prior to the final is wrecking their fan base, and will make it less likely for people to buy the cookbook.

Batterly – maybe being held captive in the MasterChef house is like being shipwrecked on an island – strange attachments form. I am sure in the normal world their relationship is platonic.

7 Anonymous { 06.10.09 at 2:54 am }

This episode was weeeeeeeeeeeeeeird. Sometimes I think Gary actually gets off on trying to sully the professional chefs. He just has this smug air about him.

Yeah, and where the eff was Matt!? He’s the actual critic, it’s a crucial thing to be scored by! I think he’s the least biased one there. Plus I love his cravats.

8 RetroGirl { 06.10.09 at 8:26 am }

As soon as Lucas was given plate number 2, I knew he was going to win. The only other contestant to have plate 2 in the cook off against the professional chef was Julia who also won. Every other contestant has been given plate 1. It’s like the judges are told to give a higher score to plate 2 even though it is supposed to be a blind tasting.
Injera – agree that Ben was rather churlish with his comment about taking the kangaroo out when he did. Maybe the producers forgot to show him the script beforehand to prepare him for the outcome!

9 Wurstsemmel { 06.10.09 at 8:55 am }

What I don’t get is that, when tasting, both Gary and George criticised the way the kangeroo was cooked yet when they gave feedback, it was a marvellous dish. From the feedback given, it doesn’t make sense that Lucas one. His dish was criticised in a number of areas, Ben’s wasn’t. It all confirms my thinking that this whole exercise really adds nothing.

Of course, the celebrity chef gets a little air time.

And Ben was a little snippy with his comment about ‘pulling the kangeroo out in time’ for Lucas. His own was undercooked, no?Like Guy, if you can’t stand the heat…….

10 Wurstsemmel { 06.10.09 at 9:49 am }

won..not one…typing before morning coffee ill-advised 😉

11 Culinary Boner { 06.10.09 at 12:02 pm }

When are George and, in particular, Gary, going to subject themselves to the “celebrity” cook-off?

Fair’s, fair fellas.

It is now high time you guys show us what you can do in a pressurised timeframe and then have the food you stump up subject to nitpicking criticism and a likely “7 outta 10”.

Oh… And I suggest that the guest judges be two of the celeb chefs who have so far lost challenges (or at least ‘lost some skin’ in the challenge) joined by Matt the Cravatt.

Should make for two very rivetting shows.

12 CG { 06.10.09 at 12:58 pm }

RR: really good point that for the contestants getting free pass to the finals, they will have no fan base for their cook book, esp Julia who I can hardly remember at all; and Lucas hasn’t exactly been covered as a “personality” during the shows/editing like some of the people such as Poh, Chris or even Julie or Sam…

13 Reality Raver { 06.10.09 at 4:45 pm }

RetroGirl – I will take note of the plate and who wins from now on. However since the judges are in a room by themselves, why don’t the producer’s just whisper in their ears which ones is which. I really need to write a post on all the conspiracy theories (ones thought of by myself and others )that have emerged during MasterChef Australia. However I tend to forget them as soon as I have thought of them.

HOwever here is a new one – they had to let Lucas win on tuesday night to get him out of the house as the producers were worried an affair might start between popular Justine and Lucas, hence losing fans and cookbook sales. Or something like that.

For the record I don’t believe the Lucas/Justine theory.

14 CG { 06.10.09 at 5:44 pm }

LOL, RR. I love your conspiracy theory to get Lucas’ out of the house….as part of this theory, imagine that Lucas’ wife was calling them everyday telling them to eliminate Lucas because she feared he was going to have an affair with Justine! What was the delay between taping and airing? Assume they were still tapign whilst the first few weeks were being shown on tv?