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Masterchef Australia – Tell me when will you be mine, tell me Zumbo Zumbo Zumbo

So, we’re down to four people and I’m guessing that it will be a matter of seconds before George is referring to them as ‘straya’s best amata shefs. Sarah reminds us that Poh’s advantage, gained as a result of her “win” in the Malaysian challenge, was a preview of the pressure test dish. She was allowed a look at it, a taste of it, and a copy of the recipe to study, annotate, and become possessed by. Peter Jackson’s next journey to Middle Earth will revolve around a fellowship of three trying to locate the binding ingredient.

Today’s guest judge is… bill granger and his unassuming lower case! Julie’s excited – she sees parallels between his career trajectory and, well, her fantasy career trajectory. bill’s also excited – he tells us that he’s expecting a lot from the contestants today, which is a clear indication that he’s never watched the show.

bill has been called in to judge the contestants’ interpretations of yet another Adriano Zumbo dessert. I think it would have been a better show if Adriano had been judging one of bill’s recipes. It certainly would have been briefer, and brevity is a rare and undervalued commodity in Masterchef. Watching people make complex cakes “with lots of processes”, even at speed, is not a gripping spectator event. No amount of interviews, fakeout edits, Sara Lee references, offers of publishing deals and cash can make it one.

The contestants hover nervously around the cake box and have obviously learned nothing from their previous encounters with Mr Zumbo – their relief when a “chocolate cake” is revealed is palpable. Oh, you poor duffers! As if it’s just going to be a “chocolate cake”! It is, in fact, a chocolate mousse cake with bits of this and that and other fancy things that I really couldn’t focus on because… chocolate cake! I hear Adriano give advice – if you overmix? You’ll mess this up. If you use warm butter? You’ll mess this up. If you overcook the sable? You’ll mess this up. Chris helpfully informs us that there were about nine different things that could potentially ruin this cake. I thought I heard the word sabayon and hoped, fervently, that Thermomixes would be available to the contestants. Obviously Thermomix is old news – or an expired sponsorship – since it was all about the Blast Chillers today.

We get cream and caramel boilovers, double-thick sable bases, nervous flambe, runny mousse… It is, indeed, a highwire! And somebody will, surely, fall! It looks as though it will be Julie, who has forgotten her sponge. Oh, god.

As time ticks down Gary, who can see that nobody is assembling their cakes, nonetheless thinks it’s a good idea to tell them that if they are not doing what he can see that they’re not doing, they should be worried.

Poh unmoulds her cake and discovers that her “dimples” are more like craters. She interviews that she falls apart. Hey, who would’ve guessed that Poh would go to pieces at the first sign of trouble? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Justine McGyvers her way out of trouble with her unmoulding, by grabbing a blowtorch. It’s at this point that I start mentally storyboarding a Flashdance remake, with French cookery taking the place of, well, dance. Look, I haven’t completely resolved the plot details, but Justine’s a lock for the main role.

Poh has a quick tete-a-tete with the cameraman, telling him – just between the two of them, you understand, because it would be dynamite if this ever got out – that she thinks she’s made a bit of a hash of it, but that she’ll probably be safe. It’s right here that I start believing that she’s really gone. Surely the editors are not going to include such a negative personal appraisal and still have her go through. Surely.

She’s first up and gets kudos for her palate. It’s cooking from a recipe. Her palate? Chris gets 100% from George. Ordinarily, this should immediately remove any tension around his future in the game, but this is the same show that had somebody giving several billion percentage points of effort. Who knows what kind of bizarre curve these guys are being marked on?

Both Julie and Justine have impenetrable crusts. That sounds kind of dirty. Julie’s cake is criticised for not bringing all the various elements together and Justine’s is too “Flintstone” for George.

Hmm, how to decide? I guess… I guess each judge could give each cake a score, and… nah, that’s too obvious. Hey! How about the judges call the contestants in, and ask them questions! Yeah! That’ll work!

Chris, Julie and Justine all articulate their respective visions for their respective restaurants/cafes. They’re all passionate and convincing. Let’s see how Poh does. Remember, she messed this up last time with the “um, noodle? or dumpling? bar?”. So. Drum roll.

What? A different question? And… “I really want the prize”. Well, that’s just great.

So. Chris is safe. No brainer. Julie? Safe??? ‘mkay…

Poh and Justine. And, Matt tells us, it is all about the cake. And Justine is out! Because Poh wants to win a game show! Yay! Heartwarming.

Matt’s teary. Gary’s teary. Everybody wants to give Justine a job. Go with Matt! Or Guy! Or Jacques! But remember, if you take the George option, you’ll be working with Aaron.

Poh tells us that she thinks she’s been lucky. Such insight.

We see Justine being embraced by her family. We see her flipping through recipe books. We see a gate being opened. We see a big, bald ginger knocking at a door. My god, why doesn’t Matt Moran ever come knocking on my door? I love how Justine’s so surprised – I guess she has camera crews in her house all the time, just doing a fly-on-the-wall doco on her life after Masterchef.

Matt tells Justine she can come and “hang out” at Aria, while he’s still there. While he’s still there? Is this a scoop? Is Matt Moran leaving Aria?

So, we get to the final three of Masterchef and we’ve scaled the heights of Australian culinary talent. Who’s at the peak of this summit? Donna freaking Hay.

Unbelievable.

28 comments

1 Kyvyny { 07.15.09 at 10:35 pm }

If only Justine was in it for the winnings and wanted nothing to do with cooking, she might have been top 3. But alas, she has to contend with actually wanting to cook while being kicked off a show about cooking. Her passion got in the way of being two-faced.

2 CG { 07.15.09 at 10:36 pm }

So, let me understand: Chris won tonight’s challenge – right? So what is HIS advantage going in to tomorrow nights challenge? Or are those massive advantages given the last two challengs – choosing cuisine, choosing ingredients AND knowing, tasting, researching the pressure test desssert – just priviledges afforded when the Im-Poh-ster wins? THIS SUCKS.

3 Reality Raver { 07.15.09 at 10:40 pm }

Firstly a big thank you for tonight’s post. Fantastic as usual.
People always underestimate Donna Hay, but her people probably made sure she was on the penultimate episode. However I think she would have been a better fit for tonight.

I think Chris is in trouble tomorrow night with the pigs trotters I saw him cooking, as I don’t know if Donna will get enthused over them.

I agree with CG in the open post, why not have Zumbo sit on the judging table rather than bill. He was irrelevant and forgettable. Also Zumbo would actually know what the cake should taste like.

I also think in the final week the judges should not go around giving advice. Julie was taught how to flambe. How she got the end of a 3 month cooking show without knowing how to do is amazing.

Also is salted caramel the new trendy ingredient it appears to be everywhere at the moment.

Interesting tomorrow night is going to be a level playing field which it should be.

I am amazed Justine got punted before Julie. Justine had cooked to a very high standard throughout the competition.

4 saffronlie { 07.15.09 at 10:42 pm }

Totally agree that Zumbo should have been a judge. He clearly had enough time to do that since he was able to spend three hours spying on the contestants as they stuffed up his recipe. Goodness, but that cake looked delicious. I adore luscious thick caramel. It was rather difficult to sit there eating Coles brand ice cream (and unlike Masterchef I don’t have their sponsorship) when all I really wanted a slice of that cake. Any cake, even Poh’s.

Very sad to see Justine go, I thought she’d be up against Chris in the final two! Can’t help feeling that without her the balance is very uneven and Chris is a shoo-in to win.

5 Injera { 07.15.09 at 11:11 pm }

Kyvyny – Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

CG – I didn’t pick up on the fact that there was no “winner” (except, clearly Chris won) and therefore no “advantage”. Hmm.

saffronlie – at this point I can only hope Chris wins. I do think Poh’s been doing really well over the past few challenges (i.e. since she was brought back), but I will still feel a bit cheated if the first Masterchef doesn’t want to be a chef! At least Chris has that goal, so his win would be more, ahem, palatable to me.

Zumbo as judge would have been perfect. He’d have known exactly what to look for. Why, oh why…

RR – Salted caramel is the new black. You can go to Cutler & Co just for dessert and try their icecream sandwich with salted caramel. Yum.

6 CG { 07.15.09 at 11:29 pm }

Salted Caramel: me thinks it started (as do so many things!?) with Barack Obama. apparently his favourite sweet – and lets face it, I don’t think the guy eats many sweets – is salted caramels! but not any salted caramel, apparently Obama had them shipped to him throughout last year’s presidential campaign and now to the White House from a small, specialist candy maker in Seattle called Fran’s (actually I thought Fran’s started in San Francisco…?). Anyway, you can order these little beauties via the internet when in the US and I’ve got ’em on my list of things to do when I am in New York in October. I might also give teh Haagen Daaz Salted Caramel a try as well. See: NY Times article on the salted caramel phenomenon: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/31/dining/31cara.html

7 Chefette { 07.15.09 at 11:55 pm }

Who are we to presume that Poh “doesn’t want to be a chef”-? Have we spoken to her? Know her personally? Gone through her 10-year plan with her? I find it so irritating when people use this argument. Establishing life goals, having dreams and choosing a career path are the most personal things that anybody would have to go through. She is doing what every person looking to make a living is doing and seizing an extraordinary opportunity, exploring her talent and cultivating a passion.

Sorry to see Justine go.

I want cake now.

8 huh { 07.15.09 at 11:56 pm }

so basically this whole piece was ‘cynical comment, cynical comment, snipe, snipe , snipe, snipe, cynical comment, , snipe, snipe, , blah, blah uninformed opinion, blah, blah, , cynical comment, cynical comment – conclusion = I IS AWESOME JA?!’

Yeah, it’s hypocritical I’m being cynical about your cynical piece and yeah, if you don’t like it don’t read but honestly – uhhh… how about something more substantial next time mmmm’kay?

9 sourkraut { 07.16.09 at 12:52 am }

New Judge quote “presentation cums first , then the taste”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bear that in mind gentle reader.

Yes I’ll admit it at last. I’m as thick as pigshit and twice as unattractive . Tuff. I’ve finally figured out wots going on here, ie this show is watched 90% by women, which is why we keep getting desserts and ickle pretty bits of bloody salmon. FAIR ENUFF but dont expect male viewers for the when your on a good thing flog it to death MC2
And the judging.
Pohs effort looks like catshit on a blanket. all oozey goozey mish mash. no decoration. YEP a sure winner. All the so called judges can’t make enough excuses for this sorry excuse of an effort so the viewer knows wots going to happen I’ts get out of gaol free card time again.

The EVIL NASTY Terrible UNKEMPT Schweinhund makes fools of everyone by showing he CAN do pastry perfectly. Even fat matt has to admit it.

Julie Her effort looked great especially given geo’s normal niggling time wasting crap and zero help during her preparation. A HEARTY WELL DONE from me and a blue max with diamonds.
Justines didnt look good but certainly was superior to the POHpes.

And the winner with the monumental advantage for tomorrow is
NoDISTANTMALEMONARCH one. Wot a surprise. wot a swizz. wot a lot of bullshit! Cant let captain Atrocious get an advantage now can we 10?
And the loser is POH. What I dont believe it! I rub my eyes and there’s the grinning white pointer still there and the 2nd bimbo is gone. Now get rid of the third little bimbo and I might believe this show has some vague modicum of credibility.
Finally you judges are all hypocrites, all the marvellous words to the loser, who do you think you are kidding?
So all bullshit aside, what happened to the presentation comes first how then did the poo survive.
Anyway yes I am cynical and i couln’t give a stuff wot anyone else thinks Meat Fuhrer you can get knotted

10 sourkraut { 07.16.09 at 1:02 am }

Injera
just read your summary. Well done agree 110% (to coin a phrase)
Huh
increase your dosage

11 Kyvyny { 07.16.09 at 1:14 am }

@Chefette – Poh herself said she doesn’t see cooking as really being her future when she got the boot the first time around. That sounds pretty much like being on the show only to get a name for her artwork to be saleable.

12 I like food { 07.16.09 at 7:57 am }

Was that lighting on the set or did they just use the rays of sunshine they were blowing out Justines arse……my god. Thank god that little upstart is gone…..again. Dont be surprised if in the final episode she makes a return and ends up winning. What was with dodgy Matt Moran rocking up to her door as well and double kissing the mum already ? Geez mate, give it a few dinners before ya try to pull that one, ya dodgy bastard.

13 Anonymous { 07.16.09 at 9:09 am }

Oh god. I know that Justine’s cake was the worst in this episode, but it’s just crap that she went before Julie! In fact, it would be crap if anybody else went before Julie. I notice that tomorrow she has raw meat – I can’t wait to see the judges free pass for her for that one!

I love how in the previous episode, Matt Moran said that they weren’t allowed to give help to Julia… But giving Justine, Julie, and Chris all help in this episode is totally okay.

Watched this episode last night with my chef/foodie friends… All on the floor laughing at the way this show has lost all credibility.

14 Injera { 07.16.09 at 9:56 am }

Anonymous – I’d love to watch this show with a group of chefs for that perspective on what’s happening on the screen. Agree that Julie has probably even exceeded Sam’s nine lives. The preview for tonight’s episode gave me some hope that she’ll be next to go, but the previews are notoriously misleading. Here’s hoping.

15 Aussie-Chinese Home Cook { 07.16.09 at 10:25 am }

The cake was something I would love to taste test, and the recipe has enough challenge to split the brilliant cook from a lesser one.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think any of the cakes tasted good because of the stress, tears, hysteria, sweat, and #$%&* went into the 3 hour effort. There could not be any heart and soul in the cake :(. I thought I watched a circus act with animal performers, not pleasant at all, very sickening. So sad for the finals.

16 I like food { 07.16.09 at 10:28 am }

maybe the salt they tasted was in fact sweat from Julie ?

17 kate { 07.16.09 at 10:45 am }

Totally agree with Ingera on judging transparency, choice of judges and the silliness of those ‘why do you want to be’ sections – particualrly since they seem ot be irrelevant to the outcome given Poh’s presumably edited out response.

Seems to me though Julie did pretty well last night – the only one who even vaguely completed the actual challenge. How did it really rate taste wise against Poh’s puddle or Chris’s number? Hard to tell, but it would have to be pretty bad to drag her down much given the atrocious efforts by Poh and Justine appearance wise (assuming you gave equal weighting to appearance and taste, although in a challenge of this kind, I’d be inclined to give appearance a higher rating since it was clearly meant to be all about technique).

It was noticeable that we didn’t get any comments on the taste of Justine’s effort – yet that is surely the critical factor in separating her and Poh’s effots. Poh’s looked worse, did the taste really really make up for that? Hard to believe quite frankly….

That said, what a completely silly test for the finals week of this thing – not exactly essential repertoire for an aspiring chef, and we’ve already had one pastry based challenge this week anyway. I am just so past the emphasis on deserts in this competition, and to see Justine knocked out on the basis of something ridiculous like this is very dissapointing. Let’s hope tonights effort gives us more hope of a decent outcome.

As for Matt Moran double kising Justine’s Mum – she’s french darl, that’s what they do.

18 Steph { 07.16.09 at 1:17 pm }

I’d say Chris gets to pick the ingredients tonight as his reward, hence the use of the trotters.

The producers will then subliminally flash pics of cute pigs with their feet removed during the show to enhance Chris’s villain status.

Poe will then make a pigs ear of the dish but still reach the final.

19 Injera { 07.16.09 at 1:28 pm }

ACHC – You’re right about the impact all the pressure would have on the contestants’ ability to turn out a decent product. They were even using a “circus” metaphor themselves during the competition, when one of the Gs referred to the “highwire act”. For some reason, that’s seen by MC HQ as a good thing! (I would also love to taste that cake. I wonder how much it is?)

I like food – Julie will never be short of seasoning!

Kate – it’d be great if, next season, the criteria for success is made clearer, and we are shown the judges’ comments on those (same) criteria. I’m with you – it’s so hard to tell who is doing well, when one might be complimented on appearance with no (televised) comment on taste, and another gets a tick for the flavour. As viewers, we are left in the dark. Of course, this is probably intentional, as it allows us to interpret judgements to favour our own favourites!

Steph – I’ll be picturing tiny little footless piggies everytime I see Chris tonight.

20 eskimojo { 07.16.09 at 2:37 pm }

Imagine how easy it must be for Adrian Zumbo to get laid.

“Eat this. I’ll be over there, naked.”

21 Injera { 07.16.09 at 2:57 pm }

sourkraut – “cat shit on a blanket”. I’ve been trying to get that image out of my head all day!

eskimojo – yep. That would work.

CG – thanks for the background on the salted caramel craze. It’s really taken off. And then, today, I find the perfect cupcake: http://bread-and-honey.blogspot.com/2009/05/salted-caramel-cupcakes-guest-blog.html And, look, it even has beer!

22 Aussie-Chinese Home Cook { 07.16.09 at 4:07 pm }

That fancy cake is usually a mousse wrapped in a thin stripe-pattern almond sponge (biscuit jaconde), like shown in Jocelyn’s blog http://brandoesq.blogspot.com/2006/11/lyse.html. After dissecting the over-the-top recipe, I concluded the dish was chocolate ganache with blackberry jam, stewed apple in butterscotch sauce, and salted caramel paste on a sweet rich shortcrust pastry, with enough almond sponge sheets to call a cake. In essence it is a circus cake that cover chocolate, apple tarte tatin and pie episodes.

23 rhubarb { 07.16.09 at 6:58 pm }

But seriously, how many chances has Poh already HAD?

24 Anonymous { 07.16.09 at 10:44 pm }

rhubarb – Poh hasn’t had nearly as many chances as daft Julie.

25 rhubarb { 07.18.09 at 9:44 am }

“rhubarb – Poh hasn’t had nearly as many chances as daft Julie.”

I disagree. Poh had 2 chances to get in – Julie only the one (and suceeded). Poh had been eliminated and got back in – Julie has not been elimintaed.

No matter how many mistakes and stuff ups Julie has had – and there have been many – she has at least scraped through without being offered a chance to ‘come back’ – twice!

26 Anonymous { 07.18.09 at 5:08 pm }

rhubarb – LMAO. Julie is just like Sam – she should’ve been eliminated so many times over but was given “another chance” from the judges. She has had at least five “second chances”.

27 rhubarb { 07.18.09 at 5:13 pm }

Nah… Happy to disagree.

28 rhubarb { 07.18.09 at 5:14 pm }

(Although agree with Sam, he was there for way too long. He can’t cook)