MasterChef – Tues, July 12 – grape challenge

Four of the most impressive contestants are cooking for a guaranteed place this week at Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook Estate in the Napa Valley.

It’s Trent V Mimi V Intense Matt V Glowing Elena in a wine-themed challenge, with the prize a shortcut to finals week.
Matt Preston is in his pink suit in tribute to red grapes.
The estate looks gorgeous, made even more appealing by me trying to ignore the sound of hail on my windows as I write this – SA is particularly Artic today.
The contestants are presented with a table laden with local produce and must create a dish that’s all about “the grape”.
IM is getting the most talking heads, followed by GE and Trent. Mimi is apparently also in the challenge.
Elena is cooking quail with grape chutney and vine leaves and a wine and verjuice soz.
Trent is making grilled quail with cauliflower skordalia and a raisin agrodolce (which Google says is an Italian soz made by reducing sweet and sour elements). Gaz and George tell him he’s on a roll.
Mimi goes the dessert route, determined to stand out, with a sweet inspired by a cheese platter. It’s a red wine and grape sorbet with a red wine cake and a blue cheese cream. Matt Preston reminds us Mimi pretty much won the Atelier Crenn challenge for her team yesterday with her work on the beetroot sorbet, but then scares her by saying wine sorbets don’t usually work. Oopsie.
IM is making roast lamb rack with chicken and mushroom jusand celeriac puree. Now, I love a good lamb rack but we’ve seen it so many times, and I’d rather see him cook something I wouldn’t have a crack at myself for a Sunday dinner. Gaz and George are worried there are hardly any grapes in his dish – luckily they reminded him at the start of the cook. He decides to ditch the mushies from the jus and add some red wine and dried grapes instead.
Trent is sounding confident about his dish and has lots of grapey elements.
Mimi adds red grape juice to her sorbet to help it freeze more and GE is dehydrating vine leaves for texture.
I’ve never seen cauliflower as yellow as Trent is using -it looks amazing, even if it is too lumpy.
GE is worried about the sweetness of her dish so decides to infuse lavender in milk to whip through goat’s cheese. The judges are worried about the lavender but she goes with it. Please don’t let this be another green tea jelly pond mistake.
And please let IM’s lamb rack cook in time.
Uh oh – the red moulds of death DID make their way over to the US, and now they are giving Mimi grief with an unset sorbet. She plates the rest of her dish and waits til the last second to get the sorbet.
Trent is getting yet another talking head – he could well win this one. His quail dish with fennel salt and cauli puree sounds delicious.
George does the obligatory “yes, George”. Sigh. IM’s lamb isn’t cooked enough so he has to pan sear it. Does this mean it’s not rested? Mimi has success getting her sorbet out and GE’s sticky glaze for her quail looks fab.

The judges taste

Trent’s quail: “It looks fabulous,” Gaz tells him. They love the colour pop from the red grapes and dill and the taste of the skordalia. “It’s a sophisticated plate of food … The flavours are pure Trent,” says Matt. Gaz says he’s found his mojo.
IM’s lamb: “I think it looks fantastic,” Gaz says. IM has a little moment, thinking about his wife back home, whom he hasn’t seen for ages. She is going to bawl when she sees this bit.

The lamb is actually spot on. George drags through the sauce with his finger and licks it. They appreciate the work that went into the soz. “Great food,” says Gaz.

Mimi’s red wine and cheese dessert: “It’s all the things I like to eat,” she tells them. Gaz thinks it’s creative and gives his portion a good ole sniff. Matt thinks the winery could well use this dish as a signature dessert. “I think she’s smashed it,” says Gaz.

GE’s sticky quail: Uh oh – first we get a talking head of GE doubting her use of lavender. I think it belongs in the garden and drawer fresheners and that’s about it, but I hope for her sake it worked. Gaz tells her she’s been putting up great food lately. George says he’s mesmerised by the dish. He can’t wait to get his giant tweezers stuck in there. “How bloody good is that,” says Gaz. “It’s a dish with all the boring bits taken out,” says Matt. The lavender worked.
They’ve all done really well – how refreshing to have a challenge where no-one was too flustered and everyone was happy with the end result – but it sounds like GE has got this.
The judges decide

It was tough but the winner is GE. Woo hoo! Oh – there’s Brett, Elise and Harry on the sidelines. They’ve apparated in at the last minute. Hope they got to check out the cellar door while they were there.

It’s a food truck challenge at Santa Monica Pier. This should be fun. It looks like the red team is Brett, Harry and Mimi, which means blue will be IM, Elise and Trent. My money’s on blue.

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brain dead dave

De other contestants is gonna sleep wid de fishies…….

De winners is gonna meet Don Corleone here:




Good old Verjuice!


I know! Without Maggie Beer too.


Sorbet here I come 😈😈


And silicone moulds 😃


Ah! They didn’t forget the silicone mould!! Star performance.

Silicone mould should be the winner on MC


Certainly seen more bloody silicone mounds than anything else. Certainly more mould than Anastasia.


Have they all finally worked out how to say “jus”? Where’s the parfait?


GE had me at ‘sticky’. I love a meat dish where the juices almost turn to toffee. It’s like the best bit of the roast lamb is that really cooked tail-y section, the ownership becoming the source of major rifts in my family.


They didn’t forget the fennel!!!


‘Finals week is the pinnacle of the competition right now,’ says IM.
Does he not understand what the word competition actually means? Seriously over-reaching for a cliche.

brain dead dave

Maybe he meant to say “Fennels week is the pinnacle of the competition” He wants to make that Grand Fennel real bad.

Seems more Dense Matt than Intense Matt.


Shut up Matt, there are others as good as you


A sorbet set in a red silicon mould is thinking ‘laterally’?


The judges are trying to brainwash us about the dishes. Mimi’s dish doesn’t look that good and yet they sing its praises


They spent more then 20 mins just showing us the tasting from the judges. What a waste of time. Just show us more cooking


They went all the way to Napa Valley only to have the Aussie judging team taste their food. WTF? Nobody from the winery available?
George is salivating – AGAIN sigh…

Yeah for Elena! Well done.

Regarding tomorrow nights episode. Guess they didn’t borrow the Ma$terchef USA trucks.


They could have held that challenge in any wine growing region in Australia.

brain dead dave

George has taken salivating to a whole new level~ he’s now drooling and dribbling. Yeah?


Yay, because it looked stiiiiiiiicky!!!!
From where I sat (drinking) it looked good to me.


What was with George tonight?
Was he inspired by The Godfather or just a bit drunk?
At the tastings, he was putting on his best Don Corleone, eyeballing everyone intensely and speaking in hushed, menacing tones.
I thought he was going to make Mimi an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Understandable, seeing her dessert was pretty average.
Happy for Elena.


Thanks for the great recap Juz.
All their dishes looked great. No major stuff ups. Mimi’s sorbet looked a bit touch & go for a while there but in the end it set.
All those wines, I’d be drinking it.
They had verjuice, but not Maggie beer’s.
Glad Elena got the dish of the day, that quail looked yummy.


“You should be proud of yourself, yeah? You should be able to put something in front of someone and be immediately gratified.” It can happen with vegetables too: beet root.


And thanks so much Juz, and youse other gice – my recording stopped just as Elena’s dish was to be brought before the judges, so now I know wot transpired, yeah? I was out in wild and woolly weather here in Hobart.


Snow here and gale force winds. And garbage night. So I was out picking up the bins and trying to keep the lids closed.
And tell me again why people don’t use garbage bags? *huffs in exasperation*


Mimi forgot that alcohol takes a long time to freeze; Matt basically forgot the brief and needed to be prompted to use grapes. Good grief. I am often embarrassed for most of the contestants this year.

Everyone’s dish came out all right tonight, although Mimi’s looked like crap. I know it is a guy’s turn to win, but I am hoping for Elena to take it out. When the judges come around and give her the death knell of whatever they think she is doing wrong, she listens, tastes her dish, and carries on or adjusts flavours, according to her own judgment. There is no panic or meltdown, and I respect her for that. Yay, an adult in the room!

California week is pretty lacklustre so far. Who owns the estate/vineyard they were working at was immaterial. It’s a cooking comp and I’m not very interested in touristy shots of the landscape.


Elena is showing herself to be a worthy contender. It is always refreshing to have someone who competes well, without thinking that their life will end if the parfait doesn’t come out of the mould.

I’d really like to get back to Aus and do some more of the skills-based challenges. The episodes are starting to feel samey-samey.

brain dead dave

Billy Connolly’s trip to California on Sunday night looks much more interesting.


Oops, on a second viewing I found that my quote was not verbatim. I did not wish to misrepresent little G (g spot). Nonetheless, it conveyed the key message and words.No further innuendo from me. Was just a flash in the pan.


Missed it the first time. Got it the second. lol


Looks like George took his tweezers along with him …


Hope he didn’t have them in his carry on luggage or there would have been a fracas at security. “You’re gonna let me on the plane, gice, yeah?. Yes, George! Yes, George!”


Best thing about the episode was being able to marvel at the estate… unfortunately couldn’t really marvel at the dishes.

Matt is becoming worse than Chloe… major love for himself and expects that he’s the chosen one.

Only one contestant left that can even be remotely close to being the winner and that’s Elena… but it is a guys turn to win…. oh the dilemma.

Mimi’s dessert looked terrible… and don’t know why she didn’t just cook out the alcohol from the wine before using it in her sorbet…


I think Trent, Matt, Elise, or Brett would also be worthy winners.


I checked out MC facebook, many, many complaints about table manners, George’s in particular


The 3 judges are beginning to remind me of Lurch (Matt), Uncle Fester (George), Pugsley (Gary)….

I know they’ve re-signed for next year again but hoping they bring about some freshness (besides the beetroot and fennel) next season.

If I was George I’d be a bit of a bastard and tell them that my favourite food was something like chicken kidneys or something of that ilk… would be a crack up seeing contestant creating chicken kidney parfait, or kidney sauce… etc etc….