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Masterchef Australia – Qantas First Class Challenge

Is the Dalai Lama really Neil Perry? He told Danielle when prepping her snapper to prep it with lots of love and lots of care.  As there were a lot of wonderful’s and beautiful’s when describing his dishes.

One thing I really loved about Neil Perry tonight, as I don’t think he is a natural TV talent, was his enthusiasm when the food was being plated up and how he interacted with contestants at this time. It was like he was in his natural habitat. Made me realise why his restaurants are so good. His standards are exacting.

Tonight the challenge was for the remaining cheftestants to cook eight dishes from Neil Perry’s Qantas first class menu. The guests would be two famous chefs who happened to be Thomas Keller from The French Laundry in California, and Per Se in NYC, and Andoni Luis Aduriz from Mugaritz in Spain.

They had also brought in 24 Qantas VIP frequent flyers to eat the food, what I found interesting was the high number of young females there were. The few times I have been in the Chairman’s Lounge, it has been all middle aged men and no babes.

One criticism I had about tonight’s challenge was they only got 60 minutes to prep and only 20 minutes to serve (though I am sure there was some fudging on this). I thought they should have given them an extra 15 minutes of prep time to ensure they did plate up something decent.

They were placed in teams of two and told which course they were going to cook. The teams allegedly picked by the judges, but obviously the producers wanted to create some tension by placing certain people together.

For example Sun and Dani, both feisty personalities were cooking together. Also they placed the oldest and youngest together Kumar and Ellie.

The dishes were:

Course 1  – “a beautiful crab and fennel salad” – Dani and Sun cooked together, and Dani revealed that whilst she was a glass half full person, Sun was a glass half empty kind of girl.

There big drama was surrounding cooking and shelling the crab in the timeframe. They were stressed about leaving crab shell in the crab meat, and inevitably there was some cartilage found. I loved it when Matt Preston raised this when he was giving the teams the judges view, Sun rubbed Dani on the arm as if to indicate, to everyone that it was Dani’s fault this occurred. I suspect there is no love lost between this pair.

Also Matt said by finding crab cartilage in their food it would appear they were rushing it. In may opinion they had to rush because of the ridiculous plating deadlines.

Course 2 – “a wonderful leek and goat cheese tart” – Craig and Rachael worked well together, but they were pushed for time, and the pastry was too thick.

Thomas expected the pastry to be more refined. Andoni thought there was not enough salt,  and not enough dressing on the salad.

Course 3 – “a beautiful lobster and burghul wheat salad” – Ellie and Kumar were really pushed for time as they were still making sauces when they should have been plating up. Matt Preston said “Most complete of all the dishes we have had so far.

Thomas concurred ” good point so we can progress from here.” which indicated he thought the previous courses were ordinary.

Course 4 – “snapper poached in garam masala and coconut milk” – Kate and Danielle were a strong team with very little drama. Thomas Keller thought the flavour profiles of the dish were good.

Course 5 – “poached duck with master stock with XO sauce ” – Adam and Alana. The duck was perfectly cooked, but the XO sauce was a let down. Unfortunately for Alana she was the one responsible for that.

Couse 6 – Slow-roasted sirloin, anchovy butter, potato gratin – Mat and Billy – wasn’t this a clusterfuck by Mat? First he cut the beef wrong so it would not cook in time, then he sweated into the food. Also when they were plating up they were about to plate up cold and very rare beef. And Neil Perry told the to get it hot. Matt panfried it and ended up being told it was the best protien of the night.

I thought it was a bit unfair that Neil and George intervened on this, as it definitely saved them from being bottom two.

Course 7 – “golden syrup pudding and caramelised apple” – Shannon and Michael. Thomas Keller is Michael’s idol, and he was pretty excited to meet him. However their dessert was far too dense.

Course 8 – “gorgeously rich caramel and chocolate tart” – Hayden and Peter again were struggling for time as they had to set the ganache on top  of the tart. However it looked great, but Andoni said ” not such a great impression on the taste”.

Did Andoni like anything? In the end Matt Preston skillfully got around it by asking what he did like about the dish.

Kate and Danielle won, with Kate to cook for immunity pin on Tuesday night.

The bottom two teams were, Rachael and Craig and Michael and Shannon. If I was a betting person I think either Craig or Shannon will go.

32 comments

1 Liz { 06.13.11 at 12:13 am }

Great recap Emma, but I thought you might have made a bit more of Danielle being really selfless in giving Kate the op to cook for immunity. I thought that was really lame by the judges and a cop out. It was a team challenge and the team should both have been able to cook for immunity.
I sure hope that the people who ate that food had all their shots up to date – there was that much sweat flying into the dishes that I was nearly hucking.
And as for that Mat with his greasy hair as well. There is no way I would eat anything that he cooked. No wonder he is a webbytechy bloke. Back to the darkened room with several computer screens and the piling up pizza boxes…………

2 anonymice { 06.13.11 at 12:24 am }

And all the over handling of food! Totally gross!! I don”t care what any one says – utensils should be used where possible. Mixing salad or crab in between your hands is so wrong. On another note…what an embarrassment watching these guys failing to grasp basic cooking techniques – what is wrong with them this year? Lastly…smiling assassin (Dani) strikes again with her glass half full/empty comment.

3 Oshada { 06.13.11 at 12:24 am }

I would’ve thought that Kate would get the chance anyway, since Danielle had had an immunity challenge just last week. Glad to see that Kumar was safe ^^

4 Doopliss { 06.13.11 at 12:32 am }

Glad to see Kumar and Billy safe. When I saw them being paired up with Ellie and Mat, I couldn’t help but think one of the teams would fall into the bottom 2 tonight. Mat, almost screwed their team twice last night but a bit of intervention from Perry spared them. Unfair yes, but what hasn’t been this year…

Hoping that Shannon goes tomorrow night. She should have been spent home last week. If Craig or Michael goes that would be a shame since I would consider them better cooks than a few others left in the competition. And Rachel just amuses me with her commentary and has plated up a few decent dishes through the competition.

Considering this challenge was an 8 course meal I thought that surely this be one challenge were you would be full by the end of service, but the portions for each of those plates was ridiculous! 2 slices of roast duck per dish? Absolute blasphemy. You could get a decent dish with half a peking roast duck with more bok choy and XO sauce at local Asian restaurant for less than $15!

5 Jess { 06.13.11 at 1:04 am }

Was Neil Perry helping them plate? I thought I saw him take some pudding out of their moulds, and handle the tart slices as well.
But, yeah…Mat reminds me of Chris Badenoch Jr.

6 akris { 06.13.11 at 1:15 am }

Haven’t watched all of it, but would be disappointed if Michael left.. as he is one of the few that I think can actually cook.

7 Crystal { 06.13.11 at 6:48 am }

If Shannon doesn’t leave tonight I’ll be throwing my remote through the television. Her face makes me so angry.

I really respected Neil Perry last night, he really did look like he was in his natural habitat being head chef and nurturing the contestants through the plating process. Very cool.

8 scruffnkelsmum { 06.13.11 at 8:06 am }

…and so much for them having to cook foods they were less confident/familiar with!!! Matt even said his beef/meat cooking got him into Masterchef and he has a few more successes with it (plus a couple of failures- this is Matt!), and then that’s what they give him!!! I also think they (read Matt) got far more help than the other teams from Neil & George (or was it Gary??)

& the hair- just ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!

to be fair tho- i think the vegies on their dish weren’t great and that was Billy- but maybe that’s becoz he was so busy helping bloody Matt!!!!

I hope Michael & Rachel are safe!!!!

9 PollyB { 06.13.11 at 8:25 am }

This episode was great in that it was all about, wait for it, FOOD! The first episode I have not ffwd. I agree that 1 hour was not long enough to prep adequately. And I too enjoyed seeing Neil Perry as a head chef, he was great in his natural element. I’d like to see the Steven Segal look gone though.
I feel for Michael, he meets his hero, gets to cook for his hero, Shannon fucks the puds and he has to serve them to his hero. I hope she goes, she’s a whiny sooky la la. Kate deserves to try for immunity.

10 JaniceG { 06.13.11 at 8:37 am }

Neil Perry did surprise me by being a lot more supportive than I would have expected. However, helping the contestants plate up might have been more to try to protect his own reputation and not necessarily as much to help the contestants :->

Completely agree that they should not have helped Mat/Billy as much – they should have been left to serve cold beef if that’s all they had figured out. (I felt the same way about Matt M telling Shannon during her elimination challenge that the flames wasn’t on under her steamed chicken.) Once again, Mat escapes elimination – he’s starting to be the Houdini of the group. We can only hope that Shannon’s number is finally up.

I can’t argue too much with the teams that were picked. I do agree with Liz that if they were going to force pairs into elimination together, they should have allowed the winning team to face an immunity challenge together.

11 Thomas { 06.13.11 at 9:14 am }

Big duh. Serve stone cold food? What were Mat and Billy thinking? If Neil hadn’t helped they would definitely have been right at the bottom.

12 David Allen { 06.13.11 at 9:18 am }

Needs more salt.

13 littlepetal { 06.13.11 at 9:54 am }

Agree with most that the prep time was too short and so is the serving time. If you get 20mins for plating right after you have cooked the dish is a different story. They must have waited few hours before plating up (done for filming) and the food is really cold and need to be warm up.

LOL when Mat think he did a great job with the beef. If Billy didn’t stop him from browning the 2 pieces of beef (which he cut wrongly and didn’t read the menu properly) and Neil insisted that you can’t serve cold beef that he then pan fried the beef. (Not sure whether Neil told him what to do).

Love the pairing up and I think the producers also want to create drama with only 1 person going into the immunity challenge. Wonder what Sun and Dani would have done if the salad has been chosen the best dish?? Cat fight maybe??

14 Jane { 06.13.11 at 10:13 am }

Why on earth did the producers think that an hour was adequate time to produce and cook pastry in? If I was NP I’d be fuming. Pastry needs to rest or it will be tough and will shrink excessively (as happened with the leek tarts). And what was the point of the high fliers eating the food – I thought they’d be judging it, but no it seems they were just there to fill the “restaurant”. The meal would have taken hours to eat with each team having 20 mins time to plate up.
Poor Michael would have been devastated about his puds – not enough butter in the moulds or enough air in the sponge. Also I can’t wait until Shannon leaves she comes across as being a bit vacant.

15 davsimp { 06.13.11 at 10:46 am }

“SEMI-SPOILER ALERT”
subtitled: Look here if you want to know what’s under Heston’s cloche and can’t be fagged sitting through another fireball:

http://www.throng.com.au/node/27554

16 Chunks { 06.13.11 at 10:58 am }

It’s hard to believe any of this year’s competitors will have a career in food after this. They certainly aren’t learning anything worthwhile in these stupid challenges with unrealistic goals and an endless parade of international chefs that no one here knows from a bar of soap doing the judging. Seriously off the rails.

17 PollyB { 06.13.11 at 11:16 am }

I love seeing these great chefs, however, I don’t understand it in the context of the show. These are amatas. If it was Professional Masterchef I would expect this. And I think Andoni was judging from his perspective, his developed palate. That’s why having these chefs judge is pointless, especially this year. And having Heston and Zumbo challenges. These guys will do them no justice whatsoever.

18 AnonyMousse { 06.13.11 at 11:37 am }

I think a lot of what they learn is actually from all the time the spend in the prison (the Masterchef home) – they haven’t got anything to do there but read about cooking, talk about cooking, and cook, cook, cook. That’s probably where they’re learning things, not in the actual Masterchef kitchen.

19 donae { 06.13.11 at 11:59 am }

the guests looked more like Qantas crew than passengers (first class of course)

20 Fides { 06.13.11 at 12:16 pm }

I thought NP was getting pretty aggro, not so much nurturing the constestants as they were plating. I couldn’t help but think about his controversial comments last year – I almost sensed a smirk when he saw how much the contestants struggled, like it was more a “look how pathetic you guys are!”. Mat’s an idiot – his comment about wanting to show the judges that he can cook – not cook well, not cook beef, but just be able to cook… ahhhh you can have no idea how much it annoyed me.

Michael’s a cutie, like a chubby little labrador puppy. Dunno if he’d been in charge of the puddings instead of Gumby, whether they would have turned out any better, as he was telling her they needed less loving so I suspect they would not have been light and airy. I thought that was the easiest dish and Gumby being one of the “strongest” cooks and capable at desserts would have me thinking they thought these guys would manage OK. Maybe they wanted Michael to be able to impress his hero – that would have made TV gold – I can just hear the piano music, close up of Keller nodding in approval, Michael at his bench with tears in his eyes…

Dani and Sun were once friends, right? Or at least friendly? I remember the bread challenge, Sun took Dani with her to deliver the bread, and Sun was one of the people trying to help/confuse Dani in the pressure test last week. Maybe she didn’t like getting shut upped. I did notice that arm pat and thought, nice one Sun! Dani should have just shrugged her off.

21 kingfisher { 06.13.11 at 12:25 pm }

did anyome see the sweat slowly sliding down mat’s brow then down his nose forming a huge drop and then BAM!!! where did it go? did it drop on the meat ? it goes to the judges “perfect protien , perfect seasoning ” makes ya think ,sweat ,salt hmmm . after three seasons on mc , gary and george are past there used buy date , after having moran and perry on (i’ve always felt that moran is a bit of a wanker ) i love there honesty and in your face advice and i feel this is a winner for top viewing there not trying to be cool just telling the amatas this is what it is ! . i hope they appear more often . go and adam ,i think his name is adam as he rarely has airtime . that’s it bye .

22 JaniceG { 06.13.11 at 12:36 pm }

Chunks – Couldn’t agree more about the unrealistic challenges not even remotely preparing the contestants for a career in food.

I also agree with others that it seems ridiculous and unfair to allot contestants an arbitrary and insufficient time limit for plating and then judge them on how consistent or attractive the plating is! You’re not judging anyone’s ability at that point, you’re just making them nervous wrecks for no apparent reason, and setting them up for failure. I think the time limits should be set to intervals that would be reasonable for a very competent person to complete the task, not to force a beat-the-clock scramble that is mainly done to make for more “exciting” television.

23 littlepetal { 06.13.11 at 3:24 pm }

I forgot to mention how they use their hands to plate the food. The amount of food handling with their hands was appalling. Some of the hands were just oily and dirty. I am sure if the so call First class frequent flyers saw the plating, they won’t be eating.

There are just rolling out all these celebrity judges which is not doing any good to the contestants if they can’t cook.

Looking forward to tonight elimination challenge to see what they plate up.

24 davsimp { 06.13.11 at 3:27 pm }

I’m looking forward to tonight’s elimination to see who gets the arse this time. I don’t care who goes as long as it isn’t Michael.

25 Cecilia { 06.13.11 at 4:45 pm }

Very happy to see that one scene of Hayden using a tissue to wipe sweat off his brow before it dropped into his food.
Matt needs to take some hygiene and food handling lessons…

26 AnonyMousse { 06.13.11 at 8:15 pm }

After realising that they were nowhere near finished at 8:10, I see tonight’s episode is a 90 minute one. Guess I’ll have to use this blog to catch up, then, as I’m not missing the Amazing Race for burgers and fries, no matter how high class they are.

27 Pollywaffle { 06.13.11 at 10:17 pm }

Michael swings from idol to idol within a flat 24 hours. Used the Dad lifeline too. Wonder if he once had a dog called Ol Shep…

28 littlepetal { 06.13.11 at 10:48 pm }

Wonder who is going to idolise the celebrity chef that will be on this coming Sun? I don’t think it will be Michael. Maybe Dani but I don’t think so.

29 brain dead dave { 06.13.11 at 11:00 pm }

Contestants being reduced to tears over the presence of a celebrity chef. How much can a viewer take?

30 Pollywaffle { 06.13.11 at 11:05 pm }

Vegetarians yelling out mincing instructions
Post burger making Bear hugging by 3 bears

31 littlepetal { 06.13.11 at 11:06 pm }

BDD-You forgot to mention the Dalai Lama. Read in the papers that some of them are in tears too !!!!!

32 Pollywaffle { 06.13.11 at 11:07 pm }

If only Mat had leaned over the balcony and sweated into the mince Rach wouldn’t have been low on salt