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Masterchef Australia – Aaron Must Be On His 8th Life

You just know that the macaron tower is going to be the next big thing at weddings.  The croquembouche is now so last season.

The “patissier of pain” Adriano Zumbo had created another difficult task for the Masterchef contestants to complete. Poh Ling Yeow would have loved it and wonder if Zumbo has been on her new show, which is still going on ABC1. Injera continues to watch it and has given her mid-season assessment of Poh’s Kitchen on her blog Blah Blog Blah.

Before I get into the episode I just want to whinge about how Channel Ten continues to put unintentional spoilers out there. Regular commenter CG spotted that Marion was in the previews for Wednesday night’s army challenge, and the latest edition of TV Week had Alvin and Marion in army fatigues.

If you have a spoiler or want to read some go to my specific spoiler thread here.

Anyway the contestants had to make one hundred and twenty macarons, therefore 240 halves of the kalamata olive ganache and raspberry beetroot butter cream. Actually is olive the new dessert/baking ingredient? We’ve had it in George’s mother carrot cake and now this.

They had three and half hours to complete the challenge, and I thought it was interesting that Marion started on her filling first, I am presuming it must have needed to set.

The contestant’s were pretty nervous about the daunting challenge. George asked Alvin ”Are you confident?” “Ah no” was his response.  Aaron was saying he needed three and a half days, and Peter was laughing hysterically to camera.

The only person looking like they were in their element was Callum who was confidently yelling out instructions from the peanut gallery.

After an hour Marion looked like she was working well and Peter was impressing me with his tray carrying skills.

I was also impressed with Aaron’s tolerance to pain as he carried them straight from the oven to the cooler.

They were all having varying degrees of success with their macarons, Marion’s pink ones looked great but the purple ones not so good. But what they all had in common they were running out of time. They all cut down their tower as they were not going to finish, which made me think the judges or producers told them to do it.

To try and build drama Jimmy was being dramatic about how bad Peter’s tower looked, but to be honest it looked no worse then what the others were plating up.

Peter was first up to the judges and I loved the way Zumbo was just cracking up when one of his macaron’s fell off onto the  table, whilst Matt Preston was looking like the gulf oil spill had just spread to Sydney Harbour.

“Fillings not there” said Zumbo about Peter. Gary chimed in with “Inconsistency is a problem”.

Alvin was next, his were the best looking biscuits but there was a size issue with the olive ones as they were tiny.

Marion’s raspberry macaron’s were gushed over but her olive ones were too hard and crusty. I loved the way when the judges were pontificating on who was going, Zumbo was gushing over how Marion was a “machine” in the kitchen. Gary immediately subtly reminded him that they needed to create some suspense by talking about how bad her olive ones were. Zumbo looked suitably chastised.

Alvin’s was judged the best, with Peter eliminated. Aaron who is giving new meaning to mediocrity manages to stay in the competition for  a few more days.

By the way in New Idea this week I pick Marion to win the competition. I really wanted to pick a wild outsider (one of the reasons I never back the winner in the Melbourne Cup) but decided I would stick with the person who at this stage does deserve to win.

If you are feeling like you have a lot of time on your hands here is the link to the recipe of the macarons.

July 5, 2010   71 Comments

Masterchef Australia – A Few Mysteries Revealed

Ok the mystery of the non-elimination round on Thursday has now been revealed. Basically Aaron and Jimmy could have served up pigs swill (they probably did) and they were not going to be eliminated. They needed the ten contestants for tonight’s Margaret Fulton family  style challenge as they were cooking in pairs. I really don’t like being treated as a moron Masterchef.

Another mystery of Masterchef was revealed tonight by Matt Preston when he told Marion he would have to judge her on her fried ice cream balls on how they tasted when they came out of the deep fryer at the end of  the 90 minutes. So the judges tasted them then, does that mean they tasted everyone else’s food then? And the tasting table is just for show?

I don’t have a problem with that as long as it is a level playing field, and every contestant’s food is tasted at that time.

Tonight the invention test was to cook in pairs a family style dish for the iconic Margaret Fulton. You could serve four plates or one big dish to be served at the judges table. Aaron somehow missed that memo and served up his one dish of pancake with chicken chipotle in it. I was amazed that Peter kept on smiling when he realised his partner’s error. But conversely maybe Peter did not have four pancakes in him considering the amount of time it took him to get one good cooked.

But before I get too immersed in the invention test and the iconic Margaret Fulton, I will just give a few quick opinions on the mystery box challenge:

  • Alvin let loose by using nearly all the ingredients in his mystery box in his dish, it looked foul, but it won the challenge,
  • Again the editing was appalling letting us know way in advance whose dishes they would pick to taste;
  • Loved the concept of Adam’s and thought Gary’s criticism of it not being big enough as being harsh;
  • I cracked up when Claire got to give the health and safety warning to camera when she said “don’t just pick the snails from the garden these have been specially prepared”, how dumb does Masterchef think we are?
  • Callum again used a strategy of being the only one to make dessert as a way of getting his dish tasted, it worked considering it did not look that spectacular.

As winner of the mystery box Alvin got to pick his partner and then allocate the other teams. He unsurprisingly picked Marion. He teamed up Courtney and Jonathan, Aaron and Peter, Claire and Adam, and Jimmy and Callum.

They then chose as the key ingredients of chicken and orange.

Jimmy made curry again, and Callum did dessert again. Though Callum’s Orange and macadamia parfait with Macaroon & Orange Dust looked divine, and Matt Preston did say it was one of the best desserts they had had on the show.

Speaking of Matt Preston in the Sun Herald today, it said that Matt Preston gut is not the only thing expanding, apparently his ego is blossoming out of control and he is starting to make unreasonable demands. I wonder what these demands are?

Jonathan was criticised for making orange curd straight on the flame because of his limited time and he curdled the eggs in it. He did strain it but I presume he was desperate to get it into the fridge to set. Which explained the angst Courtney had when she looked at two empty shells and was wondering what he had been doing for 90 minutes. He only managed to plate up two and the curd had not set. However Courtney’s luscious roast chicken must have kept them out of the bottom two.

Alvin was having a disaster with his dish the swede cake which was not cooking so had to be turned into an omelette, and Marion was not fairing much better with her fried ice-cream as it was runny on the inside, however her soy and orange caramel sauce did get positive praise.

Adam and Claire cooked green tea chicken dumpling with chilli oil, orange and ginger vinegar, these were received positively, but it was Claire’s delicious fried masterstock chicken with chilli caramel and orange salt got the rave reviews. George screeched out “Hallelujah” because Claire finally had stumped up a winning dish.

And Claire looked happy….for a moment. “I’m wrapped,” she said with a slight smile.

They won, and she deservedly will go head to head against the celebrity chef.

Everyone looked shocked when Marion and Alvin were announced in the bottom two teams, but not so shocked when Aaron and Peter were placed there.

Tomorrow night is Zumbo with his macaroon tower, if the preview is anything to go by someone has a disastrous time, and my money is on Aaron to be eliminated.

July 5, 2010   38 Comments

Marion Grasby Despite Being The Favourite Reckons Jonathan Will Win

Marion Grasby

Masterchef Australia golden girl Marion Grasby has opened up about how exhausted she is in and how upset she was with producers for giving three eliminated contestants another shot at the competition.

In the Sunday Telegraph today she said:

“I was just disappointed because I knew that this was going to take a lot longer than I thought,” she said.

“I certainly wasn’t angry at the contestants themselves. It is really hard to be away from your friends and obviously my partner Tim [Althaus] – we live together. “Just losing that contact with everyone else is really hard.”

Marion said she had underestimated how tough being a reality contestant was, despite having worked as a television reporter for the ABC in Adelaide.

“I have done TV before so I know things take a long time, but I never really thought how much being tired and sustaining energy over a long period of time, months and months … how difficult that would be,” she said.

She also said the judges were not playing favourites:

“I don’t see why the judges would go out on a limb for a TV show contestant like me or anybody else. If we thought that something was going on, we wouldn’t be on the show.

“Well, I wouldn’t be, because that is certainly not fair.”

She also thinks Jonathan Daddia will win because of his technique.

The article also confirmed that Claire and Aaron were unable to hide their emotions and did not take part in the “celebratory drinks” for the eliminated contestants before the cameras in the Masterchef house.

July 4, 2010   22 Comments

Masterchef Australia – Changing The Way We Eat?

Helen Greenwood in the Sydney Morning Herald today wrote a very interesting article about the Masterchef Australia and how it is changing the way we eat.

Clearly she wrote the article before last night’s Masterclass episode, where the adult eggs benedict really needed to come with a health warning.

Her point is that Masterchef is getting us to become more culinary adventurous.

She writes:

MasterChef starts by getting shoppers to grate cheese, any cheese, instead of buying the pre-grated plastic bits. It encourages them to make their own soup. From packet stock at first but then maybe they’ll graduate to making their own stock.

In the masterclasses and celebrity challenges, lardo, quail, pecorino, kidneys, vine leaves, wildflowers, lavender, lamb brains, balmain bugs and pigeon hearts appear. Most viewers wouldn’t have tasted them let alone bought them. You have to know how and where to find these foods, which are usually only available to order or from specialist suppliers.

Yes, the show is sponsored by a supermarket. And, yes, for many people that’s a good place to start if you want to begin cooking for yourself. But the take-home message is clear: think beyond the trolleys and the aisles when you shop.

She also touches on the sponsorship issue, which I personally don’t have an issue with. I’ll take the higher production values and better challenges that goes with it.

She said:

This is where the commercial deals come in. Calombaris copped flak for taking on a role as a supermarket consultant and appearing in the company’s televisions spots. He has stopped doing that in the second series. You could hear the howls when Preston, who spruiks a kitchen-paper brand, ostentatiously used the product to clean up a spill on camera.

The product placement has reached new heights in the second series. How awkward was that scenario of the judges and a key sponsor eating food in an airport hangar in front of plane? It’s a double-edged sword. You’ve got to pay for those tickets to London somehow but you risk looking gauche.

MasterChef is clear about the importance of good food. It’s more ambiguous about what a master chef is. The show speaks the language of professional cooks yet last year handed the laurels to Julie Goodwin, whose repertoire is a replay of Margaret Fulton recipes. This year, my bet is the crown will go to a winner aiming for professional status in the hospitality industry.

Several chefs have commented to me privately that they dislike the show because it purports to demonstrate what it’s like to be a trained restaurant chef. “They’ll never know,” one high-ranking Sydney chef told me.

Anyway regardless of whether you agree with all she writes it is a good read.

And for fans of Gary Mehigan you will be pleased to know he is a fan of “spank and fluff”!

July 3, 2010   14 Comments

Masterchef Australia – Has The Daily Telegraph Told Us Who Has Been Eliminated?

The News Limited papers nationwide have run with a story about how Masterchef Australia has turned into Nastychef, but have they accidentally let the cat out of the bad on who has been eliminated. (Thanks Airwalk for the link).

The Daily Telegraph states:

Media experts say this year’s top 10 is filled with arrogant and unlikeable contestants who are whingeing, whining, criticising and crying their way to success.

Only three – Marion Grasby, Adam Liaw, and Peter Kritikides – seem capable of cracking a smile.

It’s a stark contrast to last year, when “sweethearts” Julie Goodwin and Poh Ling Yeow captured hearts and the top two spots.

“The contestants aren’t shining like they did in last year’s series,” media analyst Steve Allen said. “Only the intense contestants are left. Anyone who was a bit lighter of heart and mind has gone.”

Last Sunday’s show was a perfect example of how MasterChef has turned into NastyChef, with judge George Calombaris berating contestants for their poisonous attitude to the return of eliminated people.

Fans have filled the show’s forums with less-than-flattering comments about contestants, particularly Aaron Harvie, Jonathan Daddia and Claire Winton Burn.

I hope this is not ominous for Alvin, Courtney and Jimmy who I thought were all smiley contestants, but were not mentioned in the article.

July 3, 2010   13 Comments