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Masterchef – The Amazing Iron Survivor

Australia’s Top Mini Chef is starting on A Current Affair, with Luke Mangan and Guy Grossi judging. Nine, your desperation is showing. On a positive note, this means Sam’s got some options if he gets sent home from Hong Kong. And, speaking of Hong Kong…

… we see Chris getting ready for the early challenge, but – as somebody pointed out yesterday – the geniuses who edit the previews clearly showed Justine, Julie, Sam and Andre lining up to start the big challenge, so I don’t know how much enthusiasm I’ll have for the first part of this marathon. Matt’s transformation into the Chairman Kaga on a windswept mountain, shown in the promo, can’t come soon enough.

Because we’ve only got 90 minutes for this episode, why not start with a gormless meander around Kowloon? Marvel, as our final five-of-seven point at things! Gasp, as they gape at the buildings! Cheer, as Andre says he wants to be a chef! Raise a quizzical eyebrow, as Sam explains he’s got the “want to continue in the food industry entrenched’, now that he’s proven he has the ability to cook two edible dishes over the course of a few months.

Things, Sarah tells us, are about to turn serious. Tomorrow is the Hong Kong SuperchallengeTM. I love that the contestants adopt the Hong Kong SuperchallengeTM appellation straight away, repeating it over, and over, and over again, until I’m reduced to believing that I’m the only person for whom the phrase Hong Kong SuperchallengeTM was previously unknown. Before they take on the Hong Kong SuperchallengeTM, though, there is the small matter of the mystery box with an Asian twist. Whoever wins doesn’t have to compete in the Hong Kong SuperchallengeTM! Wow – wonder who that will be? Gary says that this will guarantee them a spot in the top four. Lucas and Julia are still in the departure lounge at Chek Lap Kok, but clearly left no impression whatsoever on the judges.

Back to the mystery box, or – as Julie points out – “the mystery bamboo steamer! There’s no box!” That, however, is not the twist. The twist is that each contestant has a different protein: tofu for Sam, pork for Chris, duck for Andre, chicken for Julie, prawns for Justine. They have 30 minutes to create something that is not from the local suburban Chinese joint. Matt seems to have a particular problem with items numbered 13 and 28.

Chris is going to make an omelette. If I didn’t already know he was safe, I’d think he was sailing a little close to the proscribed takeaway menu. Doh! That’s what Justine wanted to do, so she’s now also doing a “moneybag” with her omelette. It’s not only cliches at dawn, but it also sounds as though she’s paying homage to Linda’s walnut crusted chicken drumstick handbag. Gary and George don’t know why contestants don’t just stick with their original ideas. Note to Gary and George: it’s because none of them have “original ideas”. Julie’s challenging herself by doing a twice cooked chicken. Only problem is, she has 30 minutes, which is barely enough time for once-cooked chicken. This is nearly jeopardised when she slices off her index finger. Ten clearly hasn’t stumped up for travel insurance, and George takes over from Julie and juliennes the remaining carrots (hee!).

God, I’ve never heard someone count down “seconds” so slowly. If Gary’s prepared to be on hand as official timekeeper for the London Olympics road cycling trials, I think I’ll have a crack at qualifying.

Judging. “I’m getting ginger, I’m getting garlic…” I’m getting really bored.

Andre’s cabbage rolls get an okay response. Julie’s crispy skin chicken does too. “Not classic Cantonese, but classic Julie.” Justine presents both number 13 and number 28 and Gary thinks it’s pedestrian. Of course, he doesn’t conclude this until he’s run through all the ingredients he’s tasting (which we can all see on the plate, so thanks for nothing, blowhard).

Chris gets the boom-tish moment of the early challenge with his “Double Happiness” comment. It’s in the same league as Matt’s “Oh no, oh (deleted – that’s for you, sourkraut)”. It’s the kind of comment he would have prepared as soon as he saw the Cathay Pacific logo on the ticket folder.

Matt cracks the shits with Chris’ leaf. “Is it food grade? Where’s it from?” Oooh, tension builds! Who’s going to win?

Today’s challenge is brought to you by the adjective “crisp”.

Matt looks as though he was over-ruled when the Chris decision was made. Oh, sorry, I kind of buried the big announcement there. As winner, Chris gets to enjoy a day of spa pampering – that looks like it’s just what he would have wanted – and to select the teams for the Hong Kong Superchallenge. He pairs the boys and the girls.

The next morning, Chris farewells the Hong Kong Superchallengers, and settles down to suck on a Tsingtao and muse about what’s in store for the remaining four.

What is in store? Where could they be going? They’re headed to the Peak, and this dramatic setting for the start of the challenge is undone by the fact that we saw this in the preview. Idiots.

The challenge: blahdy blah money blah blah time limit blah blah race across Hong Kong… What is this? Amazing Race? Aaaaaand, Matt “Chairman Kaga” Preston nearly blows a gasket exhorting the racers/chefs to GO GO GO, so I guess it’s Iron Race.

There are train tickets and taxis and then not long before we hear somebody choose to communicate with a taxi driver by talking slowly and loudly and affecting an accent. At least Justine doesn’t say “Arriba!  Arriba!”.  Then Andre and Sam end up at the West market instead of the Wet market. Heh! There’s drama over mis-identified ingredients and par-cooked piggies. As the teams run towards the ferry, with Amazing Race steadicam work, I am bitterly disappointed that they are not met by a smiling Phil Keoghan.

In the kitchen, Julie and Justine seem to be working well together, while Andre interviews that he and Sam are not “clicking” like they usually do. This portends a fake-out edit, where the girls lose it. Why is Sam commentating his prep? “I’m just peeling the apples…” Andre takes longer to snap than I do.

Gary and George tour the kitchen and grill our chefs. They note that Justine and Julie have already cooked the scallops, with a good 20 minutes to go. Gary is pissed off that they’ve disrespected such an amazing ingredient, which brings me to my next point: should the judges be touring the kitchen or should they judge on the finished dish, not the process?

“Potentially one of you is going home.” Is that just George’s tenuous grip on the language, or is he raising the possibility of another non-elim?

They’ve got a minute to go! But is it a real minute, or a Gary minute? Just in case this show hasn’t gone long enough, we get a recap clip package.

Julie and Justine face the judges. “What I’m tasting is…” and Gary lists all the ingredients we can see again. This is getting tired. As am I. Gary and George, who saw the scallops being prepared, criticise the scallops for being overdone. Matt, who didn’t see the pre-prep, says nothing that makes it to air. The pig isn’t crackly. None out of two so far. Dessert? “Like a pile of doubloons,” says Matt, threatening to bury his jowly face in the caramelly goodness. “Don’t do it piggy!” is George’s advice.

Andre and Sam. Will Gary tell us what he’s tasting in these dishes? No – he’ll be utterly confusing: he wants it punched up/he loves the delicacy. “Where’s the pig?” indeed! It looks as though the pig ate itself . And George’s orgasm face reacting to the crackling made me throw up. The judges’ acclaim is undone, for me, when Matt says “Andre! At last!”. If he’s done nothing until now, Matt, WHY’S HE STILL THERE? You’ve just admitted you’ve carried him until now.

And as though this hasn’t gone long enough, we’re getting a “still ahead” preview. Ten, we’re watching! We’re STILL watching… We must have some collective form of Stockholm Syndrome : there’s no other way to explain why we’re s t i l l   w a t c h i n g.

Matt recaps the day. I guess this is for those viewers who’ve just tuned in. They’ll be spewing they missed it, given that he describes the task as “hunting and gathering”. If you did just tune in and you’ve somehow found your way over here, “hunting and gathering” is a Mattaphor for shopping.  You missed nothing.

And the winners are: Andre and Sam.  Well, that was painful. I’m very sorry to think that after tomorrow, Julie or Justine won’t be there BUT SAM WILL! Justine admits that Asian cooking is not her strong point. Don’t worry about it! Cooking is not Sam’s strong point, BUT HE’S STILL THERE!

12 comments

1 Gemma { 06.24.09 at 11:23 pm }

Wonderful summation…But even I watched it in fast forward (taped) tonight… A bit like watching paint dry tonight. Don’t worry though folks, we’ll ALL stay glued to it for at least another six weeks!

2 abc { 06.24.09 at 11:27 pm }

lol, i agree, it was SO much like amazing race. it would be totally cool if they did a real cooking amazing race though.

Poor Julie and Justine. Its really sad to see one of them go, especially as weak contestants like Sam and even Andre remain. How come Sam has only managed to produce like three or four decent dishes and stayed so long? It really bugs me.

Lol’ed tonight at Matt Preston’s comments during the challenge briefing and his parting message to Justine and Julie – Dragon’s Breath, where do you get all this stuff?

3 Reality Raver { 06.25.09 at 12:02 am }

Sam is like a cockroach he just won’t die. Thanks Injera for the recap, fabulous as usual.

4 Sleepy { 06.25.09 at 12:24 am }

I missed the middle part because I fell asleep. A great summary – thank you.

5 Wurstsemmel { 06.25.09 at 10:43 am }

I don’t know how Chris pulled it off.Omelette? He must be slipping the judges crates of beer. I thought Julie deserved the free pass but maybe I’m biased.

Matt just confirms to me that a Masterchef motivational book may be on the way…so many cliches…I don’t know about Dragon’s Breath, more a case of hot air (source I don’t wish to think about).

Excellent recap, sorely needed, as checking out the back of the eyelids seemed a preferable option during this episode.

Sam pulls it off again. How does this keep happening? Valid point, Injera, about whether the judges should be observing the process. Makes me wonder if Gary’s judgement of the scallops was biased by having seen that the scallops were cooked early. In any case, I can’t see why the boys came in first – never mind suckling pig, it looked like sucked up pig – where had it gone? Or had Matt inhaled it? Unless I’m mistaken, the boys scallops were also slightly overdone according to Gary and their presentation was far more clumsy? And the dessert? My lhasa drops better looking offerings out of its backside.

I’m so hoping Julie pulls it out of the bag tonight.

6 Colleen { 06.25.09 at 11:05 am }

Inerja,
Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your recaps. You speak my language. I often find myself laughing, realising that I think in exactly the same way as you, I just wouldn’t be able to put it so eloquently

7 Daisy { 06.25.09 at 11:19 am }

can’t understand why they had to run the ridiculous race and do their own shopping; thought that was over in the early days and surely they deserve (being the final few) to just get on with ‘cooking’. Sam really showed how hopeless he is and I can’t fathom why they continue continue continue to keep him on, grrrr

8 Jacqui { 06.25.09 at 12:46 pm }

I really can’t get over Georges face when he ate the pig! Isn’t he embarrassed? I feel sorry for his family and girlfriend!

9 Injera { 06.25.09 at 5:41 pm }

Gemma – six more weeks??? I hope you were just carried away by Matt’s enthusiasm because… six more weeks? I don’t think I can see it through. Especially if Sam and Andre keep dodging bullets.

abc – I’ll back you up in the lawsuit for intellectual property rights if someone at Fremantle Media makes an Amazing Cooking Race. I think it would be hilarious!

Sleepy – tonight’s ep should be more riveting. It will, at least, be shorter!

Wurstsemmel – wouldn’t it be good if the judges had to actually back up their decision with scores. On US Iron Chef, the scores are broken down into parts for presentation, inventiveness, flavour (I could be making those categories up – gave up on the US version after a couple of episodes. Bobby Flay is no match for Chen Kenichi). That way, the fact that their judging comments and their summations prior to judgement are often diametrically opposed would be exposed. Or wouldn’t happen…

Colleen – thanks! Glad it strikes a chord.

Jacqui – Let’s agree never to speak of George’s pig-appreciation-orgasm face again…

10 sourkraut { 06.25.09 at 7:07 pm }

Injera
thanks for the recap, I only saw the last 30 minutes.
Wondered how the far gone heck it came to be that the 2 girls were facing the 2 guys. Just goes to show that whatever else Chris is or isn’t he’s a very smart cookie. You might say (carefully ) that it was a cunning stunt!
SO either Justine or Julie goes tonite . Wot a pity, I hoped it would have been Sam or Andre, both of whom seem to fairly consistently whomp up arty farty crap on a plate. Andre finally cooked something right. Easy to do if you cut out three quarters of the pig that you MAY have stuffed up? Anyhoo, haven’t the judges heard of the law of averages. Sometimes it even overules Murphy’s law.
Well my earlier prediction that someone would lose their travellers cheques did not happen. PITY It would have been interesting to see clods like SAm and Andre even get back to the GREATEST hotel in the southern hemisphere,,,,,,,,,OOOOPS my bad meant to say in ASIA.
Sorry I have to pick someone to barrack for tonight, but I hope Julie wins, Don’t know if its editing or what but she does seem to hav a pleasant personality, and that’s not to say Justine doesn’t either. Well if the Sunday Telecraps TV guide cover this week is anything to go on it looks like curtains for Julie.
Sam , Andre, YOU”RE ON BORROWED TIME enjoy it while you can
Wurstsemmel
This is a family show. Bad enuff to have fat matt stroking (HIMSELF), but no more of this Sam and Chris pulling it off!!!!!!!!!!! Bitter decorum for high class viewers such as my gentle modest self

11 Wurstsemmel { 06.25.09 at 7:31 pm }

As a Brit, you’re lucky I didn’t slip in an innocent ‘rooting for Julie’ there. I must be picking up my sleazy turn of phrase from Matt, Sourkraut.

12 bernard { 07.19.09 at 12:54 am }

matt preston cannot keep a secret and tells julie wins