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Posts from — June 2011

Masterchef Australia – Hayden Uses His Immunity Pin

I thought tonight was the right night for Hayden to play his immunity pin. He was up against four other strong cooks, Peter, Billy, Kumar, and Michael. He did not really want to be like James from Survivor who was eliminated whilst still holding two immunity idols.

Also good to know now that Masterchef is back to being an even playing field.

First up in tonight’s elimination challenge was a blind taste test. It was a weird looking terrine served with an apple puree. The cheftestants had two minutes to taste blindfolded and identify as many ingredients as possible. Then they had one minute to write down what they thought they had picked. In part two of the challenge you then had those ingredients you had identified to cook with.

Who else thinks that if you get one wrong you should have a correct answer deleted. Peter’s tactic was a smart one writing down every protein possible but should that be allowed? Billy also did the same with the herbs.

Kumar conversely should have applied those tactics because he had such a big brain snap. He is very zen he spent a minute feeling the food before eating it, which meant in the end he only had four ingredients to cook with in the next part of the challenge.

Michael came out best with eleven ingredients, but got confused with what to do with them. He cooked a baby vegetable salad. At first it was going to be with ham hock, but then he put prosciutto on it. He was a bit directionless.

Both Billy and Peter made chicken wrapped in prosciutto.

Peter cooked chicken and prosciutto rotolo onto a parsley and apple mash. Matt Preston “noticed his presentation has improved”. The  “Hero is the apple” said Matt but there was too much garlic.

Billy cooked chicken wrapped in prosciutto served with roast baby carrots. “That is a wow of a dish” said Matt Preston.  He was told a dish like that would take you to the top ten, but could also take you to the top four. It must have been good.

Kumar cooked pork neck steak with apple gravy. I couldn’t work out whether Gary was being critical or positive about the amount of butter in the dish. Maybe positive about the flavour but not so positive about the greasy feel in the mouth.

Michael’s spring vegetable salad with prosciutto got a  “tastes delicious” from Gary, however Matt was not a fan of the apple puree.

Just an aside I kind of liked George Calombaris not being in the episode, it meant there was a less comedic tone to it.

Billy was safe, as was Peter. And then Kumar was eliminated. I must admit I teared up. We didn’t see enough of this lovely man.

He is writing and illustrating a cookbook which he is hoping to publish, and he may be taking tours to Sri Lanka.

I also noted that Kumar must have been well liked in the house as the rest of the top ten looked disappointed when he did not return.

June 30, 2011   47 Comments

Masterchef Australia – The Catering Challenge

After three seasons of Masterchef Australia, I think could write a Phd in how the show is edited. As about 10 minutes in I had guessed correctly who the winning team was going to be. As it is all about the drama they show one of the teams to be sooo chaotic they couldn’t possibly win, however they rise up to clinch the prize.

The teams were divided into the people that slept upstairs and the ones that slept downstairs in the Masterchef house. It was essentially boys against the girls, apart from Mat who was on the girls team.

It was a the catering challenge, with two different clients.

Captain for the blue team was Peter who was thought to be the best person for the role as he had worked in the corporate world.

Their lunch was at  Allens Arthur Robinson law firm  and he was told they had to be out by 2.00pm and it should be a light lunch.  So I don’t get why they decided to make beef cheeks and a chocolate tart. Neither of which were light. Peter had thought if they gave them small portions this would get around the heaviness of the dishes.

In fact no one appeared to eat the tart. It is unknown whether this was due to them being full or the flavour. The tart was a flop literally as it had not set.

The same rationale was used to pick Ellie as team captain for the red team. They had to cater for a 21st party, and it was thought because she was 21 she would have something in common with the client.

The client who was the event manager not the 21 year old twins wanted substantial canapes with an element of excitement with the food, and also an element of involvement by the guests. Ellie didn’t really clarify what she meant by that so when she got back to the house to plan everyone just looked confused.

Dani did come up with a good idea with writing messages on cupcakes and letting the guests also to write on them.

At the lawyers lunch they were trying to drum up drama by being peeved about the food running late. Kumar’s confit of ocean trout with fennel and apple salad was a hit, but was served 10 minutes late. We never did find out how over time the lunch ran.

I thought Peter was a good captain once in the kitchen, however he did give the go ahead to the menu and he also didn’t oversee the portion size in the prep time for the beef cheeks.

Then it was the red teams turn to cook.

I thought it was unfair that the red team had the same budget of $1000 to cater for 50 people, whereas the blue team only had twelve guests.

However the girls managed to bring it in on budget and spent the last $100 on a pretty small piece rabbit terrine, and onion confit.

Gary Mehigan was not impressed that the rabbit terrine with the red onion confit as both which had been bought, not made. They still had to plate it up.

The red team was a bit of a disaster in the prep. They forgot red food colouring, and coconut for Alana’s dishes. I am surprised she did not think there was some sort of sabotage thing going on.

Dani went off to get them but apparently she was gone for an hour. Clearly no corner shops in the Eastern Suburbs.

However Ellie who was not a good leader in the kitchen, and was also trying to make two dishes so it was a bit of a mess.

However the food ended up going out and it was getting good reviews from the crowd. I just wish they had had more napkins.

The Red Velvet cupcakes went down a treat as well. And unlike other 21st’s no one was pissed on camera making a fool of themselves.

No surprise the red team won when one of the criteria was meeting the client’s brief, and the guests at the 21st were far more happier with the food than the law firm.

Tomorrow night a blind folded taste test. I am hoping Hayden uses his immunity pin.

June 29, 2011   65 Comments

Masterchef Australia – Tonight Was A Skit Not A Cooking Show

“Well they certainly like to drag it out” said Merle Parrish champion cake maker who for an 80 plus lady certainly described Masterchef Australia to a tee.

Now I liked Merle, and I liked the concept of the challenge, where a champion cake maker competes against a Masterchef contestant. But the whole thing turned into a bit of a skit.

In fact half way through I felt a bit sorry for Billy as it became obvious that like a cheesy romantic comedy movie the outcome was already known. There was no way they could let Merle lose as the Channel Ten switchboard would have lit up in protest.

Even the her sitting on a chair with her knitting with a pot of tea at the side really showed how scripted the show has become, and also Kate running down to get the bowls. No one was taking it seriously. In fact at times I found it a tad condescending to Merle.

The other thing that peeved me a bit was that Chris Mansfield was judge for this challenge. Don’t get me wrong I like Chris Mansfield (has she had botox her forehead did not move?) but the majority of other judges on these immunity challenge either judge cuisines similar to their style, or they present the dish the chef and contestant is meant to cook. Would they have done this to a male judge?

And wouldn’t Donna Hay have been a better fit for this episode anyway?

I hope they bring Chris back for another challenge and make them replicate one of her dishes.

However, I did think it was correct that Billy had to cook Merle’s recipes of Peach Blossom cake and cup cakes.

Merle was great TV, and obviously tonight was a comedy show rather then a cooking show.

Billy’s cup cakes were better than Merle’s as hers had air pockets, which Matt Moran thought were a bit of a big deal. However Merle’s peach blossom cake hit Billy’s out of the ball park.

Billy’s scored 21 points and Merle scored 24 points to take out the challenge. I noted no judge raised with Merle the air pockets in her cup cakes.

June 28, 2011   39 Comments

The Block – The Houses Are Derelict

Friday’s night episode was to competing to be able to choose which house to renovate, the kicker was you could only pick from the outside facade.

So the advantage Katrina and Amie had had by winning the door unlocking challenge was not that great as it sounded like at the time.

Tonight the teams got to go into the houses, and they were derelict. It looked like it was going to be Survivor mixed in with The Block. There were holes in the walls, and no bathrooms or kitchens or running water.

I did laugh when Tania said “there is lots of light” that is because there were no walls.

There may have been holes in the walls, and no toilets, however they did all have a double door stainless steel fridges in their houses.

To be honest not a lot of rooms, so part of the renovations must be extensions. Particularly for Jenna and Josh.

Each house had it’s advantages and disadvantages. I do think Jenna and Josh got a good one with the double frontage.

This episode also revealed all the sponsors. It was all laid out at the back of the houses. All teams got $75,000 in vouchers. Also the toilet and shower amentities were revealed. I didn’t get the point of making the toilets look grotty, as they were brought in rather then being an original part of the building.

Polly and Waz keep on talking how they are the team with the least renovating experience, though Polly thinks her experience with flat packs and allen keys might help. They call in a builder to help them. This confused me as their appeared to be builders everywhere. Did they want independent advice?

Katrina and Amie seemed to be surrounded by builders giving advice. Amie was a bit crestfallen when they were talked into removing the fireplace when it was one of the reasons she picked the house.

They had restrictions on what they could do over the weekend, but  on Monday they could kick off at 7.00am. One thing I do like about this year is they appear not to make the contestants work, so it is all about the renovation.

Also another change to the format is challenges and the first one will be tomorrow night. I am liking The Block’s new formula it is much pacier then last year, also the contestants are all likeable at this stage. Normally I like one villain but I am not sure whether this cast will produce one.


June 27, 2011   13 Comments

Masterchef Australia – Danielle Is Eliminated

Can they give the eliminated contestant Visine before their to camera pieces? From the get go it was obvious Danielle was the one gone because her eyes looked so red.

Tonight Matthew Kemp from Balzac brought in a duck a l’orange and Ellie, Danielle and Peter had 60 minutes to bring their own personal spin on the dish.

I really liked Matthew, he was articulate and not afraid to say what he thought.

Dani who again got a lot of camera time, with her tongue in cheek said “Duck a l’orange had its hey day in the ’70’s and ’80’s a bit like Peter.”

Danielle just had a shocker. She needed to take the hint from Gary Mehigan when after explaining her cold pasta duck salad idea he did not look impressed. Well pasta salad emerged in the  ’70’s so I suppose that is the classic twist on the dish, going for the same era.

She did try and make her own pasta, and she could not get it together and had to start it again.  The same thing happen with her orange sauce she burnt the first batch.

Ellie showing far more intelligence and changed her idea of doing duck three ways after talking to the judges. She dropped it down to doing one dish which was asian inspired.

Ellie also burnt her hand on the pan handle, which is not a good advertisement for the pans until they clarified it later in the episode that she had pulled it out of the oven.

She also got helped by the peanut gallery when she was told not to put oil in her  frypan when cooking duck.

However this help was not there for Danielle to point out to her that she had not put her candied orange sauce on her pasta salad.

Ellie was first to be  made schezuan duck with an asian inspired salad.

She was pretty clever by saying her problem is having too many ideas but not clarity of thought. It was a great way of talking herself up.

Matthew Kemp said “I love that duck”, Matt Preston said “I love the flavour… and it is fine version that is asian of the traditional dish.”

Danielle’s Duck a l’orange pasta stack looked better then I thought it was going to. Danielle went before the judges and did the exact opposite to Ellie, she outlined everywhere she had stuffed up with the dish.

“Perfectly cooked duck breast” said Gary Mehigan, but Matt Preston said “Pity the candied orange didn’t get on the dish”.

Peter cooked Crispy Duck Breast with braised Garlic Witlof. He was criticised for using the three main flavours of Matthew’s dish. But it looked different and tasted different.

Gary was having some sort of short term memory loss when he said “this is country cooking and this is what Peter is all about”. Peter landed in the pressure test tonight because his food was too city for the country folks voting on last night’s episode.

“That jus gras has got a lot of flavour,” said Matt Preston. But he thought he did not take the dish far enough.

I loved the way all three judges had to say “jus gras” just to let the viewer know exactly what it was.

Before giving the verdict they judges had to ask the usual questions.

To Peter they asked “If you leave today what do you go back to?” Peter responded  “I go back to a certain amount of uncertainty. I left to job to be here.” But he did say he is transitioning to a new life. He seemed genuine in what he was saying.

No surprise when Danielle was eliminated.

She is doing a part-time apprenticeship, and she is soon to do work experience with Zumbo. So maybe she will stay in the food industry.

Did anyone notice she didn’t sit next to her husband but her father when she was home?

June 27, 2011   43 Comments