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Posts from — May 2010

Masterchef – who’ll be sleeping with the fishes?

Last night on Masterchef, Matt made a complete prat of himself, but we won’t be seeing that in the previews for tonight. We will, however, be seeing George bellowing about something and Jake feeling “devastated” because he wanted his seafood platter to be perfect. So, um, spoiler alert? Jake puts up a dish that isn’t perfect? Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em, people. I think this could be tedious.

Post credits, Matthew reminds us why they’re here – because they messed up the pasta. Unfortunately I’m not sure why I’m still here. Jake tells us that seafood is the one thing he’s really good at, so this Rick Stein challenge should be right up his alley. Has he forgotten that the pasta challenge was also seafood? And that we have just seen his interview alerting us to a lack of perfection? Trivialities, perhaps, but my tolerance threshold is low tonight. Jimmy reiterates his food dream, and I don’t think Masterchef is really the right place for him: they’re always going to criticise him for something that he should be celebrated for and he has a strong sense of what he wants to do, anyway. If Matthew doesn’t make it through tonight, he should probably try to sort out some of those dad-approval issues.

Gary’s hurt his leg, so Matt is on hand to welcome the boys to the kitchen. The safe contestants are lined up on the balcony as usual – I really hope Aaron positions himself over Matt and drops something at his head. We get the big intro to the guest chef, but since we’ve known that it’s Rick Stein for at least 24 hours, it’s just grating, pompous blah blah blah.

The seafood platter is revealed and the “little man” beside Jimmy is, indeed, beaming. Neither Jimmy nor Matthew looks to be confident. Rick goes through all the seafood carefully, after which George says, redundantly “there’s lot of different seafoods here”. Well, yes. Fifteen elements, to be precise. Matt prompts Rick to reveal that it would be $300-$350 worth of seafood and “it would be a travesty” to mess it up. Our losers have two hours to do just that. Fireball.

Jimmy is planning not to panic, which is a damn good approach. They’re getting their nage on, or “stock” as Marion dumbs down for us. She’s concerned that Jimmy’s not onto his crab yet, as are George and Rick, particularly since he’s been a little too precise chopping his veg for the nage… I mean stock.

Jake is mixing his mayo by hand, as is Jimmy, but Matt has completed his within 30 seconds using a stick blender. He interviews that “it would be a travesty” to screw up the expensive seafood, which shows that he has potential for a career in politics, with his ability to stick to the talking points. Maybe that would satisfy his dad?

Overcooked seafood is the biggest mistake people make, according to Rick, so that’s what he’ll be looking for. Jimmy gets some advice from the peanut gallery to beard his mussels after cooking, which is not something I’ve ever considered doing. Matt is breaking open his sea urchin and Joanne observes that both he and Jake are going like steam trains, while Jimmy is falling behind. He is determined to run his own hare-and-the-tortoise race here, which is an idea with some merit if he manages to get everything done and not destroy the sea urch… oh, too late!

After the fireball, Jimmy’s sea urchin is still a mess. Just as he voices over that he hopes Rick doesn’t notice, we see Rick peering over the balcony with a look of concern. George and Matt scurry over to try to talk Jimmy through a salvage operation.

George bellows at them: “do me a favour and don’t. overcook. the. seafood”. Well, since you asked as a favour, George. Jake loses a body part from his crab and Matthew provides us with an inventory of what he still has to do. Jake feels that he’s got everything cooked at this stage so is just cruising, and Jimmy has Joanne and Adam hissing at him from the balcony to get his crab out. Peter thinks Jimmy might actually be edging ahead, since Jake has taken half an hour to pick his crab. After the crab, Jake then starts on the oysters, and seems to be taking his sweet time cleaning those, too. Matthew is getting onto his tarragon butter sauce and somebody notices that Jimmy’s is too thick. Just as Rick calls Joanne over to tell her to get Jimmy to thin it down, he pulls the head off his lobster. Bom bom BOM!

Jake, having cruised through the prep, realises that he has undercooked his blue swimmer crab. Jimmy is dealing with poo chutes as Matthew starts to plate up. George exhorts them to “boom boom”. Really?

Jake still needs to do his mayo and his crab, and Peter thinks he has forgotten about his sea urchin. He hasn’t. George promises us that for one of them it will be the last time they’ll cook in the Masterchef kitchen, so at least we’re not in for surprise comebacks.

Jake’s mussels still have their beards, Jimmy has forgotten his fingerbowl, and who knows what Matthew is doing? Plating up with ruthless efficiency, I guess. Time’s up and Jake is devastated because his seafood is far from perfect.

Tasting

Matthew
Rick smiles at Matthew, so he won’t be getting a return gig. He needs to take a crash course in snarl 101 if he’s going to cut it with this crowd. Matthew explains that he felt he was up against the seafood specialist in Jake and is then dismissed so our judges can eat. Matt declares the platter spectacular and Rick agrees. As for the cooking, Rick is happy with the mussels and clams and George is impressed with the sea urchin. Negatives? The yabby is undercooked and the bug still has a poo tube, but Rick still declares himself happy with it.

Jimmy
Matt reminds Jimmy that he should be trying to prove that he’s not just a “spice” man – is that why they’ve presented him with an almost spice free challenge? He believes he’s put every element on the plate, which is a start, I guess. Rick doesn’t necessarily disagree with this self-assessment, but thinks it looks “dropped” on the plate and George eagerly points out the urchin issues. He’s a bit of a dobber, our George.  This is why I don’t like the judges prowling during cooking.  Matt delicately spits out some crab cartilage and also finds some “intestinal tract”. He’s too sensitive for “poo chute” but will hurl somebody’s food on the floor?  I think I need some strong paper towels to mop up the mess I’ve just made.  George loves the crab dressing and they all praise the yabbies.

Jake
He starts by saying he’s not happy with his work – I guess it’s a good strategy to set the expectation low. Jake’s messy presentation is seen as “God throwing seafood on a plate”, so dropping is bad, throwing is good, but only if you’re a god. Which… Jake is?  Matt spits “gravel” out of a clam and pulls out a poo tube (he wasn’t too precious this time). The crab salad lacks capers, but the tarragon butter is good and the oysters are lovely.

Rick bows out of the judging.

Judging

Matt tells them they put up three GREAT seafood platters.

  • Jimmy put up the best crab salad, but the presentation was clumsy
  • Jake: best yabbies, oysters and mayonnaise, but the crab salad was insipid and not generous
  • Matthew: nailed the presentation is criticised for leaving the intestinal tract in. Given that he wasn’t the only one to do so, it’s obvious that he’s safe.

Oh, what was that, Matt? Matthew is safe. Huh, who’d’a thunk it. Are you sure you don’t want to interrogate them over their “intentions” first? He’s told to phone his dad and essentially say “nerny nerny ner ner”.

Jimmy gets an eerie “time’s up” chill. And… fireball.

And he’s going home.

“The great thing about Jimmy going is that you know he’s going to be okay”, says Aaron.  This suggests that the others would be placed on 24 hour watch.

Other points

  • There must be a rule where the chef can’t communicate directly with the contestants, preventing Rick from telling Jimmy about his sauce, but why was Joanne in sole charge of overseeing Jimmy’s progress
  • Was there any mention of the quality of Jimmy’s sauce in the judging?
  • As discussed with EricG, why does the chef join in with eating and commenting on the dishes and then recuse him/herself from judging? Do the judges actual remove the chef’s comments from their consciousnesses?
  • I really wish they’d just tell the unsuccessful contestant that the decision’s been made and what it is, rather than have that totally useless “I wanna be here 110%” session.
  • Matt’s credibility for me is so low that I wouldn’t be surprised if he kept a poo tube up his sleeve for judging. Not that it would be SCRIPTED, you understand, just – you know – teed up with a couple of cameramen.
  • Tomorrow? Maggie Beer. I typed “Maggie Bear” first, which would be great if Ruth Cracknell was still with us. Can you imagine?  She’s call Aaron “Arthur” and compare him unfavourably to Robbie.  Still, even given how much I love Maggie Beer, how is that going to be a challenge of a similar calibre to, say, Philippa Sibley? Aaron could have a shot.

May 31, 2010   45 Comments

Matt Newton To Host The X-Factor

In a surprise announcement (ok for me )today Matthew Newton will get the much sought after role of host of The X Factor. Actors across Australia will be gnashing their teeth and debating whether this is a sign that reality TV is taking over the space where “real” acting drama’s used to be.

Personally I think people can dabble in both genres, but I must say I would not have picked Matt Newton to be one of actors to cross to the reality dark side. But it might be a great role to improve his confidence after a stint in rehab for alcohol and drug issues.

I am glad that Fremantle Media, and Seven have given us a “fresh” face for the series.

Newton will be front and centre as hopefuls take the stage to perform in front of judges and mentors Kyle Sandilands, Natalie Imbruglia, Guy Sebastian and Ronan Keating.

“I’m extremely honoured to be given this opportunity,” Newton said today. “This is a massive show and a massive opportunity. I’m a huge fan of the UK version and can’t wait to get started.”

I am starting to think this show is going to kick butt.

May 31, 2010   9 Comments

Masterchef – jump-the-shark pasta

We start the week with a look back on Aaron’s rollercoaster ride from last week. He reminds us that he missed his anniversary and we see a clip of him being bollocked by George over his tardiness with the oysters. All this doom and gloom is about to be brightened, though, as Peter accepts a delivery for him and it’s a “care package” from the fiancee. He weeps happily.

Once our contestants reach the kitchen, Matt tells them that they “came of age” as cooks in Melbourne. Gary repeats the fiction that winning the mystery box is a massive advantage for the invention test. Fiona won last week, right? And now? She’s… gone. Yup.

Mystery box

Brains, pears, white anchovies, bacon, paprika, hazelnuts, sugar-snap peas and a bread roll. The contestants look pretty unhappy about this turn of events. They are quite possibly pre-emptively nauseous about the barrage of brain-related jokes Gary is about to make.

“Show some heart! And use your brains!”

Callum blanches his brains and is in the process of getting ready for the deep-frying when the Gs approach to ask what he’s cooking. Um, brains? Aaron’s doing deep fried anchovies and is thinking about slicing his brains and deep frying them, a process which the Gs are not at all convinced by. Marion is pulling her fried brains out of the pot as the Gs approach and they look very impressed with her effort. Peter has also crumbed his brains and is crisping up some bacon and grilling the pears. And I’ve now typed “brains” more frequently than if I’d gone ahead and cashed in on the zombie craze with a hasty novel.

Gary reminds us that they’re only tasting the three best and I don’t get to moan about is this week, since Mr Injera gets in first with the “how do they know they’re tasting the best if they’re only tasting three?”.

Tasting

  • Marion: Matt tells her that her brains are mushy, but the vinaigrette is lovely. George thinks the whole dish is gorgeous and well-balanced. He’s loyal to the girl who wore his apron!
  • Peter: He interviews that he’s happy to be called up, but that Marion is a tough act to follow. He’s wrapped his brains in bacon, which is how I’l like to go. Gary likes the caramelisation of the pear – good that Peter took his advice on the colour – but finds the bacon a bit thick.
  • Callum: Matt tells him that his brains are perfectly cooked, but undermines the compliment by suggesting that it might have been pure luck.

“We’ve tasted the top three dishes!” Oh, shut up, Gary.

Marion wins.

Invention test

Joanne wins my heart a little when she interrupts Gary’s portentous, drawn-out lead up to what the challenge is by whispering “pasta” before he gets to the “exciting” reveal. That’ll teach you, Gary.

Aaron reminds us that he’d love to open a pasta restaurant, so realises that the pressure will be on him today.

15 ingredients per contestant, 2 minutes in the pantry and 45 minutes to cook, which is NOT enough time to rest a pasta dough, is it?

Marion decides to choose the ingredient that’s best for her, rather than one that will stymie her competitors. She has a choice of seafood, beef and mushrooms. She loves mushrooms! She goes mushrooming! She chooses… seafood. Aaron will be happy.

Sharnee spills her salmon roe on the floor as she leaves the pantry, giving Matt the opportunity to come to the rescue with his ever-ready Handee Ultra. Bleagh.

  • Joanne is making fennel and prawn mousse ravioli.
  • Jake was planning on a gorgonzola and smoked salmon pasta with smoked mussels but he forgot the gorgonzola and the smoke mix.
  • The Gs get together to moan about overly creamy pasta and then head over to see what Jimmy’s making. It’s a pasta with a creamy sauce. And he cops to never having made pasta before. Oh, Jimmy.
  • Aaron has thrown a lot at his dish, including truffle oil and chipotle.
  • Matthew is making something he’s done before, which surprises me. It seems to surprise the Gs as well, who remember his solid ravioli from the Yarra Valley.
  • Marion is making scorched prawn and ricotta tortellini, which Jonathan thinks will be foul. He obviously hasn’t read the memo telling him that Marion has a YOOGE advantage due to her mystery box win. Her scorching makes for the perfect fireball segue.
  • Alvin is first up after the ads and is making a ravioli in a brodo, the details of which I miss as I’m violently gagging over the salmon roe Handee Ultra ad at the end of the break.
  • Sharnee is making fettucine with garlic prawns which could be okay if she manages to get her water on in time.
  • Jonathan is doing prawn canneloni with a prawn and saffron bisque sauce. George is impressed by the number of processes he’ll be undertaking.

Tasting

  • Sharnee: She’s not “overly confident” with her dish. Matt decrees that it is “wonderful” pasta. Gary likes the lemon zest flavour and admires how well she’s laminated, cut and cooked the pasta.
  • Matthew: His ravioli with the sage butter is let down by the leathery pasta. Redemption is out of reach.
  • Jimmy: Matt says it looks like two-minute noodles and Jimmy agrees.
  • Alvin: His tortellini with prawn and celery brodo earns him a “welcome back” from Matt, who praises the way he’s lifted a “shop bought” stock.
  • Jake: Dog’s breakfast, says Gary.
  • Aaron: Gary reminds him that he cooks pasta four to five times a week and wants to open a pasta restaurant. Should Aaron give up on his dream? Not yet – Gary LOVES it. LOVES IT! Aaron looks really relieved, but he’s really worried about what Matt will think. He flings it on the floor telling Aaron that it’s disgusting. What a prick. And what does that say of his opinion of Gary’s palate? I guess he’s giving himself another chance to shill those paper towels – I wonder if they’re strong enough to protect against piercing shards of broken porcelain?

Fireball.

Just in case we missed it, we get to see Matt’s disrespectful arrogance again.

And then… the reveal. It’s a fakeout! He was going on to say “disgustingly good!”. The shark? It has been jumped.

  • Marion’s dish is apparently brilliant, but I don’t care anymore.
  • Jonathan’s dish: commended for being clever and interesting but doesn’t quite work.

Judging

Top six

Alvin, Jonathan, Marion, Aaron, Sharnee, Joanne
Joanne? Did we even SEE her dish? Apparently it was great?

Winner
Aaron. Hopefully it was worth the stress.

Bottom Three
Jimmy, Jake, Matthew

The rest are told to breathe a sigh of relief and go home. I wonder if they are going to spend their down-time wondering whether they want to continue participating in this ritualised bullying-only-joking! Hahahahaha! It’s all about the food, no really!

Other points

  • Once the judges have announced the first two of the top three for the Mystery Box challenge, how is it exciting that there is one spot left? There’s only one winner and no advantage for the other two.
  • Tortured alliterative wordplay of the evening: “Pasta perfection or past it’s use-by date”
  • I have to go back to that fakeout on Aaron. The guy seems to have been having a rough time. We began the episode seeing how fragile he was and how much the parcel from his partner cheered him up, but he was clearly feeling the pressure given that the expectation was so high for him with pasta. Matt’s comment was not one that could be spotted from a distance as a typical fakeout (and I’ve seen some fakeouts in my time of watching reality TV): he said “That’s disgusting”. It wasn’t sneaky editing that cut off the -ly – he said “that’s disgusting”. He roared. He flung the plate down. And that kind of blatant manipulation? Is disgusting.

May 30, 2010   77 Comments

Reality Tidbits – Sunday Edition

Lara Bingle

Last year’s Masterchef Australia contestant Lucas Parson teaching private cooking lessons, with Fergie’s sister Jane Ferguson, for between $300 and $450 a head. ( Source: Sunday Telegraph)

Former Dancing On Ice contestant Lara Bingle, (OK and former WAG) is currently in New York looking for work and wearing impossibly high heels. (Source: Sunday Telegraph)

Australian Idol songstress Paulini will be seen on TV in Sisters of War. Also in the same column Richard Clunes muses what Aaron Harvie has done on Masterchef Australia to be picked last in the team challenges. Again I find it strange as they then gave him the responsibility for the main course. Was this a tactic to get him put up for elimination? (Source: Sunday Telegraph)

Former Australian on American Idol, Michael Johns has been signed to Sony Japan for a second album. He has currently been touring with Brooke White. (Source: Sunday Telegraph)

It Takes Two winner Ericka Heynatz has filmed the video for her second single bullet. Her album will be released later this year, two years after she appeared on the show. (Source: Sunday Telegraph)

Guy Sebastian has said he will be the nice judge on The X Factor (Source: Herald Sun)

May 30, 2010   4 Comments

Reality Tidbits – Masterchef Australia, American Idol, Project Runway, Henry Byalikov

Former Project Runway Australia host Kristy Hinze denies trying IVF with her husband Jim Clark (Source: Herald Sun). UPDATE: I should add Kristy is keen to host the show if it goes ahead this year, rumour has it they are having a hard time finding designer talent. To early for a best of?

After the lowest ever ratings for a American Idol finale, Variety gives it critique of the season.

@laura_valerie informed me that Season One So You Think You Can Dance Australia contestant Henry Byalikov has auditioned for the US version is is through to Las Vegas.

Project Runway host Heidi Klum and her husband Seal will be starring in a new show on Lifetime where they counsel other couples about their problems. (Source: Huffington Post). I think I will be avoiding that show.

Latest Masterchef Australia contestant to be eliminated Fiona Inglis has found a job in a school working with Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Project. (Source: Herald Sun)

May 29, 2010   2 Comments