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Masterchef Australia – The Top 24 Has Been Decided

I knew something was up all week, with Sharnee, the Qld law student, getting a lot of Masterchef Australia camera time in the top 50 episodes, but I was shocked when she was put through to the top 24. She did not complete a part of the dish.

Matt Preston said to her when she presented the Neil Perry snapper curry “We will be judging you on what you have done so far and this dish.” Why bother having the pressure test if it carries little or no weight.? Her other dishes this week did not appear to be particularly outstanding.

If they wanted a young girl in I thought Bel Erarslan was a better cook, her signature dish was in the top four. Ok so she had a bone left in her fish, however so did Aaron in his quail and he was put through.

The other top 24 contestant that raised my eyebrows was Kate Nugara, a 30 year old teacher from Victoria. She saw it as an achievement that she had completed the dish, but her noodles looked like worms.

Also her chocolate mousse in the mystery box challenge, was judged to be nice, but just chocolate mousse. Did she even put a glug of Grand Marnier in her mousse for flavour? George admitted she got through because of her “grit and determination”.

Also there must be some fear and loathing from some of the contestants who even in this episode I thought who the hell are you? Henry the asian guy in the blue striped t-shirt did not get one to camera chat.

Anyway more thoughts on some of the contestants later in the post.

First it was the Mystery Box challenge, and the top four were going to the top 24, and the bottom four eliminated.

It was dessert ingredients. In it was chocolate, mint, fruit, grand marnier, cinnamon sticks, hundreds and thousands. They had 45 minutes to complete it.

Tony, the grain trader,  was making a german cheesecake – where was the cheese in the mystery box? For the pedants could they reveal somewhere what ingredients they have access to in the pantry when the mystery box challenges are on. Cheese is not a staple.

Also he had a disaster and it did not set, which meant he was eliminated.

Fiona used a very good strategy of sycophantically deciding to use something George had made in Masterclass. She made a strawberry jelly, which did not set so she changed it to strawberry champagne. The flavours must have been there as she got through.

Joanne Zalm’s tactic was smart just keeping it simple with crepes orange and cream. She now has a place in the top 24. Joanne will split viewers, half are going to love her, and the other half not so much.

Poor Jason had to walk the plank as his granita did not set, the judges were sympathetic.

I was a bit dubious about Matthew Caldicott’s strawberry soup, but apparently with his layered chocolate mousse it was delicious. And he was in.

Callum who is only 20 cooked a sensational looking chocolate jaffa tart.

Jo O’Brien, Tony, Claude and Jason were the four eliminated in the challenge.

Then in a shock announcement Kate decieded to leave to be with her family back in Brisbane. She said her children needed her. It must have been heart breaking for her.

This now meant there were nine spots left.

The next challenge was a pressure test, and it was Neil “the produce is the hero” Perry. I like Neil’s cooking, but I hate his ponytail. He really needs to cut it off.

His dish was a snapper curry with semolina noodles. It looked delicious.

Jake the cement renderer was the most excited he was ever going to be on the show (not that he showed it) as he said one of he reasons he came on the show was to learn from the master himself, Neil Perry. And he meant it. I thought his dish was fantastic, and I was thrilled that he got through to the top 24. I don’t think he will win.

Alvin got through,even though his dish got mixed reviews, great noodles and sauce, and bad fish.

Not surprisingly Dominic was in, but only after saying for the millionth time that he wanted to change his life.

Carrie, Kate, Devon, Sarah and Sharnee all got into the top 24.

I have mixed views I think it is a solid top 24, but there are some surprising inclusions namely, Sharnee and Kate. I also think Phil is a bit lightweight. Let us hope they prove me wrong.


1 Laura { 04.26.10 at 12:36 am }

I agree with you RR, I don’t think that some of them deserved to get through… namely Sharnee, Kate, Fiona (“strawberry champagne” girl – surely there were better dishes there that actually went to plan, she was just copying a dish she had learnt on the show and she got it wrong!), Phil. I felt sorry for the three guys at the end, and Henry too. And Bel. I still think that everybody who won the signature dish challenge should have gotten through automatically, I think she was the only one who didn’t in the end.

That said, much like SYTYCD, I think that they purposely put some weaker players in the game so that the actual talent have a better chance of advancing in the competition. For example, in the first SYTYCD Hilton, Kassy and Marko all left in the first few weeks, which was such a waste because they were so talented and could have won in any other season – it gives the show a bitter taste. As long as the crap contestants don’t stay too long, I am happy for them to be there if it means that my favourites (Alvin, Skye, Marion) last longer.

Does anyone know whether the unsuccessful top 50 contestants can try out again next year?

I’m looking forward to getting into the top 24, and finding out the new format.

2 CG { 04.26.10 at 1:13 am }

funniest part of tonights epi…when Neil Perry tasted the first pressure test dish he got sauce all over his chin and it remained there as he made comments…think they would have caught it, cleaned him up and edited the piece. Mey to the top 24, many don’t deserve to be there. Eliminating slightly-chubby Bel to put thru more photogenic (or at least more talkative) Sharnee is an insult to viewers.

RR: did you see the piece by Ros Reines in today’s Sunday Telegraph? She makes the similar comments to the ones here on your blog that the MC judges have become way too full of themselves and that MC is in danger of taking itself too seriously and being overproduced.

3 Mac { 04.26.10 at 1:48 am }

The show obviously wanted to balance the gender ratio since the males seem to dominate the top 24 prior tonight’s episode. So the producers probably told the judges they need to let through more females, even the ones that aren’t as good as the other male cooks. Hence why average cooks such as Sharnee and Kate.

4 KC { 04.26.10 at 1:53 am }

I thought the first 12 chosen had looked much more promising than a majority of the second 12…I’d rather have one extra day of Top 50 and have them choose it more carefully…

But firstly, LOL at clever editing. Me and my friend like Dominic and we were so devo from the editing that made it seem like he was missing parts of his Neil Perry dish but it turned out to be Sharnee.

Seriously, a girl who didn’t finish and was missing one of the CORE elements of the dish, someone who the judges had said that her dishes weren’t that great and someone who made a champagne instead of a jelly got through instead of other contestants that got out during the week who should have gotten in…Okay I wanted to Mark to get in cause he’s cute BUT HE CAN COOK BETTER! I think…

And also…I know I’m mean but I’m mentally preparing myself not to throw things at the television now that there are more than one easily cryable chefs on the show. T_________T At least there’s still Marion and Aaron. YOU GO CHEFS!!!

5 Anon { 04.26.10 at 1:54 am }

I was surprised by some of the contestants who got through if this really is all about the cooking -Kate and Fiona over Bel.

What did Jake cook in the mystery challenge? All I saw was choc coated cherries rolled in 100s and 1000s. Sorry, but I am flicking the channel everytime there is a sob story. When the pressure really starts to bite MC2 may become unbearable to watch everytime a contestant wells up. Maybe Kleenex will sign on as a sponsor next year….

6 Mama'sMilk { 04.26.10 at 2:27 am }

The other person who got no screen chat time was the grey-bearded Graeme … eliminated without a single word or chance to tell a sob story.

A pity really. As a senior gastroenterologist in Brisbane, I was looking forward to him being able to challenge some of the rubbish health claims the judges come up with …

7 AT { 04.26.10 at 2:28 am }

Finally someone noticed this! I was aware of Henry when I got the Masterchef booklet from the Sunday Telegraph yet I have never seen him speak in any episode once. I wonder why? Bit of a shame though that they never once focused on him yet others get way too much coverage. Prob no sob story from him?
Also I was kinda surprised about some of the contestants who got through in this episode but not too much given how much coverage they got.

8 Wurstsemmel { 04.26.10 at 2:48 am }

This episode well and truly what ticked me off about Masterchef last year – INCONSISTENCY. How come Matt Moran excludes contestants whose dishes aren’t visually appropriate even though complete yet Neil Perry passes a contestant who hadn’t plated up the full meal? How is a bone left in a quail ok but in a fish fillet isn’t? Not that either should be.

What shocked me even more was that there were some in the top 24 who I had no idea who they were – ditto for some who went home.

What really should have been sent home was Neil Perrys pony tail. Loved the Steven Seagal comment. Wasn’t he just a chef in his action movies?

Glad Alvin is through, a personal favourite not that Im expecting him to win. I think Mark should have got through over some of the others and Im not overkeen on the maze woman.

9 dmc { 04.26.10 at 8:31 am }

Appalling editing. ZERO suspense, despite the boom crash opera music. Sob stories signposting those who are through. That whole spiel at the end, calling four forward was a complete waste of time. Why not call two who are in and two who are out? That would at least be more difficult to pick.
Who was that guy Greg at the end?

10 Anonymous { 04.26.10 at 9:14 am }

Some really amateur editing… when two guys were eliminated from the final pack (sorry don’t know their names), they stood forward, were eliminated and left the warehouse…then the next sequence after a commercial has them back in the group while others are being selected/eliminated? WTF.

11 Reality Raver { 04.26.10 at 10:02 am }

Anonymous – well spotted I missed that editing glitch. Maybe I should have a prize for the worst editing error spotted in Masterchef Australia each week!

DMC – I agree editing did indicate who was through and who wasn’t. I was surprised Skye got through considering she got no cameral loving in last night’s episode.

Wurstsemmel – I suppose inconsistency is a hallmark of reality TV and sometimes reality TV bloggers. LOL. Neil Perry’s ponytail has irritated me for years. That and his over use of the term “good fresh produce”. But he is a great chef, and after seeing last nights meal it made me want to go to the Spice Temple. Injera has had his $20 burger at the Rockpool Grill in Melbourne.

Mamma Milk and AT – Considering Henry made it to the last top 50 episode it would have been nice to see some of his food to see what his style was like.

As Mac writes the producers may have wanted gender equity and that is why some of what looked like the weaker females got through. I hope they did not have some sort of ethnic quota. As THAT would be appalling if Henry missed out because it was deemed there were do many people of asian background in already.

KC – Do you know Dominic? I think missing an element and getting through is appalling. I don’t think her curry could have been THAT much better then the others. Also the judges were not gushing and saying “this is an exact replica’s of Neil’s”.

Anon – Agree Bel should have got through ahead of the others. Jake could a vanilla and chocolate souffle, it did not look great but it was not one of the disasters being plated up. I think Jake has good technique, just needs refinement. I don’t think we will see him in the final week. But even his bbq plate looked good. The thing I like about Jake is that he is there to learn and for the cooking. I don’t think he is hot.

CG: LOL I did notice the Neil Perry glob, and also the Ros Reines column, I was going to comment on it in the blog post, but got overtaken by my shock of sub standard people going through. It is funny I can have a draft blog post written and then something happens and the tone of my article changes. I think one of the great things about Masterchef last year that it wasn’t about the judges, and they emerged as stars as well. Their lives were also transformed by reality TV like the contestants.

Laura – I like your theory re: the not so strong cooks, so the stronger ones look even better, and will stay in longer.

12 Injera { 04.26.10 at 11:38 am }

Chose not to watch last night and follow it on Twitter instead and watch the recording later if I thought it sounded worthwhile. It was pretty clear early on from the Twitter commentary that the fix was in, so I was happy (not sure if that’s the right word) to watch a movie instead. Will fast forward and watch “highlights”, though – I do want to see the jelly stuff-up, and the incomplete Sharnee dish. You know, just to rankle my sense of injustice, or whatever!

On the Ponytail’s pricey burger… not as good as Justin North’s at Plan B in Sydney, or Shannon Bennett’s one at Cafe Vue in Melbourne. And both the Plan B and Cafe Vue burgers are cheaper! Still, I’d love to have a proper meal at Rockpool – and his good food is a go-to for easy weekday meals in this house (which is amazing, since I’m not big on pretentious non-capitalisation or ponytails!).

Looking forward to top 24, and hopefully more manageable shorter episodes.

13 skye { 04.26.10 at 11:39 am }

If they use Kate as the Julie of this season – which her final grabs really indicated – then I have already told my husband that I won’t be able to watch. Bleurgh.

14 KC { 04.26.10 at 1:59 pm }

@skye: OMG. If Kate is the new Julie I will cry. And not in a sob story way but a OMG NOT AGAIN! way T_______________T Sorry not a Julie fan.

@RR: Nah we don’t know Dominic but as ashamed (LOL) as I am of this, me and my friend were touched by his sob story (I KNOW I KNOW but his one was really sweet and I probably missed the episodes that he said it before).

15 Fides { 04.26.10 at 2:14 pm }

Underwhelmed with this top 24 looking at the standard of the girls who got through last night. I was very disappointed for Bel – I would have picked her over Sharnee, Kate or Fiona. It annoyed me that Sharnee sounded so proud about not doing the noodles because she did not want to go out on dodgy noodles – it makes no sense whatsoever that she got through on what she presented. You may as well have omitted the fish if you thought you’d made great sauce, peas and noodles…

I looked at the contestant bios over at the MCA site and there’s a wider diversity of cooking styles this year. The ethnic groups represented in the top 24 include Sri Lankan , Indian, Malaysian, Moroccan, Lebanese, Italian and Greek – I’m glad for the diversity, though do hope it didn’t play such a big part in their selection.

I’m glad we haven’t heard any further sob stories though looking at their bios, there are many more to be had.

Love Alvin – he comments that he really wants to meet Poh and that he named a plant in his home after her. And I find it interesting that a few of the contestants eg Phillip have George as their cooking inspiration. I know George is the wunderkind, but I wonder how Gary feels about this.

16 TDK { 04.26.10 at 2:52 pm }

Another “meh” episode.
I wonder if it’s anymore exciting with the following format:
– No music, except very light ones when the camera pans from the top from one contestant’s kitchen to another in a fast pace to boost excitement; but other than that it’s just a lousy gimmick
– No personal stories allowed, unless it actually connects with the dish they are cooking, and the viewer actually learns something (cooking related) from the story
– No fancy editing
– Don’t suspend the viewers, it’s not clever, just annoying
– No stupid questions from the judges, e.g. “How did you feel you went?”

Actually.. all the above really wouldn’t work, BECAUSE IT CONTRADICTS THE SHOW’S OBJECTIVE – which is DRAMA, not a real cooking competition!!
Where’s IRON CHEF?!!

17 dmc { 04.26.10 at 4:53 pm }

TDK – agree with the ‘meh’.

Yes, it’s supposed to be ‘drama’ – my point is that the production makes it stupid artificial drama rather than exciting drama.

This show has many good points but treats the viewers as idiots. Are we?

18 lydal { 04.26.10 at 5:24 pm }

C’mon! it hasn’t started yet, at least not the program itself and already there’s a lot of criticism about it. Yet we haven’t seen the “real” changes from last year to this one. New challenges are supposed to come during the contest so let’s give it a break and a lot of hope that it will be better.
Maybe now when we know most of the contestants (and I agree, some of them don’t seem better than others that have been eliminated) Masterchef will be mostly a cooking contest with just a few extras sometimes (sob stories,…)

19 TDK { 04.26.10 at 8:16 pm }

Just saw the preview for tonight’s episode.
My guess? Gonna be another sob fest!!

20 Stag { 04.27.10 at 12:32 am }

Go Jake – The Little Aussie battler

21 akris { 04.27.10 at 11:52 am }

Totally agree with everyone. I think Bel should’ve gotten though.. definitely before Kate, Sharnee and even Fiona.