MKR grand finale

Quick – get the Haterade out of the fridge, gice. It’s SA’s Lauren and Carmine versus Vic’s Tasia and Gracia cooking off for the title of MKR 2016 winner and – dare I say it – two fiddy kay!
How many previous winners can you name? Here’s a list:
Season 1 Veronica & Shadi, Qld
2 Sammy & Bella, NSW
3 Leigh & Jennifer, SA (beating Nic & Rocco)
4 Dan & Steph, Qld
5 Bree & Jessica, SA (beating Chloe & Kelly)
6 Will & Steve, NSW

Here we go … it’s highlights from the past three months of MKR (THREE BLOODY MONTHS! What am I doing with my life?) set to inspirational music, yadda yadda.
The finalists pull up at Kitchen HQ, L&C are in bad guy black, Sisters in innocent white, as we hear voiceovers about their dreams and determination, they walk inside and – oops – someone forgot to pay the power bill.

Is this a Survivor Tribal Council/MKR crossover episode?
Is this a Survivor Tribal Council/MKR crossover episode?

Phew – someone found the light switch but no doubt there will be another 10 mins of chat before anyone sets foot in the kitchen.
Pete and Manu arrive and sadly there’s no purple velvet in sight. Manu and Tasia and Gracia talk about making families proud; Pete and L&C talk about being fighters.
They have to serve a five-course menu, producing 100 plates, with the first course served in two hours.
Carmine says their menu plan is to start light and “end on a nice heavy dessert”. Who on earth wants to end a five-course meal with a heavy dessert? Their first course is beef carpaccio with porcini cream

Carmine and Lauren’s menu
Beef carpaccio with porcini cream (Yum – let’s hope it’s more successful than Jordan’s oyster cream last night. Smart move picking something that doesn’t require much cooking. Will we get a “respect the produce” comment here?
Milk-braised pork belly with scallop and apple
Saffron linguine with butter-poached bug tail (pasta and seafood – their deadly combo)
Beef sirloin madeira jus and mushrooms (guessing they will go the sous vide again here as it’s been so successful for them)
Chocolate, cherry and coconut

The Sisters say they are serving spicy dishes but will cool everything down with dessert.
Seared scallop betel leaves
Chicken ribs with chilli and sweet soy
Grilled king prawns with balado and quail egg (Google says balado is chilli sauce)
Crispy skin duck with green chilli sambal
Pandan pudding with coconut and kaffir lime ice cream
Yum, yum, yum! I want it all.

In the C&L kitchen Lauren is making the tomato and saffron sauce for the linguine and BINGO – she drops the “two-fiddy kay”. Dreadful gangsta talk aside, she and Carmine are a good team in the kitchen – much better than most couples we’ve seen compete. Remember Dee and poor whatsisname? candlconfess
On the other side, Gracia is in charge of all the sauces – she’s been the soz champion of the series.

With an hour of prep to go the families arrive.

How gorgeous are the Sisters' parents.
How gorgeous are the Sisters’ parents.
Carmine's folks
Carmine’s folks
Lauren's parents
Lauren’s parents

And then it’s the turn of the eliminated contestants.

Why can't they just dress Jordan in a nice Pete Evans-style suit?
Why can’t they just dress Jordan in a nice Pete Evans-style suit?
Gareth definitely got Jess's stylist.
Gareth definitely got Jess’s stylist.
Hat and Sans Hat - don't you know they are trying to cook!
Hat and Sans Hat – don’t you know they are trying to cook!
Of course they'll put Zana on Lauren's sideline, trying to perpetuate the non-existent rivalry.
Of course they’ll put Zana on Lauren’s sideline, trying to perpetuate the non-existent rivalry.
Why is JP dressed like a 10 year old nerd at a science fair?
Why is JP dressed like a 10 year old nerd at a science fair?
Ducking in.
Ducking in.
This outfit!
This outfit!
We miss you, Rosie and Paige.
We miss you, Rosie and Paige.
Dee still has him in her clutches.
Dee still has him in her clutches.

Oh – is that it? No Cops, no Stepsies, no Tarq and Dad, no Cookie and Chris, no Cougar and Cub (but they are Splitsville so fair enough) – who else are we missing?

The Sisters have to cook 60 scallops, which is tough – even ole Duck Nut Nev knows that. Carmine is slicing his carpaccio and the thickness looks a little inconsistent.
Oh, hang on – just got a glimpse of Mr Chops and Chris in the crowd, so they just didn’t get their own grand entrance. You’d think the Chopses would warrant a frame just to see what he’s wearing.
The teams start to plate up the first course and the girls’ betel leaves look so glossy and inviting. Carmine is giving his beef a remedial massage to smush the dressing in.

I know some of you will be shuddering at the lack of gloves.
I know some of you will be shuddering at the lack of gloves.

Time to chew the first course

The judges think the carpaccio is a well-executed classic and a good way to ease into a five-course meal. Zana wants more flavour.
Guy sounds excited by the “bang” the scallops have started the Sisters’ menu with, while the Fass planned to pace himself with food tonight but ended up cleaning his plate. “They’re nailing it,” he says. The other contestants agree it’s delish.
So, round 1 to the Sisters.

Second course
Lauren gets on to dessert, the cryptically named Chocolate, cherry and coconut. No, it’s not a Cherry Ripe (my fave choc bar) but includes a cherry sorbet (ah, remember back when the Miners redeemed themselves with a chocolate dome and cherry sorbet – it seems so long ago).
The Sisters are doing fried chicken with, as Manu says “200 chillis” in the sauce.

Crank up the heat, girls.
Crank up the heat, girls.
Sounds amazeballs. Carmine has got the trusty machine out to sous vide their sirloin, as it’s served them well so far.
We cut to a confessional of the girls saying they want to open their own restaurant. I’m thinking food truck would work better for them.
Lauren is confident her pork belly dish will be great, but her crackle has not worked at all. Travesty. She chucks the pork skin in the pan. I would have slice it off and chucked it under the griller, but she must have discussed the possibility of this happening with their cooking teacher. The skin looks bubbly but they’re waiting for the judges to let us know if it’s worked. There’s a lot of talk about whether deep-fried chicken ribs are grand final worthy, so of course they will be.
Is Zana worried about the looming seafood pasta course?
Is Zana worried about the looming seafood pasta course?

Time to chew second course

There’s a lot of crunching so the judges are happy. Fass thinks it’s a very well-balanced dish.

“They’re doing some clever things in the kitchen here,” says karen. “This is spot on for me.” Liz says the chicken is a great balance of sweetness, acidity and heat, but Fass thinks it’s a little hot.

Third course
The girls are trying to recreate the flavours of a childhood dish they ate from a hawker stall in Indonesia. Watching them cook makes me so glad an Indonesian cafe opened in my neighbourhood last week. They’re fancying things up by adding quail eggs. The quail industry must lurve when it’s MKR and MasterChef season so they can quadruple their usual sales.

Can you imagine a fiddlier job than peeling quail eggs?
Can you imagine a fiddlier job than peeling quail eggs? Poor Gracia.

L&C appear to be rushing, or at least that what it looks like in the edit. Carmine is the one keeping a cool head.
Back from the ad (and Karen flogging Swisse) we get Nev again providing the quail egg commentary. Of all people!
While plating up Lauren finds a bug that’s under, so back in the pan it goes. She’s swearing as she plates up, burning her fingers. She’s frantically yelling at Carmine.
Plating done and the Sisters’ dish looks appetising, but I’m wondering what happened to the soz for C&L’s pasta. The teams are ecstatic to have got the course out, but perhaps that’s more because this is when they get a break in filming, as the finale is usually filmed over two days.

Time to chew third course

Guy says it was perfectly executed. Karen: “This is a wow dish.”

We get the fake out of the judges wincing over the chilli and drinking water, but they all love it. “This dish is just singing off the plate,” says Fass. “It really wakes you up.” The gooey quail egg offsets the chilli heat.
Over to cooking expert Nev for cliched commentary: “This could go either way. It’s gonna be close.”

Fourth course
Carmine is in charge of this dish while Lauren concentrates on dessert, which includes tempering chocolate for a tonne of moulds. Risky. The Sisters are cooking their duck breast but Curly Laura is worried they don’t have much time. From the sidelines, Carmine’s mum is yelling at Lauren to crack the whip and she sounds a lot like her daughter in law. They try and build up tension over whether the steak will be cooked properly, but, der, that’s the whole point of the sous vide – if the temperature is right you cannot stuff it up.
Over in the other kitchen we finally hear some of the Sisters’ trademark bickering, much to the delight of the crowd.

We haven't laughed this hard since scoring the Stepsies.
We haven’t laughed this hard since scoring the Stepsies.

Carmine is shaking as he spoons the sauce on to the plate. I’m worried the girls’ duck will bleed over the plate.

Time to chew fourth course

Liz is happy with the crispy skin and lack of fat. Karen says the flavours are “outstanding”.

Karen reserves most of her praise for the meat. Manu loves the jus. Pete says the dish was “faultless.”
Curly Laura gets to say the compulsory cliche: “It’s going to come down to dessert.”

Fifth course (dessert … are we there yet?)
The girls are adding a lot of salt to their tapioca, and the judges loved the saltiness in their original instant restaurant. The other teams not so much. Tasia: “Lauren has been known as the queen of dessert …. I know she’s going to make a fancy thing for her dessert but we’re just going to try our best.” Aww, they’re so cute. I even like them when they are arguing over the number of raspberries to use in their dish and Tasia mutters: “Fine, I’ll give you frickin’ five.”
Lauren is doing a take on a cherry ripe, with six elements to the dish: choc dough, choc cake, cherry sorbet, cherry compote, coconut macaron and coconut biscuit crumb. Lauren’s choc domes are turning out well, although the choc looks a little less shiny than it should. Lauren is happy with her plating up, as it’s “bitchin'”.
Plating of the final dish done, the crowd goes wild (after a producer pokes them with a hot cattle prod). crowdwild

Time to chew fifth course

Fass thinks it’s a great finish and they were smart to calm the flavours down after the chilli punch. Karen: “Sublime”. Manu loves the arse-cream.

Liz says they’ve built to a decadent dessert and there’s a lot of work in it. Guy thinks they brought out the big guns.
And, of course, we have to cut to Jess just so they can wring one more “I don’t eat chocolate” out of her.

Judges’ comments and scoring
We didn’t hear a single negative throughout the judging (come on, judges – there must have been one or two things you’d like tweaked), but I’m thinking the Sisters have got this for their creativity and complex flavours. L&C have obviously been practising super hard and have improved in leaps and bounds, whereas the Sisters were contenders from early on.
First, more of the chat we got at the start about how awesome both teams are.
L&C are judged first. Guy gives their linguine a “mamma mia” and it’s all praisey and very serious, until Fass says: “Can I tell you, I still have a nightmare about opening a bag of pasta.”

Yep, you're going to be the seafood pasta in a bag people for the next few years.
Yep, you’re going to be the seafood pasta in a bag people for the next few years.

But he’s happy about the linguine pasta: “That’s one of the best pasta dishes I’ve seen.” More praise from everyone.
T&G’s turn … You can tell Karen really loves their flavours – she’s much more passionate in her critique, dropping words like “ballsy” and “sexy”. Fass loved the sauce from their prawn dish: “Guys, you don’t need 250 grand – you open a sauce factory and you’d be loaded.”
Liz 9; Fass 8; Karen 8 (and at this point we know the Sisters have won, because they’ll get some 10s); Guy 8; Manu 9, Pete 9. Total 51/60
Karen 9; Guy 9; Fass 9; Liz 10; Manu 10; Pete 10.

Lauren and Carmine are gracious in defeat: “There’s no other team we’d want to share this experience with. We love you guys.”
Well, that’s finally over. The Sisters won. The people are happy the “bad guys” were defeated while the producers are happy Lauren relished her TV smack talk role. All is right with the world. happydays
So, see you for MasterChef?


MKR semi 2 – Anna and Jordan V Lauren and Carmine

It’s semi final 2 and, really, isn’t everyone tuning in just to see one team go down in flames? Still, stranger things have happened. Anna and Jordan aren’t used to the pressure of Kitchen HQ.
Let’s play Lauren bingo. Comment “bingo” once you hear her say any of these phrases:
Two fiddy Kay
We’re not going down without a fight
We got this
Anything in an accent
Bonus points if Carmine says “youse”

Eastern states have the advantage with this one, but play along anyway. Losers can just drink the Haterade.

It’s only a minute in and already she’s said “two fiddy kay”. BINGO! Bit sad Manu is not in purple velvet – perhaps they’re saving it for the grand final.
We start with speeches about how Carmine (gosh, he looks tired) and Lauren (who always looks fresh) are the fighters and Anna and Jordan are the frontrunners but can they handle the heat blah blah.
The menus
Lauren and Carmine
Entree: Seared scallops with pea cream and speck
Main: Sous vide chicken with smoked potato puree and brussels sprouts
Dessert: Grilled peach with yoghurt mousse and peach sorbet

Anna and Jordan
Entree: Lightly poached oysters with fennel and apple
Main: Chilli angel hair pasta with crab and pippies
Dessert: Cannoli with orange and mascarpone ice cream
Both menus sounds tasty. Anna and Jordan’s have more that could go wrong and the dishes need more technical skill than Lauren and Carmine’s menu. There’s a lot of work in making cannoli shells.

Finally - back in a nice shirt after a few shockers.
Finally – back in a nice shirt after a few shockers.

Everyone’s multi-tasking like mad and Lauren is “all good in the hood”. BINGO! Jordan’s oyster cream looks unusual – is this going to work? Anna is frying her cannoli shells now but Jordan is worried she hasn’t started her pasta dough for main yet. Surely they had a plan beforehand of what to do when? Is Anna just ignoring it?
To their credit Lauren and Carmine have planned every move they make – Carmine can’t take a breath without her permission. And it’s got them through a lot of sudden death cook offs.

In the ad break we learn House Rules starts Wednesday 7.30pm, so they’re getting the jump on MasterChef.

How  gorgeous do Tasia and Gracia look on the sidelines.
How gorgeous do Tasia and Gracia look on the sidelines.

Anna finally listens to Jordan and makes her past dough and is hilarious, referring to the dough as “she”.
Time to plate up and both dishes look good – Carmine and Lauren have obviously been studying plating techniques as the scallops look so much prettier than their usual dishes.
Time to chew

The oysters actually looked much more appetising than in this official MKR pic.

Liz likes the vibrancy of the scallops and says it’s a classic dish. Colin sums it up: “It’s good cooking, it’s got flavour, but I think it’s safe.” Guy likes the flavour of the pea cream – must have been that packet stock Lauren used.
The judges think Jordan’s oyster creation is an “interesting”-looking dish – interesting because they are not sure what else to say. Pete tastes the juice and puckers his lips and shakes his head. Uh oh. Colin is eating with his eyes shut.

Is Fass  blinded by the whiteness of his own jacket?
Is Fass blinded by the whiteness of his own jacket?

Liz gets a bit of oyster shell – disaster. Karen and Fass like the creativity of the dish but it hasn’t quite worked. Liz finds the oyster cream “slightly unpleasant” but the shell was the final straw. Manu likes most of the elements but the oyster cream is too “full on”.
So this round goes to Carmine and Lauren.

Main course round
L & C are only just starting their sorbet – hope it sets in time.
Over at the other kitchen Jordan is naming all the blue swimmer crabs he’s dismembering. The Sisters, on the sidelines, are worried. They’re doing angel hair pasta which, as Jordan says, is tricky as the finer the pasta, the more chance of it clumping.
Carmine is showing off a new skill he’s learnt: smoking potatoes. They bicker a little over whether they are smoked enough. Guess the judges will tell us who’s right.
They’s sous vided the chicken, which is smart as they know it will be perfect. Chicken is a little boring, though, considering the other team is confiting crab legs. I don’t order it when I go out for a fancy meal as it’s such an everyday protein at home. But then, as Lauren says: “This ain’t no Plain Jane chicken.” BINGO!
Jordan is starting to get flustered and it’s hard to watch.
Lauren is letting her jus boil furiously as she asks Carmine: “Where you at?” He deadpans: “I’m on the right hand side of the kitchen at the moment.” Good one, Carmine. So the dreadful accent comes out: “You know what I mean, boy!” BINGO.
Both teams are rushing. Carmine’s forgotten the brussels sprouts but the other team is much more disorganised. Jordan’s pasta is clumping a bit and the Sisters say the plating looks inconsistent. Even Manu – who is dead keen on trying their seafood sauce – is worried for them.
Plating done, Jordan and Anna look deflated, saying it looks worse than what they make at home.

Time to chew

The judges prepare to taste the chook and admire the pour of the soz. Karen notes it’s another classic, simple but well done. Guy thinks it’s not simple at all and he likes the soz. Fass thinks there is too much potato on the plate and Manu rates the jus as the best of the comp. The brussels sprouts were inconsistently cooked.
Karen loves the flavour of the pasta dish but notes she didn’t get a cherry tomato, whereas another plate had five. Fass would be happy to eat it while out for a meal but is not sure if it’s semi final worthy. Manu says the dish reflects the rushed finish.

Dessert time
Carmine fills his ramekins with peach sorbet and in his flustered state accidentally drops the churner container in the bin. Luckily they’d plated already.

Anyone for peach sorbet with cabbage leaf?
Anyone for peach sorbet with cabbage leaf?

On the sidelines, the Sisters are salivating over the look of Anna and Jordan’s cannoli, but note the praline is too warm for blitzing, so it’s not crunchy. Anna goes ahead even though it’s so warm she can stretch it in her hands but luckily Jordan tastes it and refuses to put it on the plate. They decide to try a ganache instead.
On the other side L & C are rushing and trying to put cold yoghurt mousse on to a hot crumb. Just put it on the other side, Lauren!
Lauren’s dessert is certainly more modern but the yoghurt and sorbet look runny and the cannoli is just begging to be chomped into.

Time to chew

Fass says peaches “sing of summer” and the yoghurt cuts through the sweetness of the mousse. Karen thinks they use simple ingredients well.
Guy says cannoli takes him back to his childhood and it’s “refined”. Karen says the pastry is textbook perfect. Manu loves the ice cream and he likes this dish more than the entree and main.

Karen is full of praise for their “celebration of the produce”. Ditto Guy. Fass says their chook was “a lesson how to cook chicken”. Pete knocks the sprouts but Manu loves the jus.
Guy 8, Liz 8, Karen 7 (seems low given her raving), Fass 7, Pete 8, Manu 8. Total 46/60

Looks like Anna and Jordan can only win if they get props for technical difficulty – and if the magnificent cannoli wipes out the memory of entree.
Fass tells them a better way to balance their oysters (he’s always good with constructive criticism) but Liz relives the horror of biting on oyster shell.

Shell shocked.
Shell shocked.

The judges rave about the flavour of the pasta but note the presentation was haphazard. More positive cannoli comments. Manu really “anchoyed it”.
Guy 7, Fass 6 (when Jordan see this he knows they are going home)
Defeat is in their eyes.
Defeat is in their eyes.
Karen 6, Liz 5, Manu 6, Pete 6. Total 36/60

Jordan is devastated but Anna is cool as a cucumber. A concerned Manu asks: “Are you all right, buddy?” So all that practise at the bottom paid off for C&L when the pressure was on, plus they chose smart dishes they could complete within the timeframe.

Who'd have thunk it.
Who’d have thunk it.

Pete gives a nice speech about the great food Anna and Jordan have produced and how they’ve inspired families to cook with their kids. Jordan may be crying now but he’ll fall on his feet. Surely a media career beckons – he just needs to find the right gig.
I wish the judges would give separate score for technical difficulty and creativity as well, so teams who push themselves can get a scoring boost.

See you for the grand final, 7.30pm tomorrow.

Final four. Go, Sisters!
Final four. Go, Sisters!

Who’ll be watching House Rules on Wed? And MasterChef on Sunday?


MKR – Mon, Apr 11 – Lauren V Chopses

It’s Lauren and Carmine versus Eve and Jason (better known as Mr and Mrs Chops). And for what is likely to be his final night in Kitchen HQ, the stylists have dressed Mr Chops in a shirt even more hideous than those that have come before him. It’s possible he could self combust if the studio lights hit the offending polyester garment at the wrong angle.

The horror.
The horror.
And Lauren continues to oblige the producers with some trash talk while the Chopses are bemused by this whole reality TV lark.
Manu wardrobe update: He’s back in the purple velvet, which is a letdown after his chef blacks last night at Fass’s restaurant.

Chopses’ menu
Entree: Choux gnocchi with spring vegies and roast tomato sauce
Main: Lamb cutlets with parsnip puree, mushrooms and jus
Dessert: Lemon cheesecake with citrus curd and pepita crumb
Mmmm, sounds tasty but not very “cheffy”, especially the main.

Gangsta Lauren’s menu
Entree: Toretellini in brodo
Main:Beef brisket with mushy peas and roasted bone marrow
Dessert: Apple crumble tart with cinnamon ice cream.
Another broth? They’ve had great success with it in the past and are on rinse and repeat. As Zana comments: “By the 10th time you’d probably nail it.”
Lauren is determined to win: “I want to stick it to all those people who said I couldn’t do anything with my life. Stuff youse.” Where did she grow up? Detroit, in the trailer next to Eminem?
On the sidelines, contenders Anna and Jordan say there’s no need to mess with the perfection that is traditional gnocchi. Meanwhile, Lauren is working on her broth: “It’s gonna be amaze.” She has a dig at Chopses for their usage of jar shortcuts.
And the award for the first person to talk about treating produce with respect is Zana, in regards to the brisket. (This could make a good drinking game: One shot when the word respect is used; a sip for the word soz; two sips every time Lauren does her gangsta accent …)
Eve is trying to show the judges she has learnt new skills and is doing a good job of frenching her lamb racks. So Chops channels the spirit of Tarq’s Dad and quips: “No-one frenches like you, baby.” But – as predicted by Jordan – Chops has put too much cheese in his gnocchi choux and it ain’t working. He needs to chuck it but he won’t listen to the missus and doggedly keeps trying to make it work.
Carmine is working on the pasta while Lauren preps dessert, doing the double whisk, double saucepan thing. Credit where it’s due – she’s a fast worker. And Carmine’s tortellini look pretty.
Chops has cut the carrots too small and again is not listening to the Missus when she says they need bigger chunks. And then he uses tongs to one by one take out roasted cherry tomatoes from the oven tray. If I was Eve I’d throw a slotted soon at his head.
Lauren is seasoning her broth and chucks a bucket of salt in it. Chops is happy with his gnocchi but Anna and Jordan reckon he’s overcrowded the pan and won’t get the caramelisation he needs. Plus it’s a teeny serve.
Time to taste

Fass says the dish looks clumsy but it has good flavour. Guy says the pasta needs to be worked more. However, the seasoning is apparently spot on. But what does Zana think? “Whoa – that is some bad flavours in the mouth, mate.”

As suspected, it’s a fail and the gnocchi aren’t at all pillowy. Fass: “You’d have a crick in your neck if you slept on one of those pillows.” The sauce is nice but the judges note there is nothing spring like about the vegies they used. But what does Zana think? “I wouldn’t pay for either of these in a restaurant.”

How does Zana keep a straight face in court?
How does Zana keep a straight face in court?

On to mains
Lauren is checking on her soz and it’s too salty, so she adds sugar – to jus! Zana and I are both horrified. Now it’s too sweet, so she adds the packet stock.
Mrs Chops is also working on her soz, but there doesn’t appear to be much of it. Chops is trimming the beans and he’s so painfully slow the editors play Baby Elephant Walk in the background. Over to Jordan: “That turtle that beat the hare would easily beat Jason.”
Over in the other kitchen Carmine is having bone marrow trouble because his oven was set to grill. This happens all the time on MKR – wouldn’t you think teams would check each other’s oven setting ability for each course? At least the brisket looks lovely and tender.
Mrs Chops carves up her lamb racks and they look perfectly pink. Carmine chopping brisket and is adding even more salt to the meat. Chops is taking forevs to puree the parsnip and it’s the first thing that needs to go on the plate. Missus rolls the cutlets in fresh herbs for a vibrant dash of green.
The brisket goes on the plate and Curly Laura is worried at the lack of soz. When will MKR contestants learn the soz is crucial.

Time to taste

Everything is cooked well but the judges agree with Karen, who wants to see more “razzamatazz”. And thanks, Karen, for putting this old jingle back in my head:

Everyone loves it but they wanted more sauce. Fass: “This is my type of food.” Pete says both mains were very strong, which is not at all the impression I got. But what does Zana think? “I actually prefer Eve and Jason’s dish.”

On to dessert
Most of the dessert prep is already done, so Chopses are doing their lemon curd and crumb (which includes fennel seed – hmm, not sure about this. Rosemary would be more likely). However Lauren is yet to get her tart shells in the oven. And instead of trimming the tarts individually she’s trying to do a whole row at once with a strip of pastry and failing dismally. Just cut the pastry into squares, place it in the tin and then roll that pin over to trim, Lauren. She’s freaking out, but unless it’s a complete disaster they’re safe anyway. Lauren’s fired up, so she spits out: “Screw all those people that be drinking that Hatorade.” Yes … Seriously. Finally she gets the tart shells done but in the rush she breaks one getting it out of the tin. Chopses are actually plating up without it being a mad rush, but Missus isn’t happy with the consistency of her cheesecake mousse quenelles. Again, Chops is using tongs to laboriously put single items on a plate, this time strawberries. Dude, put a glove on, use your hand and save yourself five minutes! Their deconstructed cheesecake looks ok but if it was MasterChef there’d at least be some microherbs on there and a tuille.
Carmine and Lauren are in a world of pain getting their tarts on the plate but it all pans out in the end.

Time to taste

Everyone thinks it doesn’t look like much but it tastes great, and it’s the strongest dish out of their three courses.

Urgh – it’s that thing where we have to wait until the final critique to hear what they thought, so it’s probably good.

The verdict
Chopses: Comments are more of the same.
Guy 5, Karen 6, Liz 6, Fass 6, Pete 6, Manu 6. Total 35/60
Lauren and Carmine: Karen says the dessert was very simple, with only two elements: “They were impeccable.” But the highest praise comes from straight talker Fass: “In four years here I’ve only had one dessert as good and that was in the grand final. For me that was a 10 out of 10.”
Guy 8, Karen 8, Liz 7, Fass 8 (which elicits a *bleep* to the heavens from Carmine), Pete 8, Manu 7. Total 46

Goodbye, Eve and Jason. Yes, you weren’t the best cooks in the world and you embrace dreadful facial hair, but you were real people on a reality TV show and you never tried to speak gangsta or use the word “Hatorade”.
So tomorrow night another team will go and we’ll learn who the Final Five are (any Battlestar Galactica fans out there? No? Moving on, then.) We’re left with Anna and Jordan, Curlies, Sisters, Lauren and Carmine, Dads and Zana and Plus One. You’d think the first three teams are safe, although someone could always drop a tray or decide to serve seafood pasta in a bag.


MKR – Sun, Apr 10 – Fassnidge challenge

It’s time to see how the teams cope in a real kitchen under the scrutiny of our favourite Oirish chef.
Yes, it’s off to 4Fourteen in Surry Hills, NSW, which has lots of happening restaurants.
Here we go …

Cue nervous laughter.
Cue nervous laughter.
The teams arrive at Kitchen HQ and learn they are cooking at a real restaurant and Fass tells them it’s not just any restaurant: “It’s moi restaurant.”
They look equally scared and excited. They have 90 minutes to create a main course worthy of 4Fourteen, which has a nose-to-tail ethos.
Fass’s chefs and restaurant managers will also be tasting the food. And the winner will not only get bragging rights; their dish goes on to his regular menu. That’s the equivalent of getting a spread in Elle magazine in Australia’s Next Top Model.
Laura's a tad excited.
Laura’s a tad excited.
Losers will go to sudden death and then Fass drops the bombshell that he won’t even set foot in the kitchen. Surely he’ll be yelling at them from the pass at some point, otherwise that would be no fun.
It’s not a huge place so they’ve split the teams into two shifts.
Love the open kitchen and the green lights.
Love the open kitchen and the green lights.
Jordan and Anna are focused and determined to win – apparently Anna has dreamt of being a chef for decades. They haven’t put a foot wrong thus far.
Here's a pic just for Windong so she can swoon over Jordan in  chef's whites.
Here’s a pic just for Windsong so she can swoon over Jordan in chef’s whites.
They have taken heed of Colin Fassnidge’s warning to not waste any food – let’s see who forgets and suffers the wrath of The Fass.
The menus of shift one
Anna and Jordan: Charred harissa octopus with duck fat potatoes and kale
Zana and Plus One: Salt-baked rainbow trout with sauce vierge and heirloom tomatoes.
Mr and Mrs Chops: Lamb liver and onions with crispy black pudding and sweet potato (sounds heavy – is there anything to provide freshness on the plate?)
(Remember, Dads aren’t cooking tonight as they won the Coles magazine challenge with their peri-peri chicken.)
Plus One is peeling blanched tomatoes ever so slowly – did he forget to cut crosses in the bottom? Zana is doing a Marco Pierre White and thinks if she repeatedly tells him to work faster he will become more technically competent. Manu pops into the kitchen to make everyone even more nervous.
So much better now than in the velvet smoking jackets.
So much better now than in the velvet smoking jackets.
Mr Chops is feeling confident, which means we should be worried for him – I really hope they don’t overcook the liver.
Gianni and Zana are serving a herb sorbet with their fish, which sounds intriguing. They’re pushed for time but I guess the restaurant has a blast chiller.
The judges like the sound of the Chopses’ dish, but are worried about Jordan’s call to serve the occy in a sea of kale and apple soup, and worried about how much work Zana and Plus One have to do. Luckily Zana is a machine at multitasking.
Anna has a lot going on.
Anna has a lot going on.

No Lemon Squeeze on Colin's kitchen.
No Lemon Squeeze on Colin’s kitchen.
Anna takes the occy out of the pressure cooker and is worried it’s a bit over, while Zana reckons her trout is perfect. Jordan is not happy with his unbalanced kale juice – Jordan, it’s not the balance, it’s the fact you decided to use the devil’s vegetable in your dish.
Fass’s staff arrives and it’s almost time to serve. Zana and Plus One are way behind, so Manu steps in to organise their bench space.
Manu to the rescue.
Manu to the rescue.
Everyone’s panicking and the Chopses are just chucking stuff on the plate. It ain’t pretty and Eve knows it: “Jase, that’s a bloody doh’s breakfast.”
Jordan is adding the kale juice even though he’s not sure about it. It will either be a triumph or a disaster.
Note Colin got a waistcoat again, because that's what Oirishmen wear, apparently.
Note Colin got a waistcoat again, because that’s what Oirishmen wear, apparently.

Let the tasting begin.

As suspected the liver is overcooked. Fass likes that they used offal but it’s an old-fashioned fish. Manu says it’s missing finesse.

Everyone likes the balance of the harissa heat and kale juice and the occy is delish. Fass: “There’s nothing on this dish I’d change.” Manu suggests thickening the juice to a more soz-like consistency. The staff reckon it would sell.

The fish is cooked well, but the sorbet puzzles everyone. Manu thinks the dish would be easier to eat with trout fillets so diners don’t have to dodge the bones.
So, Anna and Jordan are in the lead thus far.

Menus of shift two
Sisters: Pan-roasted duck with turnips, apple and miso
Carmine and Lauren: Balsamic-glazed pork ribs with parsnip puree and red cabbage pickle
Curlies: Sous vide lamb with crispy brains and caramelised onion puree (sounds like a winner already)

This kind of challenge is right up the Curlies’ alley, and the Sisters should do well also. The Curlies have chosen a challenging dish, while Lauren is doing, umm, balsamic ribs. Sounds like something I’d cook at home – not pay for at a restaurant. And she’s doing her dreadful gangsta accent again. Ick.
Manu pretends to stir the Sisters by questioning their use of miso, but they point out Fass already uses it on his menu. Gracia has a brain malfunction and freaks out that the oven is too hot, but luckily Tasia knows the difference between Fahrenheit and celsius.

But later Tasia keeps calling turnips “tulips”, so perhaps their ditziness is genetic. Just as well they can cook – they’ve smartly done a test duck breast so they can test the strength of the commercial oven.
Curly Laura is making a rosemary ash to coat the cooked lamb – it’s ambitious stuff. Burnt rosemary is rather bitter but she usually knows what she’s doing.
Lauren is feeling the pressure of her pressure cooker not working, but luckily Carmine is keeping a cool head.
The judges think the ribs could be too sweet and cooking duck is tricky but Fass is keen on the lamb dish: “You had me at brains. Very cheffy but can they pull it off?”
The other teams are doing well not to be rattled by the Sisters’ screeching. Fass reminds Pete he once hired a past contestant who still works for him. But they don’t name names for some reason. (Thanks, Google – it was Drasko! Ah, that’s right – the ADD-type guy with the talented cook wife. Still, if Fass’s kept him on so long he must be doing ok.) The judges are worried the Curlies are juggling too many elements and that the Sisters’ miso soz won’t taste right.
Speaking of soz, Curlies have forgotten to make their stock into a jus, so with what appears to be five minutes to go Mitch chucks some in a pan and cranks it. Manu pops by to give advice on how to plate efficiently and in the process calls Laura “darling”. She’ll get a job out of this from someone, no matter how much further she goes. If Drasko can get a job in a kitchen, it should be a cinch for Laura. Lauren and Carmine are also having soz trouble – they haven’t made enough. Curlies’ jus isn’t working so they ditch it and add more mint sauce.
Time to taste

Everyone loves the lamb and Fass is super impressed, even though he thinks it needed the jus: “It’s like finals week cooking.”

Pete loves the cabbage but Fass thinks it’s the best thing on the plate. The ribs are a bit dry and flavourless – they needed heaps more glaze. One of the floor staff points out 4Fourteen already serves a rib and pickled cabbage dish. Didn’t the teams get to peruse the menu beforehand? Maybe not.

“It’s a playful dish,” says Pete, who then points out it would be easy to serve in the restaurant. The woman who appears to be Fass’s head chef wouldn’t change a thing and thinks the customers would love it.
So is it between the occy and the duck, because Curlies’ dish is too labour intensive for kitchen service? Bottom two must be Lauren and Chopses.
Time for judging
Pete is in raptures over Jordan’s kale juice: “It made the dish.” Chopses cop the overdone liver critique on the chin – they aren’t delusional like some past contestants. The other comments are more of what we’ve heard already, although they are harsher on Zana in order to build up this fake rivalry with Lauren. And the winning team, who get their dish added to the 4Fourteen menu, is …

Next on the menu: stunned mullets.
Next on the menu: stunned mullets.
They also get an advantage is the next challenge.
And the bottom two teams are … Chopses and Lauren and Carmine. No surprise there. Zana’s dish was waaaay more complicated than pork ribs and tasted good.

What do you think Anna and Jordan’s advantage will be? More time to cook? If this was MasterChef they’d get to choose the ingredient everyone would cook with, but MKR doesn’t like to freestyle it.


MKR – Sun – The Return

Connoisseur Cafe Grande Ice Cream? Check. Master 4 in bed after getting up at frigging 4.30am? Check. Mr Juz in another room watching old West Wings? Check. Ok, let’s do this, MKR.

Four teams are in Sudden Death tonight: the Dads, Tarq and Dad, Lauren and Carmine and Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy aka Chopses. You’d have to think it will be the Chopses going, with Lauren no doubt saved by the skin of her teeth thanks to the number of times they’ve been in the bottom and have cooked under pressure.
Oh, but hang on, here we have Pete and Manu (Manu in a plum velvet jacket with black satin lapels this time) saying that, just kidding, it’s not sudden death after all. MKR loves a fakeout. Instead, the two suckiest teams from tonight will go to sudden death tomorrow night (Mon) and only then will a team go home. Geez, they are stretching this season out longer than Zana’s eyelashes.
And there’s another shakeup: two teams will cook mains and two dessert. Pete and Manu pick one loser and some new critics will pick the other. OMG – it’s the past contestants! What a shock … Lauren seems particularly excited.

"This is the best day of my life," she says. Carmine can't decide whether she is taking the mickey.
“This is the best day of my life,” she says. Carmine can’t decide whether she is taking the mickey.

And the so-called Hall of Famers are: Will and Steve (nice British lads who won last year), Cowboy Robert and Lynzey, Ash and Camilla (and how cute is it to see Mama Anna so thrilled to see them and what sounds like Jordan exclaiming “my favourite”), Catty Sophia (FYI her partner’s name was Ashlee and I swear I hear Jordan say “love her”), “Princess” Jen (who won in 2012 and now has her own line of curry pastes), Chloe and Kelly (this was filmed before they got sacked from their WA restaurant review gig – and Zana says: “Good luck cooking for them – you think I’m bad!”), twins Helena and Vicky, Carly and Tresne (holding hands this time round – yay), original Curlies Angela and Melina (Ash’s do still has them beat), SA’s Nic and Rocco and Dan and Steph.

Will got the pick of the suits this year - Steve's not the pretty one, for once.
Will got the pick of the suits this year – Steve’s not the pretty one, for once.
Carly has been hitting the gym hard.
Carly has been hitting the gym hard.
How can they possibly have a Hall of Fame without the Captain and the gay villain dude?
How can they possibly have a Hall of Fame without the Captain and the gay villain dude?

We get to see Dan and Steph’s baby, conceived via IVF paid for with the money they won from MKR.

Has Chops been feeding the baby Lemon Squeeze?
Has Chops been feeding the baby Lemon Squeeze?

Time to choose who cooks what. Dessert is Chops and Dads, Main Lauren and Carmine and Tarq and Dad. So Tarq and Dad are safe. Just do a fab seafood curry, guys. Mrs Chops did a good stout and chocolate pudding in her instant restaurant, while the Dads did a choc mousse with a number of elements.
The mains people cook first and we see them run into the pantry ala MasterChef for their ingredients. But unlike MasterChef, they would have planned their dishes in advance.
Lauren is making quail with mushroom and thyme broth. So we have to sit through an hour of Carmine deboning quail, just like Paige the other day? They did do well with their seafood broth at their redemption kitchen cook – remember Manu asking for a doggy bag? Carmine already looks knackered and Lauren sounds like she’s had 10 short blacks.
Tarq and Dad are making pan-seared duck breast with Thai curry sauce and pineapple fried rice. What the heck is Thai curry sauce? Can’t we get a proper name for it? Let’s see what Thai cooking specialist Jen thinks of this one. The guys know their curries, so no doubt it will be good. And it’s been a while since we’ve seen a decent rice so let’s hope it works.
Dad adds a tonne of tamarind paste to the soz (why aren’t they using dried pulp – Fass would not approve) so they then have to rebalance the soz.
On the sidelines, Sophie is perplexed about the pineapple and red onion rice: “Rice is rice; why are you trying to pimp up rice?”
Lauren has made her stock in the pressure cooker (no Campbell’s tonight) and uses her bare hands on the boiling muslin to wring out the liquid. Ouch! Use a saucepan or something to press it down, silly girl.
Carmine is finally on to the quail and has to cook 40 breasts and 40 legs, which is tricky given they have different cooking times. The other team seems to have cooked 16 duck breasts – well, not cooked, per se, as they are too pink in the middle. This is the first time we’ve seen pressure getting to Tarq, whereas Lauren seems energised by it and having the Hall of Famers there.
It’s time to plate and Tarq is chucking the rice on with his bare hands. Why not just serve it in a bowl? Carmine is worried some of his quail is browner than others.

Time to chew …
The returnees like the depth of flavour of Lauren’s broth but some of the quail breast was dry. On to the curry and Ash is alarmed: “Is that raw?” Jen thinks the curry is very limey and even Carly is struggling to find something nice to say: “Our rice was pretty crunchy and the duck was blue and the sauce wasn’t very nice.” Sophia thinks the sauce wasn’t “that bad” but the duck “was probably once of the worst things I’ve put in my mouth … like a rat had died in a shoe”. Ash gives a great reaction shot:

Zana's contortions aren't a patch on Ash.
Zana’s contortions aren’t a patch on Ash.

So, Dad and Tarq cracked under the pressure and they’re a cert for sudden death. I’m 0/1 at this point.

On to dessert …
Dads Cookie and Chris are doing a dessert taco. Smart not to give more info, in case you stuff up an element and can’t serve it. They’re pulling a Heston and doing sweet food that looks savoury, with strawberry soz for tomato soz, a taco tuile and chocolate soil “mince.” Risky.
The Chopses are doing crepes with pickled orange and candied walnuts. Sounds far simpler but someone will have to teach them how to squeeze and juice citrus. Actually, Mr Chops is doing a nice job of the orange segmenting, but he’s nervous: “I’d be quicker if I wasn’t shaking so much.” Mrs Chops aka Eve knows it’s simple, so it has to be perfect.
Manu and Pete are intrigued by the dessert taco. Manu: “I think it’s a dish with a lot of humour in it.” Pete: “Let’s hope it doesn’t taste funny.” Cookie reminds us they have never cooked for Manu before. Then he adds green food colouring to choux paste to create the “lettuce” component of their taco. Surprised they didn’t use pandan.
Eve has a whole lotta crepes to cook and Ash and Camilla, who cooked a lot of French-style food in their season, worry they are cooking crepes for Manu.
The Dads make their chocolate soil out of what looks like a dry cake mix with chocolate, pecans and chilli. Carly and Tresne pop in to their kitchen space (totally unprompted of course, to do one of their “circle of empowerment things”, which involves chucking a bit of flour at them). The Dads tolerate this “lucky” spell, which immediately backfires on them when this happens:


Yep, Cookie drops the hot tray and crumbs go everywhere, but most land on the bench. Just scrape it up, boys. And they do.
Does glammed-up Tresne stand by her actions? “The circle of empowerment … to be fair we didn’t really win the competition,” she laughs.
Over on the other side the Chopses have gone a bit loopy and facial hair lover Eve is looking forward to touching Cowboy Robert’s mo later on. The onlookers think they are too chilled.
The Dads are rushing back and forth from the oven, draping delicate tuiles over rolling pins to form the taco shape. It’s going to be hard to fill them without breaking them. This could be a lot of work for something that doesn’t taste great. The green choux puffs come out of the oven and the SA Besties and Zana aren’t sure about them, with Zana implying they look llike ogre poos: “They look like they came out of Shrek.”

Zana called it.
Zana called it.
Nice to see someone in the comp who can still furrow her brow. Remember Lisa of the botoxed forehead?
Nice to see someone in the comp who can still furrow her brow. Remember Lisa of the botoxed forehead?

The Chopses are plating up and it looks nice – but will the judges like the pickled oranges? Dads have made the mistake of not chilling their strawberry “salsa” and the hot liquid is making the tuiles unfurl. At least the grated white chocolate resembles cheese. It’s the sort of dish you would order off a menu just to see what it’s like.
Time to chew …
Everyone digs in to the taco. Ash: “The taco is rando. It’s just the most bizarre thing. I really credit the boys for their creativity, but it’s too much to take in.” The Hall of Famers think the Dads did a heap of work and showed technique, but it wasn’t a cohesive dish. And the Shrek poo lettuce was weird.
And then it’s crepe time. Rocco: “Crepes are a bit rubbery.” The sourness of the pickled orange surprises some:

Jen's face when she realised she would be paired with Sophia for the confessionals.
Jen’s face when she realised she would be paired with Sophia for the confessionals.

Will thinks it’s too simple, Camilla thinks the crepes were too dense. Cowboy Robert sums it up: “Well, maybe they haven’t done enough here, whereas the other guys have done too much.”
Sophia thinks the Chops’s friends need to be more straight up with their critique of their cooking: “I would love to never ever see it again.” Am I right in thinking none of Chloe and Kelly’s comments at the dinner table made the edit? Some last-minute reshuffling there.

The teams learn their fate
I think it will be the curry versus the crepes.
Mike and Tarq: Poor Tarq is gutted by the comments about the undercooked duck and the acidity of the sauce.
Lauren and Carmine: Manu says deboning quail before you cook is a waste of time – just cook it and then chop it up. The SA couple is stoked to hear the feedback on the broth.
Eve and Jason: Pete says the idea of pickling the oranges was interesting but they played it safe and fell short.
Chris and Cookie: “I’ve seen a lot on My Kitchen Rules but I’ve never seen anything like that … I love to see people pushing the boundaries,” Pete says. “I think you’ve just tried to hard,” says Manu. “It looked cool – for kids.”
The returnees pick Mike and Tarq for sudden death and the judges dob in the Chopses. Mike and Tarq should have this in the bag if they can keep a cool head.

The preview for tomorrow night gives us no idea what they are cooking, but we know Mike and Tarq each cut themselves and something else bad happens, because we get these reaction shots:

What do you reckon it is? I’ll take a punt on Dad Mike burning himself on a hot pan and dropping it on the floor.


MKR – Tues, Mar 22

As we shed a tear for the now-dead-to-us Italians, it’s time to see how the contestants fare with an outdoor challenge. Will some of them learn from their mistakes with the Olympic challenge?
Now we know it’s a seafood challenge, as this is a behind-the-scenes video of the contestants at the Sydney Fish Markets. It’s nice to see them all looking relaxed for a change.

Here we go …

Looks like a lovely day to be on the waters of Sydney Harbor and the Lovebirds are doing the Titanic pose in the bow. However, Zana is not thrilled to be on a boat.
“There’s sewage in the ocean. I don’t like it,” she says. Ah, Zana, what was once infuriating to us is now hilarious.
Jordan fans (looking at you, Windsong) feel free to sit this one out as he and mum are safe after winning the Rio challenge.
Pete and Fass welcome contestants to Cockatoo Island but announce cryptically that Rosie and Paige are absent due to the latter having an accident and being told to sit out on doctor’s orders.
Thanks to Twitter I found out she seriously injured her hand while trying to show Rosie how to fillet a fish with a blunt knife in their hotel room. She ended up having to have hand surgery and still has trouble. If you click through the Twitter link you’ll get more deets.

Back at Cockatoo Island the contestants have an hour to prep and cook a dish of cockatoo – ah, seafood, for 100 fisherfolk. There’s going to be lots of tedious peeling prawns, pinboning fish and debearding mussels, which is why I tend to order seafood when I eat out so someone else does the hard yards.
Curlies (Mitch and Laura) are doing snapper remoulade with charred fennel and beurre blanc. Fancy! Perhaps it’s a good thing to be cooking French food when Manu has the day off.
Mr and Mrs Chops are doing pan-fried ocean trout with garlic aioli [there’s a tautology for you] and cauliflower chips. The chips sound yummy. They are happy and confident about cooking fish, so I’m waiting for them to flatline.
Zana and Plus One are doing salt and pepper squid with rocket and radish salad and spicy aioli. Should be quick to do in the brief prep time and is a good dish for a hot day.
Lovebirds go for herb-crusted tuna with tomato and bocconcini salad with crispy chips. So glad they didn’t go for that more pleb option of soggy chips. Uh oh – Nelly is writing on a blackboard again. Remember what happened last time she was let loose with chalk?

From the RSL challenge.
From the RSL challenge.

That massive slab of tuna would be worth a bomb, so I don’t blame JP for being nervous.
Lauren and Carmine are doing crispy skin salmon with asparagus and lemon butter sauce. Lauren has the spiraliser out and is doing oodles of zoodles. Hmmm … is zucchini really the way to a fisherman’s heart? I’m over salmon – it should be banned from the comp.
The Miners are making crispy skin barramundi with noodle salad and Asian beans. Do they mean snake beans? No, they look like regular beans and he’s going to throw in some hoisin and soy to Asian it up. Please don’t stuff it up, lads – you did so well on the Olympic challenge.
The seagulls are giving everyone the shits, especially Zana. I really hope one poops on someone.
Like maybe, Lauren, who in a flash of self-depreciating humour admits the convenience of technology is to blame for making her forget how to spell asparagus. But she’s way above Nelly level.
Time to fast forward through the adds for Coles’ Easter seafood specials. If you are buying seafood for the weekend, would you really buy it at Coles?
Chris and Cookie are doing tempura prawns with wombok salad and dipping sauce. That’s a whole lotta peeling and poop chute scoopin’. If they can power through the prep it should be a winner.
The Sisters are making spicy coconut mussels with lemongrass rice. Again they are worried about not having a rice cooker, but it worked out for them last time.
Tarq and Dad (geez – is there never an end to these contestants?) have Singapore chilli crab with egg noodles and coriander salad. This would be my pick to order, as they are fiddly beasts to prep and cook properly.

Zana is deep frying olives to put in her salad. I’ve never had one but it sounds fab.
Halfway through prep time Carmine and Lauren have not touched their fish, instead concentrating on their 1001 accompaniments.
Fass comes over to check on the Miners and gives them numerous hints their plan to cook the fish in the oven and then crisp the skin in a pan is a bad one. Seriously, guys – even the fishmonger told you to do the skin in the pan first. But fate intervenes and it seems their oven is not even switched on. So they’ll have to start it off in the pan now, surely? Did Fass sneakily pull out their electrical cord to save them from themselves?
Fass heads over to Lauren and Carmine to put the wind up them for doing candied walnuts when they should be cooking salmon.
The Sisters are getting frazzled but bickering is the way they work best, so they should be fine.
JP is having tuna dramas with the heat of his pan and the crumb falls off, and Carmine and Alex are stuffing up their crispy fish skins. The perils of cooking outdoors on a commercial stove.
And here come the fisherfolk on their trawlers and narry a yellow oilskin jacket or chunky blue jumper in sight. They are all dressed rather prettily. Time for the judges to taste. 


MKR – Wed, Mar 16

We’re at Sydney Olympic Stadium and finally we get to see cooking from Zana and Plus One, Dads/Mates and the Italians. They have to cook for 200 future Olympians, Paralympians and trainers, so the food has to be tasty and nutritious.
As Jordan, looking foxy in this shirt …

Foxy Jordan, just for you, Windsong.
Foxy Jordan, just for you, Windsong.
… says, the Dads have an advantage here as one is a nutritionist.
The “ather-leets”, as Colin calls them, vote for their fave, who will be safe from the next two eliminations. Pete and Colin will choose the two weakest teams, who will enter a sudden death cook-off, as per last night’s Duck Nutters V Lauren and Carmine. (Where’s Manu? Filming new Campbell’s stock ads? It’s been the Colin and Pete show the last two nights.)
It looks like a hot day but luckily they provide the contestants with hats, so there should be no Survivor-style near death experiences (well, until the atherleets eat the food).

Zana, the germaphobe is not keen on cooking outside because there could be “dust and bacteria flying everywhere”. I don’t think she went camping as a kid. They base their dish on a good protein choice, chicken livers, but given the athletes are all quite young the offal is a worrying choice. Their dish is “Loaded capsicum” with chicken livers and sweet potato chips”. But they are not actually writing the word “liver” on their menu board. Hope no vegetarians take a bite.
Jordan and Anna are doing Sweet potato and buckwheat gnocchi with kale pesto. I’ve never seen buckwheat gnocchi but kale is such an overrated “superfood” and it’s icky. Pete should love this one.
Oh no – both Italians are wearing hats, so I can’t tell which one is Hat and which one is Sans Hat. They are making veal involtini with spinach and polenta sticks. Yum!
The Lovebirds are doing chilli beef on sweet potato with a power salad.
Lauren and Carmine are gym-going types so should know what athletes like. They are doing herb chicken with roast veg quinoa. As Lauren says, they have cooked more than most of the teams there so are used to performing under pressure.
Pete hasn’t even seen the Dads/Mates cook before. They are making Mexican chicken tortilla cups.
The Sisters are bickering and hats off to the editors for playing the Muppet Show theme.

Anyone else know their names are Statler and Waldorf? I didn't until just now.
Anyone else know their names are Statler and Waldorf? I didn’t until just now.

They are making quinoa-crusted chicken with grain salad and coriander dressing. Hope there’s a decent whack of veg in there. They plan it to be a healthy version of a schnitty.
Tarq and Dog, er, Dad are making spiced prawns with peshwari curry and wholemeal roti.
As they cook some athletes train in the background, and the camera only cuts to jiggling hurdler Michelle Jenneke once every segment.
Paige and Rosie are doing dukkah-crusted lamb with pistachio and quinoa salad. They are keen to redeem themselves after the RSL duck with watermelon salad.
Colin comes over to check Mr and Mrs Chops aren’t using jars. They are doing pork fillet with pearl couscous and harissa. Can’t say I’d cook pork for a Pork Ambassador when I was already on his hit list.
Everyone’s getting hot and flustered and the pressure is getting to poor Rosie – luckily Paige has her back and Colin gives her a pep talk.

The Miners are making fish tacos with corn salsa and guacamole. Sounds tasty, simple and good summer food – please don’t stuff it up, boys! The are using a pasta machine to roll their taco dough – hope it’s not too thin.
With 15 minutes to go some teams are in a better place than others. It’s so hot it looks like Zana’s false eyelashes are sticking to her eyebrows. The judges like the sound of Anna and Jordan’s buckwheat gnocchi but not so much Lauren and Carmine’s chicken quinoa.
JP and Nelly are worried their sweet potatoes aren’t cooked. Which is because they chucked them in the oven whole, instead of chopping them in half and wrapping in foil to conduct more heat.

It’s service time and Zana and Plus One have nothing to serve.
Gareth (Man Bun Miner) gets the Duck Nutters Memorial Juss Award from pronouncing tortilla as “tor-till-a”. At least non-Man Bun knows how to say it. The judges like the look of their dish. “That’s a good dish,” says Colin. “I’d pay for that.” I can’t wait to see the lads’ faces when they finally get a good critique.

Tasia and Gracia’s chicken gets the thumbs up for its delicious herby sauce.

Anna and Jordan’s gnocchi is “delicious”, says Pete.

Lauren and Carmine’s chicken is “a bit burnt” says Pete and the pumpkin is still raw. can you imagine Lauren’s reaction if she is sent back to sudden death? She’ll have Carmine fitting the judges with concrete boots.

JP and Nelly’s chilli beef with power salad is a bit heavy for the weather. Pete just likes the salad.

The lamb and quinoa by Rosie and Paige is ok but could be better.

Chris and Cookie’s tortilla cups get respect but could do with more seasoning, says Colin. Pete reckons the athletes will lap it up.

With 15 minutes left of service Zana and Plus One still haven’t plated up a dish. Their sweet potato chips just aren’t cooking. Forget the chips and serve the capsicum at least! Zana is only happy with the livers and bursts into tears. A lovely athlete comes over to give her a buck up.
Mr and Mrs Chops serve tender pork but it’s a bit bland, although Colin says “it’s a good dish”. Redemption for the Chopses!

Finally, the judges taste Zana’s food and Pete says the chips look “sad”. The capsicum isn’t cooked and one poor girl breaks her cutlery trying to saw through it.

The Italians are putting on a show for their waiting customers, singing That’s Amore. “It’s not singing to me at the moment,” says Colin. They think it looks drab and the veal is dry.

Tarq and Dad have done a lot of work to get those elements done, they didn’t back off on the spice and Pete says it’s “rockin'”.

So, are we thinking bottom two Lauren and Zana?
Time for the judges’ critiques and it’s more of what we saw earlier, except Colin ask the Sisters for their coriander sauce recipe – high praise indeed. It was nice to see the Chopses’ relief and Jordan’s reaction to Pete’s praise. The Miners must think they are dreaming when Pete says “nothing to fault”. Good on them.
The team that’s the atherleets’ choice is Anna and Jordan. Yay! That was a tricky dish to pull off.
Sudden death teams are Zana and Plus One and Luciano and Martino. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! This is the point in the competition where those who do well under pressure thrive, even if they are not the best cooks.


MKR – Tues, Mar 15 – the one where a watched pot never boils

I love that every phrase out of Lauren’s mouth is the way I speak to Mr Juz sarcastically: “totes unfair”, “amazeballs”, “devo” … I’m just waiting for her to drop a “whatevs”.
And here she is, “devo” that she was on the losing Black team from the Rissole challenge, despite getting a good critique from Pete and Colin.
At least she gets to be in the presence of the real Curtis Stone and not just the cardboard cutout they have at Coles.
And their cooking challenge? To produce a “fresh banquet” using seasonal produce. So, no bottled lemon juice?
Pete explains the rules: the judges pick the worst dish and its makers will cook against a team selected by the guest teams.
Cut to shocked Zana face and Lauren freaking out.

There's a camera guy whose only job is to get Zana reaction shots. He's a busy bloke.
There’s a camera guy whose only job is to get Zana reaction shots. He’s a busy bloke.

They have 60 minutes – not long at all given they have to find their way around the pantry and kitchen.

The dishes are:
Asian omelette with soft-shell crab and citrus glaze. Does an omelette need a glaze? Is it more a dressing? At least the crab component sounds more complex than their pathetic filo cup effort.
Duck Nutters: Pepper steak on mushroom with feta salad. Sounds boring and not much work for 60 minutes, even allowing for resting time. And Nev is peeling the mushrooms. Why??
Laurine and Carmine: Mushroom ragu with crispy polenta. Better bam up the salt in the polenta, gice.
Sisters Tasia and Gracia: Crispy Pork Cakes with apple and pear slaw and sweet chilli sauce. And I know that sauce won’t come out of a bottle – looking at you, Mr and Mrs Chops.
JP and Nelly: Who knows what they are making. I’m too busy hurling after he tells her he needs to marinate the steak and her response is “I love you”. Apparently it’s Beef tostada with guac and mango salsa. Some decent technique required there.

The Miners are burning their mini omelettes – turn down the heat, Man Bun! And just make big omelettes and slice them up.
Pete is impressed by the Lovebirds’ energy but worried the others are looking stressed.
Hooray – the Miners decide to make a big omelette.
With 22 minutes ticked away it seems Duck Nutters have yet to put their mushies in the oven. This is what happens when you stupidly peel mushrooms. What have they been doing all this time? Seasoned and browned some beef and made a herb butter?
Carmine and Lauren reckon their polenta has heaps of cheese and seasoning so she starts cooking their (unpeeled) mushies.
The Sisters have made quite large pork “meatloaves”, in effect, to steam. Smaller ones would cook more quickly.
Over at the Lovebirds’ station Nelly reckons the fumes from the deep fryer hurt her eyes so JP has to come rescue the damsel in distress. Urgh. And why are they using whisks to hold down their tostadas? Metal whisks + boiling oil = accident waiting to happen.
Cut to Duck Nutters and the watery mushies look like rubbish and Kell feels the same, but as usual her face is so impassive we can’t tell what’s going on. She walks off to the wing with a “sorry, babe” and someone from the medical team comes over. Kell says she’s nauseous. Always a good thing to hear a cook say before you have to eat their food. The clock now shows 20 minutes to go. Nev carries on on his own and gets a Miner to taste his beef.
But the Miners have their own problems, one of which is their omelettes look overcooked and they do little cookie cutter circles out of it. Nooo! Just do big slices and fold them, boys!
Carmine and Laurine are stuffing up their polenta discs – they are sticking to the deep fryer. On the sidelines Zana says they’ve cut the discs too thinly. Her mushroom ragu looks very thin.
Nev is frantically plating up on his own – luckily he picked a simple dish.
All of the dishes look like they will be quite tricky to eat without a giant bib.
The judging
Lauren is confident they have a “crackin'” dish. Manu says it’s not a good-looking dish but the polenta is well seasoned. And Curtis backs up Zana’s call on the thin polenta. Some guests’ polenta is falling apart an Zana says the mushies have been stewed.

Curtis says Duck Nutters cooked the beef well. Manu thinks the feta and raw capsicum don’t really go and it’s underseasoned. (Unfortunately MKR’s Twitter account posted pix of several dishes that were not from tonight’s show – Kell and Nev’s supposed dish appeared to be seared tuna nestled in a pastry cup) – so I’m missing quite a few I don’t have time to get screengrabs for. If they rectify it I will update pix tomorrow.)
The Miners’ omelette is “too eggy”, says Curtis, but he likes the crab.

The Lovebirds’ tostada gets the thumbs up but Curtis would like less mango.
The Sisters’ pork dish inspires Pete to utter one of my pet hate phrases: “It’s quite a unique dish.” Pete, it’s unique, or not – there’s no quite unique. He says all the elements have flavour. Curtis: “If my local dumpling truck sold this I’d go there again and again.” But Manu thinks the sauce is too sweet, and Mrs Chops agrees.
The safe teams are handed scorecards.

Zanas thinking face.
Zanas thinking face.

Winners and Losers
It’s time for the critique and we learn Kell is feeling better. Otherwise, we don’t hear much new. The Sisters get the highest praise and Curtis says they are his faves. These girls are improving in leaps and bounds after a mediocre instant restaurant. Pete says Duck Nutters are in sudden death. The teams’ pick is Carmine and Lauren.
Lauren clearly thinks they’re being picked on but as Jordan tells the confessional: “Their dish was one of the worst. You deserve to be there Lauren.”

Sudden death
Oh, we’re doing sudden death tonight? This is taking forever. And there seem to be even more ads than usual.
They have 90 minutes to produce a salvation dish and Carmine and Lauren will surely win.
Duck Nutters: Crispy skin barramundi with puttanesca sauce. Sounds simple.
Beef ragu with fettucine. More ragu! More pasta! At least do a differently shaped pasta.

Chief Nut says he is going to top the fish with the sauce, which will ruin any crispy skin. Hopefully he changes his mind and puts the sauce underneath. Nev is freaking out under the pressure and massacring the barra, cutting it into different sizes. I noticed Kell wearing gloves in the previous round. Is that because they are worried she might have something contagious? The Miners show support with “Come on, Mum and Dad.” One of the Italianos throws Lauren a token cheer but it falls on deaf ears. Carmine puts his concreter muscles to use cranking out the pasta dough. Lauren comes out of the zone for a bit of banter with her fellow Italians.
Duck Nutters are cruising and Nev chargrills the eggplant but doesn’t want to it in the oven “too soon”. I see raw eggplant in his future.
With 22 minutes to go Lauren and Carmine’s pasta water is not yet hot. Put it in smaller pots, guys. Did you fill it from the hot tap to start with? They decide to split it into smaller pots – yay.
A watched pot never boils – especially when the watchers are your MKR rivals. They chuck the pasta in anyway so they can get something on the plate.
Plating up is a mad dash and while Carmine and Lauren’s looks sloppy it looks more enticing and they showed more skill.



Time to chew …
Curtis has flown the coop so it’s just Pete and Manu at the lords of the manor table, looking down at the peasant cook.
Laurine and Carmine lie and say they like their pasta “very al dente”.

Pete says the pasta was cooked well and the sauce had decent flavour given the short-cooking time. Manu agrees the plate showed signs of stress.
The eggplant was undercooked – picked it – but the fish had crispy skin.
Manu reckons it was “thees close”. Surely technique will win out?
And it does. Bye, bye Duck Nutters. Kell finally shows some emotion. Manu thanks them for teaching him the phrase “the ducks’ nuts”.

Tomorrow night: An Olympic-sized challenge and everyone has to cook.


MKR, Mon, March 14 – the one where they cook at the Rissole

Here come the contestants in their casual gear but with kitchen clogs on and – yay – Colin Fassnidge is back, keeping Pete Evans company (reminder – Zana and Plus One, Dads/Besties and Italians get to sit this one out for being the top scorers of their rounds). Who did you forget was still in the comp?

The Fass announces they will be cooking a family bouffay for members of the public at an arsehole club (gotta love that Irish accent – we usually call it the Rissole, but I get puzzled looks from SA friends when I do that). They’ll be cooking for 100 RSL diners who will pay what they think the meal is worth.
Dish of the day winners gets to skate past two eliminations – a worthy prize. They’ll be working as two groups and chaos ensues as they have to pick their own teams. Lauren and Carmine are particularly torn but end up with Duck Nutters and the crew from the Nutters’ restaurant round.
It’s off to Coles to the tune of Barnsey and INXS’s version of Good Times.

So the Black team is Duck Nutters, JP and Nelly, Miners, Laurine and Carmine and the Sisters, and they choose the theme Mediterranean because it covers so many cuisines (well, except the Sisters, but they’re overruled).
The White team is Curlies, Tarq and Dad, Rosie and Paige, Anna and Jordan and Mr and Mrs Chops, who choose Asian, which would be my pick. The stronger cooks of the comp are in this team, and no real drama queens, so they should do well.

White buffet:
Curlies: Red Chicken Curry with red rice and a pickle (and good on her for buying up all the fresh chilli – better to be oversupplied)
Chops: Vietnamese Prawn Salad (will be quick once they shell the prawns)
Dad and Tarq: Roasted pork belly
Rosie and Paige: Five Spice Duck
Anna and Jordan: Satay beef with homemade egg noodles (ooh – brave decision on the noodles)

So, no desserts? Perhaps they had to be mains. Hope the punters at least get a crack at an all-you-can-eat ice cream machine afterwards with some diced jelly.

Black buffet:
Duck Nutters: Crumbed prawns with Mediterranean salsa (Kell’s right – everyone goes for prawns at a buffet)
JP and Nelly (who seem to be the team leaders): Chicken shish kebab with harissa pumpkin (that’s a lot of skewers to thread)
Miners: Filo cups with salsa and grilled peach (sounds weird, guys)
Laurine and Carmine: Spinach and ricotto rotolo
Sisters: Moroccan Lamb Stew (do they have time to do a stew, even in the pressure cooker?)

The black team are so chillaxed they are having a singalong (but Lauren and Carmine aren’t joining in – not that we get to see anyway). It’s a tight squeeze in the kitchens – let’s hope they’ve considered who will need what cooking equipment once service starts.

Mr Chops is defending his use of ginger and garlic from a jar (and, yes, I have those in my fridge for when I’m pushed for time, but you are on a cooking show, guys). He and the missus are laboriously prepping prawns.

It’s all a bit frantic because there are so many bloody teams. The Fass is worried that Rosie and Paige’s duck will be tough, given the tight timeframe. Jordan is madly rolling egg noodles and, if they work, the judges will definitely be impressed. Pete is worried Duck Nutters won’t finish prawn prep in time, but Nelly jumps in to help. Lauren and Carmine debate whether there is enough salt in their dish – given they were criticised for bland polenta last round, they should be upping the salt.
Uh oh – the sisters didn’t properly close one of the pressure cookers. Nelly is looking stressed. Go have a herbal tea, Nelly.
The teams start doing their blackboards and we learn a) Tarq’s Dad has lovely writing and b) Nelly can’t spell rotolo or crumbed. Or Mediterranean. Aargh – it hurts my eyes. Plus, why doesn’t it say Lauren’s Amazeballs Rotolo?

Oh dear.
Oh dear.

Mike and Tarq have a chuckle at the errors. Glad at least one of the teams can spell.

The judges are worried the Miners’ filo cups will go soggy, sitting on the buffet. The Sisters have to cook rice the old-school way, in a pot. “We can’t be the Asians who can’t cook rice,” the younger one says. I’m with them – a rice cooker gives a reliable result and so less messy to clean.
Mr and Mrs Chops have finally finished peeling their 160 prawns and Chops gets onto his jar-based salad – coincidentally just as the judges walk over. The Fass ain’t impressed. I hadn’t realised they’d bought bottled lime juice, too.
As predicted by The Fass, the Besties are having trouble with their duck – it won’t shred easily.
Luckily the Sisters’ Asian cred is saved as their rice works.

With 15 minutes ago, Curlies “need a fresh mouth” to check their curry isn’t too spicy and Rosie gives it the thumbs up. Everyone is frantically plating up. Jordan helps the Besties plate up and no-one has enough room to move. If only they’d been allowed to use both side of the bench.
Time’s up and everything’s sitting there on the bench, going cold away from the heat lamps. It’s time to serve and we see it’s filmed at North Ryde RSL in Sydney.

Time for the White Team judging …
Mrs Chops is doing a good job chatting with the public as Chops lurks in the background. The judges are a bit underwhelmed by the flavours.

Curlies’ curry get the thumbs up from the judges for the spice, seasoning and texture. “I would go back for seconds,” says Colin.

Rosie and Paige’s duck is a bit dry, even with the watermelon, and the judges can’t taste the meat.

Dad and Tarq’s pork belly looks lovely and colourful, thanks to the red cabbage, but there’s not much crunch to the belly and Pete doesn’t like the cabbage. Colin knows they can do better. They’ll be safe.

Jordan is the ultimate salesman for his homemade egg noodles and that should win them a few extra bucks from the public.
“I commend them because I’d written this dish off,” says The Fass, saying the noodles worked but some of the meat was overcooked.

And the Black team …
JP and Nelly’s chook kebabs are moist, says the judges, and they like the harissa pumpkin. As one customer rockin a mad beard sans mo opines: “It’s not a bad feed.”
The judges try Duck Nutters’ crumbed prawns and bemoan the lack of soz. Pete says the chorizo is the star of the dish, and the prawns aren’t crunchy.
Carmine and Lauren’s rotolo looks pretty but it’s hard for a veg dish to win these kind of public-voted competitions, Colin is glad not to be at risk of food poisoning from this pasta. The judges like it.

The line for the White Team’s buffet is long, so Gareth (Man Bun) goes over to try and entice the crowd to skip queues and ends up the target of some young women.
The judges try his filo cup (while the girls want to cop a feel) and discover there’s hardly any filling.
Time for the Sisters’ lamb stew and Colin likes it the texture and spicing. Pete: “Amazing.”

Now it’s time for the public to pay what they think the buffet was worth and, as usual, everyone low balls, given modern RSLs aren’t as cheap as they used to be. One delighted customer says: “Four out of the five dishes were superb, so $12.”
Another woman who looks a character reckons $5 is generous, so the producers take her name and number as a potential 2017 villain.

The judges give their official critique and praise the White Team for an enticing menu. Jordan wins the judges over by interjecting when Pete questions the wisdom of making their own noodles because the guests couldn’t tell the difference between bought and homemade: “Yeah, I told every single one,” Jordan says, to much laughter.
Fass has a crack at the Chopses and, fair enough. Rosie and Paige look knackered and Pete’s “bitterly disappointed” hurts. The Curlies are stoked to hear Pete say their curry was “sensational” and that Colin “couldn’t fault it”.
Mike and Tarq get a mixed review while JP and Nelly get the “it tasted a lot better than it looked”. The Miners make the fatal mistake of not tasting the food and telling the judges they didn’t taste the food. Oh, boys, you’re nice lads but it’s obvious you’re not going far, just like the Chopses.
Carmine and Lauren look anxious and are delighted with Colin’s: “When I tasted your dish, it was bang on.”
Nev is disappointed with the criticism and Kell is as impassive as usual.
Tasia and Gracia are packing it so are relived to hear Pete thinks they nailed it. Colin tells the other teams they are a threat because they did so well outside their comfort sign. Yeah, nice one, Colin, putting a target on their back.
Mitch and Laura get the win and are safe from the next two eliminations and their team is also safe. Yay. Chops have had a lucky escape.
Nelly and JP are devo and crying in the confessional. It must have been a very long day. All members of the Black team will cook for their lives tomorrow.

The first sudden death cook off tomorrow night will be judged by Curtis Stone – does this mean they’ve pinched Marco Pierre White’s prodigal son from MasterChef? The other teams get to judge, too, so it will be interesting to see how much weight their scores are given.
Which means Zana’s back on TV tomorrow, if not in the kitchen.


MKR – Sun, March 13 – the one that could be Lauren’s Sure Shank Redemption

Tonight is Lauren’s chance to see if she can improve upon her seafood pasta in a bag.

What score do we think the cops will give her?

I’m off to a late start (had a four year old not wanting to sleep), so recap will be bitsy tonight.
We start with a reminder of Lauren’s MKR history (how could we forget, Channel 7, when you promo her antics relentlessly) and the shots of her cooking to the tune of Eminem’s Lose Yourself – the theme from 8 Mile. Yeah, Lauren’s a scrappy underdog who grew up trailer trash and has come on a cooking show to prove herself. Perhaps these lyrics relate to the after effects of the aforementioned raw seafood pasta?
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti

Oh, yeah, and there are a few shots of Carmine, too. We’re reminded two teams will be eliminated tonight as none of them are “seff”.
We’re reminded they are from Adelaide with shots of Glenelg, Adelaide Oval, Rundle St and the bridge over the River Torrens… Pity the brilliant Central Markets did not get a guernsey.
They start with a morning smoothie (what’s the go – are they hoping to open a juice bar after MKR?) and we get flashbacks of their seafood disaster, so at least we get to see the lovely Rachel Khoo again.
Oh yay – they ARE at the Central Market getting their seafood. Please cook it properly this time, guys, and show off the beautiful SA produce. They also get their lamb shanks from a local butcher, then head to Coles.

Entree: Saffron cockles and mussels and croutons
Main: Oven-baked lamb shank on soft polenta with gremolata (if we were out and saw this on a menu, this is exactly what Mr Juz would order)
Dessert: Lauren’s famous mud cake (really – another cake? Someone, please do a panna cotta or a pav at least)

It sounds good but the main is going to take a long time to cook, so they’d better motor. We’re reminded they previousy scored 51, which was the lowest score of the remaining teams. So if the judging twist turns out to be “most improved”, they are in with a shot.
EXCEPT when they finally get in the kitchen the clock already says 2:38. Not good, guys.
They get started on the lamb stock and cleaning the seafood and, to the tune of Fame, Lauren starts making her famous mud cake, and at least we saw her buying decent Lindt chocolate. Only after the cake is in the oven does she start the gelato – it’s looking like it will be another MKR puddle ice cream.
And here come the guests and the Stepsies are back in their twinning outfits. Urgh. Paige and Rosie look nice but the Miners are back in their too-tight, too-buttoned-up shirts.

They always hide Nev and Kell in the middle.
They always hide Nev and Kell in the middle.

It’s a bit awkies with the greetings, despite Lauren being the kindest, nicest contestant in the history of MKR.
Carmine welcomes the guests with: “We hope youse have a lovely evening.”
They head back to the kitchen to take the cakes out and OMG they haven’t even browned the shanks yet, and they will take at least two hours to braise in the oven, and given they are doing so many, more like three. Lauren’s not fazed: “I don’t actually care. They can just wait because these lamb shanks are going to be perfect.”
Famous last words, Lauren.
And then, uh oh, they ordered 14 lamb shanks and they only have 12 so they don’t have spares for a tester. Lauren is rushing and the shanks aren’t that brown by the time they go in the oven.

And here are the judges and this is the first time Lauren and Carmine have cooked for them. They run through the menu and we learn Kell does not eat mussels and cockles (and Paige is not keen, either). We know Ducks Nutters will score low anyway, so it won’t make a difference. At the table the Stepsies remind everyone of last round’s disaster in a bag. Talk turns to who’s on the bottom and Man Bun Miner puts his foot in it, saying there could be some strategic scoring from people looking to save their skin.
Lisa is not happy that he was looking at someone (I think the Cops) when he said it. Shut up, Man Bun!

In the kitchen Lauren is making croutons out of shop-bought bread. This is the woman who bagged out other teams for using shop-bought breadcrumbs! Come on, Lauren: If you haven’t grown the wheat yourself I don’t want to know about it.
In the dining room Monique and Lisa have foot-in-mouth Miner in their sights and he is wishing he could hide under the tablecloth right now, until Hazel steps in as the voice of reason: “I think we just need to stop it and move on.” She seems like quite a nice lady – if only she had a different MKR partner.
Lauren is wisely separating the seafood from the hot broth so she can check if it’s cooked and they actually taste it this time. It’s a generous serve for an entree.

Lauren is confident of the outcome as the dish is “amazeballs”.
It’s chew o’clock … And Manu is happy they cooked the seafood with respect: “Fantastic, beautiful, gorgeous.” They kept it simple and delivered. They are rightly stoked and Carmine is tearing up. “Liquid gold,” says Pete. “If you travelled through parts of the Mediterranean, that’s what you’d get in a beautiful seaside restaurant. Just like that.”

The guests taste and Kell at least tries a mussel, then makes a face. Hazel: “I’m in love with this dish; I could inhale it.” Paige is converted to shellfish. Kell is not but she at least she makes it clear the dish is not to blame. Nev loved it, as did Feisty Cop.

In the kitchen, it’s time for a Manu pop-in and he asks Carmine for a cup of leftover broth.

"He likes me - he really, really likes me!"
“He likes me – he really, really like me!”

“Do you want a take-home pack?” Lauren asks. Yes, he does, and they put aside a container full for him. They are ecstatic. Now I really want to taste that broth! Hopefully they’ll start a broth stall at a market near me somewhere. Remember Jessica (as in Bree and Jess) from a while back? She runs a stall at a groovy market not far from my place and has just launched her own line of cake mixes in SA’s excellent Foodland supermarkets
Lauren and Carmine get to work on stirring their polenta and then fossick through their lamb shank trays for a piece of meat that’s fallen off for them to taste. They are happy. However, just because one scrap of meat is cooked it does’t mean a huge shank is. They plate up and don’t put much soz on. Where’s the soz guys? I would have liked some token broccoli to green it up.
Says Lauren: “This is our Sure Shank Redemption.” Yep, a producer totally just told her to say that.

Chew time … Manu says the meat is falling off the bone, the soz is a bit too thick but the polenta is way bland. Pete criticised the lack of soz, especially given the lack of seasoning in the polenta.
However, Man Bun is in heaven, picking up the bone to chew the last shreds of meat and suck the marrow out with a straw. “I’m getting into this bone like a ravaged [that’s what it sounded like] dog.” One of the others hands him their bone to suck.
And then Monique discovers hair on her plate, but when she is asked what she thinks of the dish she says it was divine. Kell calls BS on her for not being honest but, interestingly, Monique says she didn’t mention having a hair in her dish at a previous restaurant. Do we know where this was? I only remember Lauren getting a hair from Stepsies.

Lauren is checking on her famous cakes and she’s happy. She’s making a mirror glaze and for a while it looks as though the chocolate has seized, but she’s panicked too early and it seems fine.
They plate up and it’s all rather basic, with three teeny drops of coulis. Where’s the soz? Where’s a crunchy element? The ice cream looks overly frozen.

Time to chews: Pete says the sugar in the icing has not dissolved and the ice cream is icy and flavourless. Manu says the cake does not have the muddy texture it needs: “It’s a pleasant dish to eat, but it’s far from being perfect.”
The guests echo their comments and Monique is glad to finally let it rip. But it’s Lisa who goes for broke: “I think the ice cream is icy. It tastes like one of those $2 home brands. I would be embarrassed to put my name to this …” This is the woman who served lime cream pie with green food colouring and a sorbet slushie at her last instant restaurant.

Time to score … but we don’t get to see the team scores because it’s off to Kitchen HQ we go to finally find out the twist.
Entree Pete 9, Manu 10; Main Pete 7, Manu 7; Dessert: Pete 4, Manu 5.
Guest teams total: 33/50. Total: 75 – second place on the leaderboard.

And now to the twist … Yes, it’s determine by how much you have improved. Everyone is frantically trying to do the maths in their heads. Monique knows she’s done for.
It’s a bit rough on the teams who performed ok in their first round.
The Cops and Stepsies are gone, so, phew, there goes some of the drama.

And here come all the remaining teams and there are so many people I’d forgotten (Curlies, Chops, Sisters, Sweet Nellie and Whatisface who went looking for brulee torch gas). It’s going to take forever to get through this lot.
Zana and Plus One, Dad/Mates and Italianos are announced as safe for the first round as they won their initial rounds.
The promo shows some kind of Olympic Stadium challenge, then says that for the first time they’ll have to work together. Really – MKR is finally getting on the MasterChef team challenge bandwagon? They usually suck – I much prefer the individual rounds. Guess they have to up the drama with Stepsies and Cops gone. And I AM looking forward to seeing Zana cooking near a cow. Germs! Eeek!