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Guest Post: Masterchef Australia – The First Final

Amanda is back giving a cracker recap to the first final of the two night grand final. Was the right person eliminated? Over to Amanda:

Its semi- finals time!!

We are greeting with more footage of each contestant getting themselves ready to go – filler stuff that I will skip over and eventually they arrive to the kitchen. Question – why do they have to use a car each?

As they wonder into the kitchen the eliminated contestants are applauding them. Personally if I was up there I would have nerfed armoured myself up and let loose with some unholy vengeance, but maybe that is just me. We get the usual speeches from Gary, George and Matt. Matt mentioned they were given the challenge early because they wanted to give them time to prepare and do their best. (Translation – Georgia would never be able to do it without the practise, so we are changing the rules again).

They each have to prepare a main and a dessert for 20 guests and the judges, they have 4 hours to cook and prepare and an open pantry. Shannon back and thankfully has tied his hair. As time starts they all spring to their stations. Both Billie and Georgia start writing their menu’s, whereas Jessica heads straight into the pantry. The dishes are –

Georgia

Main – Cured Ocean Trout with Crispy Skin, Cucumber and Apple

Dessert – Yoghurt Parfait Bar with Mango Sorbet, Chilli Macadamia Praline and Chilli salt.

Jessica –

Main – Roast Pork Belly with crackling, Smoked Yoghurt, Shisho and Pickled Quince

Dessert – Grapefruit and Popcorn domes with white chocolate shell and grapefruit centre

Billie –

Main – Braised Lamb and Backstrap, with peas, pear and mint puree

Dessert – Dill ice cream with rhubarb and champagne fizz (Yes rhubarb – again)

The judges chat and by mentioning that they don’t agree with Jessica not writing her menu like the others. So they are starting their justification as to why they are going to turf Jessica early. We switch to one of the ex-contestants – who I don’t recognise at all.

Georgia has already started with her usual mantras. Allow me to list them now –

  1. I have so many elements, I am pushing myself
  2. I am a seafood girl, so I love it
  3. This is the most difficult dish in the history of the world.*(ok I made this one up)

Billy is doing lamb, pea and mint puree and a jus – really hope she gets through because I think she is the best cook out of everyone, and she seems like a decent person. However she is not the judge’s favourite. Jessica has stated that she is going to try to keep calm and try not to be overwhelmed – cue Shannon coming to try to derail that.

Billie’s dessert sounds awesome – she is using a childhood food memory of a spider – fizzy drink over ice cream. But again on the childhood memories – what is up with that?

1 hour has passed and I refer you to number one on the above list. Yes Georgia has so much to do and her fish is taking forever – yes this is what happens when you are forced to cook for yourself. There is an amusing shot of Shannon looking like he wants to knock her out. It is clear at this time that Shannon does not have a high opinion of Georgia. The question I have is how are the judges going to sneak some help to her?

Over on planet Georgia – Shannon is criticising both her filleting and her portions of the fish. Which means that she has to do that pesky math thing,   and says she wants to choose something different – there seems to be a lot of airtime on her desserts so I am going to fire up my psychic skills and predict this will be her downfall. Shannon is told what her dessert is and isn’t really impressed and tries to tell her that her dessert sounds pretty bad. But she is pulling a Sara and ignoring him.

Meanwhile Jessica has moved on to her dessert preparation and has declared her desire to do something a bit “different”. With the amount of attention her desserts are getting this challenge, you know this is going to be the source of her drama – my super psychic powers are going to say that this is what gets her eliminated. When she tells Shannon her dessert idea he tries to tell her that it doesn’t sound good, but she must have spent too much time with Sara and ignored him completely.

Interesting moment of Shannon talking to the judges – he tells them that he believes Billie best represents what the competition is about. I wish they showed Gary’s face at that. Interesting that Shannon tells the judges that Jessica’s dessert has grapefruit mousse inside – interesting how you ask? Just wait. Shannon is least impressed with Georgia saying she is way behind.

2 hours to go and Georgia *just* finishes the fish and of course freaks out as she moves on to her dessert. Billie is working on her main course and is struggling to get her shank meat into cylinders – she is starting to freak out about it and completely forgot about her roast rhubarb. Which has now turned into sacrificed ashbarb. (See what I did there?)

Jessica is worried about her dessert – and Sara has managed to tackle a cameraman and get her airtime. Jessica is trying a crumb by cooking skim milk powder in butter and at the same time tries to get her dessert assembled to go into the fridge. And in a shocking twist (not), her butter burns.

Jessica’s pork belly looks delicious – and I feel a pang of jealousy. I love pork belly and every time I cook it, it turns into a biological weapon. Finally the faux diners arrive, which gives Matt a chance to do a speech. But way more interesting is – Shannon yelling at Georgia because she is nowhere near ready to plate up. The stupid faux dockets start arriving and Billie and Georgia’s mains are called first – cue another meltdown from Georgia who is not even remotely ready for service. Meanwhile Billie’s plates head out, as does Jessica.

It seems that Shannon has his cranky pants on tonight – and I LOVE it. Thus far Georgia has not sent a single plate out – I would love to know how long the diners really waited, but we won’t ever know. So let’s leave Georgia at this stage because this is how it remains for quite some time and swing over to Billie’s dish arriving at the judges table.

The Judges are frothing over Billie’s main, love the presentation and love the taste. If she doesn’t win I am going to call major shenanigans. Back in the kitchen and after what seems like a year, Georgia gets her first plates out, while still managing to find time to emote to the camera about how behind she is, how much she has to do, etc. Over at Jessica, who seems to be sending her dishes out without major drama. The judges taste her dish and Gary almost has a foodasm from the crackling. Amazingly they all love the dish, George says he is mesmerised by the elegance of the dish and Matt comments that making the quince savoury adds something to the dish.

Meanwhile Georgia is declaring that basically people can wait until next century because she refuses to compromise on presentation. She is so far behind that she is still serving most of her mains while the others have finished and moving on to the next course – the question is – will this count against her considering it is a service challenge?

Back from the ad break and we are STILL on Georgia – correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t there three contestants? I wonder if the producers are making this all about Georgia to try for the sympathy. If so it doesn’t seem to be working – anyway her dish finally makes it to the judges – who love it (of course).

Jessica gets her desserts out of the mould and they look good, both Jessica and Billie plate up their desserts while Georgia JUST finishes her main. Finally she also gets cracking on her dessert and reminds us that she has SO much to do – thankfully this isn’t a drinking game or I would be under the table by now. Billie’s dessert goes to the judges and the champagne is poured tableside – yes she is bringing the “THEATAH!” They taste it and love the dish – it even looks delicious to me and I detest rhubarb.

It is time for Jessica to plate her dessert and it also looks delicious – I am going to make the call that her use of grapefruit and popcorn will be picked on. They love the presentation and do their squeal of delight when they crack open the dome and get “surprised” by the mango centre. Ok kids – remember earlier when I mention Shannon told them what is going in that dome? How surprised could they be?  Anyhoo – they start to rave about her dessert before they remember they need to pick on it – after searching and consulting his swami, George manages to find that he can taste the gelatine and then they question the elements together. You know – those same elements they were raving about 3 minutes prior.

Georgia has moved on to whining about her desserts – and as usual we get told that she has so much to do, so many elements, she needs to sacrifice three virgins, call upon the forces of darkness and do the hokey pokey to get it all just right. Finally they go to the judges and interesting enough Gary doesn’t like the quenelles and George says he can see her panic on the plate. They taste and do enjoy the dessert and pretending this is not a forgone conclusion, Gary

Georgia is now melting down over her desserts – being last – again. Finally her desserts go out to the judges – it will be interesting to see if she is penalised for being way over time with everything. While they love the presentation they say they see the pressure on the plate, and amazingly Gary critiques her quenelles, saying they don’t look shiny. George does his fake out before declaring it as his favourite dessert (sigh). So I will spare you all the pain of the raving about her dessert – and at this point we know she is through. Gary decides to declare that he needs to think about who he is voting out – as if that is not a forgone conclusion.

They all assemble for the big announcement – no surprise, it is Billie and Georgia who go through. I feel sorry for Jessica because I have really warmed to her, but hope she does really well. I also hope that Billie wins – she deserves it, but with all the interviews given, it is pretty obvious that Georgia is being groomed for a media career ala Justine Schofield (minus her talent, charisma or intellect)

 

July 27, 2015   236 Comments

Guest Post: Masterchef Australia And It Is Now Down To Three

Hopefully you did not see the spoiler on Facebook last night prior to the show airing letting people know who has been eliminated. Thankfully Rosie has sent in another recap of final’s week. Who’s gone well read her recap to find out! Over to Rosie:

It is finally the last night of Faux Finals Week. And that means we get to have another genuine Alimination! Yay! Who will it be? We know who it won’t be, and that’s lucky, er, I mean, deserving Georgia.

Let’s look at the unlucky three.

Will it be Reynold? Well I hope not, but really, all they have to do is ask him to serve something savoury again and he may well be gonski. And much as I like him, I’m not at all convinced he deserves to be a finalist. I feel as though I just kicked a kitten, saying that. Sigh.

Will it be Billie? Not if there is any justice at all in this world. This girl has been pretty consistent in her cooking. So probably Billie then.

Will it be Jessica? I just don’t know any more about her. I think she has the ability to take out the whole competition. There, I said it out loud. How would you know I didn’t say it out loud, are you here beside me? Well just shut up then. Hmmph. I did say it out loud too… But she does does fluster easily. Of course, there is another contestant who flusters even more easily, but let’s not discuss her right now. And stop rolling, eyes.

Quick MattP Trouser Report: normal. Again. He must be ill. Although apparently that’s Gary tonight, as he told us on The Project. Of course my evil mind thinks he simply didn’t want to bother turning up because Georgia wasn’t cooking today. Yes, she said wearily, the face slapping happened.

Matt tells them they are about to be stretched to their limits and they will either bounce back, or they will snap. Brett Graham is the world’s highest ranked Australian chef. Matt lists some of his achievements, including 2 Michelin stars. And they will have to cook one of his dishes. Hoowee! The dish under the cloche just looks like a bit of fish with a few veg sprinkled around. On closer inspection however… Oh dear. It is his Flame Grilled Bonito with Pickled Cucumber, Celtic Mustard and Shiso. I look into my crystal ball and see all three of them having difficulties.

Reynold says this fish will either make him or break him. Oh, Reynold.

George tells them they have 2 hours to cook, plus 5 minutes at the end to cook the fish and plate up.

Jessica sketches the plating.

Billie realises they have only been given one fish, so knows if she doesn’t get it right she is going home. I writhe in (not literal) agony on hearing the so oft repeated phrase.

George asks Reynold is he sketching the dish, but Reynold says it’s in his head. George says he’s “confident” and I’m reminded of the old Britcom, Yes, Minister.

Not too long after, Reynold is now having trouble remembering the size and shape of the cucumber, and is regretting not drawing the plating of the dish.

Georgia is softly bleating at Billie, who is moving too slowly, to hurry up, which is apparently meant to encourage her. But Billie feels she’s better off being slow and thorough because someone’s going home today. Really? Gosh! I hadn’t realised that. Billie knows she needs to move faster, but also knows she must move carefully.

Reynold is fighting hard because he wants to stay in the competition. I can only imagine this is in response to a director asking him why is he fighting so hard, because, well, it’s the teensiest bit exasperating, Reynold dear.

Jessica is blending her avocado with some lime. Brett tastes it and says it’s good. Well it’s just avo and lime, so of course it’s good, waddyareckon?

And as a constant background note, we hear the little background squeak of Georgia’s voice encouraging one or other of them. Demned irritating.

Reynold decides to microplane the garlic instead of slice it. Brett notices and comments to Matt that doing so will make the garlic taste too strong.

Meanwhile, Billie’s smoking of the bonito bones hasn’t worked – because her flame hasn’t been on. Quelle horreur!

Jessica is moving onto her tartare roll. Word of advice, Jess: do not drop the bugger onto the floor.

Reynold is happy with his roll. I’m not though, because while he is rolling it up, I notice a blue bandaid on one of his fingers, which serves to draw my attention to a raw bloody splotch on another finger. Eww.

Fifteen minutes to go!

Billie’s shallots are a little too dark and when she tastes them they are bitter. She has time, so she quickly does some more, and they are okay.

Reynold is really regretting not drawing the dish earlier. He doesn’t even remember to get his cucumber from the fridge until Georgia reminds him. Then he can’t remember if it should be one piece or two. He puts two pieces. But it should be one.

They cook the fish in the last 5 minutes. And if I may offer a very humble opinion, it’s a bloody fancy way to cook a piece of fish. Pan fry it first, then finish it over a flame? Sorry, not happening in my kitchen. I know, I know, it’s a fancy, pantsy restaurant dish.

Billie’s dish is the first to be tasted. And here we go again. George asks Billie how much does she want to be in the finale, and how much does she want to win. God. She gives the usual answer. Lather, rinse, repeat. Time for them to taste. Brett notes that there is not much dressing. George loves it. Matt loves the sauce and the fish, but also notes the lack of shiso sauce on the plate.

Jessica is next. She takes her fish off the grill but it’s stuck. Ooh. Whew, it’s off. But the skin is a bit wonky. She takes it into the judges. She tells the judges it’s her favourite dish in the competition so far. Nothing wrong with sucking up to the judges, Jessica. 😉 Matt says it looks a bit messy and chaotic but you know the flavours are going to be there, and after tasting, they all agree that the flavours are indeed there.

Reynold says he thinks he’s done well in the competition so far, but knows he’s going to have to cook this fish perfectly. The recipe says to cook one side only, but he feels he should flip it so he does. Oh, Reynold. And he has Jessica’s trouble with the flame, catching it so the skin is torn, too. This time it’s Matt’s turn to ask how important it is for him to stay. Bla de fuckin’ bla. I mean, really. George asks Brett what he thinks. He says has put 2 pieces cucumber instead of one and there was trouble with the skin of the fish. Brett also says the fish is unevenly cooked and he would have been better off had he only cooked it on one side. George tries to stick up for him, but…

George tells them they have done them proud. Brett says his professional cooks struggle with this dish. Jessica’s dish was slightly chaotic on the plate and lacking elegance, but her sauce was note for note with Brett’s. Billie’s fish was perfectly cooked, but she didn’t have enough shiso dressing. Reynold’s fish was overcooked and that’s why he’s going home.

In my opinion, for once, they’re sending home the right person. He has deservedly come a long way, but now it’s his time to go. *muffled sob* As a single tear drips down Reynold’s face, George tells him his life begins when he walks out those doors.

The blurb tells us he is on target with his dream. Later this year, he and his brother plan to open a dessert bar in Sydney.

I’m actually a little disappointed to hear that, since I think he would benefit greatly by doing an apprenticeship as a pastry chef. But what do I know? I do wish him the best.

 

July 24, 2015   164 Comments

Where Are They Now? Masterchef’s Renae Smith

Pablo Newton-Farley is back (he has been off getting married) and this week he is talking to Masterchef fave Renae Smith who was on the show 2014.

It is an interesting interview talking about the Masterchef experience and what she is doing now.

July 23, 2015   6 Comments

Guest Post: Masterchef Australia – The Press Club Challenge

Thanks Amanda for this witty recap on the Press Club challenge on Masterchef Australia. Now over to you Amanda:

Tonight the fearless contestants will be cooking in George’s restaurant – The press club. Last night Jessica won the “MASSIVE” advantage with a beautidul dish, although if I must be honest, I think everyone was a winner just for seeing the smug look on Georgia’s face get wiped off.

I am sure that everyone was on tenterhooks just itching to find out what the massive advantage would be. I know I was. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat – I was in a foetal position from the brain drain of analysing and overanalysing what it could be. I needed to know and I needed to know right NOW!

Ok I wasn’t quite like that – but I did consult my tea leaves, and was told I needed more tea.

Back to the show – they saunter into the Press Club kitchen, looking pretty swanky in their fancy pants chef jackets. Soon we get told by George that it is actually their test kitchen. I am still not quite sure what that difference is, but apparently he lets chefs go all cooking-wild and test food before it gets done for real. And to prove she can adapt to any situation, Georgia manages to find a “I am freaking out” moment with this.

The challenge – They will be cooking a 4 course menu of George’s classic dishes and each would be responsible for one course – they will have 4 ½ hours to cook and prepare before service, winning dish goes into the semi-finals, others will go into the pressure test tomorrow. . They will cater for 35 VIPS and restaurateurs and of course this is crucial because George’s reputation is on the line!

They each draw knives and the number on the knife represents who will choose in what order.

The courses are –

1)      Monokromis, Green Greek Salad with Kale Puree and Easter Bread (Georgia)

2)      The Whiting that wants to be Lamb Tzatziki (Reynold)

3)     The devils footsteps, lamb with potato and leeks– whole roast onion, onion puree, potato fondant cooked in juice of shallots, Cooked with lamb and lamb sweetbreads – BBQ’s and served tableside. (Jessica)

4)      Creme Brulee al la crèche with snow (Billie) I have to say this is a smart choice for Billie and pretty much screwed poor Reynold who was counting on having dessert.

As soon as the challenge is announced my psychic powers activate and I was able to predict Jessica’s advantage – which was – she got to pick her course!. She decides on the lamb course as she loves the idea of cooking it, but not realising that she picked pretty much the most complicated dish.
They all go to their stations and get tasting and reading of the recipe. Straight away Jessica gets started on the lamb belly and Reynold is looking incredibly uncomfortable. George talks to him and very rightly points out that this is his opportunity to prove he can excel at savoury. Over to Georgia who starts on her bread first – while reminding us just how uber complicated her dish is. Am I missing something? Does she need to grind the grains for the bread, grow the Kale herself while calling upon the forces of darkness in order to get her ingredients?

Billie works on her anise cream, throwing it in the fridge before concentrating on her tuille – which has to be precisely 2 mm thick, any thicker the universe will implode. After getting them on her tray and just right, she tries to put it in the oven and realises that the tray doesn’t fit. I appreciate that in a high pressure situation, you can make silly mistakes, but wouldn’t that be something you would make sure of straight away?

One hour passes really quick – which left me wondering how much did we not see. Reynold is STILL working on gutting and filleting his fish (and I have a eww yuck moment. I hate behind the scenes food stuff, I prefer to think my meats come into existence on a butchers tray and that is it – yes I am comfortable with my self delusion) Over at planet Georgia – she is working on her Kale Puree for the salad and somehow manages to screw that up – with it looking like water. These are supposed to be the 4 best amateur cooks in the country, right? But this is another opportunity for her to have a freakout and in probably one of the most ironic moments – Billie steps away from her actual complicated dish to reassure Georgia. Eventually her Kale Puree is done (her first step, mind you)

2 hours in to preparation time and Reynold is *still* struggling with his fish, meanwhile Jessica is powering on and works on her chicken mousse for the leek cannelloni’s (I don’t get meat as a mousse). Billie seems to be again thriving with the pressure – I think her growing up on a farm helps her as you have to adapt pretty quick to thing. She discovers her ganache has split and has to do it again – it needs at least an hour to chill so she is feeling the time pressure

With 90 minutes to go, Reynold is forced to temporarily step away from the battle of the fish and moves on to the black garlic puree. Once again he shows that he is unable to cope with pressure and it is up to George to give another pep talk. I have to say I like seeing how George is with them while running the pass – unlike Gary he is tough but supportive to everyone and also mentoring them as they go. Speaking of, George also gives his pep talk to Jessica as she realises she doesn’t have enough chicken mousse for her leek cannelloni. In the end she manages to just have enough without any extra – something which is going to haunt her later.

Service starts in one hour, and Georgia is told she has to go to the community garden to get her fresh herbs. I find that a little amusing because I can almost guarantee his normal chefs won’t be running across downtown Melbourne to get herbs when they cook. And Reynold is *still* trying to get his fish done. It looks like he hasn’t done anything so at this stage may not even be able to get his dishes done.

15 minutes until the 1st course is due and we have the usual shot of the diners entering the restaurant and since it has been at least 3 ½ minutes since Georgia’s last meltdown – cue freak out. At this point George gives everyone a speech about helping each other and not just concentrating on your own dish – just in time for service to start!

1st course is Georgia and she gives another to camera speech about how complicated these salads are – but the plates are going out. Meanwhile, Billie has siphoned her cakes and goes back to her ganache to see if her new batch is better – she whips it good (Devo reference) and discovers it is good to go into the piping bag for service.

We get to tasting time, and Georgia’s salad arrives at Matt and Gary’s table. In what could literally be the most ridiculous moment of the series, Gary waxes lyrical about how beautiful it is and even mutters something about the light of the sun giving it a glow. (At that point even my cat choked on her treats). Of course they love the taste and we know this is going to be the favourite dish, even if the other meals arrived with choir accompanying them and fireworks.  One thing I do notice – what happened to her bread? She started it at the beginning of prep but it kind of disappeared?

Back to Reynold – he is full on nuclear meltdown and his fish is still not done. Even George is concerned and appeals to others to help him – Billie jumps in straight away. I did question why Georgia didn’t help, but others did point out that her dishes were still being plated, so that is fair enough.

Jessica is rushing to get her fondant potatoes and I am salivating. I LOVE fondant potatoes. Eventually Reynolds dishes to go out – and start coming back as the fish is underdone. At this stage it is a given that he will be going to the pressure test. He redoes the fish and no more come back. Gary and Matt taste his dish and mention that it doesn’t look as sharp or “clean” as Georgia’s. At that point I wonder how drunk they are. They do love the black garlic but because the fish doesn’t have enough lamb fat, the dish doesn’t quite live up to what it is supposed to be – the fish wanting to be the lamb (or something, at that point I was emotionally exhausted from all the symbolic and philosophical meaning of these dishes).

Jessica is rushing to get her fondant potatoes ready and I am salivating. Reynold’s dishes go out and start coming back – his fish is underdone, and I think we are going to see Reynold go into the pressure test. Finally he redoes the fish and the plates go out.

Next course is Jessica’s course and she starts to epically melt down – I have to say the editing isn’t that great because at first we don’t see why, but no doubt a lot of things happened that wasn’t included. And I have to give credit to Georgia who stepped in to help as Jessica’s dishes have to be cooked to order. It soon became clear that she inadvertently chose the most complicated dish – although no doubt Georgia would disagree. They get the dishes plated and – disaster strikes when two cannelloni’s drop on the floor, and she has no extra. She has to make some decisions, and decides for one plate to cut them in half and personally go and apologise to the diners. I feel for her, but George told her he was proud of her doing that, and I say good on her.

It is time for Matt and Gary to taste her dish, and while they complement the presentation, their excitement levels don’t seem as high as the first dish. They remark that her potato is undercooked although they loved the onion puree and BBQ meat. They comment that if she had fewer elements she would have smashed it – at that point you know she is going into the pressure test.

Finally we have dessert and Billie’s dish. She looks like a excited schoolkid when she gets to use the liquid nitrogen for her snow and her desserts are plated on what looks like hunks of stone. Remember the good old days when plates were used? Matt and Gary love her dish, and the tuille being melted on the dish tableside (along with the snow being served) gives it some “THEATAH!” They forget themselves for a moment and rave about it – but Gary soon remembers himself and somehow finds something to pick on – apparently the mascarpone cream isn’t right.

Service is finished and George toasts each with a beer and congratulates them on a good effort. Questions is – who got the top dish? Gary hogs camera time with a speech about how lucky they were to be given keys to the Press Club – I am sure they were not actually given keys, but I am being picky. George complimented Georgia and Billie for helping Jessica and in a really fast judgement, tell Jessica and Reynold they are in the pressure test – which surprises no one. However what made me spit my coffee onto my keyboard was Georgia’s salad beat Billie as the dish of the day. I have had some time now to think about it, I meditated, again consulted my tea leaves – even asked the cat but I still cannot figure out how a green salad beat out Billie’s dessert – which they finished completely and had no elements missing (Georgia’s bread) and was easily more complicated.

So in what is probably the most unfair decision, Billie joins the others in the pressure test. Unfortunately I am going to predict it will either be Reynold or Jessica going – but either way it will be sad, as none of them deserve to go in my humble opinion.

July 23, 2015   178 Comments

Guest Post: Masterchef Australia – Signature Dish Night To Win An “Advantage”

Rosie is back with a recap of a night where no one went home. To see what they cooked it is over to Rosie:

It’s Tuesday, so that means it’s Ammunity Pin night!

Except that ammunity and its pins are all over now, so tonight is just another filler night in Finals Week. Except the “actual” Finals Parts One and Two happen next week. Now try not to let your eyes roll too much. It’s not good for them, you know. And if you want to know why TPTB couldn’t simply make this a real Finals Week, and have the whole thing over and done with in a day or two, well you just haven’t been paying attention now, have you? Ratings, my little ones, ratings. And what do ratings mean, the little boy up the back who needs to blow his nose? Correct. Money!

Matt looks normal again – what’s going on?

Gary tells them that today’s winner gets a massive advantage that could set them up for a place in the finale. Matt says it’s a challenge that will show them how far they’ve come. He goes on to say that one regret people often have when they leave this competition is they didn’t get to cook “that” dish. The one that they always wanted to show the judges. But today they can cook whatever they wish. What a load of codswallop. They are forever, especially at the beginning, being given the chance to cook their “signature dish.” This thought puts a smile on all their faces, except Jessica’s. She finds it daunting.

The contestants must decide for themselves how long they can cook for. They decide on 90 minutes. Heh. I’d have argued for at least 2 hours.

Billie says that no rules makes it high pressure.

Georgia says she has no idea what the advantage will be. Well since you haven’t been told yet, love, how could you?

Billie’s dish is inspired by growing up on the farm. She remembers eating her breakfast cornflakes, pouring over the milk and the cream would be set on top (yum) topped with strawberries. Her dish will be using lemon verbena, saffron and white chocolate. Just a take on a memory that’s personal to her.

Jessica is usually known for making savoury dishes, but she is making a dessert. It will be cheese driven, knowing her (she loves cheese). She will be doing a blue cheese cream with a sherry ice cream. It will be a dessert version of a cheese plate.

Georgia is thinking of her grandmother and how she used to make lemon meringue pie, so she is making a lemon meringue with coriander seeds and blueberries.

Reynold is making a dessert with apple and caramel. He wants it to be something different, with three apple elements and three caramel elements. His ice cream is churning, and he seems under control. Except for his burnt white chocolate… He puts the next lot in the microwave. Stand and watch it, Reynold!

Billie is using lemon verbena and saffron. George is worried about the lemon verbena and saffron flavours being used together.

Georgia remembers her grandmother giving her the wooden spoon to taste, so she wants to serve this dish on wooden spoons. Um…?

Jessica is making ice cream with olorosa sherry. She will also be serving roasted figs.

Gary is surprised that they are all making desserts. I am too.

Billie is concerned about what George said (about the lemon verbena and saffron not going together) but is sticking to her guns. She has used those flavours before, and is using them lightly. Matt reassures her. Besides, she has nothing to lose.

Jessica is making a caramel sauce using roasting liquid from the roasted figs.

Billie’s “cornflakes”, a tuille made yellow from saffron, are not quite yellow enough to look like cornflakes, so she adds a drop of yellow food colour and the mixture turns hideously bright yellow. She needs some brown. She smears it out really thinly, and decides to cook it for a little longer in the oven. Smart cookie!

Ten minutes to go and Jessica is having trouble with her ice cream. It’s icy. Gary condescendingly says she should use cream as well as milk next time. She tells him she did. How she stays polite and keeps from biffing him is beyond me. She’s just hoping she’s able to use some of it.

Billie’s tuilles are okay and she thinks they look like cornflakes. I still think they look a bit bilious, but maybe I’m colour blind, or it’s been too many years since I’ve seen any cornflakes. She’s pretty happy with the dish.

Georgia’s happy with her dish too. She hopes the judges won’t think it looks tacky on the wooden spoons. She catches one on fire! Or is that just the ad break? Or both? Whew, it’s just the baking paper on fire. No worries.

Meanwhile, Billie is poking her “cornflakes” into her lemon verbena mousse, and pipes around some bits of strawberry mousse to replicate the strawberries she used to eat on her cornflakes as a kid.

Jessica is plating up two dishes so she can choose which one to serve to the judges. As she is doing so, one of the wafers breaks. Her quenelle is not working, but she finally manages a decent one… only to put it on the wrong plate at the last second. “The one with the broken wafer, and the piping that looks as though it was done by a monkey.”

Billie is first into the judges with her white chocolate lemon verbena mousse with lemon curd and strawberry centre and saffron flakes with a macadamia praline. She explains it’s inspired from pouring the milk onto her cornflakes as a child and topping them with strawberries. The judges agree it’s a top dish.

Georgia is next, and they ask why the wooden spoons? She explains her childhood memory of licking the wooden spoon after Grandma had made lemon meringue pie. So her dish is lemon meringue with blueberries. After she leaves, Gary admits that he can’t smell any of the dessert because all he can smell is the wood. The meringue is too sweet. There’s a sliver of pastry, but not enough. Sorry, Georgia, but it would appear you have no chance.

The next dish is Jessica’s. She sits down looking sad. They ask her what’s wrong. She says she made lots of small mistakes, including with her plating. Since they can’t they do anything about that, they ask what is her dish. She has made roasted figs with blue cheese cream, olorosa sherry ice cream, and a honey wafer. They love the dish.

Reynold is last. He knows they have high expectations of him. His offering is apple and caramel – it’s charred apple, butterscotch, caramel and vanilla ice cream, crispy apple bits and almond tuille. Before they start eating, Gary says it’s one of the best looking desserts they’ve ever had on the show, including from the professionals. Um, maybe going just a tad too far there, Gaz? It’s pretty, yes, but steady on now, mate. Better looking than some of those professionals’ dishes? Come on. They taste his dish. Matt is finding the overload of caramel quite heavy. He says it’s like a toffee apple where there’s too much toffee for too little apple. Not enough freshness. But Gary clearly wants him to win. Poor Georgie doesn’t know what to say.

They explain to Georgia that her dish was too sweet. Her face falls dramatically

They tell Reynold and Billie that theirs looked wonderful. Matt says to Jessica not to worry because flavour is actually more important, and she wins! That was especially good to see after she was so upset with her plating woes, so good on her! I hope that the alleged “massive advantage” is at least something semi decent.

July 22, 2015   161 Comments