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Masterchef Australia – OPEN POST – The Army Challenge

Sorry guys tonight I am out with Ms Injera, but the plus side is you get to discuss the episode so much earlier. Tonight the top nine are out at the Holsworthy Army Base for their cooking challenge.

Apparently the conditions were pretty tough, a camp out, plus the weather was abysmal.

Hopefully Gary, George and Matt went to boot camp whilst they were there.


1 Reality Raver { 07.08.10 at 4:11 pm }

NT Kate – I still do the recap, but it means people who want to discuss it can do so earlier. It does split the comment threads however. Will see how it works and see what people think.

2 NT Kate { 07.08.10 at 4:13 pm }

And if you really want to think about strategy games, maybe Adam’s koftas (and presumably not checking Aaron’s veges) were a good choice. After all, he had immunity and losing gave him the chance to take out one of the better competitors.

Another factor in both Jimmy and Adam’s thinking could have been that in the team challenges, who has the best cooks doesn’t always seem to determine outcomes due to their crappy team skills, and both Aaron and Johno have proved more than a bit erratic of late.

I know Adam seems like a nice guy on screen, but he is a lawyer after all…

3 Injera { 07.08.10 at 4:23 pm }

The open posts are great for people who are playing along at home – similar to watching and tweeting – but, as Kate (NTK) says, it’s easier for those of us who missed the ep to catch up with a real post. Of course, it’s pretty much my fault that RR couldn’t do the post last night! The comments posted after the show were more analytical/descriptive, so easier to get a sense of the overall show – and some of the strategies (thanks Matt!) that played out. Looking forward to reading tonight’s wrap-up and comments to see what I’ve missed, thanks to the ongoing Sydney Festival Of Eating.

4 Matt { 07.08.10 at 4:57 pm }

RR – Claire picking Callum first? IF you can credit her with any strategic thinking, then it is for the same reason.

If she loses then she’s picked the one person she’s all but guaranteed to beat in an elimination. Using that logic, picking Marion is the worst strategic move you could make at this point of the competition. Except in this case, more of which later.

The group challenges at this end of the competition are much tighter, so your strategic thinking has to go a bit further than simply picking Joanne as the opposing team captain. Jono’s Joanne pick a few weeks back was another bit of inspired strategy. However, she won the challenge, which proves that you can’t always rely on your opponent to do what you’d like them to.

So if you CAN’T control your opposition, you need to make sure you are putting yourself in the best position not to be eliminated. The best way, of course, is to win the challenge. But That’s a 50/50 proposition.

So – best strategic move? Jimmy picking the red team, giving himself a one-in-five chance of being eliminated. (actually one in 10, if you consider a 50% chance of losing the challenge), as opposed to a one in three chance.

Second best? Claire picking Callum, thereby almost guaranteeing she’s safe.

Third-best strategic move? Adam picking Marion. What he’s done is (if Marion is as good as everyone thinks) give himself a slight edge to win the challenge. What he’s also done is ensure that if he loses the challenge, his strongest competition goes from a one-in-five chance of being eliminated (he’s assuming here that he’ll have the five man team), to a one in four chance. Or, if he ended up with the short-handed team, a one-in-three chance.

Now, all of this assumes that the contestants have a modicum of strategic thinking, which I’m not sure is the case. The scenarios above are based on what I think they SHOULD have been thinking when they made those choices.

But the strategy at this end of the show isn’t just to cook well. That’s part of it, of course. You need to be selling yourself (and your cookbook) to the judges. But the ONLY strategic reason for doing that is so that when there are three of you in front of the judges for elimination, they belive your tosh about your food dream.

Your main strategy has to be to ensure that:

(a) Your strongest competition is in front of the judges when you are not; and,

(b) When you are in front of the judges you are with the two weakest contesteants possible.

BTW, as a Survivor addict, I’d be the worst possible Masterchef contestant (and I can cook a bit). I wouldn’t be the one tearing up in front of the camera and saying “oh, it’s so heartbreaking that someone has to go”. I’d be the one asking myself “WWERD – or, What would Evil Russell Do?”, sabotaging team challenges and hanging over the balcony during eliminations calling out the wrong advice. And I’m not sure I could resist the temptation during Masterclass to say, “yeah, it’s got texture Gary – the texture of wet cardboard.”

5 Injera { 07.08.10 at 5:01 pm }

That last paragraph settles it – Matt, you absolutely must try out for Masterchef next year! It would be (to steal a Masterchef phrase) AWESOME to have a strategic reality-show comp player on there. WWERD indeed. (Of course, ER didn’t win…)

6 Culinary Boner { 07.08.10 at 5:05 pm }

So disappointed they played this episode straight.

Surely the army theme warranted Matt turning up as General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett VC DSO KCB, with George as the Captain Kevin Darling and Gary as Lt. George C. St Barleigh.

Calum did however get into the theme with a superb impersonation of Private S Baldrick, the worst cook in military history.

Ironically, for those who remember, Baldrick’s signature dishes included “cream custard” – later revealed to be cat’s vomit.

7 Matt { 07.08.10 at 5:10 pm }

Injera – If you could cook half decent, then a combination of good strategy and some evil pieces to camera would ensure that you’d avoid most eliminations and when you didn’t, the producers would be inclined to keep you around for ratings reasons.

You’d almost guarantee yourself second place. And let’s see, first place gets you the cookbook deal, $100k and a few appearances on the Today Show.

Second place gets you the ABC series, a cookbook, and the belief of the TV watching public that you were the better cook :)

8 Injera { 07.08.10 at 5:11 pm }

So true, Matt! Second is the way to go. Which only leaves the question… are you going to apply?!

9 sourkraut { 07.08.10 at 5:13 pm }

but in the second one he bloody well should have. Bah!

10 sourkraut { 07.08.10 at 5:15 pm }

if you could cook half decent you would not have a celluloid doll in hells chance of winning (paul Odds please?).
Look what happened to EVIL Chris B!

11 sourkraut { 07.08.10 at 5:18 pm }

The worst cook in history was the chef in Alaska who invented the BMTS. However Callum’s chunderiferous efforts come close and with a little seasoning… Who Knows?

12 Paul { 07.08.10 at 5:18 pm }

You must be a poker player because only a poker player could think that someone could run through all those permutations and calculations in that short a time frame under intense pressure and scrutiny.

Like the way you think though.

Personally don’t think Jimmy’s got that sort of guile in him.

13 Matt { 07.08.10 at 5:19 pm }


Don’t think I’d apply. I like to think I’d give it a red-hot go, but it’d be too long away from a young family etc.

Also, my food dream is to keep earning enough money to have the odd lunch at Rockpool, Lucios and Longrain. (also, for the Sydney types, try Bodega in Surry Hills – awesome stuff). I’ve worked in a kitchen and it’s hot, dirty and smelly. Best to be sitting beside the white table cloth, not washing it.

But I reckon next season will see someone get strategic. The show’s crying out for it.

14 Paul { 07.08.10 at 5:20 pm }

If you had a genuine strategist on the show I reckon they could get through a few rounds easily.

15 sourkraut { 07.08.10 at 5:21 pm }

I was not suggesting it for each ep, not by a long shot as it would lose the novelty value, and as I said i love your recaps.
What i was saying is that judging by the number of posts here (IS THAT A RECORD?) everyone seems to have had lots of fun lampooning a vey lampoonable show and ep

16 Matt { 07.08.10 at 5:25 pm }

Paul – hilarious that you say that. I was winning an online tournament while writing that!

Part of me agrees with you re Jimmy. I’m not sure if anyone is really strategic on this show.

Masterchef doesn’t lend itself to the sort of Nashian game thoery that Survivor does, but there are flashes of strategic thinking.

No-one’s yet putting a string of stratgic moves together though. They’re thinking one challenge at a time, and while they’re under a lot of pressure, Survivor contestants do it all the time without food or sleep.

What’s clear though is that quite a few contestants don’t realise that strategy should be integral to this competition. Worst two strategic moves so far were Jake not standing up for himself when the team had to pick the people for the elimination challenge, and in the same one, Marion virtually volunteering herself and then throwing away her immunity pin.

In their defence, I don’t think we saw half of that discussion. Also, in Jimmy’s defence, there were a few cutaway shots, so we don’t know how long he took to make his decision.

17 Culinary Boner { 07.08.10 at 5:35 pm }

Capt. Kevin Darling (played by George): [Darling and Melchett (played by Matt) are both eating a posh supper, which has actually been prepared by Baldrick (played by Callum)] I suppose the teams have have gone over the top by now.
General Melchett (Matt): Yes – God, Id give anything to be out there with them, dodging saucepans and flying custard instead of sitting here drinking this Chateau Lafite, and eating these filets mignons with sauce bearnaise!
Capt. Darling (George): My thoughts exactly, sir. Damn this Chateau Lafite! [He takes a nice, big, satisfied sip]
General Melchett (Matt): Uncle Bertie and I used to break wind for our college. [Eats a filet mignon in sauce bearnaise] Slightly unusual taste, this sauce bearnaise.
Capt.Darling (George): Yes, sir. [His face shows it tastes vile] And to be quite frank, sir, these mignons are a little, well… dungy.
General Melchett (Matt): What on earth’s wrong with that cook?
[eats a bit of Plum Duff, is repulsed by its taste and spits it out] Ah, Jumping Jerries! Are you sure these are real raisins in this Plum Duff?
Capt. Darling (George): Oh, yes, I’m sure they are, sir.
Everything will be all right once the cream custard arrives.

18 Culinary Boner { 07.08.10 at 5:47 pm }

apologies to Ben Elton & Richard Curtis

19 CG { 07.08.10 at 6:03 pm }

As I recall, Survivor didn’t start to attract really “strategic” players until at least season 3 or 4. Which suggests that as MC continues, more strategic players will apply and more strategic thinking will go into player’s conduct, how the present themselves, how they choose teams for challenges, etc.

Then again, I could argue that Poh was very “strategic” last year in the most facile way: using her “charm”/giggle/fluttering-eyelashes/camisoles to win the hearts and other body parts of the judges and producers. And while her strategy turned certain segments of viewers off, it got her back into the comp after two eliminations and to 2nd place and the career opportunities that have followed.

Wouldn’t it be great to see someone get in next season who can cook but whose only goal is to stir up shit and excercise some of these strategic moves – ie like Russell from Survivor. Wonder what MC does to screen for these types?

While I don’t think Jimmy has the smarts to be as strategic or calculating as Matt, I do think those contestants who were earlier eliminated and got time off to think about things would be best-placed to come back with some strategic moves.

Of all the possible strategies last night, the one I can believe is Adam. By picking Marion and Jono and knowing he had the immunity pin, Adam was either going to win or if not, there was a good chance to knock off a top-three player. Adam’s over-acting about whether or not to use the immunity pin plays into this theory. It also demonstrates he has the nouse to make sure he looks like a good guy to the viewers. Of all the remaining contestants, I reckon Adam is the sharpest and has the potential to be the most conniving.

20 NT Kate { 07.08.10 at 6:26 pm }

Agreed CG. That nice screen persona occasionally drops and gives us hints of the evil lawyer underneath in my view (I know the breed) and that end scene was certainly overacted (though not necessarily for this reason).

Though I actually do actually think it is also possible that Johno might have been being a bit strategic in stuffing up some of his earlier team efforts. After all he is has a pretty extensive food knowledge and basic skills and has shown pressure tests don’t phase him. It is obviously a high risk strategy, not least in undermining your cooking credibility, but if you do get through, getting the practice early on can only stand you in good stead for the finals given last years format.

So spilling the odd sauce to beat out someone like Joanne, or messing the odd desert doesn’t seem that farfetched…And his return to form last night could be a recognition that his potential competion in an elim round was tougher than he would prefer…

21 Pollywaffle { 07.08.10 at 7:22 pm }

CG – funnily enough Poh was criticised in an Age GG letter today for prancng about in her presumably teeney Daisy Dukes in Malaysia in her latest ‘Look at Poh, oh Yeah I cook too’ episode – a sign of lack of RESPECT ( just a little bit) for her fellow countrymen

22 Reality Raver { 07.08.10 at 7:31 pm }

Matt – Just as I was reading your post I thought if you are ever on Survivor I want to be in your alliance. BTW they are filming two season back to back of Survivor in Nicaragua.

Injera -Like the royal family who all cannot travel on the same plane, I think the issue is that we cannot go out the same night when Masterchef is on…..

CG – Adam is my new fave at the moment shows a cheeky sense of humour and his great cooking.

23 Pinto { 07.08.10 at 8:42 pm }

@tom_colicchio has tweeted from Adelaide central Market in praise of Richard Gunner’s meats. He is in SA in holiday, tweeting that he is not doing any appearances just having a break BUT I am fantasising that he will be a judge for the final MC. That would kick arse!!!!

24 Zibb { 07.08.10 at 9:30 pm }

Matt, agree about most of the strategic stuff, and would love to see you on, but Jimmy choosing red dent give him a 1/5 instead of 1/3, the teams were even before he chose, so he had to be in the biggest team. So it was either 1/5 (red) or 1/4 (blue if Adam used his pin). I think he did make the best move though, both for that slight number advantage, and because there were weaker or more inconsitant cooks on the red team (callum, maybe Clair and Courtney)

25 Matt { 07.08.10 at 10:06 pm }

Zibb – entirely correct. I had one in four in my earlier post and had a mini brain explosion writing the second.

But looking at tonight’s result, looks like the Jimmy/Adam strategy worked….

26 Reality Raver { 07.08.10 at 11:58 pm }

Matt – quite rightly you should take a bow. Oh and so should Jimmy.
Though even though I like your rationale so much better, I wonder if he just decided the blue team is always jinxed.

27 duke nukem { 07.09.10 at 3:47 pm }

whoa, so many comments!

did any of you notice the shot of Jono cooking where some object on his bench was blurred out by the editors…?
why would they need to do that?