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MasterChef Australia – And Now There Were Five

“You are the top six amateur chefs in Ooystralya,” cries out George Calombaris as the final six cheftestants commenced their cooking of the pies and tarts.

Well considering only Poh and Chris really did justice to the challenge and the other four went from average to disastrous it was really a case of Australia is this the best you can do?

Tonight the mystery box challenge was to make a shortcrust pastry, both sweet and savoury, and to make two pies with it. Chris who had won last nights challenge had a the advantage of knowing what the challenge was, and also having a cookbook to peruse to help decide what he was going to make.

The good news is they are going to have a guest judge in each night, which is something they should have done more throughout the series particularly on the nights Matt Preston was not there. Tonight’s guest judge was Luke Mangan whose restaurant Glasshouse is in the Sydney Hilton.

I don’t like the way the judges go around giving advice and tasting food prior to the completed product. I think it can cloud their judgement when the finished product hits the judges table. By the way I read the judges taste the food cold.

Maybe in the last week it should be a blind tasting. Not that I think it needed to be a blind tasting tonight. Lucas’s pies were abysmal in presentation and taste. Tonight really indicated to me that he lucked out with beating Ben O’Donoghue. It was obvious Lucas was out of his depth tonight. His savoury chicken, leek, bacon and mushroom pie did not even sound appetising. His apple pie was so simple but he stuffed it up.

I got the feeling that Lucas knew he was on borrowed time. Also the way he would picked at the pastry and put it in his mouth, then put the hands back in the pastry made me question hygiene standards. If anyone else had gone home apart of Lucas it would a have been a travesty.

Julia’s savoury pie was undercooked, but her dessert was good so that saved her. Luke Mangan clearly liked Julie as he said that he hoped her savoury pie would save her, as her sweet pie was a disaster. It was meant to be some passionfruit thing but the pastry case had broken up.

I really liked Julie’s attitude tonight. She said she was not going to cook stuff she had cooked before and was wanting to extend herself. As she said “Otherwise why be in the final week”.

Poh also went out on limb with two very inventive and attractive dishes. A blue cheese vegetable pie, and deconstructed rhubarb and chocolate and hazelnut pie. She is definitely peaking at the right time.

Justine who made a beef bourguignon pie was rushing to get it finished. Justine really needs to get out of her french comfort zone. It is becoming a bit repetitive. A bit like Andre and his Italian.

I think if Poh who gets to pick the cuisine to be cooked in the invention test tomorrow night will pick something asian, this could spell the end of Justine’s MasterChef dream.

Finally Chris made a delicioius seafood pie, with a lime meringue pie for dessert. He is clearly going to come a cropper this week, as the editing of him comes across as how much he wants to win, and how confident he is. He is definitely the one to beat at this stage.

13 comments

1 kate { 07.14.09 at 5:57 am }

It is a little hard to tell given the editing just how much time they are really given to make decisions about what to cook and which ingredients to select, but as the series has gone I’ve found the ‘you have two minutes in the pantry’ stuff increasingly irritating, never more so than last night.

If you want innovation, they need time to play with the selection of ingredients. It was most obvious in the budget challenge, but clearly also a big factor in last night’s pie efforts. I hope the rest of the week gets past this silliness, but that is probably too much to expect.

My theory is that the producer who designed in these rushes through supermarkets/open air markets/pantries is a man who just hates shopping! It is a shame though, because it seems to be making them turn out pedestrian stuff just when they should be really showing us what they can do.

In reality, selection of the best produce for the price is a fairly important part of a chef’s work (albeit done through wholesale not supermarket rushes!), and that is why sourcing ingredients is a major feature on many other cooking shows. I’d love to see MC 2010 with a kitchen garden full of fresh herbs for them to select from for example. To have a discussion about the different varieties of potatoes and which works best in the various dishes they cook up, etc. And if they stuff up, let them go back and get something else.

In terms of creativity, the difference between a chef and someone who can read a cookbook is that the first starts with an idea and looks for the ingredients to create it, whereas the chef starts from a beautiful piece of produce and works out how to use it best given what is available to him or her.

On the plus side, the right person left last night. Now if only the Im-Poh-ster really does stuff up her own theme as the preview seemed to suggest. Yep, I know, not going to happen, just that oh so wonderful editor teasing us again…

2 Patrick { 07.14.09 at 10:43 am }

Justine is severely overrated IMHO. Sure, she’s pretty and nice, she has a tendency to play it safe and keep her comments amicable enough and i think these are the main reasons for her popularity. Same with Julie. They come across as perfectly lovely and harmless and yet Chris and Poh, who i think have the culinary and creative goods to be most deserving of the title of masterchef are relentessly thrashed by viewers and online commentators etc. for simply extending their boldness to their little side interviews and overall persona. A Chris vs Poh showdown would be the ideal finale. I can’t believe Julie was let off the hook last night. Ridiculous. An epic stuffup like that would not have been excused weeks ago and yet because it was lucas at the bottom with her she’s the judges’ choice.

3 Anonymous { 07.14.09 at 11:47 am }

Julie was so favoured last night, it was ridiculous. And her line about how she didn’t want to cook dishes she makes at home because this is THE final week of masterchef made me laugh – why not do that, Julie, it’s allowed you to coast through the competition so far…

Lucas’ pies were mediocre, but Julie didn’t even make a sweet pie! Outrageous. Nobody else got a pep talk like Julie did when she decided to throw a hissy fit, either. And there was NO WAY that Julie’s savoury pie was the prettiest of the day, that clearly belonged to Poh, whose pies looked like they were out of a magazine. Soooooooooooooo sick of the favouritism on this show.

Poh’s sweet had me drooling.

4 kate { 07.14.09 at 11:59 am }

Poh does some interesting things (like the pies). But a lot of her stuff seems either basic and boring almost exclusively Asian food (like the curry for the dinner party) or an absolute disaster. The reason she seems to score well seems to go to the judge’s lack of familiarity with asian food and presentation – it looks beautiful. Personally, I’d rather it tasted delicious.

I agree that Chris is a strong contender, his apparent lack of judgment on a number of issues (hat and hair, desired dining companions, women) notwithstanding – he produces interesting food if not always perfectly executed. The worrying thing is that he doesn’t seem to have learnt from how the judges mark things. That roast stuffed goat leg could have been pre-carved and dressed up on the plate for example to look stunning and appeal to the judge’s approach. Instead he persists in presenting things the way he likes and presumably plans on doing in his beerhall place and almost lost as a consequence. He needs to learn to play the game (although his pie effort was clearly a gesture in that direction).

I still like both Julie and Justine though. Justine is clearly a french cuisine specialist totally uninterested in any other style of cooking, but within that framework is relatively innovative. And there is nothing that says the Masterchef has to be an all-rounder (if there was, they should have tested them on their knowledge of other cuisines a lot earlier in the piece and eliminated the specialists who couldn’t do anything but desert/Italian/etc before the top 20). She does consistently tend to be overambitious though – and if Lucas hadn’t botched it, I would have voted for undercooked beef bourgogne and pastry to be an eliminator before something that looked awful as Julie’s did, but still tasted ok.

Julie clearly did have a very bad day though, and was lucky that hers ended up at least tasting of something, unlike Lucas’! George obviously got to her plate it up and keep going. If she had really been thinking, she might have been able to present it rather differently with the help of a lot of cream and so forth and pretended it was a Poh-esq attempt at an innovative pie…

5 Jaynie { 07.14.09 at 12:14 pm }

Considering Chris had all night to prepare, I thought his pies were relatively boring last night. Poh really one-upped him.
I do think the fact that Chris’ were better than so many of the others, says a whole lot more about them than about him.
Undercooked pastry when you’ve had two friggin’ hours?! They should all have turned out attractive, well cooked masterpieces at this stage of the competition. I don’t see myself as anything more than a home cook, but I’d have turned out two better pies than most of them did. And so, I would venture to say, would most home cooks.

6 TDK { 07.14.09 at 12:55 pm }

next to go guess.. justine

7 Aussie-Chinese Home Cook { 07.14.09 at 12:56 pm }

It’s unbelievable and embarrassing that the contestants were subjected to such pressure that something like the humble pie can flop that bad.

I expected contestants at this level to know a lot about pastry making. How about lessons behind the scene, if not Masterclass.

Lucas didn’t know that he had the perfect shortcrust. From my TV screen that would be how the very short texture come to be, simply pressing the pastry together, by not overworking the gluten into a pliable dough that gives a tough shortcrust.

JuliE should call hers a deconstructed custard tart and serve it up in a nice parfait glass instead of calling it a “puddle” to tell the judges that it was a failure, which they didn’t need to know. Look at the mashed up cup cake in Masterclass.

There was no rule to say the pies needed to be double crust, so why waste time and create extra pressure.

8 CG { 07.14.09 at 2:39 pm }

Stepping back…if this is the final week of MC and these are the “top six amateur chefs in Ooystralya”…why do they need to be provided with recipes for short crust pastry, sweet or savoury? Isn’t pastry like chef school 101..or 201? Wouldn’t it have been far more interesting and telling to have them come up with the pastry recipe by themselves as part of the challenge. Didn’t poor ole’ Sammo have to come up with pastry on his own a couple of times? And didn’t they cover pastry in Masterclass at least once?

9 TDK { 07.14.09 at 3:10 pm }

cg – agree with you there

10 seepi { 07.14.09 at 4:11 pm }

I thought Julie should have gone the parfait glass too – cream and filling and passionfruit, with triangles of pastry – yum. I guess int eh whirlwind of cooking she was focussed on her original plan and couldn’t think around it.

11 Anonymous { 07.14.09 at 4:59 pm }

Filling in a parfait glass ≠ pie.

12 Injera { 07.14.09 at 6:44 pm }

Pie, pie, pie, pie, pie. I love pie and would have thought I’d eat just about anything if it were wrapped in pastry, but this episode proved that wrong.

Poh’s pies looked sensational and she’ll be selling her talents well short if she opens a noodle/dumpling bar. D’oh! Just remembered that she has no interest in cooking. Why’s she there, again?

Chris: fish pie, UK Hell’s Kitchen standby. Whatevs – shows he can read a recipe I guess.

Justine made a savvy decision to top her pie with pastry strips rather than the full lid, but she’s got to take some note of the fact that the judges (grr, shouldn’t be wandering around sticky-beaking on prep and judging) keep telling her she’s doing too much. In the Icons challenge she had to leave elements off her dish. It didn’t harm her in the end, but learn, learn!

Julie. God. Another homage to Andre’s vomisotto? I think Kate, ACHC and seepi are right – should’ve deconstructed. I recall Sarah (? was she even there? Maybe it was someone else) stating that it had to have PASTRY, but they didn’t say it had to be presented as a pie-as-we-know-it. Maybe her pastry was also crap!

Julia – that chocolate tart looked amazing. I really wanted to reach through the TV. Pity about not cooking the pastry through on the savoury pie.

Lucas. Bye.

13 RoadCaptain { 07.14.09 at 9:21 pm }

The last two nights of judging show that Channel 10 is engineering the result. Last night Julia’s pies were crap, and that puddle pie excuse for a desert left everyone, including the judges cold. What happens? Lucas gets booted. Tonight she does the same stuff up job with Poh’s Malaysian theme and still survives!!! Its clear that this is not an upfront comp or an even playing field