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Masterchef Australia – Celebrity Chef Challenge – Luke Nguyen

“He’s [Alvin] is a real contender?” says Masterchef judge George Calombaris. Would the producers of the show let a gay Asian guy win? I suppose we will just have to wait and see. If I was a betting woman I would say no. But Alvin definitely has a likeability factor.

Anyway tonight was the first Celebrity Chef Challenge with Red Lantern‘s chef Luke Nguyen behind the burners. He had challenged Alvin to produce a Vietnamese banquet. It consisted of Hanoi rolls, pork and prawn pancake, and barramundi wrapped in lotus leaves.

Alvin had 90 minutes, and Luke had 75 minutes to produce it, it looked like it took Luke about 40 minutes for him to complete.

What I loved about Luke was his Jackie Chan style chopping with a knife in both hands. It must his for TV technique because it seemed to create a lot of mess and food wastage.

Tonight the prize was no longer the fast track to the final week, but an immunity pin which they can use at anytime throughout the competition. I am presuming you have to put it up prior to the judging, not once you were actually told you are eliminated. But let’s worry about those semantics once someone actually wins one.

Basically Alvin acquitted himself very well, with no disasters, and not too many dramas, apart from having to redo the pancake after pouring way too much oil into the pan.

I think for the judges it was fairly obvious whose dishes were whom. And Luke ended up winning easily.

Alvin was given a total of 22, and Luke 24 points.

I found it interesting tonight that George seemed to be the lead judge role, something Gary Mehigan did last year. He was the one leading the judging conversation and talking to the Alvin. I wonder if the judges fight over who gets what lines and screen time.

There was comment in the Sunday Telegraph gossip column, indicating the Masterchef Australia judges ego’s were out of control. Personally I think they are allowed a bit of hubris considering they were on one of the most highly rated TV show of last year. However I think they should be careful they don’t become parodies of themselves. Yes I am talking to you Matt Preston.

BTW Regular commenter CG suggested a ‘book’ on who we think will take out the Season 2 crown. I will put up the form guide tomorrow, for you to pick who you think will win. There will be prizes for those for those who get it correct (I have no idea what yet).  Great idea CG thanks.


1 Wurstsemmel { 04.27.10 at 11:08 pm }

Love Alvin and I think he did really well, especially given he had to do three dishes. Lucky for Kate that her dish didn’t get her to this point – she’d have been completely out of her depth with no microwaveable element.

Tonight seemed to be the night of the miserable sod. That was certainly my impression of Luke early on. Must be more MC abysmal editing because, like in his SBS show, he turned out to be very likeable .

No such change for Matt Preston though. When he announed Alvins score, he looked the very embodiment of a super grump cane toad. What was with that? Trousers too tight or has he beenreading his fashion reviews on your blog, RR? Whatever, someone needs to call Carson Kressley and quick.

Food looked divine.

2 Georgina { 04.27.10 at 11:18 pm }

Go, Alvin! I’ve found him a bit flighty in previous episodes, and wondered if he could take the pressure, but he did a kickass job. Even though he lost I think he won a lot of respect.

Luke Nguyen was a lovely, generous competitor.

3 Reality Raver { 04.27.10 at 11:46 pm }

Georgina – snap I agree Luke was amazingly generous with his assistance. I hope he is back on the show again.

Oh Wurstsemmel – you have so lost your love of Matt Preston. Maybe Manu needs to guest star soon.

4 Wurstsemmel { 04.28.10 at 12:19 am }

Yep, RR. All went downhill starting with the wipes ad….

5 KC { 04.28.10 at 1:28 am }

I like the wipes ad 😀 He’s so tall and big and mastercheffy 😀 I think I’m the only one left here who doesn’t mind the judges or their changes from last season that much…

OMG DON’T MENTION MANU T_________T He was my one true chef love in season 1 (accumulated from watching him on Ready Steady Cook where he had this cute flirty thing going on with Pete Everett which was TOTALLY adorable and lovely cause they’re such good friends :D) but since he’s gone to host My Kitchen Rules why would Ten let him on Masterchef?? TV POLITICS T_______T I just hope that they can make an exception for Manu 😀

6 VF { 04.28.10 at 8:37 am }

Ahem, what is up with the “Would the producers of the show let a gay Asian guy win? ” comment? What does Alvin’s sexual orientation or race have to do with his cooking skills? I don’t think the producers are as narrow minded as this author, otherwise they would have edited this information.

7 akris { 04.28.10 at 9:54 am }

I would hope that they do let a gay Asian guy win..

I also want Manu back.. he was my chef crush too.

The MC chefs definitely have more of an air of arrogance now.. But i think the worst is George.

8 I like food { 04.28.10 at 10:02 am }

Did Alvin do the dish or did Luke Nguyen ? Apart from serving it up to the judges Luke pretty much did the whole thing for him. I thought it was a pretty poor episode from that perspective. I have noticed my flicks to other shows have increased in frequency this season. I’m slowly getting to the point of only watching the final few minutes just to see who wins each challenge.

9 Vic { 04.28.10 at 10:06 am }

VF, I think it is a reasonable comment. Yes a lot of shows DO edit the sexual orientation out of their contestants, but many others add the “flavour” of diversity while being completely aware that a mainstream/conservative audience will only go on a journey so far with someone “different” to them.

I think the producers will see how taken the audience is with Alvin and let him move forward, but would drop him like a hot potato if he caused any controversy (eg, expressed a desire to marry his partner).

10 wallah { 04.28.10 at 10:31 am }

Funny Vic, I’d have thought the average Masterchef viewer wouldn’t care, or they’d embrace the kind of differences shown. I think they played it safe in series one to test the waters, but Tom (the sweaty gay dude as I liked to call him)still got far. Although this is Australia, one would assume the majority of people offended by homosexuals are safely watching Channel 9.

11 Reality Raver { 04.28.10 at 11:38 am }

Wallah – LMAO at the Channel 9 comment.

I suppose I should clarify, that I was querying would they let a gay, asian guy win not saying they should not. I am a huge fan of Alvin’s.

The reason I wrote that is to speculate whether they think Australian society has evolved enough to embrace this. I certainly hope so. It would appear sponsors don’t think the lack of sponsorship for openly gay gold medallist diver Matthew Mitcham when he came back from the Olympics.

Having said that reality TV has been at the forefront of portraying diversity on our screens in both ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Something that should be applauded.

However the question is whether the producers manipulates who wins the show must be asked. For example as Chris Badenoch has said in interviews that he was portrayed as the grumpy mean guy, ie never shown as laughing or joking. This would indicate they were never going to let him win, hence him being eliminated when Julie dished up a sub par dish in the top 3 challenge.

Producers want us to feel happy with who wins so we satisfied after putting three months into watching their show. So editing is key to how we think of the contestants.

I know there has been some differing opinions on Julie Goodwin winning last year, but her cookbook is number one on the bestseller list (according to one of the Sunday papers, I cannot remember which). So this indicates the producers were right.

Also last year I did get an email which suggested a pilot of the Channel 7 show My Kitchen Rules was scuttled because they found out the majority of the contestants were gay. I have no idea whether this is correct or not. The same email suggested that Pete Evans replaced Jacquie Gowan. Again something I have been unable to clarify. A pity I liked Jacquie’s style.

My original vision of this blog was to discuss aspects of reality TV such as these, something I seem to very rarely do.

But also I am starting to wonder if I think the producers and the media departments are more Machivellian than they actually are.

BTW if you are wondering if I am homophobic in a past life I was a pallative care nurse with one speciality being HIV/AID’s patients. Something I don’t do now. Thankfully those skills are not needed as much due to new treatments. I am appalled when I read articles the indicate young men not practising safe sex, as they do not have the memory of seeing their young and vital peers being knocked down by this disease.

On a less serious note has anyone been able to find the recipe for Kate’s chicken and potato pie. I can’t seem to find it.

12 Vic { 04.28.10 at 12:13 pm }

You have more faith in the public (and the producer’s view of the public) than I do.

I think everyone felt there was a little bit of assistance to have a family friendly Julie win the first season. This year I hope they let the personalities of the contestants play out (especially when we get down the numbers). Less sob stories and more great food.

That said, the “exotics” had a benefit with the nostalgia challenge. How many anglos have a dodgy left over veggie/meat casserole made with a tin or packet soup as a family favourite.

13 KC { 04.28.10 at 12:14 pm }

Honestly I think that you could probably make a recipe out of Kate’s dish just by watching her do it. It was a layer of potato and a layer of cooked chicken pieces mixed with mayo and then a salad on the side. I know I can’t cook but that seriously seemed to be all that was to that dish…

14 Less sobbing, more cooking { 04.28.10 at 12:43 pm }

I am still recovering from the gooey inedible mess that was the chicken, potato and mayonnaise farce. Anyway, last night there was far too much chat about “passion” and putting one’s “heart” on a plate, although Chris Badenoch might quite fancy that. Check this out for a succinct summary:

15 Reality Raver { 04.28.10 at 6:13 pm }

Vic – by the way I agree with your meat and three veg comment, it is difficult to gussy up apricot chicken. Though I thought Claire did very well with her grandma’s dish.

16 Paul { 04.29.10 at 10:08 pm }

RR – I have to disagree with your cynicism. Any marketing expert worth their salt would tell you that Justine was EASILY (and I mean EASILY) more marketable than Julie. And in all honesty Poh probably is as well.

Justine appeals across all demographics. Young people love her (they spend the money), men love her, she appealed to all females and old people liked her. Hell, what was not to like about her. Its noteworthy that Ch Ten have kept her on for this series.

As for Poh, her show on ABC is going gangbusters almost doubling the ratings of the previous show in that timeslot, “The Cook And The Chef.”

And what has happened to Julie. Her book is going well but to be honest any winner of Masterchef was going to be on top of the best sellers list. Ch Ten didn’t offer her a contract and she is now stuck doing 5 minute fillers on Nine’s morning show. Its hardly a media success story. Again noteworthy that there was so little faith in her, that the book was released post Xmas and not pre Xmas when traditionally all books sell well.

Sometimes, we have to put cynicism aside and just accept that the best persson on the day won. Did I think she was the best cook ? No. But she out out-performed Poh and Justine when it mattered and thats why she won.

17 Reality check { 05.02.10 at 11:50 pm }

I was definitely surprised by Julie’s win. There are already plenty of cookbooks available that cater for the middle of the range market that provide dumbed down but perfectly acceptable and tasty dishes to provide a variety of classical and ethnic tastes to the family table.. She didn’t impress me as having a particularly wide palate or exceptional culinary skills. If I wanted to try something slightly experimental but not overly complicated, she would be the last person I would expect to have the ability to provide a reasonable imitation.

18 lee { 07.14.10 at 12:39 am }

Would the producers ‘let’ a gay asian win?

Which bigoted stance is the author taking? Being gay or Asian? Or both?