Masterchef – I can’t believe it’s not butter!
And so begins another week in and around the Masterchef kitchen. I use the term “around” loosely, since we will be heading to Melbourne this week. Ah, yes, I remember being discombobulated by film crews at the Queen Vic Market earlier in the year. Just in case you’d forgotten what happened last week, we get a recap – we lost Phil and [not Callum] Daniel (thanks, Sooty, Helene and Eric!) – and just in case you are incapable of watching a TV show without some hint of what is to come, we get previews – pizza, unusual ingredients, and George yelling “Come on Aussie!”.
Marion is grateful that she’s still in the competition, saying that last week was “massive” and this week will be “huge”. That’s all the house action we’ll be getting, as our contestants have arrived at the Masterchef kitchen to find a row of bew-ti-ful zesty ovens (is “zesty” a brand name?). Alvin interviews that he doesn’t make pizza. Oh, Alvin, it’s all about the comfort zone. Inside the Masterchef kitchen is the dough recipe, and a bunch of ingredients including the sponsors awful cheese. They are expected to make a lovely dish using that? Eeeew. The time limit is 45 minutes, and Adam is keen on getting that all-important key ingredient advantage for the invention test.
Sharnee is getting stuck into her pizza dough, whilst the others are all grabbing topping ingredients. Fiona is doing pear, blue cheese, rocket and something else. Wise choice – Perfect Italiano probably doesn’t do the blue cheese. Alvin’s is bacon with pine-nut caramel and lime juice. It sounds… courageous. Who dares, wins, I guess. George warns him not to burn the base, where I’d have thought that better advice would be to change his toppings. Sharnee is making a four cheese pizza, and Gary is panicking because he thinks they’re running out of time. Adam is being ambitious with the idea of a three course pizza, which sounds a bit Willy Wonka. All toppings will be on the one pizza, apparently. “That sounds awful” says Gary, and the Injera household, in unison. Fiona’s worried about not getting done and seems to have been over-generous with her toppings. We nearly get to see a pizza-dropping disaster, but unfortunately she regains her balance and has a completed pizza to offer to the judges. Sharnee is one of the first finished with her cheese and fig pizza, but Alvin is pleased to have finished a pizza, as ugly as it looks. Countdown to… fireball. So, we’ve seen four contestants in detail. I wonder how many pizzas will be tasted?
Bouncing and bellowing from Gary, who tells us there will be three pizzas tasted. Whatever. Sharnee is up first. Gary tears her doughy pizza base apart (literally) and tells her that the base was the reason they called her up. He likes it. We get to see George eating in profile, which is an experience I’d be happy not to have again. His assessment? “Well done, Sharnee”. Alvin is up next, which has to be some kind of a joke. Matt tells him they liked the “kick” in the pastry around the outside. So, they’re tasting three and one of the three is something they don’t think is going to be much chop. It has a “yum yuckness” about it. Our last pizza to be tasted is Fiona’s. She’s hoping to impress the judges, but she hasn’t got much competition, based on the fact that they tasted a turd that had only barely been polished, and one other. Gary likes Fiona’s and Matt finds it “clever and balanced”.
Matt says that there were lots of good ideas – okay, we’ll take your word for it mate, since the editors didn’t show us any – and then disappears in flames before he can tell us what the best one was. When we come back, Matt says that they tasted “three excellent pizzas”, so they must have snuck in an extra one after Alvin’s. Fiona is declared the winner and she’s happy to get the boost of confidence.
Gary decides that this would be a good time to explain how the invention test works, because he obviously thinks that this show is garnering new fans, not just alienating old ones. Carrie doesn’t want to be in the bottom three – good to see that she’s setting her sights high. The theme is “modern Australian”. Peter is thrilled, as is Claire. Matthew always wears that grin, so I can’t really read him – his grin is his poker face. Unfortunately, George doesn’t bust out the “I’m as Greek as a souvlaki” song that went with the ads for multiculturalism of my childhood.
Fiona has a choice of prawns, lamb and fruit. Just in case Fiona’s a bit dense, Gary reminds her that she has to make a choice and reiterates the choices that are right in front of her. She considers giving the other contestants a “hiccup”. She chose the fruit, much to the dismay of Peter and Marion. And Jimmy.
Skye is thinking pav, Claire is doing a bavarois. “It’s advance Australia food,” says George, and the contestants are polite (or sycophantic) enough to laugh because that? Was not funny. Marion is devastated that she HAS to cook a dessert, which fits in with the discussion we’re having on the couch. Do they have to make dessert? Does the fact that the “core ingredient” is fruit mean nobody can try savoury? Carrie is making a souffle, which prompts George to ask whether her dish will be light and fluffy and she assures him it will be, which means that it won’t be. Der. Jimmy’s making a rice pudding, which sounds like it could be nice, but is it Modern Australian? That’s a question Gary is asking, too. Sharnee is making meringue and Fiona is doing coconut pannacotta, with a macadamia praline. It’s pretty sensible of her to experiment with a couple of different shapes. Peter is making a rice pudding, which prompts Gary to say “I love rice pudding!”. Huh. He didn’t say that to Jimmy.
“This is the great Australian dream!” yells George. Really?
Skye is making lychee toffee, because she failed at that in the team challenge. Hopefully she’s perfected that technique. Sharnee’s meringues look pretty (she thinks) but aren’t sweet enough. Carrie is worried. This time last year, I was thinking of creating a macro for “Julie panics” so I hope that’s not an indicator of things to come. Skye’s toffee looks amazing. Claire is being talked up by the judges, and just as they finish praising her she realises that she forgot to get butter from the pantry, so her lime curd won’t be memorable. Marion is pleased with hers, but acknowledges the riskiness of putting fish sauce in a dessert. Claire’s disappointed, but doesn’t cry. Sharnee thinks hers is a disgrace, but doesn’t cry. Peter’s moulds collapse, but he doesn’t cry, either. We’re making progress, if not with the cooking, then with the emotional resilience.
- Sharnee is called up first and is reconsidering her commitment to meringue. Gary is disappointed with the pavlova, but loves the way the cream is “squidged” and adores the lime syrup. George foofs up the presentation, or so he thinks. Maybe this dish looks better in real life than on TV, because it doesn’t look very appealing, but George says she’s “kicking goals”.
- Carrie – “not cooked” says Matt. He’s generous enough to think that five minutes would have made a difference.
- Jimmy – “not one of your best. The rice is gluggy, heavy and the banana bread is raw in the centre”.
- Skye – “You’ve come an awfully long way in a very short time,” says Matt. “Spectacular.”
- Fiona – “it looks terrible, the mango is cut very clumsily.” Wow – winning the pizza challenge did amazing things for her.
- Marion – Gary goes back for more. “It is like *bang* in my mouth!” George massages his head in ecstasy.
- Claire – she walks off, crying, even though apparently doing so is not her style. She’s feeling insecure about lacking “a rich, cultural history” that some others have. Or she forgot to get butter. Seriously.
- Peter – “heavy, soapy, chalky”. So, a win for Peter? Unfortunately not.
Sharnee, Skye and Marion. Sharnee cries. And here I was thinking we were beyond the tears. Before announcing the winner, Gary says that they will gain a huge amount of power in the competition. Marion wins! And is not just getting to tilt at the windmill of the pro chef, but will get another super dooper prize that is a surprise. One that will probably be spoiled in the previews. They leave to savour their victory.
Carrie, Peter and Jimmy.
Everyone else is dismissed. What, you ask? Everyone else? Why, surely there are only another couple of people left? Claire, Alvin and Adam, right? But… who are all the people congregating in the background. Matthew? Jonathan? Aaron? Joanne? Jake? Adam? (And even Callum?) Huh, well, wouldn’t you know. They weren’t all dismissed from the competition in a group elimination that I somehow missed. They were there all the time! Wonder what they did tonight…