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Masterchef Australia – Molecular Gastronomy – You Mean The Foam And Liquid Nitro Challenge?

I thought the molecular gastronomy based theme was a really difficult challenge, and something you might see on Top Chef where they are professional chefs. Even Gordon Ramsay on his show Hell’s Kitchen would not even touch it with his diner trained contestants, hell he does not even let them sous vide on that program.

Masterchef Australia is really starting to heat up, maybe due to the lower amount of contestants (after tomorrow only ten left ) so we actually get to see what they can do. Also I thought the Matt Preston of old was on the judging panel. Passionate, articulate and evocative without having to ham it up.

Tonight they ditched the humiliating team selection and just divided the line down the middle. Brent Savage of The Bentley Bar in Sydney (which has had some amazing reviews), and Ryan Squires who is a top Brisbane chef  were the mentors/advisers.

The brief was toe] create a three course meal to a set theme being as creative  as possible, that is using molecular gastronomy. So in short hand this could be the foam and liquid nitrogen challenge.

The blue team I thought pulled the short straw and got the carnival theme so had to be inspired by the food you would get at Luna Park or at a circus. So they were looking at fairy floss, popcorn and dagwood dogs, because really what else is there?

Whereas the red team had the beach theme so they naturally went with seafood. Which made me wonder what the red team were actually thinking of making when Claire said to camera “Ryan has made us focus on the natural aspects of the beach rather then the man made elements… it really changed how we were thinking about it.”

I am not quite sure what elements on a beach are not natural.

Callum hinted they were thinking of the coconut smell of suntan lotion. Which turned up  in dessert in a coconut ice cream. I was surprised he used  coconut essence to flavour it and not real coconut or coconut cream.  Or maybe I am being harsh, maybe the point of molecular gastronomy is not to use real ingredients at all.

There was some drama in the blue kitchen with Brent rejecting a lot of their dish selections like scallops with liquorice topping. Aaron was not happy with Brent kyboshing the blue teams menu saying “I am not feeling great, I am not feeling inspired.”

And they really seemed to struggle all challenge.

Jono told Skye she that she needed 10 gms of gellin in the popcorn ice cream however he did appear to convey he was not 100 per cent sure. That turned the ice-cream in to glug, but to give Jono his due he did fix it. It was later reveal by the judges that you only needed .05 grams per litre of ice-cream mix. Jono and Skye obviously don’t know what the molecular means in molecular gastronomy. I also don’t know why they did not ask Brent Savage how much they would need.

In the red kitchen Adam was blowtorching sword fish, and Matt was blowing out blue bottles. I query where there were a few breaches in the food standards with Matthew’s technique.

In both kitchen’s it looked like it was going pear shaped but in the last 10 seconds it all comes together and the requisite number of plates were served up.

Jonathan had a quick slash at Aaron saying “We should have had our food served up an hour ago”. How can you have scallops sitting their for an hour? I note that Aaron had toned himself down this week and was not as bossy.

The first team to be judged was the blue team on the Carnival theme. Joanne had decorated the room to look like a low rent version of Posh and Becks wedding reception. The judges were critical that there was no popcorn or fairy floss smell when they entered the room, maybe they should have hired a dwarf from an acting agency  to serve the dinner to get that carnie atmosphere going.

The blue teams entree of scallops with beetroot and chips was meant to be inspired by a ferris wheel. Gary thought a ferris wheel was round and this dish was not. Aaron squirmed and said the scallops were round and the beetroot started off as round.

Matt Preston thought the beetroot puree dominated to much, but George liked the chips.

There main was a Deconstructed Dagwood Dog, with mustard being served in a toothpaste dispenser I thought was pretty inspired. And I now know pork is the meat in a pluto pup. But Gary was not happy because there was no frankfurt element to the dish nor sweet tomato sauce. Clearly he was in need of his daily fat and salt fix.

However the judges loved Skye’s Popcorn Icecream even though the blue vodka topping did not light up. Matt thought the dessert was the one dish that captured the essence of the challenge.

The red team’s room received a more favourable response, as did their very clever amuse bouche, surf lifesaver tang with raspberry jelly.

I was a bit bemused that Matt was so complimentary about it saying there was a lot of tantic acid and sugar.

First up was Marion’s dish of Rockpool Squid with tomato and kombu consomme. George  loved it but Matt thought the squid was too slimey.

The main of Kingfish and crispy prawns received the praise from Matt that it was one of the best dishes in the competition so far.

“Beautifully executed” said George.

But Callum and Matthew’s dessert did not fair as well. The Suntan lotion ice cream with lemon cake did not taste or evoke the beach.

It was a no-brainer that the red team would win and they would go to lunch with David Change of Momofuku fame. For those reality TV junkies, David Chang worked for a number of years for Tom Collichio, who is a judge on Top Chef.

The blue team face elimination. The interesting thing is the whole blue team are up. First a basic skills test where they have to cook a nominated dish. Blog read NT Kate had only just commented today that these sorts of tests should be elimination challenges to test their food knowledge, rather then the taste test.

However the bottom two from that challenge will face a taste test with the loser being eliminated. I hope Channel Ten have not stuffed up their editing as it implied Jonathan and Aaron were the bottom two.  I am hoping there will be some production company manipulation and Sharnee will be eliminated.


1 NT Kate { 06.12.10 at 10:22 am }

Hmm, my post here at 49 was supposed to be on the curry challenge, oops, sorry – feel free to delete it RR!

2 Melbourne Food Depot { 06.14.10 at 8:29 pm }

Oh RR,
This was the EP that we supplied product and I went to Sydney to advise on in March 2010. Everyone had an extensive briefing regarding the products including the guest chefs & producers. It turns out that the guest chefs were not allowed to have any input, they were more like sounding boards for ideas without supplying a strong direction to the contestants.

Being in the control room watching Skye put the whole packet of Gellan Gum into the ice cream I knew what was going to happen. I expressed this to the producers and they were wrapped that it was a stuff up. Once it was on film Brent came out of the blue teams kitchen into the control room and we both figured out a way to save it. This was then passed onto Jonno to save it. GC was also happy that it had happened but I wanted him to mention that it is so important to read the label and know your percentages when using gums. This he did and really brought home the skill level required for progressive (molecular) gastronomy.

It was a really long hard day in Reality land starting at 5.30am finally leaving the location at 4pm. Being behind the reality curtain it is amazing how many people go into making an ep. They all work together and it is amazing what gets filmed, to what gets edited, to what gets on the box.

Overall a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of our products and get the heads up before anyone else knew. Pity I signed the disclosure statement otherwise you (RR) would have had some great scoops. Like you said a bottle of grange under the nose but being unable to smell it.

3 seo { 02.01.12 at 5:17 am }

Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.