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Masterchef Australia – They Are Really Going For The Feel Good Vibe This Season

So much clapping tonight with sixteen contestants duking it out for the remaining nine aprons. They appear to be taking an anti MKR stance with everyone cheering and smiling at each other. You would not think it was a competition with $250,000 prize money.

The first round would see eight contestants get an apron and then one apron would be awarded in a pressure test.

For the first challenge they had 75 minutes to deliver a dish from a wide range of ingredients and I have to admit for this stage in the competition the dishes looked good and most had a  fairly high level of sophistication.

John a flight attendant made chicken adobo he described it as comfort food. It worked he made it into the top 24.

James a 23 year old banker was making a deconstructed French Onion Soup. Why do they frigging do deconstructed dishes? Matt loved it but his taste is questionable as he was wearing pink tartan pants tonight that looked like pyjamas. But he was given an apron straight after they tasted it because pantomime is essential when it comes to ramping up the feel good factor.

Rose was making a Yoghurt Soup. Which gave her the opportunity to share her compelling backstory of her brother passing way very suddenly so the family deli had to be sold. Her dream is to start her family’s deli business again. However she was in a world of pain as her ravioli split and her yoghurt soup had split. George said it was grainy.

Scott the butcher was making Steak and Chips with a red wine and blue cheese sauce. Gary looked sceptical about the blue cheese sauce but then that is role to try and freak out the contestants. But then he split the sauce so he did not serve it. He ended up making a mustard cream sauce. Gary thought the steak was cooked perfectly but he was not sure the sauce was going to get him an apron.

Mario is making calamari in a tomato sauce. Matt said it was delicious and that is what the female viewers think of Mario’s accent.

Georgia made a Soft Boiled Egg Salad with Dukkah with a quinoa and cauliflower salad. Her egg was perfect. Matt loved it and thought it was a perfect example of a modern dish.

Andrea made calamari stuffed with ricotta with a squid ink polenta which the judges enjoyed.

Jamie made snapper sandwich with middle eastern flavours and they said the snapper was cooked very well.

Supicha made Surf and Turf Curry made with soft shell crab. She had not cooked with soft shell crab. Matt liked it but wanted rice or noodle with it.

Georgia and Mario were given aprons as were Billie, Andrea, Jamie, Amy and John.

For the one remaining apron they had to do a Shannon Bennett set pressure test. It was a Warm Chocolate and Orange Mousse which is served with Madeleine’s and a warm chocolate sauce which dissolved the chocolate cover. It was a baptism of fire. Jessie stuffed up early as she did not let her butter cool before adding it to her madeline mix. So did Scott as he decided to ignore the science of tempered chocolate and cranked up the temperature to cook it faster. Needless to say disaster as the chocolate was burnt.

Rose did not temper her chocolate properly and her jelly exploded over the saucepan. However the judges told her her layers were quite refined. So she managed to get it together in the end.

Supicha was multi-tasking tempering chocolate and making the creme anglais at the same time. She was delightful but unfortunately she did not get in. She finished first but this was because she forgot to make chocolate caramel sauce. For once the peanut gallery did not yell out to remind her. She could not finish the sauce in time nor did she grate the tonka bean on the top of there chocolate. However when she presented to the judges there was grated tonka bean on top.

Jessie, Lee and Rose were top three but only one could get through and it was Rose who was awarded the apron. She said it was her dead brother that got her through the cook.

Amy Luttrell, 29, Tasmania, Hairdresser

Amy’s favourite part of hairdressing was designing new styles for her clients, but she still needed an outlet for her creativity, so she turned to food. Now the time has come to put her scissors to one side and pursue her MasterChef Australia dream. From the kitchen to the garden, Amy is equally passionate about the provenance of food and can often be found in her vegetable patch at home or gardening with her husband, Simon.

Andrea Farinha, 18, New South Wales, Student

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Andrea moved to Sydney at the age of five. Her South African and Italian family heritage has made for a rich mix of influences on her cooking style, with inspiration at every turn. Not your average 18-year-old, Andrea Farinha took on the role of family head chef at just 11 years of age when her mother became ill after the birth of her younger sister.

Anna Webster, 28, Victoria, Student

After completing several university degrees and trying out three different full-time jobs, Anna couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling that she had missed her true calling: a career in food. For Anna, cooking isn’t just a hobby, it is an obsession. The eldest of four kids, her family lived in the UK and the US when Anna was a child. A product of her upbringing, she caught the travel bug, travelling as an adult to Europe, South America, Canada, Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Ashleigh Bareham, 23, Queensland, Childcare Worker

If there’s one thing you need to know about Ashleigh, it is that she makes a killer chocolate brownie. Graduating with a degree in social work in 2013, Ashleigh has been working in childcare while pursuing her passion for food with weekend market stalls on the Sunshine Coast, selling her sweet treats. But Ashleigh’s dreams are bigger than just brownies. She would love to open a dessert bar with her mum, Trudi, and younger sister Georgia.

Ava Stangherlin, 23, New South Wales, Visual Merchandiser

Hailing from a boisterous Italian family and the middle of three siblings, Ava credits her Nonna as one of her biggest influences in the kitchen. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Performance, Ava worked as an actor and director in theatre before falling into a role as a retail visual merchandiser.

Billie McKay, 23, New South Wales, Restaurant Manager

Growing up on a dairy farm in the peaceful, lush surrounds of New South Wales’ mid-north coast, Billie knows about hard graft. As one of five siblings, everybody was expected to pitch in with farming chores. Billie would often cook dinner for the family. She counts her superwoman mum, Alison, as her main kitchen idol. Not only did Alison raise five young kids, work on the farm and serve beautiful family meals, she also taught her children to cook.

Fiona Grindlay, 31, Queensland, Marketing Manager

Relocating from Scotland to Australia seven years ago (and becoming an Australian citizen in August 2014), Fiona lived in Melbourne before moving to Brisbane. She says one of her biggest challenges was leaving behind her beloved mum, dad, brother and 91-year-old gran, Evelyn, who was a big influence on her cooking. Getting a taste for the great outdoors while exploring the Scottish highlands as a child, Fiona still lives an active lifestyle, with snowboarding, kite-surfing and horse riding among her many hobbies.

Georgia Barnes, 27, Queensland, Health Product Rep

Having completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine), food is about both work and play for Georgia. By day she is a nutritionist selling health products and training staff, and by night, she is a committed home cook. Georgia loves hosting dinner parties and although she says she can be clumsy in the kitchen, she relies on her time management and speed. A creative soul who also loves painting and sketching, Georgia wears her heart on her sleeve in the kitchen.

Jacqui Ackland, 40, Victoria, Medical Scientist

Medical scientist Jacqui Ackland is saying goodbye to her lab coat and hello to her MasterChef Australia apron.Jacqui’s love for cooking comes from many childhood afternoons perched on the kitchen bench watching her mum and grandma cook. With three daughters, Ashleigh (10), Cameron (8), and Mackenzie (5), Jacqui relishes being a mum. But with her youngest at school this year, she can now take the time to test her cooking limits.

James Bell, 23, Queensland, Financial Analyst

Growing up on a farm near Toowoomba in rural Queensland has made James a passionate advocate for local produce and sustainability. Inspired by his mum’s cooking, James got stuck into the kitchen at the age of 12, but it was during his teens that he became more serious about it. After school, James completed a Bachelor of Business, majoring in economics and finance, at Queensland University of Technology and went on to work as a financial analyst in banking.

Jamie Ward, 30, Victoria, Construction Project Manager

Born in England to an English dad and Sri Lankan mum, Jamie’s family spent time in Canada before moving to Australia when he was four years old. The family settled in Hobart where Jamie, his elder brother and younger sister grew up. Moving to Melbourne to attend university, Jamie studied a Bachelor of Property and Construction and a Bachelor of Planning and Design before going on to work as a construction project manager.

Jarrod Trigg, 29, Victoria, Civil Engineer

Jarrod is a socially conscious and dedicated foodie who uses cooking as his creative time-out from his career as a civil engineer. Jarrod hails from Beaufort in country Victoria, where he returns each week during winter to play footy. He considers himself a late bloomer in the kitchen, only developing a passion for cooking at 22 when he moved to Melbourne and began to experience different cuisines.

Jessica Arnott, 29, Western Australia, Food Sales Assistant

An award-winning bartender in Australia and overseas, Jessica Arnott reached a point in her career where she craved less nocturnal working hours. For this mixologist the answer was simple: she turned to food. Moving from Sydney to Perth to be with her civil engineer boyfriend, Jessica now works in a gourmet food store, finding her “happy place” in the cheese room.

John Carasig, 36, Victoria, Flight Attendant

Having moved to Melbourne from the Philippines when he was 10 years old, John is the eldest brother to two sisters. With busy, working parents, John needed to look after his sisters and started helping to prepare family meals from the age of six. After studying architecture and then industrial design, John has worked as a homewares designer and, most recently, as a Qantas flight attendant before realising that his real passion lies in food.

Kha Nguyen, 25, Victoria, Retail Sales Assistant

Born and bred in Melbourne, Kha Nguyen’s Vietnamese heritage is close to his heart. Mum, dad and elder brother Khoa were refugees of the Vietnam War, fleeing to Australia to make a better life. The Nguyen family’s aspirations for Kha have always been high. Following in the footsteps of his pharmacist brother, Kha studied pharmacy, but his heart wasn’t in it and he dropped out in his final year and switched to a food science and nutrition degree.

Kristina Short, 28, Tasmania, Customer Service Manager

Born in Topoľčany, Slovakia, Kristina immigrated to Australia with her mum, dad and younger sister at the end of the Cold War, aged four, settling in Tasmania. Kristina’s passion for food began as a young girl, when she loved experimenting in the kitchen, encouraged and inspired by her dad. Married in 2014 to Malcolm, the pair travelled across Europe on their honeymoon, including Paris, Normandy, Barcelona, Tuscany, Prague and Istanbul, as well as her home land of Slovakia.

Marcus Cher, 31, Victoria, Freelance Industrial Designer

Marcus is an amateur cook with an unusual flair. Creativity has always come easily for this award- winning industrial designer and now he has turned his passion for detail to the kitchen. Having learnt the basics from his Italian mum and Nonna, Marcus has cooked regularly since he was eight years old and loves trying bold new things.

Mario Montecullo, 38, New South Wales, Bar Owner

Growing up in Italy in a small town outside Naples, Mario recalls being surrounded by his mother and aunties in the kitchen, helping to make sausages, tomato sauce and bread for the family. Having moved to Australia 10 years ago, Mario says his proudest achievement is owning and running his own bar in the Sydney suburb of Enmore. In the future, Mario would love to progress to having a restaurant/wine bar.

Matthew Hopcraft, 43, Victoria, Dentist

Matthew’s love of food and cooking was fostered by his parents from a young age. When he was around 11 years old he won first prize at a country show with a sponge cake. The prize was mixing bowls and measuring cups. Husband to Erika and devoted dad to Emily (14) and Lachlan (12), Matthew graduated as a dentist in 1994. He also has a PhD and a Master’s degree in community dentistry and has worked for the past 20 years as a dentist.

Melita Tough, 41, Victoria, Stay At Home Mum

Life has taken mother of two, Melita, and her family around the country for husband Alan’s work as a pilot, but they are now settled in picturesque country Victoria. There Melita doesn’t just talk about paddock to plate, she lives it. Living on a 20-acre hobby farm, the family has cattle, pigs, chickens and bees, plus fruit and vegetables.

Rose Adam, 37, South Australia, Workplace Trainer

The third of four kids born and raised in Adelaide, Rose’s father passed away when she was six years old, leaving her mother to work and raise four children under 12. Embracing their Lebanese heritage, the close-knit family bought and ran a deli, working together for many years. There were some tough times, but Rose says her mum never let it show as Rose learned to cook with her mum and aunties.

Reynold Poernomo, 20, New South Wales, Student

Born in Surabaya, Indonesia, to restaurateur parents, Reynold grew up in a world surrounded by passionate and talented cooks. Moving to Australia at the age of six, Reynold watched on as his parents worked in hospitality and his two elder brothers entered the industry. His family were firm that they didn’t want their youngest son to pursue a career in food. Studying nutrition at the University of Western Sydney, Reynold wants to prove to his family that he has what it takes to be a chef.

Sara Oteri, 26, Western Australia, Advertising Creative

From a close-knit Italian clan, Sara’s immediate family of mum Emilie, dad Maurice and sister Alessia grows to around 20 at Christmas time when they are packed around the dining table. After studying communications at university, Sara made the move to Melbourne four years ago to attend AWARD School, an advertising industry course. Sara worked in an advertising agency as a creative. Although she enjoyed success, she soon discovered it wasn’t where her passion lay.

Stephen Rooney, 31, New South Wales, Recruitment Specialist

Born in Scotland and raised in the UK from the age of six, Stephen now calls Redfern in Sydney his home. After a stint travelling in South America and working in New Zealand, Stephen and his long- term girlfriend Georgina settled in Australia in 2008. Stephen wondered whether he might be too old for a career change, but he has now left a secure job behind, craving creativity and a new challenge in food.

May 6, 2015   No Comments

Masterchef Australia Season 7 Kicks Off And Is It Going To Be The Year Of The Hipster?

Masterchef Australia has started its season 7 and there were some familiar characteristics. Jolly judges, tears, some good food as well as some long drawn out judging segments.

The season commenced with auditions with the three judges George, Gary and Matt be reverential about how the show will transform their lives if they get into the top 24. Also they announced first prize will be $250,000.

Matt a dentist from Melbourne was first to cook. He should get in just because they managed the rare person who is a hetero male in his early 40’s with kids. Normally they are not seen on Masterchef as they normally can’t afford to give up work for the long period of time that Masterchef is filmed. He made Scallop Tortellini with a Verjuice Sauce. It looked fantastic and Gary said it was “absolutely delicious” but before they could let him through they had to the bring the family in to get his daughter to present the apron to him. Yes this was one of the long drawn out segments.

The Glaswegian girl who needs sub-titles to be understood was bold in making Haggis with pureed turnips and potato. Matt was a tad dismissive before tasting it. The judges tasted it and then they brought back their signature move, the huddle, and then they turned back and gave her a yes to go through. Well after Matt told the Scottish girl all about Haggis. To be fair he was probably gibbering about the dish to try and educate the viewer. He also brought out a pepper grinder from his pocket. Which now allows for  line in culinary circles “Is that a pepper grinder in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?”.

Ricky was next with a deconstructed fish pie. Any dish that is deconstructed should just be banned.  He is an honours student in Environmental Science. He also has seven dogs that he sleeps with in a hut and he also has a busted leg. George thought the snapper was overcooked and Gary thought he had been too flashy with the deconstructed pie and said no as well. However Matt decided to give him a second chance, so he gets to cook the following day.

Caitlyn is a lawyer from Melbourne and she was making the death dish aka Risotto. And in close up it did look a bit like maggots on a plate. It was a duck and mushroom risotto. Gary said it was a bit too salty. He also said it was aspirational. How can a dish be aspirational? George and Matt also said no as there were too many errors.

Another girl made fish and ice cream and another guy dished up lemon meringue pie without meringue and then said dessert was not his thing. Needless to say neither of them got through.

Reynold from Sydney is 20 years old with an Indonesian background. Even though his mother owns a pastry business he said he was only able to be the delivery driver and kitchen hand. He plated up a beautiful dessert of Coconut Pannacotta with Passionfruit Curd and he also served up a side of tears. This could make him a certainty for the top ten. Then his mother came in to give him the apron and there were more tears. Matt thought it was the best dessert that had ever been served up in an audition in six years. Matt left out that one of those years there were no audition episodes.

Another lady made chocolate mousse with a raspberry reduction and she got through. As did Ava who made gnocchi. Matt told her it was “bellisimo. Steve was also through to the top 24 with his lamb cutlets.

John is 36 and is a flight attendant and he made a play with a cheese platter but his ice cream did not set but he is getting a second chance.

The butcher, Scott, will also be cooking again. Subicha will also get a second chance after the judges criticised her beef with red wine sauce.

Jarrod who is 29 from Fitzroy and yes even he admitted he is a #hipster beard and all. His day job is a civil construction engineer. He made a Goan Fish Curry with Rice Bread. It was very hot and George’s pate started sweating. Even Matt Preston was coughing from the chilli. However George said it was delicious. He was into the top 24.

Jessica also looked like a hipster and she got throughout with her lamb cutlets. A Vietnamese guy won an apron with some good looking salmon and Vietnamese Fried Rice.

Zara made eye fillet with vegetables and she was through. She is also going to be eye candy.

Rose made a Lebanese Mezze dish called Zambousik (sic) served with garlic dip and hommous. Matt thought the garlic dip was too hot and he sent her to cook again.

Marcus a 31 year old industrial designer from Victoria and he this season’s Heston Blummenthal as he experiments with food. He made a black garlic purred and it the look and texture of meconium. He served it with a 63 degree egg. George said he can cook and he wanted him in the competition and after the other two agreed and he was through. He definitely has personality so expect a lot of airtime.

Anna made Vanilla Pannacotta with a citrus sauce and she was in. Jackie mad steak and chips and she also got through as did Ashley with a coffee poached pear.

Christina is 28 from Hobart, she made Sarsparilla Pulled Pork Tortillas she got a lot of screen time whilst the judges tasted and ticked her food.

By the end of the first day they had given out 15 aprons and tomorrow it is last chance saloon for the rest of them and Shannon Bennett makes his first appearance of the series.

What did you think of the first episode of Masterchef?

May 5, 2015   105 Comments

Where Are They Now? Masterchef’s Liliana Battle

Pablo Newton Harley is back with his weekly “Where Are They Now” interview with a reality TV star. This week it is Liliana Battle from 2013 Masterchef Australia. She reveals she has a cookbook coming out as well as a food product as well.

April 19, 2015   3 Comments

Masterchef’s First Three “Hopefuls” Revealed

TEN have released the names of three Masterchef contestant or as they say “hopefuls”. I am going to presume since they are showcasing them that they get in.

First up is “Hot-blooded hipster” Jarrod who is 29 years-old. He is a hipster because he has a beard.  He now lives in Melbourne and was working as a civil engineer but now wants to pursue a career in food. In a bid to impress the judges Jarrod whips up an curry. But how will judge George Calombaris take the chilli? Check out hipster Jarrod below.

The next contestant is recruitment consultant Stephen Rooney, 31. He grew up in the UK and has always loved cooking. Stephen is going to reinvent the roast. It looks good but he I really wish people would not use edible flowers to garnish.

Check out his promo here and boy does he look young.

 Fiona Grindlay, 31, works in marketing but has also worked as an actor, writer, model and snowboard instructor. Originally from Glasgow she now wants a future in food. To showcase her heritage she is serving up haggis. Gross but I am sure the judges will love it. Check out Fiona’s clip below.

April 7, 2015   10 Comments

Masterchef Australia – Ratings Are Not A Big Deal When You Are Not Rating!

Masterchef Australia is kicking off soon, probably around mid-April, and the judges are being trotted out for publicity and of course they are being asked about My Kitchen Rules.

And of course the issue of ratings was raised. But George Colombaris told the SMH that ratings don’t really matter it was about quality. Tell the television executives that George…

The article states:

Why does My Kitchen Rules have twice the audience of MasterChef?

“What do you gauge success as?” Calombaris says. “The success of that show is in its ratings, but – you know what? – there are fast-food chains out there that do more covers than I do in my restaurants. Does it make them any better?

“You know about the amazing cooks this show has produced who are doing massive things in the food world. We think about Marian, Poh, Julie, Hayden – people who are actively in food as we speak. They’re not fly-by-nighters. They’re not just, `Oooh, I’m on TV’, and then bang, they’re gone. If you just want to be on TV, I don’t care how good you can cook. You’re not part of MasterChef.

“There have been close to 80 contestants and I reckon 70 of them are in the industry now. You don’t need to win. You just need to have a dream and an idea and a goal. That’s what the show does. It gives you this springboard and platform to get out there and get among it.”

How does Calombaris respond to the criticism that the producers of MasterChef (and My Kitchen Rules) manipulate viewers by editing the footage into a soap opera, exaggerating the emotions of the contestants, and amplifying the experience with melodramatic music?

“All I know is I was there and I didn’t need music to make me get very emotional. The emotion I get when I’m on set 14 hours a day and pushing these contestants and seeing the emotion that it brings out in them, there is nothing more real. I wish we could have a 24-hour MasterChef channel, where you could see the whole day pan out. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, if I had some.

MasterChef is built on a certain integrity and belief. That’s why I’m part of the show. It’s a show that resonates not only for Aussies, but through all cultures, cuisines and religions. The Australian version is seen in 140 countries, dubbed in all sorts of languages.”

Calombaris is comfortable with the job of pushing the contestants to their physical and intellectual limits. “You know why? Because there’s $250,000 at the end of this. There are cars and book deals. There’s a lot riding on it. We need to make the right decision.

“We will gauge how good they are as cooks at the beginning and, as we go along, if we think we can push them further, we will. We push them because we want to see them achieve. We want them ready and armoured up to face reality.

“[If] you deal with customers, staff, you’ve got to have a thick skin, you’ve got to be an octopus, you’ve got tot be a doctor, a teacher, a chemist, a psychologist, but that’s why I love it.”

And of course he said this year the contestants are the best ever.

Masterchef Australia starting on TEN soon.

Thanks Rosie for sending it in.

March 30, 2015   45 Comments