Masterchef – French letters
We are back in the Masterchef kitchen again. How can we miss it if it won’t go away? Anyway, let’s get into it.
To kick things off, it’s the customary team selection for the Wednesday night challenge. And, as is also customary, being team captain is sold as a “reward” for the Sunday night win. How can this be? I give up on trying to figure it out. I also give up on trying to work out how choosing colours is important. Unfortunately, the system used last week is out of favour, and we are back with that annoying pick-one-who-picks-one strategy, starting with the captain. I will concede that choosing the opposing captain could be important, and Jonathan chooses Daniel. My response is “who?”, but Marion’s surprised at the choice, given that he’s a strong cook. Apparently. I mean, how would we know, we never get to see him.
Jonathan’s team: Fiona who picks Matthew, who picks Claire, then Callum, Jimmy, Phillip, Joanne, Carrie, Aaron.
Daniel’s team: Peter picks Marion, who picks Adam, then Courtney, Alvin, Skye, Sharnee, Jake.
Aaron is the “non-choice” as Daniel chooses Jake over him, and he cracks the shits.
Next morning, they pop on their coloured aprons in the house and there is commentary over how that changes the dynamic within the group. So, what happens in the Masterchef kitchen no longer stays in the Masterchef kitchen.
Boxes are delivered – one for red and one for blue. They have a letter in French and a dictionary to translate. Fortunately Claire can read French, which she does, aloud, rather unnecessarily. They really only need her to translate, not read, and she gets around to that after a bit. It is a huge advantage for the blues, since the red team is reliant on the dictionary and seems to be taking forever. The upshot is that each team has to find a book with a Masterchef symbol and choose their three course menu from that book.
Callum finds the first book, which is by Michel Roux, and the blues also get the second book, by Tony Bilson. They act like prats, holding on to both while they choose and telling the waiting reds to go away to let them choose IN PEACE. They select the Tony Bilson book, leaving Michel Roux for the reds.
The blues finalise their menu and run off to the International College of Management in Manly, while the reds continue selecting their menu. They seem to work quickly and head off.
As the blues arrive, Callum thinks the deteriorating weather is worth noting, so I’m guessing there will be an outdoor eating challenge? Otherwise that is really irrelevant information. Matt greets them with the news that they will get a 15 minute head start for being first to arrive. They’ll be cooking a three course meal which we already know. It must be ready by noon, but we don’t know what time it is now. Thanks, Matt. If they win, they’ll be going to an exciting kitchen for lunch with Matt, but if they lose, all members of the losing team will be up for elimination.
Each team gets a mentor. So I guess the Blues are getting Tony Bilson and the Reds will get Michel Roux. MICHEL ROUX! Poor Tony has to come out and stand in the rain to receive his applause. Aaron is pumped, as he reminds us that the man on the landing is the very man who wrote the book Jo is clutching. We get a close up of the name on the cover to verify this. Claire says they’re feeling chipper with their head-start and their extra person, even if that extra person is the one nobody wanted. Poor Aaron.
As the reds arrive, Adam tells us that Matt is standing there in all his glory. Tuxedo, people, he’s wearing a tuxedo! The reds welcome Michel Roux. They look way more excited than the blues did. No offence, Tony, but this man has an accent. When Matt asks him what makes a good dish, he responds with “sophistication and simplicity with the best ingredients”. Sage advice.
The mentoring gets off to a flying start when Michel steers the reds from their chosen pigeon main towards the duck. Skye seems to be on the verge of a “but” (it has Asian influences, and the instruction was for classic French) but the others all fall into place.
In the blue kitchen, Jimmy’s taking the breast from the duck, Aaron is terrified that the lobster won’t be perfect and Carrie is working on the creme brulee with poached peaches with Jo and Phil. They are all concerned that if their dish or part thereof fails, it will let the team down.
In the red kitchen Marion is filleting the duck. Adam is talking vegies and is hoping that the judges don’t punish the team for the Asian style accompaniment. Sharnee is making the pistachio creme anglaise and Skye is taking care of the peaches and balancing the subtle peachiness with the rosemary. Courtney says that she is working on the oysters, but I can see Jake with a shucker and that makes me nervous (not as nervous as the oysters, though). Alvin is discussing the relevant amounts of lemon for his coulis with Michel.
The way Carrie is interviewing about the importance of setting the brulee makes me think it’s not going to. Jo is dealing with the pastry and is making Jonathan angry. No, “furious”.
Gary and George come in to bellow a bit about some surprise guest judges. Marion says “what else can they throw at us?” as though Michel and Tony are liabilities, not mentors.
Daniel seems to be taking control in the kitchen quite well. Gary comes in to tell them that they have 30 minutes to go and they need to do an extra dish, using Chandon Cuvee Riche for the sponsors, I guess. Michel suggests a strawberry mousse with a poached strawberry cocktail.
George breaks the extra course news to the blue team. Jonathan? Is not happy. He seems to say that they are doing a tart with tomatoes and a sabayon, but this doesn’t make much sense. Tony is only concerned about how the plating will go – he’s particularly worried about the knife skills, and he must think that Donna Hay is on the judging panel. Jimmy gets the duck out to show Tony, who is HORRIFIED that it might be overcooked. Jimmy is thoroughly chastened and Jonathan is glowering. Guess what? Claire’s brulee hasn’t set – who’d’ve thought. Jimmy’s duck breasts, fortunately, are “cooked to perfection” (his description).
Marion’s duck also looks perfect, but she’s still worried that it’s not a French classic – can they use “we was suckered into it by our hero-worship for a classic French chef?” as their excuse?
George and Gary count down their respective teams. I’m so glad they won’t be on the judging panel today.
The judges are revealed: Guillaume Brahimi and Tetsuya Wakuda. The teams dissolve into worshipful lathers.
Adam pronounces Tetsuya Wakuda convincingly, but I don’t know this Guillaume Burani.
Alvin’s Cucumber coulis and Jake’s poached oysters
G – gets a lot of bitterness, “maybe too much lemon” (duh DUH!)
T – very much enjoyed the oysters. “wonderful. A nice dish”
Smoked duck breast with stir-fried vegetables (Marion and Adam)
T – perfectly cooked, and “very, very, very tender”
M – “I love the combination”… but he questions whether it is classic French (duh DUH!!!)
G – finds it very Not French
Strawberry Chandon Mousse (Daniel)
M – “wonderfully smooth, but lacking in strawberry flavour”. On the positive side, he loves the liquor
Poached White Peach with pistachio creme anglaise (Skye and Sharnee)
G – perfectly poached
T – feels that the pistachio is too course, “it should be like silk”
Roasted Lobster (Aaron, Matthew)
G – “Magnifique” AND applause! I’m so happy for Aaron (oh, and Matthew)! Sucks to those who didn’t want him.
Duck a l’orange (Jimmy, Claire)
T – “I love it”
M – wants to have a whole pile of the fig compote
G – “This is French cuisine!”
Tomato Champagne Sabayon
G – should be a palate cleanser but it’s too sweet
M – a “sweet sledgehammer”
Creme Brulee (Carrie, Joanne “I didn’t make the brulee”, Phillip)
M – brulee not set properly, “which throws the dish out of whack”
T – is a bit upset. No, really, he said “upset”.
Thanks, Claire, for recapping, but I’m sure we can all remember what happened just before the Perfect Italiano ad.
Matt finally reveals where the winners will go – Pilu at Freshwater. He talks up the red team, before getting to the negatives: the lemony coulis, the grainy pistachio, and the Asian main.
Recap, recap. Matt – you want my job, buddy?
The blues’ lobster was the dish of the day and the duck was Tetsuya’s favourite, but the dessert was a disaster. A DISASTER.
Daniel, do you think you’ve won? “Yep.” Good on him for honesty. Jonathan starts to cry when Matt asks how he’ll feel if his team goes to elimination.
Drag, drag, drag it out. Jeez, and they criticised the UK version for its ponderousness, if I recall.
Blue wins, so Jonathan’s tears and overall snippishness are in vain. Unfortunately. I have failed to warm to that man.
Blues go to Pilu, and reds face elimination.
- Was there a 15 minute penalty or were the reds just 15 minutes later?
- Did Michel steer the reds towards duck so it would be duck vs duck?
- Am I the only person who didn’t know Tetsuya trained in the French classics?
- Will Joanne find her pillowcase stuffed with runny custard tonight?
- If there hadn’t been a surprise fourth dish, would the team captains have taken responsibility for nothing?
- How do people feel about the fact that the whole team faces elimination?
“I’m hoping to avoid donning the black apron” is my new favourite phrase.