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Masterchef Australia – Alex In The Top 24 As Paul Lombardi Pulls Out

Just when we thought Alex had been eliminated from the competition it looks like he is having a lazarus like return.

It appears Western Australian fighter pilot Paul Lombardi has withdrawn from the Masterchef Australia top 24 and has been replaced by Alex he of the earlobes and raw meatballs fame.

How do I know about this? A sharp eyed reader notice he was on the official masterchef website top 24  photos, and a quick look revealed Paul Lombardi was no longer there.  Click on the link here to check it out –

I will contact Channel Ten to see if I can find out the reason, and ask why hottie Dan was not brought back in…

UPDATE: Channel Ten said watch it and find out, however I suspect as he was in the defence force this maybe the issue.

May 9, 2011   33 Comments

Masterchef Australia – We Have Our Top 24

Well we now have our top 24 and it looks like a diverse one, however I must ask why are they not more lenient on the good looking guys? Both Nick and Dan have been eliminated.

Conversely Ellie the attractive blonde 20 year old student nurse who put an egg yolk in wonton wrappers and fried them got through. The judges were in raptures that the egg yolk was still runny. I mean seriously this is a dish we won’t be seeing in any eating establishment soon.

Also Dani a publicist from Victoria is in even though she turned into a gibbering mess in the taste test.

Tonight they started off with a taste test challenge. It was Matt Moran’s dish which was Aria’s signature consomme.

They told them them four of the ingredients, but had they had to name the other 26. Each person had three minutes to do so.

Matt the goth food blogger from Melbourne identified 20 of them whereas at the other end of the spectrum Nick and John only got six.

But seriously how was anyone meant to get mandarin peel? Also why didn’t the contestants have to identify the specific type of stock? Maybe it was one that was not in the Campbell’s range.

Dani, the Victorian publicist lost the plot and wrote down pork instead of duck and dropped a dirty spoon back in the dish.

I love the way Matt Preston and Matt Moran sneered that no one had identified three of the ingredients.

How the fuck was anyone meant to get mandarin peel? However, one person that should have was Jay who actually admitted to the judges he had read the recipe a few nights before. You would have thought he would have remembered this more unusual ingredient, in fact he only got about 15 of the ingredients right.

Just as the contestants were wondering what would be the advantage of doing well in the taste test all was revealed….and it was a cracker of a challenge.

It was an invention test where you could only use the ingredients you had identified in the taste test plus the four they had previously been told were in the dish, which were eggs, salt, pepper and the oil.

Of course Nick who only identified six was in trouble, however Ellie was in more trouble then the early setllers, as she had not identified a protien, thus the egg yolk in the wonton wrapper scenario.

Dan who was the only person to identify abalone in the consomme, was obligated now to use it in his dish, however he had never cooked it before, and this would be his downfall.

When the judges came around to talk to him and he revealed he was poaching it, Matt Moran gave him a not so subtle hint that he should saute it instead. It did not look like he took his advice….

Is there some sort of seafood cooking rule that when you have no idea what to do with the ingredient you poach it? It is the second time in a week this has occurred and it has ended badly for both contestants. Remember Jess and her poached flathead?

Sun who I do think is going to be a “controversial” top 24 contestant, revealed she had been a vegetarian and had only recently started eating meat. So I really hope there is an offal challenge at some point to really flip her out.

Matt who picked twenty of the ingredients to make a dish crumbled a bit under the pressure. He did not plate up his dumplings, and if you can over flambe something he did it with the duck breast. He got in the top 24 so let the Sydney and Melbourne foodblogging war begin.

I thought the judges were again condescending to John when judging him. George gave him a mild slap for not browning his chicken properly, but then praised him for stuffing the leg it. “A great effort” he said.

I don’t think the judges should be nasty, but in my mine just judge him the same way as anyone else please.

The contestants that got through tonight to the top 24 are:

Peter Vickery, Tom the wine manager from NSW, Ellie, Sun, and Matt the foodblogger from Melbourne.

Andrew the guy from Port Lincoln is through. As is Shannon, Paul Lombardi, and Rachel who managed to maul both Zumbo and Matt Moran. Dani, Jay and Chelsea were also through.

I felt sorry for couple of the contestants that were eliminated tonight as there were at least two Ariana and the girl with the short blond hair, who got no air time at all.

By the way for Callum fan’s he is now writing a blog on the official website here.


May 8, 2011   34 Comments

Masterchef Australia – Kumar The Baby Boomers Sex Symbol

Nick the wannabe Russian restaurateur and Dan the accessories designer (ok he may be gay) you are dropped, Kumar is my new Masterchef Australia crush. The 62 year old graphic designer is too too cute.  See I am not always six-pack focused. His wife Sally is going to get very jealous with the huge fan base this guy is going to collect.

Conversely half of the male viewing audience were hoping for Arena from WA to get in the top 24. She is a personal trainer with a rocking body, and her aim is to  open a restaurant and cook with organic ingredients, and make healthy meals. Ironically her Desert Island dish was a chocolate tart.

The challenge for tonight was a Desert Island one. Where the contestants had to cook a dish they would  be happy to eat daily if shipwrecked on an island. They were only allowed to use five ingredients. It must have been five key ingredients as I am sure there were more then five on some plates. Particularly Tom the general manager of a wine store in Sydney.

He made a souffle, a lamb cutlet, and a beetroot, asparagus and goats cheese parcel. Now that must have been more than five as just in the souffle you have dill, cheese, eggs, flour and butter.  Tom’s souffle did not rise because he did not butter the ramekin. A souffle is a risky dish to make as by the time you serve it it will have sunk and it was cold. George did like it however, but thought the vegetable parcel superfluous.

Sydney foodbloggers finally got to see Billy Law who is a web designer by day, and food blogger by night. He blogs at Table For Two.  An interesting strategy of his to wear a hat, as the only other Masterchef contestant who has done that was Chris Badenoch who most people have a negative view of. For Billy’s sake I hope that affectation does not become a liability with the viewing audience.

He cooked twice pork belly with apple slaw and rice cake. Smart dish to do as the judges love fat, and Gary was inhaling the crackling, which won’t do much for his man boobs.

Speaking of Chris Badenoch, Matt the other foodblogger who is from Melbourne reminded me of him as well. It was like he is Chris’s good twin. He cooked Cape Grim Beef with onion rings, truffle and ethical foie gras. Gary questions whether all the truffle and foie gras is worth it. He thought it a very expensive dish. However, he did like his cooking. Matt Preston said “I like the dish, but I question the politics.” He wanted it to be more local.

To be honest it was more of a meal you would eat for your last supper on death row.

John from WA made brownies and garnished it with the top of a pineapple. I am not sure why George Calombaris thought it was so funny putting it on top of his head.

Andrew made a rib eye that looked the size from something from the Flinstones. He served it on celeriac mash. He said he cooked it blue/rare. However it was raw. George said it was not acceptable. No top 24 spot for him.

Seamus made seared tuna with daikon and beetroot. George thought it was fantastic. This guy could be one to watch. Or maybe he just has a talent for undercooking fish.

Kumar who has such a lovely presence made prawns in a coconut curry sauce. This was enough to get him a coveted top 24 apron. I think he will go far.

Danielle made egg yolk ravioli in a rocket pasta. It was a very interesting dish.  Gary loved it, he also liked the texture. She was in.

Sun made poached egg on asparagus, the judges liked it but thought it was a bit simple. However the brief was to cook a dish you could eat for the rest of your life, and quite frankly I would be picking something pretty simple with nice flavours. I suspect fresh sourdough with cheese would not be good enough.

Alana the journalist/actress from Brisbane made soft centred chocolate pudding with raspberry and honeycomb, Matt Preston thought it was the best dish of the day.

Alana has already said in her press kit that she would like her own cooking show. I like her honesty, at least she doesn’t pretend she wants to be a working chef. Guys who think she is good looking will be happy she got through.

The six that got through to the top 24 are:

  • Kumar Pereira, 61, Teacher from Sydney, NSW
  • Arena Dunn, 24, Personal Trainer from Perth, WA
  • Seamus Ashley, 32, Graphic Designer from Melbourne, VIC
  • Alana Lowes, 30, Journalist/Actress from Brisbane, QLD
  • Danielle Dixon, 29, Administration Manager from Brisbane, QLD
  • Billy Law, 34, Food blogger from the Central Coast, NSW



May 6, 2011   34 Comments

Guest Post: Masterchef Australia – More Strategy Thoughts From Matt

Matt is on fire this week with his strategy blog posts here is another installment:

The strategic inflection point in tonight’s Masterchef was pretty clear – to fish or not to fish?

It seemed like a pretty basic choice. Gary tried to frame it as a choice for the risk takers, but this was as risk-free as it came.

Not only did you know exactly what you were cooking – fish or vegetarian – you had two hours to plan your recipes.

Rule two of my strategic rules for Masterchef states it’s not winning that’s important, it’s not losing. Given only four of the 10 were going home, playing safe and eliminating as much risk as you can is important. You started the day with a 40 per cent chance of going home. It’s a telling stat that of those who fished, one in four went home – 25 per cent. From those who chose the mystery cloche, three from six – 50 per cent.

Taking the mystery cloche was an insane risk. If the ingredient was tripe, as many thought it was, you’re pretty much stuffed.

Crocodile was a bit of a cop-out from the producers. Given the great game on sale at top butchers these days I’m surprised no one had cooked it before.

Which brings us to a minor strategic point – it looked like they’d given the contestants the entire tail from the monster salty in Rogue, so there was plenty to work with. The smart ones like Alex tested a few pieces first. Not that it seemed to add much to his cooking, but the thinking was correct.

As an aside, Alex appears to be the new Jono here, the next Eliminator. But while getting in front of the judges to show off your skills isn’t all bad, it’s much smarter to do it when your spot isn’t on the line. but looking at those earrings, I’m thinking “smart” isn’t a word that gets used around Alex that often.

Third minor strategic point – remember Rule One: KNOW HOW TO COOK! FFS Jess, if you’ve never poached fish before, an elimination challenge is probably not the best place to start. And asking contestants on the side? Luckily you struck one who hasn’t read Rule Six (WWERD, Or What Would Evil Russell Do). Or maybe he had, trying to keep a weaker competitor in the comp…

Best strategic move: Going fishing.

Worst: Choosing the mystery cloche THEN not test cooking the croc.

Dishonourable mention: Jess’s culinary cluelessness depriving the competition of some Velma from Scooby Doo hotness.


May 5, 2011   8 Comments

Masterchef Australia – Move Over Jamie Oliver, Alex Is The New Mr Teflon

I have to agree with one of this blogs commenter’s, and say Alex is Season three’s Sam. Why do the producers want him in? He is not THAT good looking, but maybe the body mutilation look is a Gen Y thing.

More on his massacre of the crocodile later.

Tonight’s elimination challenge was the equivalent of The Amazing Race detour. The contestants had to pick between going out on a boat and catching their own fish or taking their chances with the mystery ingredient which ended up being crocodile.

I did wonder if they had to pressure people to go out on the boat, as I thought that was a high risk strategy, but then I don’t fish.

Nick the guy wants to open his own Russian restaurant caught fish quickly. I don’t know where they have  been hiding him, this guy has potential Masterchef Australia hottie written all over him. And he can cook he plated up slow roasted Mowong with dill, parsley eggs and garlic bread.

All the guys managed to catch lots of fish, whereas poor Jess was seasick and eventually caught a flathead.

I loved the mystery ingredient was crocodile, it really evened out the fact the other guys had been out hunting and gathering.

John the winemaker from SA who did not plate up in last night’s episode said he needed to play this game as safe as he can. He was going on flavours. He had bean and leek puree, and the protein was topped with a pomegranate (ingredient du jour of the night) and riesling sauce.  He received positive reviews, with Matt saying it is was the best crocodile dish of the day. In fact he said it was the best croc dish he had ever tasted.

Now to the debacle that is Alex. He decided to poach the crocodile and it was not working for it. He then did an anchovies and olive paste for the fish, and said he was “clutching at straws”. He over cooked it and it was as tough as Doc Martens, his probable footwear of of choice.

Gary liked that he just kept going. This year it appears to be OK to not plate up, but also to serve shite, but if you don’t curl up in the foetal position when you are having a bad cooking day you can also avoid elimination.

Alby the carpenter did what anyone does when faced with something he has not cooked before and crumbed it. Of course it was a disaster. It was too tough.

For someone who hadn’t filleted a flathead before I thought Jess did a great job. But what was she thinking mixing harissa, with some sort of pear sauce, and that is before she had some sort of brain explosion and said she was going to poach the flathead. I don’t why she thought that if she had told the judges the cooking technique that she had to keep with it. For christ sakes Alex changed his.

The judges told her she was a few years to soon for the competition. She didn’t have a knack of pulling flavours together but had the cooking skills. I was hoping she would stay in.

Myri who wants to open a Greek-Cypriot restaurant did a kataifi wrapped piece of crocodile because she had done it before with prawns.She served it with a garlic sauce and Greek Salad. The crocodile soaked up too much oil. Her Greek salad was dressed with balsamic vinegar, but maybe that is the Cypriot side of the cuisine. Also George had a go at her for putting lettuce in it as well.

Chelsea cooked Mediterranean crocodile. She was slammed for the bean puree but George liked the puttanesca sauce.

Daniel cooked tamarind trevally skewers and Gary was positive about it.

Seamus steamed Mowong and it was under cooked. But Matt said he had gotten away with it because it was fresh.

John, Nick, Dan,  Seamus, Chelsea, and Alex are all safe. Alex dodges another bullet? But I am glad they kept the other hotties in.

Myri, Jess, Albi, and Elisa were eliminated. With only four eliminated tonight, does this mean only four are gone each time from now on until the top 24?



May 4, 2011   45 Comments