Masterchef – Fix that dish!
We join our contestants in the aftermath of their pacify-the-sponsor challenge. Andrew and Kumar are getting ready for their elimination showdown. Andrew realises he has to be fighting fit for the challenge, so hopefully he’ll share his get-fit-in-two-hours secrets with us once he is booted at the end of this episode. Kumar is chatting with Sun, who seems to be very upset at the thought of losing him. We are shown a little bit more of each of their stories and Hayden tells us about what we’ve just seen, in case we have no short term memory. He also tells us what we are about to see, which is Shannon and Billy are getting ready for their reward. I check and see that this episode will go for an hour. I’m tipping 10 minutes of cooking, 20 minutes of ads, 10 minutes of Hayden’s predictions and 10 minutes of his summations. There will be 2 minutes of tasting and the remaining 8 minutes will be tears. Back to the house and Shannon is given this week’s opportunity to pretend that her excitement will be tempered by sadness at the prospect of losing Andrew. She promises to make a “discerned” effort to enjoy her reward. Hopefully some kind soul at SBS’s “Letters and Numbers” will send her a large Macquarie dictionary, out of pity.
Kumar is not ready to go home today. Quelle surprise! Neither is Andrew. Seriously? We are spending time on this? Can’t we just take it as read that the contestants want to be there? In a worrying development, Andrew reveals that his time on Masterchef has made him a stronger cook. Good lord – how did this man get through auditions?
We cut to Shannon and Billy in the helicopter. Shannon can’t think of anybody she’d rather share the experience with than Billy. In her whole life, there is not one person she’d rather be having a nice lunch and helicopter ride with than some random she met a couple of weeks prior on a reality show? Not even Andrew??? I… am defeated.
Shannon’s cleavage engulfs Stefano Manfredi, but he manages to extract himself to greet Billy, who lets us know that he’s been to Bells a number of times. In fact, I’m sure I’ve read one of his blog posts about it. Billy is quick to work in the required “Godfather” reference, so anybody playing cultural stereotypes at home can get their drink on. They pick some veg and then make spinach gnocchi with burnt butter sauce. They are pretty happy with their reward, and so they should be, but Shannon manages to get in another “but I’m sad for Andrew” moment. Maybe they get bonuses for hitting the talking points?
Back to the real action. Matt explains the purpose of an elimination challenge to Kumar and Andrew, just in case they have somehow forgotten why they donned the black aprons. Gary brings in a gleaming pot of something, which Kumar is immediately daunted by. His words. Andrew remarks that it smells like something he’s made, so perhaps the producers have decided that, since they are serving what is largely a shit sandwich to viewers this year, they might as well dish it up to their contestants, too. Dani upwardly inflects that it “smells quite meaty… like a stew?” which is not really much of an observation, when you think about it, but she looks as proud of herself as if she has just identified the secret ingredient of civet cat sweat glands.
Gary starts to reveal the dish, and Kumar is so well trained for the reaction shot that he gasps even before the inevitable fireball. Bless. We all know that it’s going to be Massaman curry, because that’s what it said in the guide, so we can all feel quite confident fast forwarding the ads. Just in case the prospect of seeing Candice Bergen in a House ad has completely fried out brains, Dani helpfully recaps that we are about to start an elimination challenge. Because she is such an expert on “Asian” cuisine, Dani is able to tell us that Kumar would be good at making a Massaman curry. She seems to find it astonishing that he’s never made one before. Andrew, on the other hand, makes it all. The. Time. He is confident of his own skills “in this area”. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease let this be yet another example of Andrew’s complete lack of self-awareness when it comes to his culinary talents. I don’t think I can bear to see him get through another elimination unscathed.
Okay, let’s get cooking. Well, after Matt tells them that they have an array of ingredients available and Gary lets us know that the judges will be looking for the tastiest dish.
- eight steps
- one ingredient per step
- each ingredient can only be used once
- contestants will take turns in adding an ingredient
Andrew, I fear, gives away the producers’ game by interviewing – rather cockily, given that he’s just told us that he makes this all the time – that he is the underdog against Kumar. My heart sinks. I doubt he would have been able to give that interview after a loss. Pleasepleasepleaseplease let me be wrong.
Andrew has had a revelation: “I just had to beat Kumar”. Guy’s a GENIUS.
Kumar is first – he goes for cashew nuts as a thickening agent. Gary and Matt whisper together that this is a suspicious move. Danielle doesn’t think Kumar’s plan is a good one. He says he’s not showing his hand, and Peter reveals that they call Kumar “the panther – you’ll never know when he’ll pounce”. Hee.
Andrew gets turmeric. Michael would have gone for potato. Actually, Michael should have gone for immunity in Busselton, but I guess I just have to get over that.
Kumar: shallots. Peter thinks this is a good idea. Kumar does the panther move again, which is… Nothing. I guess panthers do nothing, right?
Andrew: ginger. He loves ginger. Kumar would have used galangal. Andrew looks as though he wants to use the cleaver. On Kumar.
Guess what? Another freaking recap! Thanks, Kate. Does she mention what’s happened so far, in case you had to answer the phone, or add galangal to your massaman? No. She tells us THAT IT’S AN ELIMINATION CHALLENGE LIKE WE DIDN’T KNOW THAT ALREADY AAAAAAARGH!
Kumar: galangal. Peels, chops and purees it in the processor with the shallots. He still hasn’t added anything to his sauce. Andrew is confident.
Andrew: shallots. For sweetness. He chops them and puts them straight into the sauce, which seems weird. Surely… yes, Gary has confirmed that he should have cooked them and Adam is happy to back that up.
Kumar: coriander root. He adds this to his shallots and galangal. He now fries that off. Andrew is feeling great. Danielle helpfully informs us that they are doing things differently and that either could win. Sorry, did I say “helpfully”? I meant “redundantly”.
Andrew: coriander. I miss what he does with this because this is Jay’s turn to shine. “What?” I hear you ask. “He’s not even in this elimination!” Ah, but the editors can’t let us get through a whole episode without the Wisdom of Jay. That would be cheating us of an important revelation. He would have added potatoes and peanuts by now. Has he been reading Matt’s cue cards? Danielle thinks it’s agonising that nobody seems to know what they’re doing. I wonder how she’s survived so far, because cluelessness is hardly a new development in this show.
Andrew adds the meat to his sauce and the general opinion is that he’s waited too long. Matt tastes his and agrees that there are some good flavours. Gary tastes Kumar’s and raises his eyebrows in what Kumar interprets as a positive nod.
Kumar: lime. Danielle thinks it’s too early for this. So does Andrew.
Andrew: palm sugar. Well, he did say he’d get the sweetness and saltiness in first.
Kumar: palm sugar.
Matt and Gary are concerned about the lack of potatoes, peanuts and coconut milk.
Andrew: fish sauce.
Kumar: fish sauce.
There’s some discussion of how the curries are going so far, and – with two ingredients left to choose – Andrew announces that he only needs one more ingredient. There’s a gasp of horror from around the balcony.
Kumar: goes shopping for his final ingredient. Potato? Coconut milk? Panther blood? Alana tries to send coconut vibes to the Koom, but she sends fireball instead. Gary and Matt try to build the tension over Kumar’s agonising decision, but Adam shoots that down by interviewing that “he’s taken about a minute and a half” to decide. Not even enough time for a Glee promo, then.
He finally grabs the coconut cream.
Andrew: suddenly realises that elimination is riding on the challenge. WHAT? Where has he been? Look, just a hint to the editors – next year, show the contestants the endless recaps, not the viewers. We are far better clued in to this process than they are. Anyway, he decides to take the eighth step he was so disdainful of a few minutes back, and grabs some coconut cream.
We get a lot of unnecessary speculation about whose is better from the peanut gallery. And then tasting? Not so fast… I’d forgotten that we had to have the drawn out second-guessing, potato-less recriminations and last goodbyes before the actual judging.
Andrew: meat dry, not braised enough. Bright and vibrant, with a well-reduced sauce.
Kumar: Matt takes a MUCH bigger chunk of this curry. Texture not smooth enough, spiciness good.
Both dishes are improvements over the original. Andrew’s is big and vibrant with gutsy flavours. Kumar’s meat is far more tender and the curry has creaminess, but that is offset by the “squeaky” texture.
Split decision. I’m not even kidding. Now apparently it comes down to which one has done the “best job”. Given that we haven’t been told what that means, this gives the judges leeway to spin it whichever way they want. How will they do that? Fireball.
(Am I the only person who finds the sexy-voice of the Good Wife ad narrator over the top? At least we won’t be have to see that again.)
KUMAR IS THROUGH! Never have I been so glad to be wrong. Goodbye, Andrew. He threatens to open his own bistro. He’s happy to have cooked against Kumar, because he respects him and blathers on about not wanting to cook against someone who doesn’t deserve to be there. Projection, much? Wow.
Kumar offers to be a kitchen hand. He’s so charming. Andrew’s response – “sure, why not?” – comes off as decidedly ungracious to me. Still, he’s leaving with the misguided idea that he has achieved a lot, so that’s something.
Kumar’s return is warmly greeted by all. Shannon is pleased that he’s back, but is “mortified” that Andrew’s gone. Crimes against the English language are only exceeded by crimes against food in this show. (And I know I should proof-read this even more carefully now that I’ve decided to be pettily judgemental about Shannon’s capacity for expression, but… eh, schadenfreude. Enjoy it if you find mistakes.) Hayden names Kumar the “Kumanator”. This takes me back to a more innocent time, when Terminator references weren’t accompanied by smirks about housemaids and love-children. Thanks for that, Hayden!
Andrew has a lovely kitty cat and is looking for work in a commercial kitchen.