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Masterchef Australia – The Dalai Lama Episode

You could tell it was a special night on Masterchef Australia tonight as the contestants for the first time had their hair tied back and were wearing hats in the kitchen.

They were cooking for the Dalai Lama, and I felt sorry for Sun as finally a challenge which she could have shone in. They had to cook vegetarian cuisine and as she was  a vegetarian prior to her time on the show she should have won, unless she tried to shape tofu into a temple.

In the pre-publicity to the show Kate was said to have refused to have called the Dalai Lama his holiness (see that blog post here), but if we had not been alerted to this I doubt the viewer would have noticed.

She was even her usually gushy self when she said “This is a special moment”. She also said “Who gets to stand next to the Dalai Lama and be offered a peanut.” I still think she should have called him “his holiness” but then by appearing on a reality show does this mean he has diminished his standing as a spiritual leader?

It would be interesting to see if George Calombaris, who I presume is Greek Orthodox, called him his holiness. I noticed he did not bow his head when the Dalai Lama was giving his blessing to the food.

I doubt his holiness discussed his appearance on the show in his meeting with President Obama this week.

For the record Gary Mehigan said the Dalai Lama transcends celebrity, had 600 million followers, and was the spiritual leader of Tibet and he travels around the world with a message of peace and compassion, and he adores food.

The contestants had three hours to cook and the food must be ready at  noon, and they also had the mentoring of Kylie Kwong who had cooked for him before.

With Matt Preston making such a big deal about the deadline why was Ellie allowed to plate up her gnocchi roll, when it had not been ready by 12.00pm? Would Cleo been allowed to do that?

However as this was the Buddhist challenge apparently everyone was helping each other, so there must have been enough hot plates and fryers for everyone, and they allowed Ellie to plate up.

This lovefest probably meant Alana couldn’t scream at Kate for turning the oven down, and Hayden going on a witch hunt to find out who the person who turned up his burner.

The other guests at the lunch were Tim Costello from World Vision, Bill Crews from the Exodus Foundation, the head of Lentil As Anything, and Oz Harvest.

Hayden served up first, he made a Japanese noodle consomme with shitake mushrooms. Dalai lama said “very good”.

Alana making a middle eastern feast. Tim Costello thought it was “fantastic”, Dalai Lama said “presentation very good”.

Billy, whose parents are Buddhist, made Buddhist delight and also mushroom and coriander dumplings. Dalai Lama said “compared to bread I prefer bread”, which must have been code for he didn’t like the dish.

Dani cooked a Sri Lankan vegetarian curry, with a coconut sambal and roti. She must have been shocked when she saw a Sri Lankan judge there. “Bread delicious” said Dalai Lama. Bill Crewes liked the presentation and how it showed how we are all different but somehow all fit together.

By the way the look on Dani’s face when the Dalai Lama entered the kitchen was priceless.

Micheal made a goats cheese tortellini with a beetroot puree and a borscht soup.  Tim Costello thought it was extraordinary. George loved the candied walnut for both texture and flavour. I thought it looked fantastic and also had an element of risk in it.

Ellie’s mushroom and cheese gnocchi roll, which I think should not have been allowed to be plated, was still raw and doughy.  However when she was upset the Dalai Lama did comfort her when she was crying about the fact she had stuffed up her dish and the only thing she had to show was mushrooms. Kylie Kwong was so overwhelmed by all this she wept.

Kate made a steamed coconut pudding, with mangosteen, and a coriander sauce. She was going to do a papaya mousse but it was not ripe so she swapped to mangosteen. Matt Preston thought the coriander custard did not work.

The top two were Dani and Michael. The winner was Dani. This surprised me I had thought Michael was a clear winner from the guests comments.

The three least impressive dishes were Billy, Ellie and Kate who will all be up for elimination tomorrow night in the pressure test. Chances of Ellie playing her immunity pin will be high.



1 Keith { 07.18.11 at 4:36 pm }

Did anyone else hear Hayden say that the Dalai Lama was ‘just a man’? but the Dalai Lama followers think he is a reincarnated god? wouldn’t that be just as offensive as Kate’s refusal to address him by the title of ‘your holiness’? I support Kate’s position by the way.

2 Gordon2 { 07.18.11 at 5:34 pm }

Well said Bruiser Brody, why bother with “special” tasters if they only eat? They must have been booked ages ahead so they should have worked for their supper. Plating up is a farce, where did Dani get those special dishes from and when were they chosen? Surely not on the cooking day! Billy cannot be allowed to win after all he has been “aliminated” once and is only back in as a filler so there are enough contestants for the director’s plot to proceed.

3 littlepetal { 07.18.11 at 5:48 pm }

From what I read, the Dalai Lama episode was not one of there schedule challenges. It was Kylie Kwong’s idea. When she put that to the producers, they grabbed the idea with both hands. It’s not that difficult to get the other tasters on the show. They could be the ones that were free that day.

4 zephyr308 { 07.19.11 at 1:06 am }

The problem I have with this episode was that the brief at the beginning of the show became blurred with the judging- the contestants were cooking for the Dalai Lama but he was one of several judges and as the show progressed, the judging took more of a philosophical and representative slant, ie Dani’s dish- “the way it is presented being representative of people all coming together” or something in that ballpark. The impression of the contestants cooking a dish for the Dalai Lama turned into a typical ‘cook a vegetarian dish to blow everyone’s socks off’ challenge where the Dalai Lama was present. I thought Billy made a wise choice with his dish, I’m no expert but hazard a guess simplistic but traditional food would be appreciated by the Buddhist faith. Yet his dish was judged as “not being showy enough to compete” or some other tripe. Am I a Billy fan? Absolutely. Could his dish have been better? Possibly. But I would have had more respect for the judges’ decision if they had placed him in the bottom three instead for soup needing to be more clear or the like. Why does a simple dish-providing the requisite amount of skill is demonstrated- need to be showy to compete? I think back to Alvin and his Drunken Chicken. As it is we now have a Top 6 with some contestants having little credibility, seesawing between Immunity Pin one day, Elimination Challenge the next. Doesn’t instill much anticipation for a quality final does it? Pfft.