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Celebrity Masterchef Episode 1: A Winning Recipe and Windfall for Channel 10!

A Big Thanks To CG For Blogging On The First Episode Of MasterChef:

WELCOME BACK: It seems the nation was just starting to recover from the marathon of nightly Masterchef episodes we watched throughout the winter and now we are all back together again! The sensationalistic No Idea, Woman’s Day and Sunday Tele stories of dramas, relationship gossip, makeovers and other titbits about the contestants kept us entertained during the hiatus for awhile but it started to get pretty tawdry.  Now we have the much-anticipated “Celebrity Masterchef) (lets call it “CMC”) to take use through until the silly season. Thankfully CMC will only be weekly which is much more manageable in terms of work, kids and the occasional physical exercise.

THE MC FRANCHISE: Tonight is the first episode of CMC. CMC is the first spin-off of the uber-successful Masterchef Australia franchise (lets call the original just “MC”) with others apparently in the works, including a show for kids. As 7:30pm draws near I wonder how much of the MC format CMC will use: will they use the same Katy Perry theme song “Hot “˜N Cold” or introduce a new one? We know Sarah Wilson was considered redundant and won’t be there but we assume the three main judges will be back (Matt, Gary and George) but will other guest judges be utilised? Will some of the contestants from the first season of MC make an appearance (surely Julie will show up, but if Poh has signed on for her own show with ABC, can she appear on Ch10 and will sponsors tolerate an appearance by bad boy Chris?). Will the focus be on the B/C/D-list celebrities promoting their next gig or will the “star” be the food? Will there be interesting challenges that take them out of the studio-kitchen or will they keep it simple and just have cook-offs each week?

Questions, questions, questions!!

OK here we go!! But please keep in mind I’m a blogging virgin so lower your expectations and be patient with me!

QUESTIONS ANSWERED: Right off the mark a number of our burning questions are answered: the theme song is the same as MC1 and our three MC judges are there. All of them look at little trimmer than when MC ended a few months ago. Matt is wearing one of his famous cravats but why is wearing heels? He must be trying to take the piss out of vertically-challenged G&G.

The format of CMC is explained and it seems pretty simple, I just hope it doesn’t get boring without the extracurricular challenges. But given the show is weekly, it should be ok. Briefly, each weekly show will feature three “celebrities” and two rounds. In the first round, they will cook their “signature” dish of their choice and using any ingredients they wish. The winner of the first round will then get to choose between two dishes for round two, which is a dreaded “pressure test”. The pressure test will be largely the same format we saw in MC1. The ultimate prize is to be crowned the “first” CMC but more importantly, a cash prize of $50,000 towards the celeb’s chosen charity.

THE CONTESTANTS: Now to the contestants. They do a bit of a rundown of all the “celebrities” who will be competing in this series describing the mix as “elite athletes, rock stars, comedians, authors and a state premier”. There seem to be a lot of defections from other networks. I guess the popularity of MC is so big they can’t pass up the opportunity for exposure.

Now in the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I have only lived in Australia for a few years (I was born in Canada and lived in a number of countries around the world before marrying an Aussie bloke and landing in Sydney). So I’ll use this as my excuse for recognising only a handful of the “celebrities”. A quick check with Mr. CG confirms that he too only recognises a few of the names. This might be a good thing. There is a broad demographic of genders, ages and provenance and as all are B/C/D-listers, the focus will hopefully be on the food and not ego, image and promoting their next projects. Lets see.

TONIGHT’S COOKS: The three “celebrities” competing in tonight’s cook-off are introduced: Kirk Pengilly, Indira Naidoo and Josh Thomas. Of the three, I admit I only recognise one by name: Indira. Of course I’ve heard of INXS but I didn’t know any band members by name other than Michael Hutchence. Josh Taylor? Sorry, never heard of him. A quick Google reveals that he has his own website wherein he describes himself as “comedian, write and very generous lover”. He reminds me of Sam on MC1 who was also an accomplished “lover” as evidenced by the big love bit he showed up with one day…but I digress.

In the intro they also announce Matt Moran will be appearing as a guest. Hmm, I guess Matt has well and truly severed relations with the sinking ship that is Channel 9. Rumour was he was going to head up a foodie show for them.

As they take their places in the kitchen, Kirk describes his cooking style as “mongrel with an Asian feel”. Hmmm. Josh looks like he is about 13 years old and needs a good feed. His accent is strange to me but another quick Google check confirms he was born in Queensland. What do I know!?

Josh gets off a good line when he says he is nervous and excited to be here and “wants to see Matt Preston eat live”. He must be nervous because he is talking really, really fast and is a little hard to understand.

Last up is Indira Naidoo who is introduced as a journalist, TV presenter and food blog writer (the “Saucy Onion”). She has posted something on her blog about her appearance on CMC but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet as I’m working furiously to get this recap up. See: http://saucyonion.blogspot.com/2009_09_01_archive.html

So does Indira still work as a journalist and presenter? If so, which channel. The last time I saw her was on ABC’s Q&A a few weeks ago where she didn’t mention being a journalist or TV presenter but did speak a lot about climate change and her relationship with and admiration for former-US VP Al Gore. Again, I digress.

Lets get cooking! Thankfully the whole promotion, introduction, explanation bit only takes about ten minutes and they are right into the food which is a good sign! George doesn’t say much in the first few segments but does pipe up to say he is not dropping his standards for celebrities. Ha!

ROUND ONE: Round one is “Signature Dishes”. The contestants have 90 minutes to prepare their signature dish. Kirk is preparing blackened tuna on wasabi-lime celeriac mash with lotus root chips and broad beans. Indira is cooking up Italian meatballs served with polenta batons and pesto oil. Josh will attempt lamb tagine and a saffron-crème brulle-type dessert.

As they get into it, Kirk frets about overcooking his tuna, Josh is manic and makes a huge mess at his work station while Indira seems relatively under control. Like in MC1, the judges walk around while the “celebrities” are cooking and offer selective advice while talking in whispers behind their backs about how they think each contestant is gonna screw up. I thought there was going to be a big disaster and lamb on the camera lens when Josh opened up his pressure cooker but all was good!

After the last minute flurry we’ve come to expect, the dishes are ready for tasting. Kirk’s tuna looked great and Gary agreed. Both G&G loved the lotus-root chips and they did look yummy. But Matt thought the dish overall was a little “clumsy” and while each individual item was good, they didn’t “speak to each other”. Indira is up next and gets mixed reviews, Gary loves the meatballs but George thought they were a little “spongy”. Josh gets off another good line as he brings his dish to the front he says: “the last thing you need in life is honest feedback”. Funny. Gary and Matt love Josh’s lamb tagine but his dessert lets him down, it is more like “saffron soup” than crème catalene.

And the winner of round one is: Kirk! Josh looked really disappointed. And now Kirk has the advantage of choosing between two dishes for pressure test. Matt says consider playing to your own strengths, or playing to weakness of the other two cooks. 

ROUND TWO: Round two is the “Pressure Test”. To kick off the pressure test, in strolls Matt Moran and presents two of his dishes for Kirk to choose from: a vanilla and fig “Bombe Alaska” or a savoury “Rabbit Galantine”. Both look delicious but really, really fiddly.

Kirk picks the dessert dish. This is a bit of a surprise as Kirk says he has no experience with desserts. Kirk reasons he wants a challenge and I think this is going to be really challenging for all them.

Josh is set up to deliver his third great line of the night. Matt says at one stage that it has taken him 20 years to perfect the “Bombe Alaska”. Josh says “I’ve been alive just over 20 years, so I should be fine”. Obviously set up and rehearsed, but still kinda funny.

Each “celebrity” comes forward to taste Matt Moran’s Bombe. All look pretty intimidated and then one of the G’s says they will be given a “lifeline”: each cook can have 90 seconds consultation with Matt (Moran), they can use the lifeline at any time during the challenge but only once.

They are given 1 hour and 40 minutes to make “˜da Bombe. The editing makes it looks like Kirk’s dish is turning in to a disaster (those same sneaky editors must be back!). Kirk is the first to call in Matt Moran. The two are apparently very good friends in “real” life and Matt seems to calm him down (a bit). The next to call for the lifeline is Indira but she seems to be having less serious problems than Kirk. Josh is the last to call on Matt to discuss how to get his meringue “peakier”.

As they plate up, Indira and Josh are struggling with runny meringues. None of the dishes really look like the sample presented by Matt Moran. How will they taste?

The format for tasting the pressure test dishes is the same as MC1. Each “celebrity” takes their dish into the dark and ominous “dining room” and stands there as the three judges (G&G&M) taste their dish. Matt Moran – the creator of the dish – is NOT on the judging panel. Hmm, I guess the producers didn’t get our feedback from MC1.

Indira is first up in front of the judges in this round: George loves her fig ice cream and presentation of her orange segment?! Shades of Poh? I’m waiting for Matt to pick up the segment and stroke it.  Nup. Josh is next. The judges are impressed with Josh’s food and cooking knowledge (for his age) but say “this is not a Bombe Alaska”. Kirk is last one to rock up in the dining room. Kirk says he is proud of his dish because he “never” does desserts. Gary proclaims that this is the “first real Bombe Alaska of the night”. Looks like Kirk is gonna win.

Everyone reassembles. It must have been sometime later as everyone looks like they have had their makeup and hair done. Indira is knocked out first. She says a few departing words about how wonderful the experience was, etc., reminds us again that she is a journalist and doesn’t even mention Al Gore! It’s now down to Kirk and Josh and they string it out for a few minutes suggesting Kirk’s dish was the winner but Josh had potential (hmm, where have we heard that before?). I thought for a moment based on Matt’s comments that Josh was gonna be the new Sam but Kirk takes the prize. Kirk will be back as one of six finalists in the semi-finals.

NEXT WEEK: The show is already running about 8 minutes late (I hate that!) but they take the time to preview the contestants for next week: a Hi-5 girl, Michelle Bridges (trainer from Biggest Loser?) and Peter Fitzsimons. I’ll be looking forward to watching former Wallaby Peter Fitzsimons, especially if he has to cook up a dainty little dish in the pressure test.

THE COMMERCIALS: Before I sign off, a word about the commercials. I watched this episode from our holiday place in Queensland and I’m not sure if the commercials are the same in all states. But what I got was lots of McDonalds’ commercials which include some special MC-related promotion. Really disappointing that MC would sell-out to Maccas… money talks! We also had Handee Wipes as the very first commercial and they did a cross-over to Josh’s messy bench from the first round. A bit cheesy and contrived. Myer had a commercial advertising their upcoming share re-listing which is something I’ve never seen before, let alone in primetime! And did y’all catch the mega close-up of the Sunnyland Farm “smiley” eggs when Josh was breaking eggs for his custard. Ha!

THE VERDICT: MC must really be raking in the dosh for Ch10, especially given the new major sponsors (Maccas and Harvey Norman amongst others). I bet G&G&M got big fat raises and poor Sarah missed out on the windfall although tonight’s show proved that the hosting role really was redundant. With the focus on the food and once-a-week format I think CMC will be a winner. The mix of “celebrities” will appeal to a broad demographic and entertain us through the semi-finals, especially with the appearance of some celebrity chefs and (inevitably) some of the contestants from MC1 in all their made-over glory and pushing their cookbooks (just in time for Xmas).  Maybe in the semi-finals they can mix it up a little bit in terms of challenges and get them out of the studio. But all up, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

Apologies for the length of my recap, I wanted to make sure it was thorough for anyone who might have missed the show.

A big thanks to RR for the chance to be guest blogger on the first epi of CMC. It was fun!

21 comments

1 Anonymous { 10.01.09 at 12:32 am }

Damnit, I love Indira (long-time fan of all of her endeavours!). :(

2 saffronlie { 10.01.09 at 1:09 am }

It was so nice to hear that theme song again — apparently I’ve really missed MC! Josh Thomas’ accent is a total mystery to me, too. His dorky schtick is kind of endearing but I don’t want to buy into it. I was surprised that he could cook so well because I thought he would just be cross-promotion from Channel Ten while the generation show is off the air.

All the MC-related commercials irritated me too. Justine looked very uncomfortable in her ad, and George’s mangling of basic English does not make me want to buy from Coles. Coles Myer is no more and Myer is its own company, but perhaps they are hoping to entice former Coles Myer shareholders into buying Myer shares and pretending it’s 1999 again? Myer One customers got emails about pre-registering for a share prospectus a couple of weeks ago, but I’m guessing there wasn’t much interest so they decided to step it up with a TV ad.

Wow, that got off-topic — but loved your recap! I got distracted and missed a lot of the pressure test but you filled in all the blanks.

3 CG { 10.01.09 at 1:18 am }

Saffron: Which state did you watch from? I didn’t see any commercials with Justine in them and in fact there were very few Coles commercials here. I did step away during one break to rescue my burning Tikka Masala so I may have missed it. My bad re Coles-Myer. The commerical I saw was for the Myer relisting it had Hawkie strutting around in it and was trying to appeal to both Myer loyalty card members who get to pre-register but also to the broader public. This means Myer is a new MC sponsor, in addition to existing sponsor Coles. Not only is Ch10/Fremantle mopping up but this means less advertising rev pie for Ch9 and Ch7. I’ll go back and correct the reference in the recap. Thanks!

4 Deb { 10.01.09 at 1:35 am }

Okay. MC became boring during certain bits. Thought initially that Indira would get the judges sympathy vote and win, but she never pulled off a crying or for the family stunt. All three contestants were better chefs than most of the contestants in MC1. Hopefully, Julie doesnt come back, but I guess CMC has to rely on the ratings friendlyhousewife viewers… more mediocrity and complacency. Kirk deserved to win.

5 lydal { 10.01.09 at 8:24 am }

I pretty liked it but I think 3 contestants isn’t enough to make it entertaining for an hour. Hopefully will be better in semifinals when there will be 6. Did anyone else think that judges where too far soft with celebs?

6 Colls Bolls { 10.01.09 at 10:23 am }

First up, great job CG!!!

I find Josh very endearing, I’ve watched the eps of Your Generation and really enjoy his sense of humour. (Although I did think he was irish!) He always speaks in that rushed fashion.

Because of the ‘shorts’ at the beginning where they showed all of the celebs I thought Indira must have won and was pleased when Kirk did as I thought he did a better job.

I recognised all of the celebs except Alex Lloyd. I think I must watch too much tv. (I am a sports nut too so that explains my recognition of them)

7 Reality Raver { 10.01.09 at 10:24 am }

CG – Great recap just watching show now. By the way I am trying to email you and it keeps bouncing I am not sure if it is my end or your end.

8 Reality Raver { 10.01.09 at 11:12 am }

Ok I have now watched the episode, and there is nothing to add to that great recap -though I kind of wanted Josh to win.

But I am sure if Injera was here watching she would have one question:
“The 90 seconds with Matt Moran do you have to use it for cooking related activities?”

9 seepi { 10.01.09 at 11:33 am }

I kind of wanted Josh to win too. I used to find him super-annoying, but he has kind of grown on me. What is with the accent tho? Does he have foreign parents? Or is it just a weird put-on?

also, when Kirk was runnign way behind with his dessert, Gary said to him, ‘concentrate on the Bombe, as you wont’ have time for the frills’. so he did, and the dessert ended up being judged on the Bombe above all the extras – so Gary’s advice could have won it for Kirk.

10 Wurstsemmel { 10.01.09 at 12:31 pm }

Re. Josh, I thought he was Irish too. How odd. He doesn’t sound one bit Australian. Agree with Seepi, has to be a put on surely.

Thanks for the excellent recap. Was glad to see Kirk win. He looked really over the moon. Indira’s confidence up front put me off. She reminded me of the beauty queen in the Apprentice with the way she kept needing to remind us she was a serious journalist.

Is it me or is Matt slimming down? Hair seems a little less frou-frou too. Whatever. It’s all good. Justmissing some of his more suggestive comments. I’m with Josh. i wouldn’t mind watching Matt eat live either.

Macca ads…gourmet Angus burger…Masterchef. Yeah, right. Sell out and the Justine ad? Can’t even remember what it was for, was too distracted by the ‘rabbit in the headlights’ delivery.

11 saffronlie { 10.01.09 at 12:42 pm }

CG, I’m in Sydney. Like Wurstsemmel I can’t remember what Justine’s ad was for, but I saw it at least twice. And it involves entering a competition to win ‘a Masterchef experience’, whatever that is!

12 Wurstsemmel { 10.01.09 at 12:51 pm }

Oh, now you’ve reminded me, Saffronlie. The Masterchef experience is that Justine comes to cook for you in your home.
I think the product might have been Ariston ovens and you need to buy one first from Harvey Norman to enter the competition.

13 pumpkin-eater { 10.01.09 at 12:56 pm }

We got the Justine ads in the ACT; buy kitchen appliances from HN and get a chance to have Justine cook for you and five friends. Excitement.

I couldn’t get over how smug the judges were through the whole episode; but Hey Hey beat them, haha.

14 CG { 10.01.09 at 1:00 pm }

Hmm, pretty sure the Justine ad didn’t air in Queensland but I might have missed it when I stepped away. Would someone really be incented to buy an oven because they can enter a contest for Justine to come and cook for them? Maybe if she is going to be accompanied by Matt Moran! Otherwise, maybe some of the many guys who were reportedly perving on Justine during MC1 are asking their mums to go out an buy a new oven? Was Lucas in the ads too? Hasn’t he been riding on Justine’s coat-tails for other appearances and promotions around the place?

15 seepi { 10.01.09 at 5:01 pm }

I thought Matt’s hair was looking wierder than ever – shorter, but puffier – I bet the tv hairdressers don’t know what to do with it.

16 Ursa { 10.01.09 at 8:51 pm }

CG, you missed the Justine Ad because it definitely aired in Qld.

I wanted Josh to win. He’s kinda the new Hamish Blake for me (still love Hamish though), but yeah, Kirk deserved it. I agree that the judges coddled the celebs a bit, what with the 90 sec thing, and letting them off for not completing a dish. Although I missed the first half of regular masterchef, were the judges more lenient back then?

Also, is this celebrity format closer to the original UK masterchef? I only watched the UK version a couple of times, but the whole 3 contestants per episode with one going through seemed to be the way it was played.

17 sourkraut { 10.01.09 at 9:52 pm }

Utter waste of time! The only person i was vaguely interested in…Indeedy Ido, I thought would cook some exotic Indian/Seth Efrican dish and what does she dish up?
BLODDY ITALIAN MEATBALLS………Cmon gimme a break, it was bad enough having to endure the pink risotto spew kid but now this.
Good on Josh for his Moroccan targine. It LOOKED delicious, and so it must have been bcaws dear old George told me I eat with my eyes. I always thought that’s what my ears were for. No wonder i keep getting food on my shoulders!
Yes Dear old GEO. Still a cringeworthy embarrassment to watch and worse when he delivers those marvellous one liners. Keep it up Bwah!
Intro section was dead dull. Bring back Sarah, at least she was worth looking at, and certainly was no worse than Gary’s p poor effort. In fact bring back Chris B as compere, then all the ladies can get stuck into him again.
G&G whinging about Josh’s mess. I thought this was a portent for victory but sadly was not to be
10s ads went an extra minute each break ( i timed them) and included Macca’s sponsorship of the show. Says it all really!
Boring matt moran again. Why do these dorks have to try and prove how b….y marvellous they are by inventing super complex desserts? Then bung the tiny little bit of it artistically on the plate to cover up their profit making! Anyway I could just see the average punter in a restaurant ordering that concoction and waiting an hour and a half to get it, (or is it pre cooked SHOCK HORROR?)
Ol Lordy boring Justine on the ads!
Amazing how much can be done in the last ten seconds!…. especially with cunning editing. YEP nothing’s changed!
Oh yes just to top it all off the girl in the uv protection ad had the steaming hide to tell viewers “you deserve it” yes we do for watching this tosh.
No doubt everyone will be pleased to see the end of me on this one show. I couldn’t give a rats gold tooth who wins and won’t be watching it any more
Yeah yeah I know good riddance!

18 Gillian { 10.01.09 at 10:43 pm }

Good recap GG! I found the episode of MC really boring. I didn’t like the format. I would have preferred all the contestants to be together or at least cheering each other on from the sidelines. It’s not like most of the contestants are a mystery any more. I just fast forwarded through most of it. I liked all the contestants but I really like Indira but she is the type of person I’d probably be friends with!

19 Laura { 10.02.09 at 4:02 pm }

What are you talking about “kind of” funny? Josh is hilarious! I really wanted him to win!
Re: the accent, I don’t think that he is putting it on. Why on earth would he do that? I suspect that he has inherited the accent from his parents, however I often see kids who have odd accents despite their parents being Australian and living in Australia their whole life. One speaks in a very posh British accent because he grew up falling asleep to British book tapes lol.

20 Katie { 10.03.09 at 12:44 pm }

I have been trying to work out Josh’s accent all year. Now I hear he was born in Queensland and grew up there his entire life. I like him, but the accent is a wank

21 Injera { 10.03.09 at 6:04 pm }

Too true, RR, that would have been my question. Still is, as it happens…

CG – fab recap! I feel as though I watched it live. Will definitely tune in now that I’m back from hols.