Masterchef – cream coloured ponies and crisp apple streudels
“We need to make sure we keep the right people in this competition” says Gary in the preview, which makes me clench my teeth, since I know that statement was taken from the completely unnecessary inquisition that will take place once the dishes have been tasted and judged. Unnecessary unless they’re not looking for the best cook, but Ms/Mr Congeniality, that is. Why, I wonder, does the Monday night elimination involve this agonising interview, but the Thursday night elimination doesn’t? I mean, the guess the herb method of elimination is far more arbitrary – more based on luck – than the actual cooking test, isn’t it?
Duh-DUH! Daniel’s assuming there will be a recipe. It would be far more interesting for us if the preview hadn’t already spoiled that twist. Actually, can it be a “twist” if it’s announced to the viewers up front? I mean, twists in novels are obviously known to the author, but are hidden from the reader. Aren’t we the “readers” in this situation? Why are they giving away the surprises, unnecessarily, ahead of time.
If Alvin doesn’t make it through, it will be the end of his world. Clearly the only way to get into the food industry is via a reality show. I only wish I’d seen the season that produced Andrew McConnell.
Sorry about all the preamble, but it’s 8 minutes in and they’re still flapping their gums. And wiggling their fingers nervously. And making expansive gestures. Alvin’s already blinking back tears.
Schnitzel, coleslaw and chips.
Daniel has never cooked schnitzel and he never orders it. George believes they won’t be able to make this unless they galvanise all the flavours on their palates. As they taste, Alvin decides the meat is pork, but Fiona is convinced it’s veal. Daniel – the schnitzel virgin – strips the crumb off completely in order to best identify the meat and concludes that it’s veal. Alvin clutches his forehead as he realises he missed an opportunity to do that, too, but I think he’s pretty safe with his pork assessment. I hope Daniel is also tasting the crumbing mixture so that he can ID the elements there.
Gary lets our contestants know that they have 45 minutes to complete their dish, and can go to the pantry as often as they like. Unfortunately they don’t get to hit a time-out clock whenever they go into the pantry, so he advises them against “wasting time” there.
Alvin grabs his pork and Fiona thinks she’s picked up veal but she’s not sure. Daniel doesn’t know which one is veal, so goes for “vealish”. Daniel is first out of the kitchen. Alvin has decided that he doesn’t want to revisit the pantry, so piles up his shopping basket.
Fiona is mixing panko and standard breadcrumbs, but Aaron interviews that even from the moon you could see that the breadcrumbs are fresh. Alvin realises this, and grabs a sourdough, but loses my respect when he says “this is Masterchef, so everything has to be done from scratch”. Is he new? This is the show that uses Real Stock. And accepts “stock” as a correct answer in a taste test. Daniel is also using sourdough and then moves onto the cabbage for the coleslaw “like a ninja with a knife”, according to Joanne. Alvin thinks his slicing looks a bit amateur. I hope he means that in the sense of “one of the 18 best amateur cooks in the country”. The Gs visit to freak him out a bit and it seems to work, as Alvin is immediately consumed by a fireball.
We return to the fray, and a detailed recap from Callum. Fiona is feeling okay with 15 minutes to go but is tempted to skip the mandoline guard. Fortunately the watchers on the cast-iron balcony berate her so we are spared bloody coleslaw. The Gs approach and get her second guessing herself over the crumbs, and then question her choice of meat. Daniel is, at least, honest enough to cop to not knowing what the meat in the taste test was, or what the meat he selected is. He hasn’t added anything but parsley to the crumb and doesn’t seem to take the Gs heavy hints that perhaps there could be other elements.
Fiona is making a mayonnaisse for the first time ever, but Daniel is using a jar. Alvin is also a mayo virgin but has at least seen somebody make it before. The Gs are worried and George lets us smug home viewers know that if we’re thinking “I coulda made a snitzel” that we couldn’t. No way, no how.
Alvin realises he hasn’t flattened out his meat, and there’s a wild flurry of plating as Gary counts down. Time is up and I think Fiona had a sob. Joanne is having a bit of a weep too, I think, and the other contestants seem to be rallying around Alvin who has lost all hope and, to cap it off, suffers yet another fireball attack. Some people are just born unlucky.
Daniel’s up first and is worried that he’s going to look like a bit of an idiot over the meat. He tells Matt that it’s a veal schnitzel and cops to using mayo from the jar, and then tells the judges that the others made mayo. Matt keeps grilling him on the meat and there’s an uncomfortable silence. Daniel is sent away while the judges taste his dish. George reveals that it’s a pork schnitzel and that Daniel picked pork, which is a problem since that means he fails the palate and the knowledge test. The chips look brilliant, I think. Jowls wiggle and wobble as the dish is tasted. Matt laments the lack of real mayo and Gary doesn’t like the overcooked meat. The chips are as good as they look.
Fiona is happy with all the elements of her dish, but then admits that there are flaws. Fiona says that she tasted veal and confirms that she went after veal in the pantry. George asks a pretty pointless question about how she’d feel if she went home having not replicated the dish, which is what will happen if ANY of them go home given that this is the challenge. He is disappointed by the packet crumbs, but excited by the thyme. Gary is disappointed by the mayo, but Matt loves the escalopes of meat.
The Gs are horrified by the ignorance they have encountered so far, so I’m guessing they are going to apologise for having repeatedly told us that these are the country’s best amata shefs.
Alvin gets a smile from them over identifying the meat, but then has a bit of a weep and gives a “from the heart” speech. They send him away so they can taste his dish. Gary notes that his is not cooked enough, but notes that George’s looks okay. The coleslaw needs finesse. Matt thinks there is a lot of the good stuff in the dish and George is excited by the crumbing.
Matt concludes that there are some flaws, and Gary raises my blood pressure again with his “we’ll ask them some tough questions” schtick. Because a good answer can retrospectively make the cooking good? No? Then pass your judgement now, you schmucks.
Alvin interviews that the judges, having tasted all the dishes, will now tell them who is going home. Clearly he IS new – doesn’t he know about the inquisition? Oh, yeah, nobody expects the (Spanish) inquisition – I know, I know.
Matt tries to tip the contenders off by telling them that it was a “pig” of a challenge, but nobody twigs. Fiona nods when Alvin is praised, but then Matt kind of undermines the whole “they should know this” thing by saying it was a “tricky, tricky” test. Fiona gets props for the thyme in her packet crumb.
Daniel is asked to talk about what he does in the real world and I’m going to make myself a cup of calming tea BECAUSE THIS MAKES ME REALLY SHOUTY!
Back in time to see Fiona burned alive by the fireball, which I’m taking as a good omen for Alvin’s survival. I still heart Alvin, despite the tears.
Fiona’s safe. Blerg. Alvin is safe. Weep. Daniel is out and Matt tells him to spend some time in the kitchen working out where he wants to go. George wants to know what’s on his mind. He says he won’t go back to crappy office work, but now it’s all about Alvin and I’m kind of hearting him a little less right now. Daniel looks a bit over the histrionics and leaves with his dignity intact.
Back at the house, they’re all worried about Alvin. Claire interviews that Dan will be hard to beat, and Jimmy thinks it’ll be a toss-up between Fiona and Alvin. They’ll be surprised, then. The lift door opens and… Sharnee is shocked that Fiona is with Alvin. Matthew is sad for Dan, but Alvin has completed his transformation into Sally Field. He is surprised and touched to learn that they really, really like him…