Which came first? ... Tregan cracks open her mystery box. Photo: Ten
If it is Sunday it must be time to once more hurl ourselves into the ravening maw of the irresistible beast we call MasterChef – although we may have accidentally hurled ourselves into Matt Preston’s maw instead.
We begin with a quick reminder of last week’s Lord of the Flies-esque sojourn around Tasmania, and then a quick taste of what’s to come tonight, when George will pull some of his most revolting faces ever. And then we’re down to the serious business of watching Alice over-act in front of a blackboard.
Up come Mindy, Beau and Julia, to have George plough his way through their dish like a razorback digging for truffles.
The show itself opens with a shot of a beautiful cliff, off which presumably the contestants will shortly jump. Back at the house, though, real tragedy is afoot, with Deb having injured her finger in a door in what those who remember the Chinese gardens challenge can only call karma. Deb tells us that she entered MasterChef to change her life, and it seems like mission accomplished – she didn’t have a bloody deformed finger before she started. Anyway it’s off to the hospital with Deb, and off to the kitchen with the others.
Here he comes to save the day ... Celebrity chef Rick Stein enters the MasterChef kitchen. Photo: Ten
On arrival, George tells everyone that today’s mystery box ingredient is something humans have been eating for 10,000 years. Yes, today’s mystery box contains human flesh. No, just joking, actually the mystery box contains an egg. Just one egg. Brains begin ticking over as the amateurs start thinking frantically, “…scrambled?” Gary then drops the bombshell that they won’t be tasting the three best-looking dishes; they’ll be tasting the SIX best-looking dishes. The amateurs look at each other in shock – this doubling of the tasting number truly is the twist that will change the game forever.
“Andrew” is quite glad they’ve been given a single egg, because he doesn’t do too well with complexity. Mindy is less sanguine, as she obsessively pounds a lump of dough for lack of anything better to do. Meanwhile Gary says “you don’t want to end this challenge with egg on your face” and God strikes him dead on the spot.
Andy is making a deconstructed Caesar, news that causes Gary to suffer severe muscle spasms. As his hands flail wildly, we cut to Kylie, who is separating the yolk from the egg white in what, in the egg community, is considered an act of genocide. For once in her life Kylie seems fairly confident, so Matt drops around to undermine that a bit. On the other hand, Jules, who looks like she might be descended from eggs, is cooking Spanish-style baked eggs, but takes time out from her busy schedule to talk to camera, during which time her eggs burn.
On to Mario, who tells us an anecdote about his youth in the world of amateur dramatics, and is punished by Gary and George, who tell him to stop his horrible dish and start over again.
As the amateurs rush onwards in a blind eggy panic, Gary loudly mocks the agony of poultry childbirth, and Mario tells us that everything’s going really well, though you get the feeling that’s just something that Mario long ago trained himself to repeat no matter what the circumstances. It’s getting really “eggs-citing” yells Gary, who apparently has received notes from the network advising him to try harder to become Australia’s most hated man.
Meanwhile the dramatic irony of Mario’s earlier pronouncement hits home with sledgehammer force as he reveals himself completely unable to remove the shell from his egg, which to a certain extent is a reasonably important part of the process of turning an egg into food. The fireball then smothers the screen, probably started by Sam.
This week on Offspring, Nina DOES go to work, so glad she got over that little hiccup.
Back in the kitchen there are ten seconds to go and Mario is lashing his egg with a cat o’ nine tails to get the shell to come off. He is gutted, because everything in his egg dish is fantastic except the egg – it’s always the minor details isn’t it Mario?
The amateurs called forward for tasting are Jules, Amina, Mindy, Kylie, Ben and “Andrew”, continuing the show’s blatant anti-male bias. Up steps Jules with her Spanish-style baked egg, which ticks all of Gary’s gooey boxes in one of Season four’s more disturbing metaphors. “Andrew’s” dish is prawns, which I guess hatched from his egg or something. His mayonnaise is a bit too thick, though, which seems appropriate. Amina steps up with her dish, which is brilliant, because everything Amina does is brilliant. And then Kylie brings forth her meringues, which appear to take the form of a bowl of raw sewage. Still, it seems to taste good, and the judges take a few minutes to tongue-kiss each other in celebration.
MasterChef 2012 Top 24
The MasterChef judges - Gary, Matt and George
Then, finally, Mindy, who has suffered three strokes and five nervous breakdowns while cooking, and has lost her mind to the extent that she cooked her eggs twice – why the hell would you do that, Mindy? Despite her burgeoning madness, though, her dish is so good it causes Matt to emit emotional guitar riffs from his intestinal tract. And finally Ben steps up with his own prawns, which are poorly cooked and cause the judges to do one of their wild, wacky, let’s-change-the-rules-in-the-middle things, and ask to taste Andy’s dish. A bizarre little pantomime ensues, at the end of which it is revealed that the judges disagree, but since Gary is outnumbered and has also made more horrible puns today, he loses and Andy gets to take his place in line, which doesn’t mean much really. Kylie’s is voted best dish of all, followed by Mindy, Andy, Jules, Amina and “Andrew”, who even when he is a winner, comes in last.
The six best amateurs in the mystery box challenge will be team captains, and Gary explains that the invention test will be a needlessly complicated one. “Andrew” thinks “it stinks” that if he loses a challenge he’ll have to be in an elimination challenge – this whole “cooking contest” thing is just not what he signed up for.
Matt then builds unbearable suspense by running through the CV of today’s guest judge, and the audience wonders if this legendary chef will turn out to be Rick Stein, or someone who has had exactly the same life as Rick Stein. In through the kitchen doors steps Stein, and the building is consumed by a fire generated by the intensity of the amateurs’ orgasms.
Pausing only to mop up the resultant mess with Handee Ultra wipes, and wonder whether Kiefer Sutherland’s son can save an astronaut, we move quickly on to Amina telling us that her “heart just stopped”, a savage indictment of the poor diet that MasterChef contestants are forced to live on.
Rick Stein tells us that the challenge is “so interesting", charming everyone with his suave dishonesty. George then reveals six tiny little flags, and six different kinds of seafood, indicating that this challenge will be one of those ones where the amateurs are forced to pad out the running time of the episode by slowly selecting ingredients and nationalities.
Kylie picks France and crabs, probably hoping to make some kind of crab brulee. Mindy picks fish – the most mysterious seafood of all – and Thailand. Andy picks mussels, because he has big ones, and Spain, because he likes cooking food that might have to default on its debts. Jules picks prawns and Morocoo, a decision that instantly causes Amina to swear bloody and violent revenge. Amina, though, can still pick India and octopus, which will be useful for dispatching on sabotage missions to other chefs’ benches. This leaves “Andrew” with Britain and something called “botargo” – apparently this is sundried mullet roe. So “Andrew’s” team will be left to cook something that nobody in their right mind will want to eat, in the style of a nation that has no national cuisine. However, it has become clear that “Andrew” is the sundried mullet roe of amateur cooks, so at least he’s in tune with his ingredients.
As everyone rushes to prepare their meal, Alice tries to put the fact that she is cooking for THE Rick Stein out of her mind, although the fact that she wears enormous novelty glasses and talks like an ecstasy-addled Hanna Barbera character remains very much to the fore of her thinking. For his part Rick has advised everyone to keep it simple, which will not, in any way, be a problem.
Meanwhile, “Andrew”, Dalvinder and Audra are wrestling with the problem of how to make a British dish out of “botargo”, which as far as can be ascertained is not actually food. This ties in well with the British theme, but on the other hand everyone wants to throw up just from smelling the stuff, which augurs less well.
Luckily, happiness is just around the corner with a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Less luckily, around the next corner is Curtis Frigging Stone.
Back in the kitchen, only 45 minutes ago, so it’s imperative that Kylie is as quick as possible in reiterating the rules of the challenge for us. Phew – I’d completely forgotten.
Amina is making an octopus curry, although Gary struggles to think “creamy sauce octopus” – it’s really more of a sex position than a dish. Mindy is making a beautiful trevally though frankly Mindy we will be the judge of that you cocky minx.
Andy explains he is making a spicy mussel soup, which is the least impressive thing Gary has heard since the last time someone told him they were making soup. He and Rick are in furious agreement: Andy is terrible at food. Moving on to Kylie, Gary admits he’s finding it difficult to visualise her crabs, though frankly his lack of imagination isn’t Kylie’s fault.
With 15 minutes to go the pressure is on, and “Andrew” makes a run for it, returning to his bench in humiliation when he finds the doors are locked. Meanwhile, Emma is actually in tonight’s episode, but she is not wearing the beanie from which she derives her personality.
Rick thinks there’s an opportunity to do something really original with botargo, but he’s probably not aware that the last time “Andrew” did something original he was nearly arrested for poisoning.
It’s at this point that Beau slightly misinterprets his role in the kitchen, hurling a bowl full of fish on to the floor in a bold gambit that doesn’t bring the rewards he perhaps hoped it would.
Quick, Beau, still time to nip out to Nando’s! Eat interesting!
Back at ground zero, Beau has five minutes to make another batch of fish, though by rights he should just be made to sit in the corner.
With ten seconds to go, Rick Stein yells that there are ten seconds to go, reminding everyone of their loveable old granddad, who used to shout pointless phrases at them.
But anyway the cooking is over and so it is time for Gary to tell them again what the task was.
First to be tasted is Andy’s team’s plate of shellfish muck, which is the most flavoursome muck Gary has ever tasted. Rick then steps up to explain that what he’s looking for in the food is the colours of the Spanish flag, because Rick has not taken his medication in far too long. Despite their failure to anticipate that they were actually supposed to turn the mussels into a flag, they have made “not a bad effort”.
Next up is “Andrew”, Dalvinder and Audra, who have made a mushroom and botargo pie in an attempt to cover up the disgusting flavour of mullet eggs. Gary can’t really taste the botargo, so it seems a complete triumph.
Up come Mindy, Beau and Julia, to have George plough his way through their dish like a razorback digging for truffles. They have made…I don’t know really. it looks like a pile of sawdust, but I’m assuming it’s not, because the judges seem to quite like it. Rick Stein congratulates them on putting fish skin in it, thus proving once and for all that the world of haute cuisine is absolutely hair-eating insane.
Kylie’s team has made crabs and chips. Matt loves crabs and chips, but is disappointed that all they’ve made are crabs and chips. Matt doesn’t want something he loves, he wants to be CHALLENGED when he sticks something in his gob. Rick Stein doesn’t think they’ve “encompassed the glory of French cooking”, which really should have been easy for them to do – they had a whole hour!
Contrastingly, Rick loves Amina’s team’s dish, which took the advantage of having the judges tell them what they should do and really ran with it. In a parallel universe Kylie steps forward at this point to scream, “WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT YOU BASTARDS”, but in this universe she is far too nice.
Finally, Jules, Tregan and Alice – the Wyrd Sisters of the kitchen – present their Moroccan prawns, and greatly please Matt, who waxes lyrical on his love of biting the heads off things. Rick likes them too, going on and on about how much he loves Moroccan food and how much he loves being in Morocco and how well they’ve managed to make him feel like he’s in Morocco and eventually he is sedated and laid out in a back room to sleep it off, after which he can enjoy a delicious bowl of Quaker Oats – easy to use, easy to love.
Judgment Day has arrived, and Rick shows he’ll never be a full-time MasterChef judge, only saying one sentence at normal speed before announcing the winner is Jules’s Weirdo Team Morocco! On the other hand, Team UK has been punished for what any reasonable person would consider a laudable effort to mask the flavour of botargo, and Audra and Dalvinder have been punished for “Andrew” being basically hopeless. Audra bursts into tears at her misfortune, and “Andrew” uses the term “tushie”, which I think according to the rules means automatic elimination.
Tomorrow night Matt will say “Pressure test is a high-wire act – don’t look down!” although surely that would make it really hard to see what you’re doing or open the oven. But with the promise of an intense elimination in which either “Andrew” will go home, or Audra and Dalvinder will suffer sudden enormous muscle spasms, tantalises us, and we bid adieu to another gripping, wet, smelly night in the most gladiatorial kitchen known to man.