MasterChef All Stars recap
The not-helping-you-get-thin blue line ... MasterChef All Stars
Another day dawns in the MasterChef house and we catch the contestants going about their ordinary routines: Julie is writing a bestselling cookbook, Poh and Justine have just finished a spirited pillow fight, and Chris is relishing his status as the only Australian male to win a relay all week.
As the victors in yesterday's spaghetti bolognese challenge, the blue team will today compete individually for $10,000 for their chosen charity; and as punishment for their lacklustre performance, the red and yellow teams will be forced to clap and cheer from the balcony while wearing aprons for no reason whatsoever.
Chris’ general disinterest in all things macaron extends also to making them, and he continues to pipe a mixture that is rough and unforgiving – much like he is.
In the kitchen, the blues discover that they must cook a dish that has previously defeated them in the competition. This is fitting because in the world of MasterChef, you must not only learn from your mistakes, but also re-enact them in painful and traumatic detail.
The four MasterChef champions Julie Goodwin, Adam Liaw, Andy Allen and Kate Bracks
As an additional cruelty, the contestants must draw knives to choose for themselves which of their nightmares will be revisited upon them. The results are truly horrific, with Chris drawing a terrifying Adrian Zumbo dessert, Justine and Poh each drawing a terrifying Matt Moran dessert, and Julie drawing a terrifying Julie Goodwin dessert.
The blues briefly consider rushing the judges with the knives they now hold, but they conclude that murdering everyone in a bloody rampage might not be in keeping with the All Stars spirit.
With the more complicated dishes, Poh and Chris will each have two-and-a-half hours of cooking time, while Julie and Justine will each have one-and-a-half hours of cooking time, preceded by one hour of heckling time.
Time starts, and as Julie and Justine make their way to the balcony, Gary and George wander over to Poh to begin the familiar process of methodically breaking her spirit. One of the most important skills a MasterChef contestant can possess is being able to avoid talking to the judges, and Poh is a Grand Master. She employs Poh's Gambit, which is essentially just running away, abandoning her bench and leaving the judges with nobody to talk to. We are forced then, to go to Chris …
There are two kinds of people in this world: those that have studied the difference between a macaroon (a kind of meringue/coconut cake) and a macaron (a kind of meringue/almond sweet); and those that frankly couldn't give a toss. Chris is of the latter, and talks us through the process of his "macaroons", causing blood to drip from the ears of pâtissiers everywhere and Twitter's servers to leap into overdrive. Poh cleverly avoids all controversy by just referring to them as "macs".
Chris' general lack of interest in all things macaron extends also to making them, and he continues to pipe a mixture that is rough and unforgiving – much like he is.
Poh calls her chocolate cylinder the "linchpin" of the dish and is deducted points for not referring to it as the "hero". We are told that an un-tempered chocolate cylinder and grainy chocolate sorbet caused Poh's ultimate downfall in 2009, and were also a huge letdown for George. We can only imagine what other awful things that chocolate may have ultimately been responsible for. Luckily, in this case the sorbet is looking OK and a second Global Financial Crisis is temporarily averted.
An hour passes, and Julie and Justine join the floor. Julie has spent the last three years perfecting her Puddle Pie – the first step in that process obviously being to avoid its eponymous puddle-like characteristics. Things seem to be going quite well at this point, so I guess that's that and it's unlikely that anything will change.
But time marches on and Kumar takes a break from his full time job as Australia's Favourite Human to tell us that Julie is starting to get flustered. Meanwhile, Chris continues to refer to his macarons as macaroons in what can only be a deliberate attempt to bring down the internet.
The joke is on us however, as the oven opens and what Chris has been continuously referring to as macaroons actually turn out to look incredibly like actual macaroons but made from macaron ingredients. This kind of culinary trickery is next-level Heston Blumenthal genius, and Chris takes a well-deserved bow.
Poh's chocolate cylinder is losing its temper – much like its maker – and Jonathan, Kumar and Dani all suggest that she put it in the fridge to set, demonstrating quite clearly that watching MasterChef is not a prerequisite for participation.
Justine's pear tart is coming along well, but she tells us that she and recipes don't like each other, a realisation that must surely make filming her cooking show, Everyday Gourmet, a daily hell.
By now, the intense pressure of the MasterChef kitchen is getting to Julie and she's exhibiting a level of stress unexpected from someone making something from their own cookbook. She appears to have suffered a kind of psychological break, and is now yelling at her oven in the belief that things cook faster through fear.
Her descent into madness quickens, and she is soon flailing her arms and babbling loudly and incoherently, forcing Dani to voice her concern that Julie may in fact be trying to steal her schtick.
Time is running out and thankfully, Justine's tart is beautiful – much like she is. Less fortuitously, she accidentally cuts her finger and is out of action while she runs it under cold water. A fundamental misunderstanding of basic first aid aside, all is not lost as Chris comes to help complete her plating. We are all heartened by the thought that the chivalrous tradition of men doing things for beautiful women is not yet dead.
The all-familiar countdown takes place and everyone tries to break a world hugging record. Justine kisses Poh, and Australia's males finally find something they like just as much as Australia's females liked Ben and Andy's bromance.
But of course, the serious business of judging is still to come ...
Chris' macaroon-rons are a little unorthodox, but his panna cotta is wonderful, although in truth much of the credit must go to the mouse under his hat pulling his hair to control his movements.
An uncharacteristically stern-faced Justine is told that her pear tart is excellent and would make anyone smile except, apparently, her.
Poh's dessert is a triumph. Her chocolate is better tempered than before, and her macs have also been upgraded. Poh the perpetual perfectionist, however, proclaims that she has been psychologically defeated by chocolate – a statement that makes us wonder whether our troubles in the Olympic pool might be more closely linked to the receivership of Darrell Lea than we first imagined.
Puddle - and alliteration - free, we are left with the stark realisation that Julie's dish is not a pie at all, but the more appropriately named "structurally sound tart" is a hit with the judges. I have tried it myself and can attest that it is truly delicious (albeit not actually a pie). Julie takes the prize of $10,000 for her charity, Oxfam, and retains the title of Australia's Most Adorable MasterChef.
But Julie's fount of adorableness is not yet exhausted, and she magnanimously offers Poh half of the winnings for her charity; a gesture that Poh magnanimously accepts.
Poh has been filming part of her show, Poh’s Kitchen, in Cambodia and the $5000 Julie has offered her will go towards helping Cambodian children living among garbage in abject poverty. We are shown deeply emotional images of this hardship and for the next few minutes I miss what’s happening on screen because I've got something in my eye dammit.
The sick healed and the poor clothed, everyone agrees it has been an excellent day. And as the episode draws to a close, the judges, contestants and all the woodland animals share history’s biggest hug and – just for a moment – everything is right in the world.
Adam Liaw was invited to participate in MasterChef All Stars but was unable to do so due to commitments to his new SBS program Destination Flavour.
Destination Flavour starts August 16 on SBS.