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Masterchef Australia – A Few Mysteries Revealed

Ok the mystery of the non-elimination round on Thursday has now been revealed. Basically Aaron and Jimmy could have served up pigs swill (they probably did) and they were not going to be eliminated. They needed the ten contestants for tonight’s Margaret Fulton family  style challenge as they were cooking in pairs. I really don’t like being treated as a moron Masterchef.

Another mystery of Masterchef was revealed tonight by Matt Preston when he told Marion he would have to judge her on her fried ice cream balls on how they tasted when they came out of the deep fryer at the end of  the 90 minutes. So the judges tasted them then, does that mean they tasted everyone else’s food then? And the tasting table is just for show?

I don’t have a problem with that as long as it is a level playing field, and every contestant’s food is tasted at that time.

Tonight the invention test was to cook in pairs a family style dish for the iconic Margaret Fulton. You could serve four plates or one big dish to be served at the judges table. Aaron somehow missed that memo and served up his one dish of pancake with chicken chipotle in it. I was amazed that Peter kept on smiling when he realised his partner’s error. But conversely maybe Peter did not have four pancakes in him considering the amount of time it took him to get one good cooked.

But before I get too immersed in the invention test and the iconic Margaret Fulton, I will just give a few quick opinions on the mystery box challenge:

  • Alvin let loose by using nearly all the ingredients in his mystery box in his dish, it looked foul, but it won the challenge,
  • Again the editing was appalling letting us know way in advance whose dishes they would pick to taste;
  • Loved the concept of Adam’s and thought Gary’s criticism of it not being big enough as being harsh;
  • I cracked up when Claire got to give the health and safety warning to camera when she said “don’t just pick the snails from the garden these have been specially prepared”, how dumb does Masterchef think we are?
  • Callum again used a strategy of being the only one to make dessert as a way of getting his dish tasted, it worked considering it did not look that spectacular.

As winner of the mystery box Alvin got to pick his partner and then allocate the other teams. He unsurprisingly picked Marion. He teamed up Courtney and Jonathan, Aaron and Peter, Claire and Adam, and Jimmy and Callum.

They then chose as the key ingredients of chicken and orange.

Jimmy made curry again, and Callum did dessert again. Though Callum’s Orange and macadamia parfait with Macaroon & Orange Dust looked divine, and Matt Preston did say it was one of the best desserts they had had on the show.

Speaking of Matt Preston in the Sun Herald today, it said that Matt Preston gut is not the only thing expanding, apparently his ego is blossoming out of control and he is starting to make unreasonable demands. I wonder what these demands are?

Jonathan was criticised for making orange curd straight on the flame because of his limited time and he curdled the eggs in it. He did strain it but I presume he was desperate to get it into the fridge to set. Which explained the angst Courtney had when she looked at two empty shells and was wondering what he had been doing for 90 minutes. He only managed to plate up two and the curd had not set. However Courtney’s luscious roast chicken must have kept them out of the bottom two.

Alvin was having a disaster with his dish the swede cake which was not cooking so had to be turned into an omelette, and Marion was not fairing much better with her fried ice-cream as it was runny on the inside, however her soy and orange caramel sauce did get positive praise.

Adam and Claire cooked green tea chicken dumpling with chilli oil, orange and ginger vinegar, these were received positively, but it was Claire’s delicious fried masterstock chicken with chilli caramel and orange salt got the rave reviews. George screeched out “Hallelujah” because Claire finally had stumped up a winning dish.

And Claire looked happy….for a moment. “I’m wrapped,” she said with a slight smile.

They won, and she deservedly will go head to head against the celebrity chef.

Everyone looked shocked when Marion and Alvin were announced in the bottom two teams, but not so shocked when Aaron and Peter were placed there.

Tomorrow night is Zumbo with his macaroon tower, if the preview is anything to go by someone has a disastrous time, and my money is on Aaron to be eliminated.


1 Anon { 07.05.10 at 12:57 am }

They could have eliminated both Jimmy & Aaron to maintain even numbers. No one would have cared. Jimmy only does curry and Aaron over acts in his pieces to camera.

2 skye { 07.05.10 at 1:04 am }

It was a bit of an underwhelming episode tonight – but I must say that chicken dish of Claire’s did look yummo. That’s one recipe I’ll be getting my husband to have a crack at from the website.

I really hope Aaron goes tomorrow night.

3 CG { 07.05.10 at 1:30 am }

Anon – agree, to maintain even numbers they could have either eliminated both Aaron and Jimmy OR just brought back 2 previously-eliminated contestants. I read somewhere that the non-elimination was to make up for the fact that the police-women left the comp early. the suggestion was they were commited to X weeks and this was a means of picking up a week they lost due to this earlier departure. RR: agree, money has got to be on Aaron to leave tomorrow night although not sure Peter is that crash hot at desserts. If they go for a shocker, it could be Alvin.

4 Fides { 07.05.10 at 1:46 am }

I thought Alvin’s team picks were really interesting – pairing up the better cooks (ie Adam/Claire, Jono/Courtney). As there is always strategy in play, was he hoping one of the strong teams (though he must never have even contemplated it would be his own) would self combust by being too ambitious?

5 crabtech { 07.05.10 at 1:50 am }

It once again confirms that it’s no advantage to win the mystery box – it’s actually a curse. Poor Alvin. Not sure they needed an extra week as this year they started with 25 although they didn’t show the selection from each state. Totally agree that it’s starting to drag and it feels repetitive and stale.
It will be interesting to see if the cookbook from this year will sell. They all seem one trick ponies and some of them appear not to be able to make simple things like a risotto. The ACW episode was a real low. They are not as strong as last year’s cooks.

6 KC { 07.05.10 at 2:07 am }

As much as I used to like Aaron, I hope he’s going tomorrow night only because he seems to be struggling so much emotionally and mentally. He looks like he can’t wait to go back home and I think he really misses his partner. You can kinda tell he’s given up and hopefully he will be out so he can go back home. Also because I love the other three and I don’t want them to go yet.

7 AnonyMousse { 07.05.10 at 2:20 am }

Well, it’s a pastry dish tomorrow and Aaron’s completely pants at those (by his own admission). If ever there was a worst elimination for him to face, it’d be this one (unless they have an upcoming scones making elimination round).

I’m liking Adam more and more as time goes on – that was a nice play he did with the judges at the end.

Also, I don’t know who that laughing and smiling woman who was wearing Claire’s apron was. Perhaps someone switched her medication on her.

8 Airwalk { 07.05.10 at 2:45 am }

Good one AnonyMousse re: Claire…my thoughts exactly. I smiled when Alvin & Marion realised it was Marg Fulton coming out(they seemed excited-and she makes me think of me Mum who I miss lots) and I laughed when Alvin said she was so little & cute.
Oh please Aaron to go…his shaking hands, inability to make anything bar pasta(& select Mexican flavoured dishes), over acted pieces to camera, stovepipe jeans/headwear/greasy hair/sullen face etc make him one of my least favs w(followed closely by Callum & one trick Jimmy) Peter is such a jolly little fellow-him and Aaron made an amusing pair-don’t think Peter is a great cook but he is so happy whatever happens.

9 NT Kate { 07.05.10 at 7:01 am }

Yes the show and the competitors looking a bit tired. Unsurprisingly, most of them once again stuffed up a fairly straightforward challenge.

Mind you, do feel for them – having said the challenge was a family dinner and bringing along MF as a judge, for Courtney to get told off for doing a relatively straightforward family dinner type dish was more than a tad contradictory. No wonder so many of them attempted overambitious totally non-family dinner esq dishes.

And no matter how yummy Claire’s chicken was, where were the accompaniments, at least some rice, to make it at least vaguely look like a real main course for a family? At least Jimmy’s dish had some plausibility on that front.

Not sure RR why Aaron is held to blame for the one dish fiasco – Peter was part of the pair, they both presumably made the decisions. And speaking of working as teams, what was with Courtney’s ‘I don’t know what he has been doing?’ – her own dish was hardly that complex, why weren’t they watching what each other was doing and helping each other out/making decisions as necessary?

Still some reshuffling of the competitors to go I think, hope it happens fast!

Up until tonight’s disaster I had though Alvin was on the way up – clearly has a delicate hand (viz the chocolate making), some basic cooking skills (viz jam) and some innovative ideas (well I guess he still can hold onto that reputation, and I suppose that frankinstein mystery box dish did pander to the judge’s weirdo tastes). But like a number of them, caught out by being overambitious and trying to substitute ingredients that just aren’t good substitutes.

And on the one trick stuff with Jimmy, I’m not so sure. While neither he nor Aaron managed the classic coq au vin a la Julia Child the other night, Jimmy’s ingredients’ selection and approach actually did echo some of the modern takes on the dish that he would have found if he had done some research on the dish in preparatin for the show. You find pancetta for example in the gourmet traveller recipe on the net which I think he more or less followed, and no mushies but other veg and rosemary in Gordon Ramsey’s take on the dish….

10 pluck a duck { 07.05.10 at 7:26 am }

Yeah, also agree with crabtech that MC2 is dragging on – almost like a bad meal. One thing interesting is how all the judges seem to be fawning over Callum – you almost need a vomit bag sometimes. At least, Adam adds a touch of class.

11 Angel86 { 07.05.10 at 8:32 am }

What do you know, Jimmy made another curry or some variation on a curry? I’m getting really bored of him. Has he ever made anything other than a curry? Except in pressure tests where he generally screws that up.

The macaroon tower looks awesome. One of the towers that they showed had lots of cracked macaroons though.

12 sippee { 07.05.10 at 8:39 am }

I was fed some gossip for dinner last night as we were watching the judges do their thing. Apparently George and Matt have had a major falling out over what I don’t know. Very frustrating on being told part of the story. The teller of this gos isn’t one to ask too many questions so many remain unanswered. Maybe both making too many demands! Or just plain old professional jealousy.

13 Pinto { 07.05.10 at 9:12 am }

I too was frustrated that the challenge was “home style dinner” yet Courtney was queries for roast chook and others (eg Aaron) was praised by Matt for “refining things beyond a home cooked meal” with his crepe (obviously the trademark in the term ‘French style pancake’ has expired as they were calling it a crepe last night.

Also had to laugh at the donning of aprons in the house sans microphone packs at the backs but disembarking the hyundais with said packs. I imagine them being told to don aprons at the house (including Jonno’s staged bit to Courtney), arriving at kitchen, getting out the cars, being wired up, getting back in the cars then happily piling OUT the cars to stage their arrival. It must be incredibly tedious to do this produced reality tv stuff.

14 Pinto { 07.05.10 at 9:21 am }

– also agree with RR about confusion over Matt’s comment to Marion. If that’s the case why wasn’t Jonno’s tart set but comment made about its state of runniness at the 90 minute mark? Was he not allowed to fridge his but M was because it is icecream and must be in freezer til served? There
Must have been other examples where something was deemed overcooked at the judges table that would have been fine when it was plated? I am confused by this one.

15 pluck a duck { 07.05.10 at 9:43 am }

Back to crabtech’s comment (see 5 above) about whether the cookbook from this year will sell. Let’s have a look at some of the potential themes – here’s a few to get the ball rolling:

1. Alvin – a selection of mum’s favourite recipes

2. Callum – entrees, mains and desserts all laced with sweat relish

3. Courtney – my favourite bowling club food.

Not too many bestsellers among that lot?

16 Pollywaffle { 07.05.10 at 11:31 am }

I can accept some of Matt P’s demands – the hair extensions, 3 colours of pants per show etc , but he went OTT with the requests for a fondue bath in his dressingroom

17 AnnyB { 07.05.10 at 12:11 pm }

I only watched part of Masterchef last (watched the Pixar piece on 60 Minutes – though I would have liked to seen how Alvin’s whatever it was turned out) but this is an homage to the iconic Margaret Fulton. How many have her original cookbook? I must admit I do – passed on from my mother. It sits on the bookshelf between other more recently published cookbooks, cobbled together with duct tape, but is still referred to frequently, especially for more basic recipes. My niece’s 13 year old son just yesterday entered a cooking competition and won First Prize with the Cinnamon Teacake from the Margaret Fulton Cookbook. Also among my collection is the Margaret Fulton Cooking Course series – remember the partworks bought weekly?

BTW, what was Alvin making?

18 Fides { 07.05.10 at 12:17 pm }

Plucka ( btw, I love your namesake in more ways than I should)

I don’t think Callum can make much apart from dessert. So it would probably have to be an innovative dessert cookbook where everything is salted. Where is the Karate kid head/sweatband he wore a few weeks ago?

19 Buzz { 07.05.10 at 12:19 pm }

Some chef (sorry didn’t catch his name) on the circle this morning has given his tip for MC amacha winna as maid Marion – no surprise there. He also said something along the lines of
“as long as the guy no one likes doesn’t win”.
To whom might he be referring?
Adam has a lovely dry sense of humour.
Claire is pretty when she smiles.
Aaron is not in a good place really. Hope he pulls it together, but he could be out tonight.

20 seepi { 07.05.10 at 12:24 pm }

Margaret Fulton was fantastic! I wish they’d had her as the female judge instead of Donna Hay.

I still don’t understand keeping both contestants last week – very clumsy if that is the reason. Why not just bring back 4 previous cooks – or only 2. And what would they have done if one had actually made a fantastic, completely authentic Coq au Vin, while the other had made a burnt, curdled wine curry??

Alvin was lucky his original dish didn’t work out. Swede is a very unique taste, and would never be as sweet and appealing as sweet potato.

And it was very interesting to see how poor the ‘teamwork’ was. It seemed like each person just cooked their own dish from start to finish in every team.

21 Fides { 07.05.10 at 12:24 pm }

It was meant to be a sweet, sticky yam cake to go alongside poached chicken in broth. All the drama was because they used swede as a substitute but it did not set at all and could not be served. It works with turnips, as I’ve had something similar using turnips.

And speaking of Alvin, did anyone else notice when the judges asked why his final dish was so small, Alvin started to answer (as well he should) but Marion talked over him and she ended up answering the judges? Hate when people do that.

22 Chels { 07.05.10 at 12:25 pm }

Found it interesting that Jono and Aaron both screwed up their parts of the challenge… Especially considering they were teamed with the ‘newcomers’. Wonder if this was done on purpose to try and get either Courtney or Peter eliminated?

23 seepi { 07.05.10 at 12:27 pm }

ps – I thought it was a great ep tonight- but I was channel flicking a bit back to Dancing with the stars.

But at least we saw what everyone was cooking, they explained why they chose that dish, and then all were tasted. Here’s hoping this is what will happen from here in, now we are down to the final contestants.

24 CG { 07.05.10 at 12:31 pm }

I don’t think Alvin’s selection of the pairs was very strategic. It seemed like he went down the line with his view on best to weakest. He was probably thinking the weakest teams would suffer and that there was a sense of fairness to that. Then again, wasn’t Alvin the one who came out and said he didn’t like Jono when he was putting teams together in an eary episode? But if he didn’t like Jono, wouldn’t he have paired him with Aaron or Jimmy? Whatever his thinking, he and Marion were trying to be too smart by half and it bit them in the bum. Either Aaron will go tonight or we will have a mini-shocker and Alvin will go and the curse of winning the invention challenge will continue.

25 Airwalk { 07.05.10 at 12:34 pm }

My thoughts exactly-why use swedes? I love swede but they are less starchy than potatoes: turnips would have been a great substitute.
Still sick of the selection of the ‘best’ three dishes for the judging of the invention test.
Ans Chels:good theory on Jono trying to get a ‘newbie’ eliminated. I noticed he didn’t seem perturbed he had stuffed up when he was doimg his piece to camera and said Courtney may end up in an elimination cause of his stuff up.

26 seepi { 07.05.10 at 12:50 pm }

Jonathon was back to wierd Jono tonight. I;ve been liking him up to now, but he did seem very detached and strange.

I thought maybe Alvin thought if he picked two very weak teams, they would automatically be in the elimination round.

and I was amazed to see Marion has never been in an elimination round and looked genuinely nervous – she shoulda saved her magic pin for this one. Or maybe it is a genuine disadvantage to never do elimination rounds and get the nerves out of the way.

Anyway – I think Aaron is the logical one to go – he is not good on desserts, or on delicate work, and gets defeatist when things don’t start off well.

then again, Marion is not big on cakes either is she? But has far more solid skills and I think is ok with a recipe.

27 Fides { 07.05.10 at 2:02 pm }

I thought at first Alvin picked the weak teams to get rid of them. But then I thought, does he respect the competition and its premise of finding the best amacha cook so much that he’d want to keep the strongest competition in? Actually, Alvin seems like a nice guy, perhaps he would be thinking along those altruistic lines. Doubt anyone else would.

Oh and I think Claire looked so refreshed and happy because I’m pretty sure they’d just had a weekend with visits from their family (from the date on a photo the Daily Tele used with Claire and her sis). Next year they should arrange for conjugal visits – Aaron might have done better with a few of those.

28 AnnyB { 07.05.10 at 2:16 pm }

Unrelated, but you may like to see (& drool over) this food blog:

29 sourkraut { 07.05.10 at 2:25 pm }

mystery box ho hum AGAIN! course not yer everyday garden variety snails, no these were genetically modified especially for MC to absorb 7 buckets of garlic and 27 barrels of butter.

Main contest was pretty boring. Just proved wot I’ve been rabbiting on about in the past, ie that both Marion and johno have along with the others not mastered some of the basics of cooking. They all need to go to TAFE for that.
maybe we will get lucky and wonder woman will go. If that was to happen I would happily apologise to Paul and recant all my previous CONsPIRACY theories

30 sourkraut { 07.05.10 at 3:04 pm }

Except one!

31 sourkraut { 07.05.10 at 3:06 pm }

We cant have someone in who is NBG at delicate desserts can we?

32 rusty { 07.05.10 at 3:30 pm }

Been off for a week on holidays – I gather I missed a disaster baking episode, what a shame – my specialty! I could have had a field day ( no pun intended)

Just caught up on last night’s Margaret Fulton family-style test. Not what I would call family food. Too small portions and not enogh comfort food. I can’t see the older and younger than 20 something wanting to eat some of that stuff. THought Courtney’s chicken and the parfait looked great.

No puddings? Those patiserrie-style tart desserts are not generous and family-friendly. Unless you have one big squishy pie.

But i felt sorry for Alvin and Marion, who do actually understand the concept of team work, ending up in an elimination round.


I wonder if the original 7 are losing energy after all these weeks? Their concentration seems really down on what it was in London, and their technique shows more and more flaws every night. Jono seemed a bit worn rather than strange to me, like he’s lost his manic will to win.

33 Anonymous { 07.05.10 at 5:37 pm }

Jonathan’s tradgey of an orange curd tart left me questioning whether he did it on purpose knowing that if they were to go into the pressure test, he would probably come out safe, like he always does, leaving Courtney going home. In my opinion, Courtney is a great threat, and the remaining contestants seem to see that too.

34 Airwalk { 07.05.10 at 5:50 pm }

Just on a serious note: my thoughts are with Irmgrad Kastner and her family today as I think they would be devastated with this outcome:
The victim was her grandson.

35 Airwalk { 07.05.10 at 6:03 pm }

And her’s Geos MC TV Week(no real spoilers)

36 Reality Raver { 07.05.10 at 6:28 pm }

TV Week has pictures in the mag with two of tonight’s contestant’s who are in the pressure test in army gear. I mean this is just stupid. HOwever I have had the mag since 8.30am and just realised about 20 mins ago that there were spoilers in there. If you want to know who you will have to go to the spoilers thread

Anon – agree neither have a shot at the main prize.

Skye – Hey I like your cooking strategy

CG – I know Aaron’s a fave of yours but I would like to see him go.

Fides – Interesting point I thought his strategy could have been to ensure the weak teams went into the elimination challenge, rather than one strong and weak player, which can make it random.

Crabtech – I thought they were attempting some interesting dishes last night they just did not come off.

KC – Agree

Anony mouse – Agree re: Adam he does have a warmth about him.

Airwalk – thanks for the links

NT Kate – great comment – agree re: communication. Also I think jono left the curd in the fridge for as long as possible.

Angel 86 – I need to see more of Jimmy’s cooking skills, but if he had in the back of his mind to start is curry sauce business then he wants to showcase his curries to the public.

Pluck a duck – love the cookbook ideas – funny.

Buzz – I gave my tip to New Idea that Marion was going to win, not really game to predict anyone else…

Sippee – how good was your source re: the Matt and George bust up?

Pinto – good call on the aprons etc, I always miss those things. I think reality TV filming would be a tedious business.

AnnyB – alvin was making a swede cake that was usually made with yams but it did not cook. So turned it into an omelette with broth. I love Not Quite Nigella’s blog. Great photos of George’s food. Not surprised to see “snow” on the menu.

Sourkraut – LMAO at the snails commment, especially modified for Gary and Matt’s tastebuds.

Rusty – Agree I reckon the top 7 are tired, something Marion mentioned in an article yesterday.

Anonymous – I think Jono in his to camera chats was just happy he avoided elimination. They usually do these after the challenge has been completed.

Seepi – Margaret Fulton is delightful and has a great TV presence.

Pollywaffle – hilarious you are probably on the money there.

37 Chuck { 07.05.10 at 6:45 pm }

Re comments on Marion’s frozen fried icecream by MP

There is approx an hour between when a coooking finishes and judging takes place on camera according to the Sunday Tele Masterchef supplement published on the day before the start of season 2.

“The cameras stop rolling nand a swarm of stgudio assistant appear s, carrying clipboards, cameras and post it notes. It’s lunchtime so judging of the dishes will not start for an hour. Each of the finisshed plates will will be comprehensively catalogued and appropiately stored. Some dishes are kefpt warm while others are refrigerated and or frozen.”

I recall a blog from one the MC1 finalists saying that their dishes were tasted cold by the judges but that they walked around tasting during the cooking time. Also the shot of the contestsants walking into the judges was shot a number of times for production reasons.

Also if you look at the wide shot of the contestants at the end of the challenge and prior to judging, they have their dishes in front on the bench but everything elese has been cleared away for nice clean shots.

I’d estimate it would take at least 15 mins to shoot the juding of a dish. What we see are only the bits the producer wants to show to tell the story or angle for the particular ep.

A very long and boring process making TV progs.

38 Pollywaffle { 07.06.10 at 10:15 am }

Crikey, I turn my back for one dirty degustation weekend, and behold in Sunday nights show I see Matt P is now ‘double-cravatting’ and badly ( eyeblasting monaro yellow with scanky animal print) …is this a Gok- inspired manover or some sponsor deal he wants to use up in time by the end of the series
‘Matt, you have 100 cravats, start now’