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Masterchef Australia – The Callum Controversy

I am going to have to go to the panel on this (ie you guys) I really don’t know how I feel about Callum getting through to the finals when he did not plate up all these dishes. Should he have been judged on what he had plated up or or was it ok for the judges to share the pies and then judge him on that?

Personally being a hard arse I think it should have been on what he plated up, considering Jonathan got balled out on Sunday about not organising his time in the kitchen properly, with his sloppy dessert, but at the time the judges acknowledged the flavours were there. There is inconsistency in the judging on this show. Also does this mean they were only scoring on flavour tonight NOT presentation.

But I also want the best contestant’s in the final week, and apparently his pheasant was perfectly cooked.

Also I would flick him an extra point for not starting to quiver and cry in front of the judges in what would have been a extremely humiliating moment.

Anyway looking forward to hearing your views on this controversy. And this is up there with satay-gate.

The challenge tonight was to cook in two hours a signature dish to judged by four icons in Australian cooking, and Matt Preston, a possible future icon in Australian eating. The judges were Jacque Raymond, Mark Best, Kylie Kwong, and Alla Wolf Tasker.

They were given $250 and were able to procure ingredients from sources other then Coles, unlike last year in the similar challenge where Chris Badenoch procured bone marrow from the Coles butcher. At least we did not have to see Callum pretend to be able to buy pheasant from Coles.

Now Aaron should have been instantly put in the bottom three as soon as he said he was combining chilli with truffle, and then should have been instantly eliminated when he started adding the squid ink in with the cheese. This guy is on the wrong show he needs to go on Iron Chef with his weird flavour combinations.

He evaluated his dish perfectly when he said “I’ve decided to do something out there, maybe it is just out there for out there sake”.

Claire deservedly got into the final week with the highest scoring dish of Poached Marron with Garlic Custard and Seafood Consomme. Jacque thought it was a three hat dish.

Courtney pulled off a great Asian Banquet with five dishes on it, in fact I would have liked to have had a closer look on what the dishes actually were.  Kylie Kwong sparked up when she saw it. She scored 43 points the same as Callum.

I have been trying to refrain from saying this since she came back in the competition, but that feather necklace reminds me of something you might see in a snuff film. For the record I have never seen one.

Adam’s skewers called the seven gods looked amazing, each skewer had it own different condiment and it looked extremely refined. Matt Preston thought it was the dish of the day, and had scored it a ten. Also great he got through as I think he is going to be a contender next week. Ok I am hoping he will be a contender next week.

Alvin played half safe, and half risky by making noodles for the first time, in his Ah Kongs Yam cake with rice noodles and pork and peanut caramel. The yam cake was deemed to be too heavy by Kylie Kwong, and the broth too sweet by Jacques. However the noodle was thought to be good. However it was not good enough to avoid the elimination challenge tomorrow night.

Lastly Jimmy made a curry which was expected and I don’t have a problem with that, but he plays it safe. It is something he is extremely comfortable with as he has cooked it probably many times before, and that is what I find disappointing. It did look great the rice pilau with Apricot Curry. Matt Preston didn’t get the three layers of rice, but thought the curry was delicious.

However he also could not avoid the bottom three. I note they did not hand out the scores for Aaron, Alvin and Jimmy. Was this so they would not know how far they were behind the pack or in fact how close they were to getting through?

But really the conversation point of this episode is not who is in the bottom three but whether it was fair that Callum made it into the final’s week apparently twitter has exploded with differing views. Your thoughts?


1 AniMotek { 07.15.10 at 11:01 am }

Smauge: “Still love Aaron for his funny commentary. To me he has the most personality out of the bunch of them.”

He does, but he doesn’t learn from his mistakes and frankly, a touch of actual caring about the competition that he signed up for might be nice. After a while, treating everything as a joke gets old, at least for me.

2 smauge { 07.15.10 at 11:09 am }

oi! I’ve been misquoted! Do you think that’s what happened to Mel Gibson?

3 Matt { 07.15.10 at 11:35 am }

What did Courtney do to the Gs? Missed the ep as I was on a plane and can’t seem to find the right clip online. Really that’s the only bit I want to see – about time someone really bit back at them.

4 AniMotek { 07.15.10 at 11:46 am }

Smauge – Apologies! That quote was indeed from MelbaToast, not you.

5 Matt { 07.15.10 at 11:51 am }

Strategy comments on the night.

Flicked through the ep online (and let’s face it, a cook-off doesn’t allow too much game theory), so there’s only a few comments on strategic choices.

Claire seemed to have the right idea on what this was about – it’s a SIGNATURE dish, not an invention test or an opportunity to try new techniques.

If you’re anywhere near the top 50 in this competition, not only do you have a signature dish, but you should have been practising it mercilessly. You know you’re going to get to cook it at least once, and it’ll need to be perfect.

Claire’s dish looked like she’d practised it, despite her comments to the judges about showing off new techniques. I think there may have been some refinements in there, but that’s what they were – refinements.

Adam also seemed to have got what this challenge was about. He’d put some thought into the dish (loved the notebook), and it showed.

Callum – well, he’s a darling. I suspect he’d tried this dish a few times before the competition (otherwise why use pheasant), but it appears he’s thrown in a few new elements, trying to show off what he’s learnt, and stuffed them. If you’re going to try new elements, practice them in the house!

Aaron. yeah. Love that he’s out there for out there’s sake. I’m convinced he believes he’s going home but wants to do it in a blaze of glory.

Alvin – Epic fail. Don’t try new techniques! Completely failed to understand the challenge.

Jimmy – I have a little bit of man love for the strategic genius (by MC standards) that is Jimmy. Unfortunately, everyone’s favourite baby seal keeps getting clubbed by his culinary ineptness.

Sure, Jimmy’s a one-trick pony, but he seems to be pretty damn good at that one trick. He’s not up to the standards of the rest of the comp, but he was a solid top 24, if not a top 10 competitor.

His strategy was pitch-perfect here. Signature dish? Curry, check. Can I cook curry better than anything else? check. If I try too cook something else do I look (a) really stupid, and (b) increase my chances of going home? check.

Jimmy has maximised his chances of staying in the competition – and quite frankly, may have stayed out of the bottom three if not for pheasantgate.

What he’s also done consistently is position himself for the post-MC business, or at least going back to the post-MC business he started when he was originally eliminated and went back to MC before Post MC…whatever. Like Chris Badenoch, no-one is ever going to look at Jimmy and doubt where his culinary heart lies. I actually reckon he’s got the greatest chance of selling a post-MC cookbook of all the contestants. Just don’t ask him to cook any the recipes in it of them under pressure.

So top strategic move: Claire. She understood the challenge perfectly with a signature dish that really reflected her cooking style – simple and elegant.

Second best: Jimmy. Second place only because he’s neglected the strategy of being able to cook.

Worst: Alvin. misread the challenge.

6 Amy { 07.15.10 at 12:12 pm }

I know Jimmy has ended up in elimination anyway, but as mentioned upthread, the brief was 5 plates, 2 hours. Why was he allowed to send in one big plate and then serve it up? If that was the case, why wasn’t Callum allowed to bring in the extra pies and serve them?

7 Culinary Boner { 07.15.10 at 12:22 pm }

B/dead dave – Free Willy indeed! hehe. “Just when you thought it was safe to go back it the water”
Less consistency in this show than the reffing in an average rugby league game. But what with letting Claire dodge rules earlier this week and now Callum, they are at least getting consistent in their bending of the rules. Callum must have been endowed with an honorary vagina . Jono obviously wasn’t when he copped a dressing down for failing to complete in time the other week. I guess it’s now ok on this show to transgress the most basic rule of cooking – getting the food on the plate so that it can be eaten. I can see waiters across the nation, rushing back out to tables saying, “excuse me madam, but here is the snail pie to go with your curry fish custard, our apologies chef was just running a bit late squeezing his pimples”.
To be fair to Callum, as opposed to his judges and the producers, he really did ‘man up’ in how he reacted.

8 MelbaToast { 07.15.10 at 12:25 pm }

@ AniMotek – I think the fact that Aaron get’s so nervous whilst cooking highlights that he cares very much about the show and that it is NOT all a joke to him. He obviously wants his spot in the competition and is scared about losing it. His self depreciating sense of humour is probably a coping mechanism
I don’t believe having a personality and being able to make fun of oneself means that person is less deserving (or serious) than someone like Claire who cries as her coping mechanism.

Aaron is a funny guy and props to him for it. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t care.

9 Gillian { 07.15.10 at 12:28 pm }

Glad to see Adam got through. I loved the idea of the Seven Gods and skewers. Wish I had some right now nom nom nom …

10 Matt { 07.15.10 at 12:43 pm }

Re Adam’s dish – if Matt P scored him a perfect 10, then to end up with 40 points from five judges, at least one of the remaining four guest judges scored him about a 6….

Bit of a discrepancy in judgement.

11 CG { 07.15.10 at 12:57 pm }

Boner, I just hurt myself laughing so hard when I read this comment about Callum: “…our apologies chef was just running a bit late squeezing his pimples”. LMFAO

12 Liberty { 07.15.10 at 12:59 pm }

Was it really the jeans that stood out last night? I was intrigued by Alla Wolf Tasker’s eyebrows. I can’t believe there’s been no comments!
Back to the comp. Who wants to see last years’ top six versus this seasons top six in a “super-duper” challenge? Surely they have to bring more than Julie back…

13 Injera { 07.15.10 at 1:00 pm }

MattsCravat just tweeted this:

“ABOUT CALLUM: Missing from last night was when all chefs said Callum was the contestant they’d most want in their kitchens #masterchef!”

Superb editing to exclude that.

14 MelbaToast { 07.15.10 at 1:04 pm }

Just a thought…perhaps we should stop picking on things like Callum’s acne…it really has nothing to do with the show or his ability (or inability) to cook.

It’s pretty mean to poke fun of people like this – esp about something they cannot help.

There have been a lot of comments on this fourm about what bullies they judges can be…but we’re just being blog bullies really…so we’re not any better than them.

15 CG { 07.15.10 at 1:13 pm }

Melba: Good point, there is not a lot Callum can do about his acne – unlike Claire, who could do a lot about her personality and attitude if she wanted to.

Injera: They must have edited out the comment about chefs wanting to have Callum work in their kitchens because the same comments were made about Marion just before she was eliminated. Kiss of death…or just comments that make the judging and competition look rigged and/or silly?

16 Reality bites { 07.15.10 at 1:15 pm }

Maybe they should rename this show Master’s apprentice.

17 brain dead dave { 07.15.10 at 1:28 pm }

Callum could have botox to stop sweating.

18 rusty { 07.15.10 at 1:38 pm }


Only because he’s young and pliable enough to be moulded by them! If I had a kitchen I’d take him too, pimples or not. I would not take any of the others – already too old and fixed in their ideas.

These contestants aren’t looking for apprenticeships. They are looking for exposure.

19 hine { 07.15.10 at 1:58 pm }

Agree with Matt(comment above)-Claire was the only one who seemed to understand the brief in regards to a signature dish(well maybe Adam but he did not seem to have cooked that dish before). Would have eaten Adam and Courtneys dishes though. Callums was a Maggie Beer pie with a G & G taught me to cook poultry on the crown dish unfinished(it seemed pure luck it was cooked right-it was raw before he recooked it in the pan and the pies were falling apart as they were coming out of the shells: and the watercress salad-yuk). Jimmys dish looked revolting, Alvins: too much starch on starch, Aarons: just revolting. The show is a joke anoyway-agree with whoever said it has gone into the Twilight Zone since returning from London.
The most interesting bit for me was editing all over the shop as usual-particularly liked the last eight minutes. One shot from behind Matt as talking but no sound(the online episode part 6/6 @1:40).
I would not want Callum as an apprentice. Doesn’t listen, wipes his sweaty forehead on tea towels and makes the same mistakes over and over. If he wins this farce will be complete.

20 dmc { 07.15.10 at 2:12 pm }

Matt – I think that if MP gave him a 10, then there was 30 points from the other 4, which is 7.5 per person, so they probably gave him two sevens and two eights.

I did like your comment that Jimmy came second except for the fact that he forgot the strategy of being able to cook!

21 I like food { 07.15.10 at 2:20 pm }

you know guys…I switched off the other night after the Johnno fiasco and it feels pretty good to be disconnected from the matrix. I’ve found I dont care anymore and watched the show more out of habit. I do enjoy reading all your comments though.

22 AniMotek { 07.15.10 at 2:31 pm }

@MelbaToast I don’t think Aaron totally doesn’t care but I think he waves off his mistakes and doesn’t even try to learn from them for the next time. Obviously he’s still taking the challenges seriously in the sense of trying to complete the tasks.

@i like food: I know what you mean. I’m not interested to the level I was before Jonathan was whacked — I couldn’t bring myself to care about Claire’s celebrity chef challenge, for example — but I’m still morbidly curious about who’s going to make it through to the end and how.

23 littlepetal { 07.15.10 at 2:33 pm }

I don’t think Callum has cooked pheasant before as he didn’t know the cost of pheasant. Give him credit for doing a fabulous job with the cooking but he didn’t plate up and the 3 judges should only judge what is on their plates.

Also this cannot be his signature dish. All along he want to be a pastry chef and he should be making desserts (but he is not good at it).

24 sourkraut { 07.15.10 at 2:36 pm }

I havent read any of the above and I dont care what they say!

If any totally clueless character has not yet been able to work out that this so called reality show is by French chefs, of french chefs, for french chefs then lord help your intelligence.
Claire cooked some custard with garlic and an overgrown yabby and some crap french sauce and immediately the same judge that shafted Chris B last year went into a 3 hatted orgasm over it and of course toady matt had to follow.
Worse to come.
Callum (he of the wisdom and experience of eons of cooking) put half empty dishes before one of the judges. That should have been enough for that judge to score him a big fat ZERO! But no because it looked like some crappy french pastry pie our judges rated it second best on the night, WHAT A JOKE.
and of course when the attractive Courtney (GO GIRL HOPE SHE WINS) fronts monsieur the look on heis face said it all. Seen it all before last year when WONDER french chef Justine fronted him with the same result. BAH
Jimmy’s dish looked absolutely fantastic, but do you think the judges liked it? Of course not. Not one of them was qualified to judge an Indian curry, and as it was a signature dish, they could hardly complain about his having cooked a curry.

25 Reality Raver { 07.15.10 at 2:36 pm }

Re: Matt Preston’s tweet about wanting Callum in the kitchen –

But the show is about being the best amateur cook, and he is not. I think Callum is one of the ones with the most potential and will go onto work in a kitchen proper, and not release a frigging sauce range etc. But he is not the best cook there. Claire or Adam are my picks. I don’t think Alvin is consistent enough. Courtney as an outside chance, she is great with flavours, but she keeps it fairly simple but then it is about not getting eliminated and that will keep you in versus someone being bold and blowing it.

Trying to get an interview with Jono so if I do I will definitely ask him about the Callum controversy

26 rusty { 07.15.10 at 2:44 pm }


believe me, there are a lot worse than Callum out there in apprentice land!

He does learn – just after several attempts of his own. At least he has initiative and wants to work.

Sweat? a minor excretion only.

27 hine { 07.15.10 at 3:15 pm }

Had plenty of chefs and apprentices work for me. And one in particular at a minesite used to(still does) have a towel drapped over his shoulder which he would wipe his brow then wipe counters and plates with it…one day I couldn’t restrain myself and told him it was disgusting(he was a protected species in the company so no one had mentioned it before and he also turns up to work pissed and stinks…anyway thats my sweating chef rant)

28 Reality Raver { 07.15.10 at 3:15 pm }

Sourkraut – LOL, I had forgotten about the perving at Justine last year, at this similar challenge.

Matt – I think Claire was smart she cooked something she was comfortable with but was also showed off her skill set. Alvin stuffed up on the bits of the dish he had done before, not the noodles which he hadn’t. In these challenges I must confess I do like to see them go a bit outside their comfort zones. But think it is ridiculous if they go so far by making up a whole new dish, like Aaron.

Melba toast – he is young and he probably is self conscious about it, however I do wish they had made him wear a bandanna or sweat bad as the sweating is unhygienic.

Liberty – did not notice Alla’s eyebrows, but her food looked sensational.

Hestonrules – one of the best handles ever.

29 AniMotek { 07.15.10 at 3:22 pm }

Regarding Callum, I have nothing against him personally but his presence on this show really bothers me. Unlike the other contestants who are trying to change their lives and need the exposure of this show to get a boost into the industry, he’s only 20 years old. He should be doing an apprenticeship and going to culinary school like other aspiring chefs, not trying to take a shortcut by appearing on a TV show.

30 hine { 07.15.10 at 3:24 pm }

Oh Rusty-think we all know the worst sweat in a kitchen is the one you don’t see :)

31 rusty { 07.15.10 at 3:34 pm }


I’ve never hired apprentices, only been one and worked with them.

I’ve still seen a lot worse than Callum. Puts you off restaurant food.

32 MelbaToast { 07.15.10 at 3:41 pm }

I do agree that a sweatband on Callum’s forehead wouldn’t go astray! I just will try not to think about what’s happening in the kitchens at the places where I eat out…ignorance is bliss (or a gastro upset)!

33 Matt { 07.15.10 at 3:51 pm }

Melba – the sweatband certainly works for Shaun Presland.

34 Injera { 07.15.10 at 4:27 pm }

Good point, Rusty, about him being the only “apprentice-y” one that chefs would actually want in the kitchen. Agree with AniMotek and RR on that, too – why hasn’t he followed that path? Hopefully he won’t win, and will therefore be able to do just that; if he wins, I’d imagine it would be difficult to walk into a working kitchen – can you imagine the ribbing? “Hey, Masterchef, can you prep the veg?” Actually, he’d probably get that anyway, having gone this far in the comp!

Matt – loved your roundup.

35 smauge { 07.15.10 at 4:27 pm }

no good perving on Courtney – unless you bat for her team. is it just me or did Aaron serve up liquorice last night?

36 La la la { 07.15.10 at 4:35 pm }

I think his pheasant was just so good it over-rode the fact that he didn’t get everything on the plate.
So they weren’t just judging on the plate once it had been shared, they did take into account the fact that it was not complete, but his pheasant just made it up. It was so good, it just surpassed Alvin and the rest’s that way.
Well that’s what I reckon.
I also hate that feather necklace. I can’t believe anyone would wear it, let alone on TV. Hideous.

37 Reality Raver { 07.15.10 at 4:52 pm }

Is Matt Preston hinting in this interview that Jimmy is the one to go home tonight?

Or is he just teasing us. I guess we will find out in roughly 4 hours.

38 Chunks { 07.15.10 at 5:05 pm }

The real problem guys is that most of you seem to expect the best cook to win. The best “amata” chef in Australia, with all the right “uluments”. But that isn’t what happened last year and it won’t this year. There are too many variables. It’s more like the best under-the-radar middle of the road amata chef because they don’t take risks and manage to stay onboard long enough to only have to compete against other mediocrities. But who cares? Marion isn’t going to be a chef anyway, she’s going to flog chemicals mixed together and sold to just-add-the-meat-and-warm mums. On the other hand, if Callum gets through he may well be inspired to actually do the hard yards and train to be a chef instead of a celebrity head. Awesome. The rest of them will probably never do any professional cooking if it doesn’t involve TV. Meh.

39 anon { 07.15.10 at 5:13 pm }


we don’t expect anything other than to have a good time shredding the show and its inhabitants to bits. That’s the fun of watching realityTv.

I couldn’t give a ___ for MC’s or CH10’s ethical, cultural or intellectual integrity.

40 Chunks { 07.15.10 at 6:09 pm }

Hm, I dunno. Seems to me people expect much more than that. But anyway, just reading through the comments on the plating up. I think there’s a considerable difference between Claire getting 10 more minutes to finish a dish that was NEVER going to win against the celebrity chef and one of the contestants being given extra time to plate up against the other competitors. Obviously if it happened secretly off-camera that would be different, but it was done in the acknowledgement that Claire had no home of winning so what did it matter? I’m pretty sure the other “amatas” would have the same view.

41 CheeCheongFun { 07.15.10 at 6:23 pm }

The only hatless so-called chef and member of the otherwise distinctive judging panel (please exclude Matt Preston in the distinctive bit) Kylie Kwong won’t be able tell the difference between a Chinese banquet and the leftovers from the Mayflower Restaurant in Bogota.

I love the show. But why sink so low as to invite this fake to be a part of it?

42 cyril { 11.23.10 at 12:05 am }

The way that the hosts behave warrants changing the name of the show to “Control Freaks Australia”.