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Masterchef Australia – The Iconic Aussie Challenges

I am glad they ditched the audition process and just blasted us into the top 50, as it made it a great first fast paced episode. For those who missed not having the audition process there is a good post from food blogger Table For Two about his audition experience.

The first challenge was a BBQ one where it was announced the ten contestants with the least favourite dishes would be battling it out in an elimination challenge.

“The bottom ten would be devastating on the first day” said  Dominic, he did not add that bottom five would be even more depressing.

It was a bit difficult to get a handle on all the contestants as there were so many of them however there were a few getting more air time then others. And at this stage I have not formed any firm opinions about them.

There was Sarah Carmichael the Victorian Police who continues the trend of cops and cooking shows.

There was Katie whose dream of being Australia’s Nigella Lawson may occur if she unleashes those chi chi’s, packs on the make-up and takes a masterclass in sucking digits.

Then likeable Jake the cement render who kept on slashing himself which meant he had 30 minutes less time to cook then the others.

Sharnee appears to be like Kate from Season One, a law student whose heart is more into food. She does not appear to be a particularly strong cook, but she was creative in the elimination challenge when she caramelized some macadamia nuts.

Jason the game boat skipper who sent me a pic of his pecs (which I don’t seem to be able to upload) nearly lost the love from me when he put caramelised banana in with his snapper and prawn. The dish did not go down well with the judges and he was in the bottom ten. Matt Preston was particularly harsh.

Has Matt Preston become a parody of himself with the tight white pants, the cowhide boots and the multiple cravats. I know women find him sexy but he so does not do it for me.

However, the people who wrapped their meat in proscuitto, and who chargrilled the veges instantly shrank when Matt P gave his opening pep talk told the top 50 this was not what he was looking for. But it did not matter as most of those ones got through.

Claire the lawyer who has been getting a lot of TV time cooked chicken with an asian salad served with grilled pineapple I will be very surprised if she does not make it to the top 24.

Joanne Zalm, whose husband owns a few hair salons in Sydney, got the thumbs up for her snapper dish.

Irmguard the 67 year old Austrian thought she was cooking pork but it was actually lamb. Which meant her it put her flavours out. I liked her but hated the look of her dish.

As expected there was undercooked and overcooked food, and Claire, Marion and Joanne were told they produced the best dishes of the challenge. It was ironic no men made it into the top three considering the challenge was BBQing.

The dumbest question of the night goes to Gary Mehigan when he asked Claire how she felt about being the best this round. What did he expect her to say?

The bottom ten were:

Jason, Amanda, Nicolette, Irmgard, Domenic, Michelle, Adele, Mark(spew on fish), Sarah, and Sharnee.

Just to stop them all melting down Gary told them last year’s winner Julie Goodwin was in the first elimination challenge.

Donna Hay was the celebrity chef tonight for the elimination challenge. Now I know Donna geats a bucketing by the gourmands and foodies out there, but I like her recipes they are straight forward, and usually taste ok. And most importantly they are hard to stuff up.

Continuing with the iconic Australian theme it was pavlova. Eight of the ten contestants had never made it before. They had to use Donna’s recipe but they could decorate it the way they wanted to. They had two hours complete it.

Irmgard ignored the “be precise” advice from Donna and did not even bother to weigh the sugar you knew this was going to come to an ugly end.

Pretty Nicolette who was struggling had received some tips from Gary and George on her technique. This also showed that some things had stayed the same since Season One!

But she was struggling and said she was withdrawing from the competition. George of course was desperate to keep her in and gave her an Anthony Robbins pep talk and she returned to the kitchen. Seriously is her pavlova going to be worst than Jason’s?

“Something has gone really wrong, It will be the worst of the day.” said Jason  – that would be correct, only a Mary Mckillop miracle was going to save him and obviously she was somewhere else that day.

Adele was rocking it until she overloaded the cream and collapsed the side, she was pretty upset about it. She needs to harden up though because I think she can cook, however I am not going to put up with an emotional breakdown each episode.

Eliminated contestants were:

Jason, Irmguard, Nicolette, Amanda and Michelle no real surprises there.

I was a bit sad to see Irmguard go as she looked like she could have given great reality TV.

And now you are out Jason I have no reason to put shirtless photos of you over my blog. Um if there are any other reality TV contestants out there I am available for pecs for comment.


1 saffronlie { 04.20.10 at 12:41 am }

LOL @ ‘pecs for comment’. I am so glad this show is back, but was a bit sceptical of the pavlova challenge. Who can’t cook a pav? Lots of people, as it turns out. Agree that Irmgard was the most interesting contestant to go. Oh well.

2 KC { 04.20.10 at 12:57 am }

Irmgard was interesting but she stuffed up majorly twice so I’d rather she not get in…Although I have to say I wish Nicollette got in only cause she’s really pretty…So I don’t really have a right to say anything 😀

In relation to Adele my friend’s FB status was: Why has masterchef got so much crying!? keep biggest loser out of this show please channel Ten!

And I can’t cook but is pavlova really hard to cook? I always thought it was cause meringue is hard stuff…

Oh and has anyone tried Julie’s cookbook yet?

3 CG { 04.20.10 at 5:40 am }

Well I missed the show on television but caught it in the wee hours of the morning on the internet. It takes just as long to watch it on the video because they include a number of ads interspersed throughout and do the bloody “repeat the last two minutes of previous segment at the start of the next segment” thing – and frustratingly I have weak broadband where I’m staying and the video kept going in/out. Grrrr.

Some random observations:

– I too am glad they changed the format to get to the top 12 (is it going to be 12 or 15?) from last year, keeps it interesting!

– MC must really be bringing in the $$$; the set looks like it cost a lot; then again I suppose production costs are really low compared to TV drama shows and other types of reality shows (e.g. the Block).

– George has become – if it was possible – much more cocky and is going to get irritating real fast if he keeps it up. At the same time, George is REALLY intimidated by strong women…he completely backed down and shut up when they came around to the older lawyer woman with the curly hair!

– I’m with RR, I don’t get the sex appeal of Matt P. He has gained weight and the close ups on his face when he is eating is very unappetising!

– Donna Hay has body issues, she kept positioning her arms in awkward ways to try and hide her hips; perhaps if she wore a more sensible shoe she wouldn’t look so out of proportion – then again, what is the saying: never trust a skinny cook?

– How could the judges taste 50 meals and then 10 pavs? I’m assuming it wasn’t all done on the same day. Blech.

– As for the contestants, I have to wonder how some made it this far – I’m looking at you Jason and Nicolette! It doesn’t seem to support the claim that the overall quality of the contestants this year is higher?

– The young lawyer – Shanee – better go far. Her video saying she has no passion for a career in law isn’t exactly going to help when it comes time to get a job after law school! Yikes.

It appears they are going to cull the group to 24 based on “best of” making it in – instead of eliminating people. I like this idea. But as we get into the show I hope it gets RUTHLESS! Ha!

BTW: does George have a hearing disability. In one shot I thought I saw a hearing aid in his ear. Could be a microphone thing-y but none of the other judges had one in their ears?

BTW #2: did anyone notice on the wall of ingredients they had “El Paso Tortillas” – you know the ones that have a ten-year freshness guarantee and have a strange bag of chemicals in the pack to keep the tortillas soft for like forever! I guess El Paso is a sponsor or has a behind the scenes deal with Coles? Yeewwww.

Ok, now I gotta go get some sleep.

4 Injera { 04.20.10 at 8:12 am }

That was a bit like a time machine back into 2009: George bouncing around on his toes, gesticulating madly and pep-talking the “pretty” girl; Matt making faces that looked as though he was going to report back with “ewwwww”, only to give positive praise; Gary… what did Gary do?

Interesting that some contestants got NO screen time at all. When they announced the BBQ challenge, I figured that @Richard_Gunner would have that in the bag. He wasn’t top three or bottom ten… but we didn’t get to see him at all.

Was it Sharnee who said something along the lines of “BBQ? I’ve never done that – that a men’s thing”? Sigh.

Agree, RR, that it was nice to get stuck into the top 50 without audition rounds, but the cynic within tells me that this is so they could cast whoever they wanted and give second chances without fear of aggravating the audience!

Hoping that watching the judges eat will kick start my diet.

5 lydal { 04.20.10 at 10:06 am }

I liked the episode. It wasn’t boring at all (except for the ads each 10-15min). Though I hated to watch so many people crying and meltdowns. It’s just the first one! imagine these people along the competition… I think contestants are feeling more the pressure this year than last year because they know what’s going on, they know about the success of the program and the “after-life”.
I was glad the austrian grandma was gone because as a cook …no way! she mixed meat and wasn’t able to follow basic instructions. This is a cooking contest!
By the way, I think that by the air time contestants are given you can know which ones are gonna be either top or bottom. No time, they just slip through the next round peacefully.
And last thing, does anyone else find annoying the music during the scenes? 😉

6 reality raver { 04.20.10 at 10:16 am }

CG – Big points for struggling through the show. It sounds incredibly frustrating. Agree I think the format of putting the top two through tonight means they are going to aspire for brilliance rather then just safety.
Also interesting theory about George I think you are right, could be because of his height… I thought he was deaf last year but I think it where the producers feed lines through.
I could probably taste ten pavlova’s at once, and the first time in ages I thought I might cook that. The Masterchef effect is already occurring.
I missed the El Paso goods, but I did notice the Krummie Krumbs, but I don’t really care, the sponsorship ensures there is good production values, which ensures a better show. And most viewers are savvy enough to know what it is. I don’t see Sharnee getting through to top 24 to inconsistent. However she was smart enough to make two pavs.

Injera – I thought Sharnee was going to get the flick considering all the air time she received. I felt sorry for Amanda – we did not get to know her at all.

Saffronlie – I have to confess I have never cooked a pav but now plan to, will get back to you whether it is a disaster or not.

KC – You’re allowed to say that about Nicolette, as it is not like we actually get to taste the food. I think she got flicked due to her wanting to leave. As her pav did not look too bad in the end. If a pav was sending her into meltdown mode, imagine what a croquembouche would do. The set nurse would have to give her xanax.

I am hoping the cement renderer gets through I quite liked him. And will be a bit different from the white collar foodies. I thought his food looked good.

7 I like food { 04.20.10 at 11:22 am }

I’m not so sure about the cement renderer…..that ‘I’m a true blue’ act really gets boring after a while. To be honest I didnt warm to any of the contestants thus far. I too thought there was waaaay to much crying. It’s cooking for crying out loud. I’m not sure of her name but the lady that cooked the fish with the purple dip is going to get on the nerves of every australian. I’m predicting many teary moments for her.
I think there should be a tear counter per episode. I’m gonna say right now 3 plus per episode.

8 seepi { 04.20.10 at 11:27 am }

I wish Irmgard has stayed – she was great. I loved her last line “I am feeling so devastated and ruined….umm…no I’m not!”

I would have kept her over Adele. Too many weepies in one episode. And over nothing much. She could have just tipped more fruit over the broken pav bit and made it look arty.

I couldn’t believe the flat pavlova guy. they were standing there telling him he was adding the sugar too fast, and he was smiling and going ‘yep, thanks’ and tipping in more sugar all the while.

9 Fides { 04.20.10 at 12:47 pm }

I recorded the show as I was working, but in the intro bit, you could make out some of the contestants who make it into the top 24 as they show them competing in challenges in the real MC kitchen and wearing the red and blue team aprons. I rewatched in slo-mo, which is how I could catch the names and faces, but I won’t spoil. ( I’ll confess I used to do that last year on the Sunday night episode because you could easily see in the previews, who had made it to the Wednesday team challenges and I couldn’t stand the suspense if my favourite was facing the Monday pressure test)

As I watched it without the ads, I found it really fast paced and exciting. 10 minutes of this ep were more interesting than the entire series of MKR.

Agree about the waterworks. I found it hilarious that Adele’s pavlova landslide (I’ve made the same mistake and it’s quite devastating to watch all the cream and fruit sliding off) and the subsequent feel good moment of her making it through had several of the other competitors in tears too.

But it’s made me want to make a pavlova… I got the free MC magazine which came with the Sunday newspaper, which has Julie’s recipe for pavlova from her cookbook. I think I’ll try Julie’s one.

10 wallah { 04.20.10 at 12:51 pm }

Yep, good to see nothing changed….loved seeing George comfort the semi-attractive Gen-Y girl while she’s having her meltdown and then white knight her pavlova….drama queen if ever there was. Also that lawyer Clair, very intense and in control public school girl.

11 KC { 04.20.10 at 2:10 pm }

Its funny talking about waterworks cause there was this girl who had gotten through but kept looking like she was about to cry everytime the camera was on her. Maybe the contestants are all tight already?

12 Kyvyny { 04.20.10 at 3:03 pm }

If anything, the reason the waterworks were constantly on across a bulk of the cooks was because of that light of hope at the pressure test about Julie. If you can cry your way to the top, you’ve got a half-empty book deal on the way.

13 wallah { 04.20.10 at 3:37 pm }

And with poor Irmgard….I would have been thinking about Beerfest all season long had she made it.

14 Fides { 04.20.10 at 4:22 pm }

Pork, lamb… easy mistake right? Like getting chicken and thinking you’re cooking duck… I would have loved to see her make a great big Austrian pork/lamb knuckle. Poor Irmagard – liked her attitude.

I hope the waterworks were just first day nerves and being overwhelmed by the occasion. If it’s going to be 14 weeks of the same, it’s going to be quite painful to watch.

15 Wurstsemmel { 04.20.10 at 7:45 pm }

Loved Irmgard but them Im an austriaphile. Infrared the wurst when she mixed up the meat. Not the prettiest looking food but love that kind of cabbagy dish.

Over all the tears already, although I’m surprised Matt didn’t wasn’t in tears, his trousers looked so tight. Yep, hope he’s capitalised on his fame because it’s not been the same since he did the wipe ad.

Did we miss Sarah? Umm, no.

I wish George would stop spewing out self help crap. If he ever decides to quit cooking, I put my money on him being a life coach. Not. What’s that? Be brave? They’re cooking a pav not going to war. Although the poor guy with the fingers might disagree….

Love the way C9 bragged pn their webpage how their Carl Williams special seriously dented Masterchef ratings…..e
with that and Underbelly screening, there’s a conspiracy theory for you

16 Wurstsemmel { 04.20.10 at 7:50 pm }

Note to self…don’t type without glasses on small phone keyboard!

17 CJ { 04.21.10 at 11:43 am }

CG, the ear piece is a direct link to the producers so they can tell them what to say and how to react.
Read the fine print on these reality shows, producers always have the last word.

18 TS { 04.21.10 at 9:42 pm }

omg how much of a disgrace was jason. i mean, come on, a pavlova. lol i remember my first pav haha it was fantastic, the whole family wanted me to make more! and by the way im 15 and im male and i loveee to cook. but seriously if you dont know how to make meringue then wtf. but i’m going with you guys, i thought irmgard would do well.