MasterChef – Thurs, May 18

The blurb: The losing team from the relay challenge now face elimination and the contestants have 90 minutes which they can use to buy ingredients. Who will be the next to leave the competition?

Ah, the old auction using chunks of time and psyching out your rivals, pretending you don’t want the beans when your dish depends on beans and you’ll collapse in front of your oven without them – while Gaz and Georgie look at you coldly and fail to render assistance, unless you are Michelle or one of the blonde pony tails.


MasterChef – Wed, July 20 – reworking entry dishes

The bottom three contestants from the Lake House challenge (Mimi, Elise and Harry) now face elimination and must impress the judges with a dish produced from the ingredients they each cooked with to get into the competition.

They usually do a variation on this each year and I do like to compare the two dishes. Perhaps they could have done a knife pull instead with the challenge of immproving each other’s audition dish.
They have all come a long way but I’m guessing there will still be a parfait in there somewhere, as we near the end of this MasterChef “jurney”.
Here are some excerpts from my recap of the MasterChef premiere, way back in May:

Next up is the coffee roaster dude with one of those button earrings. We know he gets in because we’ve seen footage of him in the preview, freaking out in a team challenge. Good on him for giving the death dish, risotto, a go – and for wearing a glove when handling the raw meat. Hope he’s not one of those “I don’t do desserts” guys.
Matt the coffee roaster has an intense look about him. George likes him because they have the same hairdo.
The risotto is a winner but George’s “Will you make us proud?” goes down like a lead balloon. And then he pulls out the signature “big boy”.

Most of the contestants who got airtime in the first episode were dessert people – Celia, Karmen – and, of course, Jimmy and Theresa. All long gone. I did make note of a bloke called Harry who cooked salmon and did not receive an apron but was sent through to the second round of auditions.
Harry got more airtime (and recap time) in the second episode:
Harry, bartender with the weird hair, catches his own seafood near Magnetic Island. He’s a veritable Ozzy from Survivor. He’s making lobster with some spicy flavours. So, Harry got airtime so he’s either amazing or appalling.
And – blow me down with a feather – Elise made a savoury dish in episode 2 – pistachio-crusted lamb. I wrote:
“I’ve spent a lot of time Frenching,” says Elise AKA coral top lady. Ooh, have you? She lucked out with some decent ingredients that complement each other – I reckon she took a punt they could be used for an invention test.
I do remember that Mimi started off with a bang. I wrote:
Snapper lady Mimi looks like she knows what she’s doing and is getting a few confessionals where she has to explain the components of her dish. She’ll be safe.

So, no mention of Elena or Trent in the first two episodes, and I do remember they were invisible for a long time. I wonder what their audition dishes were? I’m guessing neat and veg for Trent and some kind of vibrant salady thing with quinoa or another ancient grain for Elena.

Ah, MasterChef has posted pix of the audition dishes. Harry’s is obvious but what about the desserts? Is the flowery one Mimi’s?

No recap for me tonight, gice. Got a lurgy and since IM and GE are safe, I’m hitting the hay.
Mimi went home. Here are the “new and improved” dishes which, judging by your comments below, weren’t crash hot.


MasterChef – Mon, July 18 – Christy Tania elimination

The bottom three contestants from the invention test now face the elimination pressure test set by pastry chef and dessert specialist, Christy Tania.

She’s been on the show before and – yay – another female chef. Here’s one of her desserts from Instagram.

She set a dessert challenge in 2014 MasterChef story here
In danger of elimination tonight are Mimi, Trent and IM.
(Oh and the Sunday night recap is finally up

Here we go … Christy appears carrying a giant cloth-covered dome. What’s inside is shrouded in vapour and looks more like an alien specimen in a giant test tube.

It’s actually what she calls “Mystique”, which is a chocolate, caramel, marshmallow and passionfruit curd cake with lots of tempered chocolate work on top. We learn Christy used to work as a project manager for IBM but eventually risked her parents’ ire by becoming a top pastrychef instead.
The contestants will have 4.5 hours to replicate the Mystique – that’s a looong challenge. Hope they get toilet breaks and time to nibble on some beetroot and fennel for energy.

IM is freaking out at the thought of doing such a complex dessert and Elena points out IM has never been in a test like this before. He’s panicking and stuffs up the first step of 65 steps, which is his marshmallow. Christy comes over to tell him his mixture was too cold for the gelatine. Oh, Intense Matt – get it together! It could only be worse if George came over and did a “Yes, George! Yes, George!”, but luckily he’s spared that horror. IM manages to fix his marshmallow so hopefully he’s back in the right headspace.
The gantry observers note Mimi is in her element, whereas GE says Trent is freestyling it and not measuring his layers. Now IM is having dramas with runny passionfruit curd and looks to the gantry with a “what now?” laugh of frustration.
“I’m just having an absolute shocker. I feel like it’s my first day in the kitchen,” IM says in a talking head.
Once again, George thinks he’s a midwife: “You need to push – c’mon!”
Now, IM has stuffed up a ganache, putting things in the wrong pot. Oh dear. It’s a hat trick of shockers. George – in his weird two tone black and purple suit – and Christy come over to either calm him down. Uh oh – there’s flashback footage of IM wistfully staring out at a lake, and then cooking at home with his wife. It’s either an elimination edit or a redemption arc. I’m thinking the latter and Trent’s going home. At least his next element seems to work and then his next. He’s even making caramel.
Mimi’s just trucking along, measuring everything carefully and putting up with George asking: “How much do you want it?”
And now Trent is having brownie dramas – it feels soft. I’m worried he’ll overcook it as brownie should be a bit fudgey. It looks a lot higher than IM and Mimi’s and Christy – after opening the oven door to slow down the cooking process even more – says he’s put too much of the mix in the pan.
IM is in a happier place and Mimi is powering ahead. Yet again we have to watch agonising footage of contestants trying to force desserts out of moulds.
Mimi manages to do it without breaking it and starts slopping mousse on top of the ring, until Christy pops over to say she’s forgotten the brownie layer.
We’re getting quite a lot of Christy helping them avoid mistakes tonight, instead of waiting til the contestants fall on their faces.
IM starts to peel the mould off his dessert and the marshmallow layer looks a little rough on top but it’s intact.
Poor Trent still has his brownie in the oven but has to bite the bullet and pull it out of the oven, or it won’t cool down enough to layer into the dessert. The texture looks very crumbly. He knows it’s not right but he’s a practical fellow and powers on. You can see the steam rising off it as he layers it with the cold elements. They may not set.
It’s time to create the blue chocolate moulds and IM is reminded of the traumatic time we all had watching Harry and Elise trying to get out their white half domes in Anna P’s pressure test. He has a lovely gloss on the dark choc for his twigs. So, IM CAN do desserts after all (although he did make a terrific carrot cake earlier in the comp).
Mimi and IM are up to the glaze stage and they both look great. Now it’s time for Trent to unmould his ring and it’s all sludgy because of the warm brownie. He has to try to squish it into the right shape. Awww, poor Trent.

Yet again we have to watch choc domes that won’t come out of moulds. What is the trick to this? IM is the only one who has success. But he can’t get the dark choc twiggy dome out so uses another blue dome instead with some cut outs in it. Good one, IM.

The judges taste
Trent is up first and it doesn’t look that bad, even though he’s had to use two twiggy domes instead of a blue half sphere. “Please don’t be disappointed of yourself,” says Christy. “Do you think there’s any other sparkies in Australia that could put up something like this?” George asks. They cut the cake and there’s a lot of marshmallow and not much curd or caramel mousse. Christy says the flavours are good but the quantities are out of whack. His choc work is good but who are we kidding – Trent is going home.
Mimi: She also does not have a blue dome and did a twiggy ball like Trent. Mimi’s cake layers are well defined. “Looks bloody great,” says Gaz. The tempering is good and the textures and proportions are right. “I wanna eat the whole lot,” says George.
IM: He’s worried about his runny curd and the fact he had to replace a twiggy half sphere with another blue one. “It wasn’t just a cooking experience today, it was a life experience,” IM tells the judges. Christy notes the decorations aren’t right but they still look good. They cut and his layers are defined. “There’s no doubt there’s mistakes on there,” says Gaz. “The curd – it’s very runny.” Matt says his flavours are great. “The biggest surprise – he nailed the brownie the best,” says Christy. “The stripe is the finest… The twist of one blue ball is really brilliant” [That last sentence is one we never expected to hear on MasterChef]

And the loser is …
They cut straight to the chase. It’s Trent. The other contestants are more shocked than him.
“You are one of life’s true gentlemen,” says Matt. It’s cuddles all round and a big bro hug with IM.

Bye, Trent – you were a silent and barely glimpsed presence for the first three weeks of MasterChef, mainly because you were competent, drama free and did not have a swingy pony tail. Good luck to you and your yummy-looking rustic fare.

Where is he now?
Trent is working at Local Press Cafe in Canberra. He is also writing an e-cookbook and plans to open his own cafe next year.

Tomorrow night
We’re left with IM, GE, Elise, Mimi and Harry. They’re off to Daylesford to replicate one of Alla Wolf Tasker’s signature dishes. After this, another three will be up for elimination.


MasterChef – Thurs, July 14 – US elimination challenge

The losing team from the Food Truck Challenge now faces elimination. Under the mentorship of Curtis Stone, they must cook a dish that symbolises what they’re going to do once the competition is over.

They get to cook at Curtis’s LA restaurant, Maude. According to the website, it only seats 25 people. Each month the menu focuses on a main ingredient that’s in season. At the moment it’s zucchini and next month it’s plums.
Curtis explains the seasonal concept to Mimi, Brett and Harry and says Maude (named after his Nan) makes him happy, but not rich. Luckily he does ads for Coles and is on every US cooking challenge show ever made.
The contestants have to cook “their dreams on a plate”.

Harry wants to do a lobster crudo with a smoked fennel, coriander and cucumber sauce. He draws a sketch of the finished product.
Mimi wants to show off her technique with her dessert of choc aero mousse with honey ice cream, whiskey jelly, honeycomb and lemon curd. It sounds like quite a lot of sweet elements. Curtis tells her it’s a lot for 90 minutes.
Brett tells Curtis of his dream to run a “simple” gastro pub in the country, and says his dish is inspired by something his mum used to make. Except she didn’t have a sous vide machine to do pork with roasted fennel and soil.
Mimi is having mousse drama, despite wanting to do “everything perfect” [sic]. Batch 2 works.
Brett is getting a lot of talking head time – he’s a goner. He’s making his soz last, when usually you’d do that first. And, guess what, we have yet another incident of people not looking in the fridge to see if the ingredients they need are actually there. Last night it was IM’s team and the crab (luckily that turned out ok) and tonight it’s Brett hunting, fruitlessly, for bones for his soz.
Harry is doing burnt lemon puree AGAIN! Why not chuck a brookie on there, too? He decides he needs some more elements for “a flavour explosion” as his dish is simple. These “explosions” are apparently pomegranate, microherbs and enoki mushrooms.
Uh oh – what Mimi thought was a freezer drawer seems to be just a cool drawer. She has a rapidly melting dessert on her hands.
Brett’s pork isn’t sous videing properly and now, almost at the end of the challenge, Gaz comes over to shake Brett’s soz pan – and his confidence – my suggesting he add some pork belly to add flavour to his jews. Brett’s head almost explodes and he decides to concentrate on getting his protein cooked instead. We get a lot of air time of him talking about his “okay” soz. Totally going home! Even though we get a fake out of Harry talking about how he forgot to taste his other elements with the burnt lemon puree.

The judges taste
“It comes down to the food,” George reminds the judges. Really, George? Really, George?

Harry’s lobster: First we get Harry talking about his childhood growing up near the Barrier Reef, and how the dish is his homage to coral. Curtis likes the “romance” of the food: “I think he’s done a really good job.” Gaz says it’s super creative and he loves it but the burnt lemon puree is too much. George says just the lobster and the soz would have been perfect. Matt says, nonetheless, they have a clear vision of his food dream.

Brett’s pork: He says his food dream is to serve meat and three veg in a modern way and gives a nod to his mum, who fed four kids with little thanks. Gaz loves the vibrancy of the carrot and ginger puree. The pork is cooked perfectly. Curtis says the soz has a residual bitterness.

Mimi’s dessert: Mimi says she wants to work in a professional kitchen to gain more experience. George says she’d have to start at the bottom, washing pots and picking herbs, and she’s up for it. Good to see realistic expectations. The judges like the look of it. Gaz and Matt can’t stop smiling once they taste it. “I think that’s the best dessert we’ve had this series,” Gaz says. Curtis is impressed and says if a chef wanting a job cooked that for him, he’d hire them. They agree Mimi is safe.

And the eliminated contestant is …
But first, Mimi gets some great feedback and is thrilled. She gets to join GE, Trent, IM and Elise in the finals week safe zone.
Brett, the “old man” of the cop is eliminated – oh so close to finals week. He takes it with good grace. Bye, Brett! You were good for a one liner and you never got frazzled or served up poncey food that needed tweezers.

Where is he now?
Brett has returned to his job as an airline captain. He still plans to open a gastro pub with his daughters.

Beetroot alert
It is now two episodes since a contestant cooked with beetroot. Hopefully they all got some to snack on on the plane trip home, so they didn’t get withdrawals.


MasterChef – Mon, Jul 4 – Peter Gilmore’s lamington

The three contestants with the least impressive dishes from last night’s invention test face off in the pressure test. At the end of the cook, one of these contestants will be going home.
It’s Peter Gilmore, he of Snow Egg fame, back to set Mimi, Trent and Theresa their elimination test.
Will it be another dessert?

Yes – it’s his take on a lamington.

Probably no recap til tomorrow, gice. SA is getting battered by heavy rain and wind at the moment and Mr 4 doesn’t want to go to bed.
I do know the eliminated contestant was Theresa, which won’t surprise anyone.

The usual footage of mopey contestants back in their MasterChef jail – ahem – house, but Theresa is the only one who gets a flashback.
Upon their arrival in the kitchen, they know it’s a Peter Gilmore challenge the minute the judges say the chef has set two finale challenges.
He tells them today’s dish is not quite as difficult as the chocolate creation Laura and Brett had to replicate, buut it’s on par with the Snow Egg Callum and Adam tackled.
It’s a cherry jam lamington and it looks pretty cool – literally – as dry ice vapour is drifting off it.
Mimi and Theresa don’t seem to have any dramas with making their cherry ice cream (hooray – real ice cream, not Another Bloody Parfait) but Trent is having anglaise (aka custard) trouble. So we get a brief flashback to remind us he’s some kind of electrical safety inspector.
Half an hour in and it’s sponge-making time. Trent gets to do this dish exposition and this could be the most we’ve heard him speak this entire season. Mimi talks about how important it is to bake the sponge for 20 minutes. And then forgets to push “start” on her timer. D’oh. Luckily she put it in around the same time as Trent’s and he knows how to set a timer.
Next is a coconut cream mixture that will be used to create the coconut “flakes” in which Peter Gilmore’s creation is nestled. Then it’s on to cherry jam which, judging by the footage of Theresa pitting cherries, will include several long strands of dangling hair. She misreads the recipe and weighs her cherries AFTER she’s pitted them. Luckily Intense Matt is on hand to tell us that’s bad, because her jam will be sweeter.
Oh dear – they’re making ABP so they can shave off their coconut flakes. Mimi has misread the recipe and put the wrong amount of coconut mix in her parfait. But she twigs before she gets too far into the process and adds some double cream to thicken it up. IM and Chloe lean over the gantry railing to see what’s up.
So far this dessert, while having a lot of steps, doesn’t seem to use any techniques that are too tricky. Time is the biggest issue.
The judges come over to taste Theresa’s ice cream and Peter just says “interesting’. Aw, come on, Peter – other guest chefs have given more clues. IM reckons it may not be setting because it has too much sugar and Chloe agrees, so it must be true.
Their last step is to make a ganache and Mimi goes rogue and blitzes hers without checking the temp first. She and Trent seem to be ahead of Theresa.
With 15 minutes to go, Trent gets to shave his coconut flakes on a mandoline.

Everyone is getting all their bits together, ready to assemble for the judges.
Mimi is having trouble with her coconut shavings and it’s because she stuffed up her quantities earlier. Theresa’s look great.
Trent seems to have had the fewest dramas- who’d have thunk it – Trent doing so well in a dessert challenge.
Ooh, here’s Brett with a talking head – didn’t realise he was even here. Thanks to him we know Theresa has added too much jam to her sponge. Luckily Mimi had one chuck of extra-frozen parfait left and it shaves well, so Elena can stop having a conniption up on the gantry.
Time’s up and it’s hugs all round.

Time to taste
Gaz says lamington is one of his fave desserts. “You’ve got a lot of favourites, Gary,” deadpans George, finally finding his sense of humour.
Trent: He’s up first and he gets to retell his foodie farm restaurant dream. “Pretty good effort,” says Peter. It all tastes great but Peter says some of his proportions of the different elements are a bit off. So, Trent’s safe then if that’s all they can find.
Mimi: She has another of her brain freezes as she plates up and can’t remember how many coconut shards to put in the bowl. Don’t they all sketch the dish at the start of the challenge or at least write notes? She hardly puts any in. “It doesn’t look great,” says Gary. Luckily Peter says the shard flavour is great. All of the elements taste great. Gaz pretends Mimi is still in trouble.
Theresa: George ensures Theresa tears up by asking her about her kids in Canada. She puts heaps more shards in her bowl and the dish looks good. George loves the mirror glaze and Peter liked the lammo, but the cherry elements were too sweet. So Theresa was the only one who cooked something that didn’t taste as it should – Trent and Mimi just made minor plating errors.

The decision

Come on – we know it’s Theresa. At least she went out on an episode where she didn’t get in a huge flap. She can start a dessert cafe making her fallen ice creams and that groovy green sphere on a bed of grated chocolate she made in the Heston ferris wheel challenge.

Where is she now?
Who knows? There’s no exit blurb. Last time they left it off was because the eliminated contestants came back to fight for a second chance – which Theresa won.
Bye, Theresa.

Tomorrow night
It’s Elise, Brett and Harry fighting for a chance to cook against Shannon Bennet.

Oh, Theresa has posted this on Twitter:


MasterChef – Thurs, Jun 23 – elimination

Cue sad music as the contestants get ready for their elimination challenge. Elise mentions it’s her seventh time in black – maybe the universe is trying to tell you something, Elise?
Whoever survives tonight is through to the MasterChef Top 10.

Mimi has been absent from the edit for a while, so if she suddenly gets a flashback we know she’s in trouble.
George says tonight’s challenge is a twist on the classic time auction.
Five pantries will be revealed, one at a time, every 15 minutes.
Whoever takes the first pantry gets 90 minutes to cook with those ingredients, plus staples. Wait another 15 minutes and you get to use both pantries but only have 75 minutes to cook. Oooh – will they all go for the 60-minute mark? If they wait for the very last pantry they will only have 30 minutes.

The first pantry is just a mass of herbs. No-one moves.
Pantry two is vegies and at first it looks like no-one will bite, especially meat lovers IM and Trent. But in fact both boys and Karmen go for it.

Karmen is making a mille feuille with basil ice cream and candied tomatoes. I hope it sets – she’s had a few last minute hurdles in the MC kitchen with elaborate desserts.

Trent is making pumpkin rotolo with cauli puree while IM is cooking roast carrot tortellini with confit leeks and roast tomato and burnt butter sauce – how good does that sound.
On the sidelines, Elise and Mimi are hoping for some desserty-type ingredients, like fruit or chocolate.
The third pantry is revealed … it’s fruit – fresh and dried. Elise is stoked.
Mimi wants to “think outside the box” and she wants to make baked rhubarb and a beetroot parfait. That’s it – parfait is thumping panna cotta in the “another bloody” stakes.
The final two pantries contained poultry and fish.

Elise is looking a bit brain freezey, as happens to her sometimes, but she decides to make apricot ABP with passion fruit curd and a thyme crumb. Theresa shouts down the helpful advice to put her moulds in dessert. Uh oh – are they the red moulds of death? We get an Elise flashback so it does not bode well for her.
But here comes to Karmen flashback – yikes!
George pops over to Trent’s bench to screw up his nose at the fact he is boiling his pumpkin in water. Don’t look now, George, but I don’t think he used giant tweezers to place the pumpkin in the pot, either. Trent chucks his boring pumpkin and grates some more to fry with butter and milk.
Elise decides to add a strawberry and thyme coulis to put inside her parfait. On the gantry, the onlookers are talking up Karmen’s weaponiness.
IM starts rolling his pasta and the sheets look silky smooth from the get go.
Here comes a Trent flashback – aargh. He wants to open a restaurant with a vegie garden out the back. He’s been the only one tonight to get a flashback where his “food dream” is explained. So, Trent’s going.
Here comes Matt Preston to distract Mimi while she’s cooking beetroot caramel, and she has to spatter some on his hand to shoo him away.
There’s so much chat from the gantry tonight – “what are you making?”, “will you need to be put that in the fridge?” – are the judges just lounging around out the back watching TV?
No, here comes Matt to scare Elise that she has too many flavours on her plate. Those judges sure love seeing a panic-stricken Elise. But she sticks to her guns.
Karmen’s pastry looks quite layer-ey for a rough puff. Hopefully it cools down in time.
No-one’s pulled out the smoking gun tonight, so that honour falls to IM, who gives his leeks a puff.
With three minutes to go, Karmen still hasn’t plated up as she’s hovering at the freezer, waiting for her pastry to cool. I’m with George for once: “Come on, Karmen!” She gets it on the plate and it looks good – can’t blame her for the trickle of tears that follows.

The judges taste

Trent’s pumpkin rotolo with cauli: “I’m stoked,” he tells the judges. They like the inviting look of the dish. The judges are smiling. George says it has a meatiness to it and he loves the rich, buttery sauce.

Karmen’s tomato mille feuille with basil ice cream: We already knew Karmen’s parents don’t want her to go into cooking but I think this is the first time we’ve heard her dad is a chef, who never wanted to be. The judges like the golden brown look of the pastry and the taste but her ice cream is a puddle by the time they eat. “I think Karmen may have a problem,” says Matt. Her ice cream is not basil-ly enough but they don’t understand the use of the meringue.

Intense Matt’s roast carrot tortellini with confit leeks and burnt butter sauce: [Geez, IM is a master of puttig shredded fried stuff on his dishes – it looks delish.] George tells him his plating up looks great. “How absolutely delicious,” says Matt Preston. “He’s gota beautiful dish that just sings,” says Gaz.

Elise’s charred apricot parfait with a passionfruit curd: It’s not the prettiest dish and Matt oddly puffs out his cheeks as he eats. “You know what it reminds me of? fruit Loops. There’s confusion there.” George thinks she needed to simplify the ingredients and ditch half the fruit. Matt and Gaz think she has the makings of a great dish.

Mimi’s beetroot parfait with rosemary shortbread and beetroot caramel: Matt thinks it looks fun. They “oooh” as George pours the soz. Gary goes for a second slurp. They love the salted beet leaf and the whole dish is delicious.
So, it’s the return of Mimi and Karmen and Elise are in trouble – unfortunately, most likely Karmen.

The verdict
Mimi, IM and Trent get pats on the back. And the person going home is …

Oh dear. Poor Karmen. A quiet achiever gone. Hopefully she picks up a gig with Reynold.

Where is she now?
She plans to launch a dessert bar in Perth later this year.

So, for those playing along at home, what pantry would have made you stop cooking?
Next week: It’s Heston Week. The dessert girls should do well with the complicated recipes. The Melbourne Observation Wheel challenge looks fun.
And a reminder for those who watch it that Offspring starts on Ten on Wednesday at 8.30pm (yes, it should have finished last season but I’ll be watching anyway).


MasterChef – Thurs, June 16 – elimination challenge

The losing team from the Curtis Stone challenge now faces elimination.
Elise and Trent are up due to coming the raw prawn, while Nicolette and Chloe did not listen to Curtis Stone because they are young and know everything.
They must cook a dish inspired by sea shells or autumn leaves WTF …

I really hope Elise makes wontons that look like sea shells, just so I can hear her say “wongtongs” one last time. No doubt Chloe will make some kind of smoked parfait with caramel sauce.

Here we go … Footage of them getting ready at the MC house but only Trent gets to speak.
“I’m not ready to go home .. this is the time to keep fighting, etc etc” from various contestants.
There will be two “jewels”, says George, with the loser from each to compete in the final “jewel”. Elise is up against Nicolette and Trent V Chloe.
Nicolette and Elise get the sea shell inspiration and Elise looks totally bamboozled. Chloe seems excited to get the autumn leaves theme.

We get Chloe’s back story about living in the country and eating chicken with her husband and – hang on – what – she’s married? She’s 24! She’s doing roast chook on the crown with onion puree and veg leaves. Glad she’s not making a dessert.
Trent is using beef eye fillet with kale, garlic, salsa verde and red wine butter sauce. Now we’re getting Trent’s back story. He’s from Batlow, which is an apple-growing town that offers gorgeous scenery in autumn, although it’s bloody freezing there in the Snowy Mountains.
Then we get some of Elise’s childhood photos of beach trips and hear she got engaged near the sea – both of which are allegedly inspiring her to create a dessert of strawberry parfait (someone had to do parfait!) and champagne jelly, coconut sand and tempered chocolate.
Nicolette is making poached meringue with lemon and strawberries, with a sand and the meringue apparently representing the sun. Matt Preston wanders over to tell her she needs to make the sea shell inspiration more obvious.
Trent is smoking butter to use in his red wine sauce. But he’s never done it before, and George and Gaz – encouraging as always – saunter up to scare him that it might not work.
Nicolette decides to listen to Matt’s advice (unlike with Curtis last night) and is placing her “sand” in a scallop shell with the meringue in the middle as a pearl. She’s making lemon curd centres also so we hear again about her dear departed grandad who had citrus trees.
Elise is trying to temper chocolate in a rush and she’s no Zoe – if she stuffs it up the judges won’t turn a blind eye. She stands in front of the open fridge door to cool her choc.
Trent wants to add more smoke to his dish (a reference to the smell of burning leaves in autumn) and decides to do the “fill a cloche with smoke” trick.
Chloe seems to have waited til the last few minutes to start her sauce, but that could be a trick of the editing.
All the dishes look pretty good and “cheffy”.

The judges taste

Elise’s parfait with coconut sand: George loves the presentation and it tastes delicious. “So toasty and crunchy,” says Matt. Elise will win the inspiration contest.

Nicolette’s poached meringue: The meringue is delicious and light but Matt says the lemon dominates the dessert. So, she’ll be in round two.

Chloe’s chicken with onion puree and autumn leaves: The judges love the look and that she hid the chook under a pile of leaves. Matt and George fight over the last bit of sauce. Gaz says it nails the brief and her soz worked.
Trent’s beef with beetroot and kale: The judges have to turn around so they can’t see him filling the cloche with smoke. The judges pretend they are worried the smoked sauce won’t work but they would have tasted it before when he was making it. After a few bites, Matt grabs the sauce jug and tips it all on the plate. “You’ve just nailed it,” says Gaz. “That is spectacular.” “This plate of food is so beyond your years,” says George. Matt says it’s one of the 10 best things he’s eaten this year. Woo hoo – good one, Trent.
But what does this mean for golden child Chloe?

The judges decide
Elise wins her “jewel” and Trent wins his “by the barest of margins, according to Matt.

Round two
The second round is all about what’s under the cloche so the lid is lifted and it’s … an empty plate? But George lights a match (must be getting whiffy after eating all that food) and chucks it on the plate to get …

Ooh, it's fire.
Ooh, it’s fire.

Does this mean even more smoking guns? They have 60 minutes to cook. Chloe could try and redeem herself with another bombe Alaska after her grainy meringue in the immunity pin challenge. But no, she’s doing toasted cinnamon buttercake with port-poached figs and a toasted marshmallow coating.
Here comes the smoking gun – she’s smoking the cinnamon quills for her cake. “I want this so bad [sic],” she says, taking a leaf out of Zoe’s grammar book.
Nicolette is making smoked white choc mousse to look like a log on a campfire and vanilla bean marshmallow.
I’m just happy no-one is making a parfait sphere.
Chloe has put a massive cake in the oven – why isn’t she using a smaller pan? It turns out ok, though.
Nicolette is talking a lot about the setting of her mousse but that’s not the problem – they won’t come out of the moukds. She blow torches the heck out of the moulds and they start to melt. Nicolette starts crying and Gary and George rush over to the cuddle her … not. – She’s only 19 after all. George gives her the abrupt prep talk “don’t lose it now … look at me .. yes, George, yes, George.”.
And that’s about all we see – that was a quick one.

The judges taste

Nicolette’s grilled peaches with smoked white choc mousse and toasted marshmallow and toasted macadamias (just call it “firepit”, Nicolette): The judges tell her how talented she is. They think it looks good. She’s grilled the fruit well and Matt likes the smoke and salt in the mousse. We haven’t seen much back story, so she could be safe .. if Chloe wasn’t one of their faves.

Chloe’s cinnamon buttercake with maple meringue and port figs: Chloe is worried her flambe won’t work but it does. “It’s exactly the brief,” says George. “Oh my goodness – how delicious is that,” says Matt.
So, Nicolette must be going home.

The eliminated contestant is …
Oh god – enough with the loud dramatic music! We know it’s Nicolette. And it is. The poor girl is devastated. JYou’re 19, Nicolette – just go get an apprenticeship and you’ll be right. And you’ll never have to listen to George maddeningly make you say “yes, George, yes, George” ever again.

Bye, Nicolette!
Bye, Nicolette!

Where is she now?
Nicolette is planning a series of dessert degustation events. She has also completed work experience with Anna P and Reynold. (So, who hasn’t worked for free in Reynold’s kitchen?)

Next week
It’s the invention test relay. That’s the one that was a disaster last year when hostie John changed the dish halfway through and made his team-mates – and the viewers – want to drown him in his white choc veloute.
We get a preview of Brett saying “I’m going to have to change it up” and a horrified Tiny Topknot commenting “Brett’s gone rogue”. Should make for good viewing.


MasterChef – Mon, Jun 13 – elimination

The bottom three contestants from the invention test face off in the elimination pressure test. Contestants have just two hours to recreate two of guest chef Ross Lusted’s signature dishes.
Ross appeared on MasterChef last year as one of the immunity challenge guest chefs. His squid and corn dish beat Jessie’s beef and beetroot dish, scoring 10s from George and Matt and an 8 from Cranky Pants.

It’s Elena, Elise and Zoe in the firing line and we are getting a lot of Elena telling emotional stories about her Nanna. Please, don’t send Elena home when we’ve only just started seeing her make the edit.
Anastasia is there at the side of the kitchen in her power apron, as she has some yet to be named power tonight.
Here comes Ross Lusted with two small cloches and Anastasia gets to pick which one the bottom three will cook.

Chicken dumpling, silken chicken and ginger fried rice.
Perfumed stone fruits with elderflower and peach biscuit.

She picks the dessert and Ross says it’s the trickier of the two. It includes nectarine syrup, a see-through Indonesian biscuit made using bicarb (it looks like a super-fine brandy snap) and burnt peach butter made by burning peaches on a hibachi. They have two hours to cook, then five minutes to plate up the dish for the judges.

It looks like Elise has not recovered from her frying challenge brain freeze and she’s panicking, rushing through the recipe, making mistakes. Ross reckons her biscuits will be rough. Her mixture is looking dodgy and Ross comes over to tell her as much. She decides to strain out the lumps and push on.

Ross wanders over to Elena’s bench and says: “That’s the best batter we’ve had all day.” But she’s behind the other girls and is getting a little panicked.
Elise is starting to crack as well and having George bark “Snap out of it” doesn’t help.
Zoe decides she will just make half the sorbet recipe – a move that elicits a frustrated “argh” from Brett on the gantry.
They have to grill 1cm peach slices on the hibachi and Elise’s are of varying thickness, while Zoe’s are much more even. Elena is way behind and not thinking. She’s worried her poaching liquid isn’t boiling, so Brett rightly tells her: “Put a lid on it.”
And then she starts crying and walks to the side. Now, who was that nice chef a while back who came over to give a crying contestant a cuddle? We need him back. Ah, chef Jason of the quail afternoon tea, who was so nice to Brett when he had an emotional moment.
You can tell everyone on the gantry wants to run down and hug her, because George and Gaz are nowhere to be seen. More back story about her grandparents’ stonefruit orchard and she pulls herself together.
Ross says Zoe’s burnt peaches look great, whereas Elise’s are super charcoaled.
And he tells her that her cake is also too dense.
Zoe has been doing really well up until now but her reduced syrup looks very caramelly. Each contestant has to use a massive deli slicer to shave their cakes to create biscuits. Ross supervises so they don’t chop off their fingers.
Elena gets ahead of herself and starts slicing the fruit she’s not meant to cut until the five minutes of plating up. This could mean she loses some of the fresh taste of the fruit, which includes blood plums – my fave.

The judges taste
Elena: Ross says her presentation is beautiful and precise. The sorbet and wafers are great. But cutting the fruit early means she has lost some freshness.
Zoe: During her plating up time she realises her over-reduced syrup has set and the editors allow a muttered “shit” to air. She chucks it in the microwave so she can at least get something on the plate but it looks very globby. By the time George does his serving up it turns to toffee again. Her sorbet isn’t quite right – she overchurned it because she did half the mixture. The rest of the dish is great.
Elise: She knows she is in big trouble. Gaz loves the syrup but the peach butter is wrong and her biscuits aren’t holey.
Matt says it’s a toss up between Zoe and Elise. So, phew, Elena is safe then – she’s not going out on stone fruit.

The eliminated contestant is …
Zoe. No more swishy pony tails. Elise is lucky. The yayas will be in tears.

Where is she now?
Who knows, because …

… She’s back tomorrow night with the other eliminated contestants to try and win back a spot.


MasterChef – Thurs, June 9 – lucky dip elimination

The losing team from the Chinese New Year challenge must now cook a dish determined by lucky dip. With 75 minutes on the clock, the contestant with the least impressive dish will be eliminated.
We start with an oh-so-natural conversation of the contestants lying in their grown-up bunk beds, chatting about the challenge ahead.

Elusive Elena is getting a talking head – does that mean she’s going? Or she’ll shine. It’s her first time “in black”. Also in the firing line are Intense Matt, Teeny Top Knot Harry, Mimi, Swishy Pony Tail Zoe, Ranger Miles and captain Chloe. But Chloe has an immunity pin and, after choking out a few tears, wisely decides to play it. So everyone has a one in six chance of going home tonight.
They all have to lucky dip for an ingredient and a cuisine.

Who gets what
Elena: Pork and Spanish. Just use chorizo, Elena, and you’ll be right.
Miles: Fish and Japanese. The former resident of Japan is in heaven. I hope he does well.
Harry: Shellfish and Indian
Zoe: Fruit and American. So it’ll be a dessert then, which is her wheelhouse.
Mimi: Lamb and Thai. She’s freaking out for some reason. Not sure why. Lamb may not be a traditional Thai meat but there’s no reason she can’t do a curry, larb or a stirfry.
Intense Matt: Beef and Lebanese. He’ll be fine with that combo.

What are they cooking?
Zoe is making a pumpkin pie. What? Fruit? It’s okay – Zoe studied science at uni and says pumpkin is a fruit because it has seeds. Fair enough. I sense an argument with the judges looming. She’s making a maple bacon icecream to go with it.
Intense Matt is making braised beef shin on eggplant yoghurt with flatbread – please let someone cook a decent on this show for once, instead of thick cardboard.
Miles is filleting a massive salmon but his usually good knife skills are failing him under the pressure of expectations. Of course, George comes over to stare at him spookily while he’s stuffing up his filleting. “Your filleting scares me,” says George. Well, George, your table manners scare us, yeah? Miles hopes to serve the fish three ways with miso soup, tempura veg and a dipping sauce. Miles says he’s only learnt how to pickle and cure food since being in to MC house. So, is Miles going home because we just learnt about his growth?
Uh oh – Elena is getting back story about her art teaching. She’s making Spanish pork and rice with three textures of pork.
Topknot is cooking Indian prawn curry and seems confident. Mimi is finding it hard to come up with an idea still, so Gaz has to pretty much tell her to make a Thai beef dish but just use lamb. She’s doing a vermicelli salad.
With 40 minutes to go, Zoe hasn’t started her oastry. Gaz calls up to Heather (apparently now a pastry guru) on the gantry to ask how long it takes to prep pastry: “Over 60 minutes.” She should just do a biscuit butter crust instead, or a deconstructed crumb thing. But she ploughs ahead anyway.
Someone had to pull out the smoking gun and tonight it’s IM. At least he’s using it for his eggplant dip, which makes sense.
With 20 minutes to go Mimi is finally getting her act together. She deep fries a rice paper sheet to make it look puffy and awesome but she’s not confident about some of her ingredients.
Elena’s pork is out of the pressure cooker and looks super tender. The judges are worried Miles is doing too many elements – Matt has told him to plate it up as George would. Do you have giant tweezers and flowers at the ready, Miles?
Zoe’s pumpkin filling isn’t quite right. I’m surprised she’s stirred whipped cream through her puree instead of mascarpone or something similar.
IM is happy his beef shin is “lush” and Harry is busily frying prawn shells for garnish.
Miles is having trouble with his plating up and Brett is rightly worried he doesn’t have enough fish on there. Grab one of the dark plates, Miles – they’re more Japanesey. He’s placed a flower bang on top of each piece of fish. Oh, Miles …
Mimi’s salad looks rather pedestrian – as Nicolette says, where are the peanuts or fried shallots? Miles could be safe.

The judges taste
Harry’s Indian prawn curry: The judges reckon it looks good. [Mr Juz says he’d rather have butter chicken, but he has the tastebuds of a six-year-old.] It tastes as good as it looks and, as Harry would have known, they can’t go past a crispy prawn head.
Mimi’s Thai lamb salad: “I looked at you halfway through and thought you’d just lot the plot,” Gaz says comfortingly. The judges look super serious and she knows she is in big trouble. The lamb is cooked perfectly and it’s clean and fresh. “The overall sense is wet,” says Matt.
IM’s Lebanese beef shin with smoked eggplant yoghurt and flatbread: “It’s easily something I could serve out of my food truck,” he tells the camera. Gaz says he believes the food truck will happen: “I’ll be the first guy in the queue.” Nice to see supportive Gary come out to play. The judges love the smoked eggplant yoghurt and the crisp fennel flatbread – in fact, everything.
Zoe’s pumpkin tart with maple bacon ice cream: George gives her his serious face. Matt hopes it’s not too sweet. The tart looks blond on the bottom and “it’s a little clumsy” says Gaz. They love the ice cream and the bacon praline crumble. But the pumpkin texture is off.
Elena’s Spanish pork and rice: “I’m really proud of it,” she tells the judges. She tears up but comes across as genuine. Good to see Elusive Elena getting camera time. “It looks brilliant,” says Gaz. Matt loves the colour combo. Cue the dreadful crescendoing hold music, almost drowning out Gaz’s “Oh God.That is an assault on the palate.” And he means that in a good way. “This is goinng to be something I’ll never forget,” says George, adding she could win. Matt says it’s one of the best MC dishes he’s every eaten. Go, Elena!
Miles’s salmon with tempura veg: “Shouldn’t you have just concentrated on bringing us a beautiful salmon plate,” Matt probes an already uneasy Miles. “He likes to make to hard for himself,” says George. They agree he’s nailed the Japanese aspect of the brief. They like the tempura and dipping sauce – but the salmon is not cured enough. “But, is it a tasty dish – yes,” Matt says.
Matt says Miles, Zoe and Mimi are all in danger.

The judges’ verdict

Those with the tastiest dishes are called out first: IM, Harry and Elena.

She starts crying when they say how much they loved her dish. Awww.
And Miles is going home. Mimi dodged a bullet there. Given I thought Miles was originally going home in week one, he’s done really well. He proved a great team captain in the Hellenic Club challenge and the show has probably given him the exposure he wanted.

Where is he now? Miles is developing a concept centred on the “Miles Pie Club”. He hopes to open a cafe in Clermont soon.
And, according to TV Week, he just became engaged to someone he knew decades ago. Miles engaged story

The promo for next week shows it’s the power apron week. This has always been a bit of an anticlimax in the past. At least Luke Nguyen appears on one episode to make reveal “a secret ingredient”.

New MasterChef poll is up – don’t forget to vote!


MasterChef – Mon, June 6 – elimination

Punk pastry chef Anna Polyviou is back (yay – first female chef this season). The bottom three contestants from the mystery box challenge have just three hours to recreate and 15 minutes to plate up her Mess.
Now that looks a far cry from the Mess I’m used to, which is what you make when your pav cracks.

Last year Anna set the bottom three the challenge of making this carrot cake:
It was Fiona V Rose V Jacqui. As usual, Rose did quite well at following a recipe when the pressure was on (helped by landing in elimination so many bloody times) and was praised by Anna, while Scottish Fiona was sent packing.
So it’s Tiny Top Knot Harry, Floppy Fringe Charlie and Pony Tail Nicolette in the firing line but, wisely, Nicolette uses her immunity pin and Elise has to take her place. Elise has never been in the bottom three before but she loves cooking desserts; while we know Charlie tends to rush recipes and make mistakes and Harry’s strength is savoury.
Anna arrives and reveals her “pink Death Star”, as Harry calls it.

It looks fabulous but to make good on the “Mess” name, she picks it up and smashes it on the bench. How do they serve this in the restaurant? On a massive platter? Otherwise the floor would be covered in coulis. Actually, it’s probably more of an exhibition dish.

And they’re cooking … Elise seems calm but warning bells start ringing the moment we hear Harry say meringue kisses are easy. They’re not as pretty as Elise and Charlie’s.
We’re getting Charlie back story: He wants to open a cafe on the Mornington Cafe with his sister. Do I sense a Charlie redemption here? Has he finally calmed down and found his groove?
Uh oh – Harry’s stuffed up already! He’s realised he’s forgotten to put sugar in his sponge and has to start again.

Elise is doing well, but we get a talking head from Zoe saying Charlie looks to have forgotten to put gelatine in his berry mousse. Nooo!
It’s time to temper the white chocolate and Anna mentioned at the start how tricky this can be. None of the contestants has tempered white chocolate before but at least Anna said the temperatures they need are in the recipe.
It looks like Zoe is the anointed one of talking heads today, as she again points out Charlie is not stirring his white chocolate. So, that back story was because Charlie’s going home.

Ooh, Elise is a pharmacy technician. I guess those skills come in handy when making desserts as attention to detail is crucial. But she’s starting to feel the pressure now and she accidentally boils her mousse. She’s serving it anyway – a tactic that served airline captain Brett well when he cookied up his quail pate in the last elimination.
The red silicone moulds of death are wreaking havoc. Elise can’t pop out her domes (that sounds risque) and someone on the gantry hekofully yells out: “Don’t stress!” A brulee torch does the trick, but the moulds of death strike again for Charlie, due to his forgotten gelatine.
Charlie manages to get his white chocolate dome out nicely but Harry and Elise are having dramas and as Elise pushes on hers cracks appear. Harry starts slamming his mould on the bench and I have to look away. Even Mr Juz, who doesn’t watch cooking shows, glances up from his iPad and says: “I’m stressed out just watching this.”
Come on, Anna – tell them what to do – Australia is on tenterhooks.
Was I wrong – did we get Charlie back story because he is the only one who gets a successful dome? Anna yells at Harry not to blow torch it or it will melt.
Guys, at least get your other elements on the plate so you can serve something. Harry finally gets half a dome out. And then so does Elise! Thank god for that. The white chocolate bra cups are a bit banged up but at least they have something to serve.

Time to taste
Harry is first to plate up his Mess and it looks not too bad. Not as speccy as Anna’s, but pretty darn good. Anna tells him the chocolate looks good. Gaz asks the leading eotional questions and we see Harry’s cocky facade drop as he says he has no job or home to go back to. That and the fact he’s been locked up in the MC house with no access to Tinder. To cheer him up they let him smash his Mess. Geez, I wish Matt had worn his vanilla thickshake suit today. Gaz loves the curd and George says the choc is great. Anna doesn’t like the meringues but he’s done a great job overall.
Elise plates up and her mousse is running and there is a crack in her dome, which she tries to cover up with a choc disc, knowing the judges will still spot it. No tears from Elise. Hers is super splatty, because of the runny mousse. The judges aren’t fuss about the crack and they like the curd. Anna says she’s done well but the mousse is runny.
Charlie plates up but knows his chocolate dome in thick – he’s worried it won’t smash. At least he seems calmer about his lot in life. Chuck it, Chuck! He does and … ad break. We get serious looks from the judges and it did smash, so, total beat up by the editing suite. The judges like the flavours but note the chocolate is really thick and the curd is very soft (because he forgot the gelatine).

The judges’ verdict
Harry’s version was the best so we know it has to be Charlie. Poor Charlie – you seem lovely but the peculiar pressure of the MC kitchen was not for you. Anna gives him an uplifting chat and offers him work experience in her kitchen. So, when is Channel 10 giving Anna her own Chopped-style show? She has that theatrical vibe.

Charlie has completed work experience at Burch and Purchese. He is currently working at East – Bar and Dining in Mount Martha. (Working at? Does that mean he’s a waiter? Only three desserts on the menu but it’s close to home for him east)

Bye, Charlie!
Bye, Charlie!

Tomorrow night

It’s a reinvent-the-eclair immunity challenge with Chloe, Brett and my new fave, Trent. Yum! Surely Chloe is the frontrunner, though, with her dessert track record. Will she do some kind of smoked caramel, parfait-filled eclair?