Masterchef – the dark horrors of the mystery box
What’s in the box? We’re leaping straight into the action as, once again, Matt explains that the judges will only taste five dishes, which I still think is a ridiculous rule. Skye’s hoping the box contains no frogs legs, snails or foie gras. I’m disappointed that she doesn’t do a happy little chicken dance when she reveals: duck breast, raspberries, pinot (I’m assuming noir), read cabbage, lavender, fennel and dark chocolate. Oh, what to cook?
Claire’s going for something simple with a glazed duck breast, Courtney is making pancakes, Matthew is making a lavender custard, Fiona is making a chocolate ganache tart with lavender cream and Skye is having a crack at crispy duck with raspberries marinated in wine with fennel fronds. Carrie is making chocolate and raspberry souffle with lavender cream. Gary and George meet to discuss the works in progress and give positive reviews to what they’ve seen so far. So, we’ve seen six cooks and five will be tasted. That kind of… reduces the dramatic possibilities, doesn’t it?
Tasting (and, perhaps, replating?)
- Matthew – Gary is a bit dubious because Matthew didn’t sterilise the egg. He tastes it, anyway, and notes the “soupy” texture. George likes the flavour and Matt thinks it looks “magnificently outlandish”.
- Claire – she wasn’t expecting hers to be tasted but, of course, we at home are less surprised. Gary thinks it’s clever cooking.
- Skye – Rock’n’roll is George’s assessment and I think I’ll be trying the fried fennel tops.
- Fiona – Matt likes the shortness of the pastry with the intense chocolate and the “loosening up” cream. He envisages a butterfly touching on some lavender and then the cream.
- Carrie – Gary’s comments are positive, but seem to indicate that they chose her to see her smile.
Skye and Fiona are the two “finalists” after judges’ deliberations and Skye is announced the winner, after the obligatory fireball and commercials.
Theme? Indian! Jimmy mugs “disappointed”, but fails to hide the glee. For the theme ingredient, Skye has a choice of chicken, goat (mmmm, goat…) and pulses. When these options are revealed to the cast, it seems obvious to them that she’d have chosen pulses, but she surprises them all when she reveals goat. Perhaps she realised that chickpeas would be difficult to soften within the timeframe.
- Jimmy is making a parsi curry which will be finished with fried paneer. YUM.
- Jonathan’s trying an inventive curry with a yoghurt sorbet .
- Joanne “Indian is not my thing” is blending spinach and hoping to have something to plate up, so her expectations are not high.
- Courtney is doing a salad with naan bread hors d’oevres.
- Matthew’s hoping that goat and lamb are interchangeable, which they are in some cuisines, but when he tastes it with half an hour to go the goat is chewy and he’s not confident that he has a winner.
- Callum is doing something fusiony, and we all know there’s a fine line between fusion and confusion .
- Big Dom is doing a Madras-y style curry.
- Skye might not get her dish completed.
We’re still not seeing tattoo man, Adam, Aaron, or Marion. Did I miss them being turfed out?
- Jimmy’s panfried goat looks dry, and Gary confirms that it is. He loves the curry with paneer, as does George. Matt is also a fan of the curry, but thinks the over-cooked goat might have lost it for him.
- Joanne’s palak is chewy goat overwhelmed by spinach puree
- Callum’s scattered bits’n’pieces get the thumbs down from Gary.
- Jonathan’s dish is “a dead-set ripper”.
- Dom’s flavours are too raw.
- Matthew’s dish looks unappetising and is, according to George.
- Courtney looks defeated as she brings her dish to the table, but she gets lots of positive adjectives from Matt.
- Skye’s happy to be nominated and is hoping for a pass, but George is giving her some bigger compliments than that.
Gary now tells us that they’ve tasted them all, which we’re going to have to take on trust. We’ll find out who wins, and who is in the bottom three, after previews of Modern Family and probably some Glad or Handee wipes ads.
Jonathan and Courtney are the top two, and Jonathan manages not to sob when he is named the winner and Courtney is gracious in defeat on her birthday.
The three contestants with the least impressive dishes are not, as I suspected, Marion, Adam and Aaron (who? I know!), but Dom, Joanne and Matthew and they will face off in tomorrow’s pressure test.
Some points I’m pondering:
- Is winning the mystery box really a good set-up for the rest of the week? I remember the claim being made a lot last year, but can’t remember evidence backing it up.
- Did everybody else hate the editing on the mystery box challenge? The Gs only looked at six cooks, so it was evident that five of those would be chosen for tasting. No tension, no will-they-or-won’t-they, apart from Courtney, but I figured she was only in the mix because she was the birthday girl.
- Has Gary caught the bouncies from George? I saw him bobbing up and down on the balls of his feet while he was explaining the rules of the invention test.
Gary’s dad joke of the night: “turn up the throttle on this world’s fastest Indian”
Matt’s dad joke of the night: “the only father in the room – Poppa Dom”
Sound effect of the night: the whoosh-ding that accompanied Matt calling Callum’s name after the bottom three had been announced.