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 – Wed, July 13 – food truck challenge

The contestants are split into teams to run their very own food trucks at the world famous Santa Monica Pier. There is plenty at stake with the winning team guaranteed a place in finals week.

I love a good food truck. Anyone else watch The Great Food Truck Race, the US show where food trucks drive all over the country and compete in challenges?

I didn’t think Matt Preston’s suits could any pinker, but his outfit is super musk stick-pink today.
They do a random draw and red team is Harry, Brett and Mimi, so blue is Intense Matt, Trent and Elise. (Glowing Elena gets to sit out, having won the grape challenge). The guest chef today is the founder of what is apparently a successful food truck empire, Guerrilla Tacos: Wes Avila.
They have 2.5 hours to prep two items for at least 200 people.
Luckily for them they are actually cooking outside of the food trucks in a kitchen bigger than some restaurant kitchens. IM suggests BBQ chicken as one dish.
Harry wants to do a soft shell crab taco and here he goes again, using someone else’s recipe, doing a burnt lemon soz they had at a restaurant in San Fran.
Over on blue, they decide to do soft shell crab as well but – uh oh – red team has used all the soft shell crab (there weren’t that many to start with). But blue doesn’t know that because they are busy chopping up chook.
Red’s second dish will be a corn and guac salad with corn chips. Chef Wes thinks it sounds more like a side dish. They decide to add prawns.
Wes like’s IM’s chicken dish but he warns them to check they have enough crab and, uh oh. They have to do seared tuna with avo, corn, jalapeno and pineapple instead.
Red team spends a bit of time discussing whether the prawns’ poop chutes have been cleaned. They decide they already have. Does this they haven’t?
The teams use the trucks to grill their chook and tortillas and fry their corn chips.
It’s taking Harry ages to peel the prawns and now he wants to skewer them. This is where Brett needs to go rogue and just tell him “no”. After the initial crab hiccup, it was smart of blue to go with tuna, which just needs slicing and a quick sear.
With 15 minutes to go, Brett steps up and allocates everyone tasks. Good one, Brett – you sort out Gen Y.
On blue team, IM wants to give everyone a quarter of a chook with some slaw, but Elise – good on her – speaks up and says that would be a nightmare for the punters to eat standing up. Too true. He listens and chops it into smaller serves. Please let the chicken be cooked.
Red team decide they don’t have time for the tacos and it will just be soft shell crab with salad – good call.
IM is loving working in the food truck and Elise is bantering with customers – nice to see happy people in an MC challenge.

The judges taste

Red’s soft shell crab with fennel salad: Wes is a bit sad they didn’t do the taco. Gaz says the crab is well cooked and the lemon soz is yum.

Blue’s tuna with pineapple and corn salsa: Matt says it’s a bit old school but suits the beach on a sunny day. George reckons it’s a bit simple and Wes says the pineapple wasn’t consistently chopped. (Two women in the crowd note the blue team chefs were “gorgeous”.)

(Meanwhile, IM is worried no-one is ordering his chicken, instead wanting the more exotic tuna. If I was offered free food I’d pick tuna over chicken, too.)
Blue’s bourbon and ginger chicken with apple slaw: “You’d be rapt if you got that,” says George of the portion size. Matt says it might be hard for others to eat. Wes says it’s juicy and delicious. They love it.

Red’s charred prawn with corn salsa and tortilla chips: Gaz loves the fresh flavours but George isn’t eating his prawn. Gaz has to drag the reason out of him, for dramatic effect. Poor Georgie has a pooey prawn. Wes had poo, too. They’d love it otherwise.

The judges decide
Well, they ain’t giving it to the in the poo team.
Matt tells them the three things that bring people unstuck in the MasterChef kitchen are: bones in fish, undercooked chicken (did IM’s heart miss a beat just then?) and leaving poop chutes in prawns.
So, yes, team poo loses.

Tomorrow night
It’s elimination time and Mimi, Brett and Harry are in black, cooking under the eyes of Curtis Stone “to keep their food dreams alive”.

Beetroot alert
Note: None of the dishes tonight used beetroot. Hopefully someone will do beetroot two ways tomorrow to make up for this glaring omission.


MasterChef – Tues, July 12 – grape challenge

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

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

The judges taste

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

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

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

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

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

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


MasterChef – Sun, Jul 10 – San Fran trip

The MasterChef Australia competition travels to California for the week. With just a map in hand the contestants must track down the mystery box ingredients from local San Francisco produce shops.

Don’t forget to vote in the new poll for MasterChef final three.
According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), this is the rundown for the last few weeks of the show:

We start with the Qantas plug with Elise and Trent living it up in business class – the reward for having won the last challenge. No footage of the others crammed into cattle class.
All of a sudden they are strolling on a clifftop past Alcatraz. “It’s an absolutely mint day,” says Intense Matt.
George is looking extra stubbly today but Matt Preston is wearing a new cream blazer and waistcoat combo.
They learn today is a mystery box challenge, with each person contributing one item of local produce they buy somewhere in San Francisco. Harry and Brett end up at a fishmonger scoffing down calamari, oysters and crab. Trent and Elise stumble upon a farmers market – no way did a producer tell them to head there. Trent goes for citrus while Elise finds a dreadlocked farmer to sell her vegies. She wants to choose a veg that has multiple uses. No doubt it will be beetroot.
IM ends up in a fancy chocolate shop where they wrap they blocks of chocolate for you and he’s right – no-one would have picked him to choose bacon. Glowing Elena is sent more to a deli type place and is sniffing around the fennel pollen – will she pick it? No Mimi airtime.
They head back to the outdoor MasterChef kitchen, with views of the Golden gate bridge.
The mystery box contains: Mimi – beef shortribs, GE – fennel pollen, Brett – fennel goat’s cheese, Harry – crab, IM – 100 per cent Ecuadorean choc, Trent – tangelos and Elise – golden beetroot. They have 60 minutes and the usual staples of butter, flour etc.
IM is planning to do Korean short ribs with roasted beets, tangelo and beet relish with grated choc, served on flatbread.
Trent is doing a dessert of smoked choc mousse with tangelo granita. Ooh, fancy. Trent is really getting into smoking stuff. But he’s having drama melting the choc as it’s 100 per cent cacao. Luckily he fixes it by folding some smoked cream through it.
Elise is, of course, doing dessert: a choc brownie with a golden beet and tangelo sorbet.
Mimi is grilling her shortribs and serving them with beetroot and a fennel cracker.
Harry is making what he calls crab benedict while GE is making a crab and beetroot salad with the veg done several ways, including a beetroot puree with fennel pollen.
Brett is doing fennel pollen ravioli (it’s a while since we’ve had ravioli on the show, after the initial glut of them) stuffed with goat’s cheese.
IM is in his element cooking street food and we get talking head reiterating his food truck dream. He’s getting heaps of airtime so could well be winning this challenge.
Now Elise is having the same choc dramas as Trent and she’s using silicon moulds, but the red moulds of death obviously weren’t tucked into the Qantas jet cargo hold. Elise’s brownies are a bust and she’s trying to hold back the tears in front of a crowd of tourists. “It looks like absolutely crap,” she says in her usual blunt manner. At least George comes over to put an arm around her and give her a pep talk. She gets back on track and plans a few last-minute elements to bulk out her dish.
Trent adds a microwave sponge to his dish as an afterthought, even though he thinks it’s too dense.
Again, Mimi has disappeared from the edit. And Harry didn’t get much time.

The judges taste

GE’s crab and beet salad: George says there is a definite “look” to her food. Gaz says it’s clean and fresh. “I love it,” says George.

Elise’s beet and tangelo sorbet with fennel and citrus crumb: Gaz tells her it looks fine but she’s teary anyway. He likes the sorbet. “Show everyone here in America how good you are,” George tells her.

Trent’s smoky choc mousse with tangelo granita: You can tell from the edit they are going to hate the sponge. George loves the smoked mousse. But Matt says the sponge is “bleagh”. Gaz says he’s worried for him: “You haven’t found your identity yet in the competition.”
Mimi’s beef with crackers and beetroot: She gets a few words about it being tasty.
Brett’s ravioli: The cheese dominates the crab. It is, however, delish.

Harry’s crab benedict: It looks great and it’s fun, they say.

IM’s beef ribs in flatbread: He’s worried it’s street food and not fancy enough. They are so going to love it. And, yes, they love the colours and he gets the tinkly piano. Thumbs up from Gaz: “The hairs on the back of my head just went ‘ping’.” George takes the leftovers out to the crowd to try.

The winner is …
Yep, it’s IM, which was bleedingly obvious from about eight minutes in. Next up is a parade of farmers walking in carrying giant baskets of local produce. IM’s advantage is to pick one ingredient to be the challenge “hero” and he goes the beef. Brett will be happy. They can use any of the local produce, plus staples, and have 60 minutes.
If they win this one they get fast-tracked to the final challenge of San Fran week.

Elena is making a borscht-inspired sauce, using red cabbage and betroot, calling on her Ukrainian heritage. Matt is respecting the produce by not cooking it, for a carpaccio. Trent is going back to the hearty rustic cooking that is more his style, doing steak, mushies and creamy kale.
Elise wishes she was doing dessert but sucks it up to cook steak with smoked leek, pickled onions and jus.
For once, the judges aren’t thrilled with GE’s dish and look disdainfully at her soz of beetroot and beef bones. “I think you’re just making it mucky and dirty,” says Gaz. “It looks like a witches’ brew.” Ouch.
Harry is the first one to pull out the sous vide machine, so his steak will be perfectly cooked. Brett is doing the caveman rib eye on the bone with a smoked parsnip puree, which we’ve seen a few times.
Mimi is going with a walnut theme, crusting her rib eye with it and serving it with a walnut pesto and walnut butter.
IM makes parsnip chips to go with his raw beef but needs to trick it up some more.
Mimi pulls her T-rex haunch from the oven and reckons she’s overcooked it. And, yes, it’s no longer mooing.
IM is adding some sauteed mushies and a smoked, confit egg yolk to his dish. Trent is happy with his self-described “caveman food”.
Elise is doing her dessert-style plating for her dish and you know the judges will adore it. She’s getting the underdog comeback edit.
Mimi and Brett aren’t in with a chance – they haven’t had enough airtime, and Harry isn’t far behind.

The judges taste …

Elise’s steak with smoked leeks: The pretty plating gets a “woah”. Gaz says she has a great chance of getting into finals week. Matt loved the soz and the balance of the elements. George tells her she needs to embrace her savoury side.

Trent’s caveman food: “Everything taste as it should do,” says Matt. The judges are happy he’s “cooking from the heart”. Meanwhile, on the sidelines the tourists are shivering in their hoodies while our contestants are stuck in their T-shirts for continuity.
GE’s teak and veg with borscht-inspired soz: Gaz actually loves the soz but thinks it doesn’t go with beef. Matt thinks it would suit duck or pork more.
Harry’s sous vide steak with mushies and onion soz: They like it.
Brett’s rib eye with pickled beetroot and smoked parsnip puree: Gaz loves the puree.
Mimi’s walnut beef: Night has fallen by the time Mimi’s dish is tasted. Poor thing looks nervous and cold. Gaz thinks it’s not as overcooked as she feared. It’s delish. Matt likes the walnut theme.

IM’s carpaccio with smoked egg yolk: Again, the edit is doing the “it’s a risk thing” to make you think it will be a disaster. Gaz says the dish shows confidence and maturity in looks alone. George says he respected the produce. Matt says the yolk “derailed” the dish slightly.

The winner …
..and the person who will be fast-tracked to the end-of-the-week challenge is out of Elise (and George gives her a loud “yes” – and not a “yes, George” yes) and Trent. And Trent gets it! Good one, Trent. “You could seriously win this competition,” George tells him. Much as I love Trent, at this stage, that would be a bit of a surprise, as the edit has painted him as more of a steady cook than a risk taker.

Now, please let them put some jackets on and go back to the hotel for hot showers.

Tomorrow night
They have to replicate the dishes of a Domenique Crenn, who’s won “best female chef in the world” awards. Yay – a female chef who’s not Kylie Kwong on the show. She’s so fancy that when you go to the website for one of her restaurants and click on “menu” you just get a poem. George would love it. But maybe not so much vegetarians wondering if there are any meat-free dishes.


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 – Tues, June 21 – immunity challenge – what’s a rocher?

The four contestants who impressed in the relay invention test cook for immunity. Does the winner of the first round have what it takes to out-cook guest chef Victor Liong from Lee Ho Fook?
This will be an interesting one, as Karmen, Intense Matt, Trent and Elena are all decent cooks. And, look at the tweet below – Karmen has a sense of humour, too. I just hope she doesn’t try to plate up anything fragile that she will smash with shaking hands. Stay away from tuiles tonight, Karmen.

People keep trying to tell me burgundy is back, but Matt’s suit is doing nothing to convince me this is true.
He tells the contestants tonight is a skills test with a dessert theme, so Karmen gets a hige grin on her face. They must separate 12 egg yolks; create five perfect ice cream rochers (that’s a quenelle done with only one spoon, apparently); and spin sugar to a 30cm-high conical shape. Intense Matt has never even spun sugar before.
They’re pretty even in the egg-cracking leg, and all smash a few in the rush. Karmen finishes that round first, then IM, then Trent and Elena.
Karmen plans to take the rocher round slowly and get them right but IM and Trent are racing through, with Trent using his fingers to plop them off the spoon. They must have told the contestants the correct technique before the challenge. IM smashes out five rochers that he knows are dodgy but Gaz only lets one through. Trent’s are also wonky.

Meanwhile, Karmen is already on to her spun sugar. Elena has taken her time and it pays off – she catches up and is the second person to start spinning sugar.
IM and Trent slow down with their ice cream and finally Gaz lets IM through, then Trent. It’s still pretty close, though, as Karmen is waiting for her sugar to caramelise and hasn’t started spinning. Shannon urges her to take it easy.
Her caramel is ready first and out comes the head massage tool to flick back and forth. Trent has a go but his caramel looks too light, while Elena’s seems dark. IM waits til the right time and goes nuts with his flicking. He’s catching up quickly – height and longer arms are probably an advantage here. He takes his pile over to be measured and he’s done it! Good one, Intense Matt!
Skills tests are always fun to watch, although not as exciting as name the cake or ingredient, as there’s no play along at home element.
Matt is definitely top three material and, interestingly, he’s not active on social media – unlike some other contestants. Does this mean he goes all the way? Or he’s just not a Twitter kind of guy.

Guest chef Victor enters and how lovely to see a chef who looks like an engineering nerd rather than a tattoo artist – although he does have a Harry-style teeny topknot.
IM gets to pick from overflowing benches of ingredients A to N and M to Z. IM wants the kingfish, so chooses the former, to cook it crispy-skinned with blue swimmer crab broth. He’s definitely had hours of practice filleting fish and is a real chance here.
It’s Victor’s time to cook and his face drops when he realises what’s on the table for A to N. I like him even more when he tells confessional: “Ah, bugger – there’s no soy sauce, there’s no sesame oil.” He decides to do a crayfish in order to show “oriental decadence”.
IM is trying to make a crab broth to better the prawn head version with which he won an immunity pin last time.
Victor is having trouble balancing his sauce without any M to Z ingredients – IM has the advantage of having cooked in the MC kitchen many times. Victor grabs a can of coconut cream to add to his sauce and is happier.
IM starts straining his broth through muslin and manages to add some unintentional smoke when he sits it too close to the burner. Cue yelps of concern from the gantry and cool-headed Shannon tells him to pop the flaming saucepan saucepan in the sink. Victor even pops over to check on him and offer assistance. Luckily IM has plenty of soz left over.
Victor is only serving crayfish and coconut soz because he thinks less is more, but Shannon urges him to do something else to impress the judges. He doesn’t seem too fussed until Harry leans over the gantry to tell him to listen. Eventually Victor decides to add some mushies and cauli.
On the other side, IM is going hell for leather with a million techniques and is working hard to balance his broth. He’s doing George-style plating.
Victor’s plate looks pretty, too, but neither of them used tweezers.
Victor pops over for a lick of IM’s soz and says he’s impressed.

The judges taste

Victor’s roasted crayfish with coconut and armagnac soz: Gaz is salivating just looking at it. Matt Preston says the soz is well balanced and they agree the cray is perfectly cooked. Sounds like a high score.

IM’s crispy skin kingfish with crab broth: Gaz says it looks pretty but Matt thinks the bits of crab on the side seem superfluous. They love the taste of the broth and it’s all well cooked. “Sublime,” says Gaz.
They do the “oh, it’s so close” thing, which is usually so fake as there have been some shockers in the immunity pin round this season. But this time they both seem great dishes.

The scores
Scores for IM’s fish: Gaz 9 George 9, Matt 9 = 27/30 Fab scores but now I’m worried Victor will get 10s.
Scores for Victor’s cray: Yep, 10s all round.
Well done, Victor, but poor IM – any other week he would have slayed the competition.

Victor says some really nice things about IM being intelligent but ambitious and jokingly offers him a job.
Fun fact: Victor’s LInked In profile says he has a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Hospitality Administration/Management.

Tomorrow night
The contestants must cook three courses of finger food at an outdoor cinema team challenge. It looks like Brett and Harry’s blue team stuff up their quantities, but it could be a storm in a tea cup. And then on Sunday, Heston Week begins. Crack out your goggles and nitrogen canisters.


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.