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Masterchef – Jonathan’s first pork

The episode begins with Callum bringing Jonathan breakfast in bed to pep him up for the challenge. He seems to have recovered from Matt’s smackdown on Sunday. Jonathan interviews that he’s been in two eliminations so far, but refrains from calling himself either “the Eliminator” or “the Terminator”, which is a huge relief.

Masterchef kitchen

George bounces around while he tells Jonathan about what winning the challenge represents. Next to bounce around is Gary, who tells Jonathan about the very special guest judge. Jonathan and the other contestants all look surprised when Donna Hay walks in, presumably because they hadn’t just watched her being interviewed on the 7pm Project. Gary’s already gone through Donna’s resume, so all that’s left for her to reveal is that she’s a “food science nerd”, so I guess it’s not all about the brown. Matt chips in (bounceless) to talk about the prize – immunity – but doesn’t explain how it will work.

The dish

Justin North’s caramelised confit and roasted cutlet of suckling pig. With marron tail. Wow – I really want this.

The unlikely revelation

Jonathan has never cooked pork. WTF? He looks as though he’s about to pass out when Justin tells him about cutting up the pig.

The contest

Justin gives Jonathan a few tips on butchering the suckling pig. Once 15 minutes are up, he heads off to start cooking his own dish. Marion, Adam and Skye are in awe. “He’s moving really fast, without seeming to move fast”. Matthew and Peter (see? I paid attention to the captions today!) both notice that Jonathan has used ALL the salt where Justin used half. There’s cheering, but no helping from the peanut gallery tonight.

The marron is on, as is all the meat. Jonathan burns the rack, and Justin comes around to talk him through scraping it “like burnt toast”.

The last few minutes are a blur of activity, particularly for Jonathan who interviews that: “I kicked it into turbot”? Turbot? I thought he was using marron…

Judging – plate 1

  • Donna: “it’s a tiny bit messy”.
  • Matt: “a wonderfully balanced dish” (is that due to the cook or the creator of the dish?), “the pork is very tender”.
  • George: notes the saltiness of the belly and doesn’t really like it.

Judging – plate 2

  • Donna: likes the plating – “it’s really neat”.
  • George: points out that it comes down to the taste (so, not like the mystery box challenges).
  • Matt: thinks the cutlet is a little bit over (weird, given that it was Jonathan who burnt his rack).
  • Donna: had to chew her meat.
  • George: found his a “little bit more juicier”.
  • Matt: likes the overall milkiness. Milky marron, milky suckling pig and milky puree.


Jonathan gets 7 from Donna, who criticises the naive plating, but praises the “sensational cutlet”, 7 from Matt and 7 from George, who again notes that the pork belly was salty but “wow”. I’m pleased to report that I’ve been focussing on the 7 times table this week, and that it took me almost no time to calculate that the score to beat is 21.

Justin gets a good start on the target with 8 from Donna, who says it was a “food stylist’s dream”. Matt gives him 9, as does George. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I figure that’s 26 and, therefore, a winning score.

Justin gets to hold his head high and Jonathan has had an insight into how much they’ll have to pick up their games to get to that level.

Other notes

  • How has Jonathan never cooked pork? And, yes, I know that there are many people who don’t prepare or eat pork for religious and cultural reasons, but if that were the case for Jonathan, surely he wouldn’t put himself in a position where he’d have to do it, which means that he could (should) have given it some practice prior to the competition.
  • At least we got to see Adam, Alvin, Marion and Skye tonight. I guess we’ll see wotsisname and watsername tomorrow?
  • I’m totally over those practiced exchanges-of-looks between the judges when the contestant’s dish is revealed. It’s all so we’re-giving-nothing-away so therefore pointless.
  • Did I miss when they told us how immunity would work? Can a person with immunity play it right at the point that they’re eliminated, or must they gamble and bust it out to exempt themselves from the immunity challenge? Inquiring minds and all that…
  • Did the recipe state the wrong amount of salt?  If so, it seems a bit crappy for Jonathan to have to judge the correct amount the first time he’s ever cooked a dish (completely leaving aside the fact that this was the first time he’d ever cooked the meat).


1 kate (not THAT Kate!) { 05.11.10 at 10:12 pm }

Yep the I’ve never cooked pork thing was pretty weird. If it was for religious/cultural reasons, a bit bad of the producers to force him into cooking and eating it in this kind of situation (at least in the tasting stage we presume, but maybe he avoided it…). If not, as you suggest, odd not to have practiced.

I can see why they needed Gary (or someone at least) to keep control of proceedings (while the others were off pretending not to know which plate is which). And between him and George, I’d definitely choose Gary – though he looked a bit pissed to be missing out on being the judge!

Also good to have a third, outsider (and female!) judge, especially one who doesn’t have quite the same investment in not antagonising fellow chefs, and thus does give a different perspective.

Jonathon came across a bit more positively tonight – but I’m still glad he didn’t win (the mysterious) immunity.

2 Muru { 05.11.10 at 11:03 pm }

The synopsis for this episode on Foxtel was a bit strange. It said that, for the first time, the contestant would have to pick one of two dishes he’d like to cook against the celebrity chef… Okay then? Clearly that didn’t happen.

I can see how George might get on Donna’s nerves:

Donna: “Well, the food has to look good on the plat—”

3 TDK { 05.11.10 at 11:09 pm }

Pork – apart from chicken, beef, and lamb, is probably one of the most used meat in the kitchen, how can you have not cooked pork before? Is he two years old?!!

This dish was unrealistic. To serve up a plate with three cutlets of pork you have to waste a whole pig?!!
Yeah right. Try that in a restaurant and you’ll go bust.
Just give them pre-cut porks, or just section of the pork to cut off.
It’s not a butcher contest, no one in real life really buys a whole pig and butcher it themselves!! That’s what the local butcher’s for.

Burnt pork skin is actually not a bad thing, scrap it off and the it’s good as ever. I cook bbq pork with crispy skin – and always leave the skin to burn black before scraping it off before serving, just makes the skin more crisper, you’ll have to have a really hot oven though.

Jonathan is annoying (to me) – his talk is very monotone. Keeps his lips very tight when he talks, I perceive this as quite camp, and/or fake emotions.

4 Jayme { 05.11.10 at 11:09 pm }

I assumed that immunity would be the same as last year – the winner is taken on by the chef whose meal they’ve bested them at until the final stage of the competition where they resume training and conpetiting, although with the experience that comes from working full time in a high class restaurant. Is it going to be any different?

5 sourkraut { 05.11.10 at 11:16 pm }

Donna the food stylist. Is that like a hair stylist?
Ch10 Get rid of the initial blathering on the show. It took up over 5 minutes of the 25 minutes non ad time of the show! Display the food and the cooking instead for pity sake!
And when the Uberchefs meal is finally revealed it looks like jackson pollock on a plate. Enough already…. Back to Hamburgers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111 Ha!
Aaah the good old handee ultra wipe comp. good for paper aeroplanes and nappies.
Now anyone from Biafra watching must have wondered about the disgraceful waste of food. Two whole pigs to make two little cutlets. Surely you jest you wankers!
Oh and Johhno where did you find the little mill that makes the sea salty (as the legend goes)?
Comes the 3 stooging sorry judging and the disdainful looks at the first “blind” ho ho dish failed to reveal to a dumb-arse like me which candidates offering it was???????????????
In fact Donna liked the connections on the plate. I dont recall seeing a mobile phone on there.
Then the smiles at plate 2 yes i thought gentle reader it must be Jonnos. Boy woz i a surprised Duck!
Geo what were you going to take the bones home for? a mini back scratcher or a slightly oversized tooth pick?
Well watching the scores i honestly thought Geo was going to give a 4/10 to uberchef thus handing the win to J. would have made for some interesting censorship of the uberchef’s comments. PITY.
Sadly no tears OH DEAR
If this gets worse I’m going to watch the full hour of that big arrogant pig on ch9 at the same time slot.

6 Wurstsemmel { 05.11.10 at 11:21 pm }

Kudos to Johnathan for handling the pig tonight, although Im glad he didn’t win.I prefer last year, on your own and no 20 minute coach from the opponent chef or gallery calls.

7 TDK { 05.11.10 at 11:21 pm }

sourkraut – was it you or the other peson “wurtsomethingorather” that I had problems understand the post lingos?
If it was you, then I am very very slow getting to understand the lingo.. Geo is George.
Not sure what uberchef is though.
Is it my lack of the Australian slang?

8 Pollywaffle { 05.11.10 at 11:30 pm }

Hope Donnas’s hourly rate wasnt too high for that contribution : “That looks messy”; “That one is neat” wow, food stylist perspective adds real value

Hope Im not carrying out like a pork cutlet, but after both Donna and Matt didnt feel the love from their chop, there was a not so subtle stare from George which, I felt, hypnotised them into changing their minds from ” bloody tough” to “milky soft”…. I’ve felt this ‘ get with the program’ vibe in other episodes- someone is about to go full throttle about something not being fab, they start the sledge and real soon they get kicked under the table and, instant amnesia, ‘fabulously innovative, thats 9/10’.

9 lydal { 05.11.10 at 11:52 pm }

Pretty predictable episode tonight. Since the moment Jonathan said I never cooked pig before you knew it was all done. Poor guy! his eyes when he saw the plate seemed to say “I’m in a deep trouble here…where’s the door?” lol
Not sure about his strategy. Maybe this wasn’t a really difficult dish (it didn’t look like ) but trying to copy someone behind you when you’re cooking doesn’t seem useful to me.
I suppose they needed someone to stay around the contestant and to give some “directions” during the challenge as this was what Gary was doing tonight imo. Good to see a female judge though I couldn’t see a lot of new contribution today. And last of all, a small frivolite: what’s about Donna’s high heels?!

10 Pollywaffle { 05.11.10 at 11:57 pm }

high heels- just claiming her vertical space in the line of judges without having to bounce I guess.

Maybe George had it written into her contract, 1(f)… no vertical thrusting ….a la Tom Cruise-like stipulations….I wonder if she is allowed to look the other judges in the eyes or say hello when she walks past them in the corridor? ( Tom apparently has fired lots of studio crew for such transgressions)

11 Anon { 05.12.10 at 12:34 am }

I don’t think Donna Hay added anything to the judging panel. If the sole reason she was added to the panel was down to her gender then shame of MCA.

12 crabtech { 05.12.10 at 2:08 am }

The immunity was explained in earlier shows. Last year there was no immunity but they fast tracked to the finals. However that meant that Julia and Lucas left the show and viewers did not get to know them and their skills especially Julia so this year they decided on the immunity card.
The immunity card gives contestants immuniyu from elimination. Not clear when it is used though. If you have been chosen for elimination or if you say at start of a challenge before you know if you are in danger!!

13 crabtech { 05.12.10 at 2:20 am }

I just had a look at the recipe on masterchef and it says 200 grams of salt! Who would use so much salt on the small amount of pork belly they used! I would not use that much on whole pig. Also 2 litres of duck fat! Where does one buy duck fat! This is a walking heart attack waiting to happen!

14 CG { 05.12.10 at 2:29 am }

Oh well, I got Dom’s elimination right and really thought it was time for a celebrity chef beat up? But I guess there are very few Australian celebrity chefs willing to endure the humiliation of being beat by an MC amateur. Wonder if Pete Evans will be back to take the fall or is he person no grata due to the cheap imposter that is MKR? Donna Hay added zilch and having her sway around in her heels is ridiculous and insulting to qualified female chefs who would be far better in the role (e.g. Chritine Mansfield).

Clearly the introduction of the female judge is before Gary’s accident. I wonder what lead the producers to come to the conclusion mid-course they needed to change: I think it was less the desire to have a female judge and more the need (apparently) to have someone talk thru the challenges while maintaining the blind testing approach they thankfully put in place this year (although they need to do the same for the elimination cookoffs like Jono-Adele earlier this week).

BTW all your gals who swoom over Manu, you can have him…I’ll take me a Justin North any day. He is very sexy. Woo!

15 GetSomePorkOnYourFork { 05.12.10 at 4:17 am }

If you google his name a wedding annoucement comes up and he belongs to a faith which doesn’t eat pork.
However, given that the Woman’s Day article says he ‘originally won Mandy’s heart with a six-course dinner including champagne and oysters…’ he clearly doesn’t follow the faith’s strict dietary laws.
Besides if he wants to become a cook in a commerical kitchen (in Australia) chances are they’ll have this meat on the menu.

16 tosca { 05.12.10 at 7:33 am }

Didn’t anyone even notice that wasnt a suckling pig?? Suckling – meaning still suckling its mother ….. it was a bit more than 12kg I think. Still, to show the real thing would have upset too many people that are out of touch with the reality of where their food comes from wouldn’t it?

17 kate (not THAT Kate!) { 05.12.10 at 8:11 am }

I don’t agree about Donna – she actually commented that the meat was chewy vs melt in the mouth (until kicked into submission by George and not voting it down that much – but at least she didn’t give it a 9), and messy is actually quite a good descriptor (a lot less pretnetious than some of George’s). In any case, needs time for the new panel approach to settled in.

Pretty sure the coaching and ‘blind’ testing things happened last year, just made less of.

And if Jonathan is Jewish as the net suggests, I’m pretty disappointed that the show hasn’t respected this. Sure if he took a job in a commercial kitchen he might have to cook pork – but he isn’t in a commercial kitchen. I don’t think we have to go overboard in being PC – but we do live in a multicultural country and I wouldn’t have thought it was that hard to take this into account. Is the show going to de facto exclude any practising Jews or Muslims from competing?

And as for the huge waste of meat/loads and loads of fat. I shudder to think what this show is doing to the health and ecology of Australia, with its continuing encouragement of high fat, high sugar, high cholesterol and high salt cooking.

18 Injera { 05.12.10 at 8:15 am }

Kate (NTK) – one of the sleuths reading this has deduced that Jonathan does avoid pork for religious reasons. I wonder whether this was taken into consideration at all, or whether there was any behind-the-scenes angst over it?

Muru – oh, I wonder if that’s a spoiler for a future ep? Love the description of the Donna/George interaction!

TDK – good point, lots of waste. And, as someone further down the thread pointed out, not exactly a suckling pig. The only time I’ve seen whole suckling pig, it fitted on a tray. Mmmm, tender piglet! I’m definitely going to try your burning thing.

Sourkraut and Pollywaffle – Agree that, on the basis of the comments, you’d think Johnathan had won. After all, Donna liked the plating of Justin’s, but most of the positives about the flavour (and it’s all about that, isn’t it George?) was for Johnathan’s.

Wurstsemmel – I remember a couple of chefs last year giving the contestants a lot of help. I think Martin Boetz from Longgrain was very generous with tips on the egg net (and why is my brain retaining that and not something important?).

Lydal – heels! They were high. Perhaps Pollywaffle is right and she wanted to position herself at the Matt end of the spectrum with no bouncing.

Crabtech – the duck fat is for the confit, and most of it is “reclaimed” after cooking (basically the meat poaches in the fat and can be stored in it for, well, pretty much ages. When you come to heat it up, you render the fat off, or scrape it off.). A lot of poultry shops have jars or cans of duck fat. You’ll never look at roast potatoes the same way after you roast them in duck or goose fat!

CG – you’re right – Gary seemed steady on his pins. It’s interesting that they have made this change, as Donna said it was specifically for the celebrity chef challenges. Curious.

GetSomePorkOnYourFork – interesting, although then I’d imagine he’d say he wouldn’t handle it. I guess long term if he wants to establish his own place he could leave the pig out of it.

Tosca – good point!

19 Injera { 05.12.10 at 8:18 am }

(Apols for the dodgy spelling of Jonathan scattered in that last comment!)

20 GetSomePorkOnYourFork { 05.12.10 at 9:25 am }

Sorry my point what i meant was that oysters aren’t kosher either and given Womans Day says he used them to woo his wife perhaps cooking the pork wasn’t that much of a problem for him then – he’s probably not a religious/practising Jew?
Given the time they take to film an episode surely he would have said he wasn’t comfortable with cooking pork? I don’t think channel 10 would have made him cook it if he didn’t want too, that would be bad PR.

21 Injera { 05.12.10 at 10:06 am }

GetSomePorkOnYourFork – Oh, yes, I did get that from your comment (sorry if my early morning brain wasn’t properly switched on).

22 KC { 05.12.10 at 10:43 am }

This is a totally irrelevant question but why is the people observing upstairs called the peanut gallery? 😀 I’ve always wondered but I never figured it out

23 ericg { 05.12.10 at 10:48 am }

Injera: I didn’t watch this episode and perhaps the next would be a weekend episode or the finale as I can’t take the crap, yet it is good to have an update from you or RR. Thanks.

And I agree with Kate’s argument (not that Kate!) as the Master Classes until today aren’t doing justice to the health system in Australia. As for the respect for other religions/ cultures, there might be a clause or two stating this reality TV will not serve Halal meat, or some ingredients might be offensive, bla bla bla?

24 Rusty { 05.12.10 at 11:34 am }

Just for the record, all you disdainers

– I’ve never cooked pork, either
– I am not Jewish or Muslim
– I have cooked in a commercial kitchen ( admittedly not in Oz or in a kitchen with pretensions to chef’s hats. I don’t remember it ever being on the menu the whole 12 months I worked there)

25 Rusty { 05.12.10 at 11:43 am }

But I have cooked rabbit, pheasant, deer and (helped) slaughter, and butchered and cooked goat and kid!

26 Izobel2 { 05.12.10 at 12:02 pm }

The peanut gallery refers to the seats in the theatre or at a show that are right up the back – like in the cheap section.
I just looked up this too: (figurative) people whose criticisms are regarded as irrelevant or insignificant (resembling uneducated people who throw peanuts on the stage to express displeasure with a performance); “he ignored complaints from the peanut gallery”

27 seepi { 05.12.10 at 12:36 pm }

I suspect they were hoping for Jonathan to complain about the pork. Last year they loved making the vegetarian girl agonise over mince.

28 CG { 05.12.10 at 1:54 pm }

In the last celebrity chef challenge do you recall Gary apologised for his score to the chef….perhaps Donna Hay has come in as a judge for the celebrity chef sessions only with Gary playing host is because Gary (unlike George) doesn’t like judging his peers? Or, perhaps there was a little disagreement on set that a celebrity chef could/should be beaten in these contests and Gary disagreed and refuses to play a part?! Yes, another of my conspiracy theories. Shoot me.

29 Fides { 05.12.10 at 2:03 pm }

I’d like to see Donna on the Monday pressure test eliminations too. Then she can assess and compare the “food styling” when one of them isn’t a renowned chef.

Agree upthread about the Jono’s monotone – it’s like the Pete Evans monotone. However, Jono makes up for it with his crazy eyes. They are really revealing and told the whole story last night. They should just mute his talking heads and let us watch his eyes…

Perhaps they need Gary as the adjudicator to avoid the celeb chef doing too much of the contestant’s dish – last week Callum got a lot of extra help with his dessert, more than just her giving advice.

Can’t wait to see tonight’s ep : Tetsuya!

30 sourkraut { 05.12.10 at 2:40 pm }

yes Geo is george. Problem is I am lazy and hence abbreviate names.
Uber chef comes from the german (kraut) language and more or less means above or superior, hence the invited celebrity chef is expected to be above or superior to the MC contestant chef and as I was too lazy to look up his name i used this term. Sorry bout that.

31 TDK { 05.12.10 at 3:14 pm }

sourkraut – super sour? 😛

32 Heléna { 05.13.10 at 12:59 am }

@CG I thought about this tonight and think the producers may have felt they needed a host for that segment, rather than letting the chef show/explain the dish, after the judges exit – I just wish they had not picked Donna Hay – while I appreciate her success – I just don’t warm to her on air

33 sourkraut { 05.13.10 at 3:16 pm }

Probably only as sour as the lemon in the reds entree last night.