MKR – Wed – Zana and Plus One cook

Just a quick recap as I watch tonight. I’m thinking Zana and Gianni will be safe and it will be bye bye, Curlies. And remember there is more MKR tomorrow night.
And I reckon the weird thing Manu was holding up is a picked clean fish skeleton (totally stolen from my friend) and again they’ve tweaked the edit to amp up the drama. MKR lurves a good fake out.

Just got off a olane? As if.
Just got off a plane? As if.

Adriatic seafood stew
Sardines with capers, olives and bread (yep – this is totally what Manu is holding up)

What eez eet?
What eez eet?

Burek cigars with figs and goat’s cheese (yum!)
Spiced lamb loin with chestnut puree and mushroom tart (doesn’t sound like their usual traditional fare)
Nondaja’s tespixhe with citrus salad (Zana says it’s a semolina cake/biscuit with syrup and is “an acquired taste”. So, risky.)
Black Mountain chocolate molten lava cake

Zana is making filo pastry for both mains. That’s a huge job – and a huge risk.
The guests arrive to the strains of Rita Ora’s Poison (let’s hope that’s not a sign of things to come).
I can hear you all cringing as Lauren says: “These peeps are totes cashed up.”
Everyone’s dressed like they are going to a wedding and some of it’s not pretty (as per MKR stylist tradition).



Aspiring magician
Aspiring magician

Early 90s dress which makes her look abut 40
Early 90s dress which makes her look about 40
Zana and Gianni seem to be under control with their prep, but I pity poor Plus One trying to wash dishes and not ruin his crisp white cuffs.
The judges enter to the sound of Boom Clap by Charli XCX and Manu is back in the plum velvet jacket.

In the kitchen Zana is cooking the sardines and Gianni gets out the prawns, so of course we cut to Laura saying she’s not mad keen on seafood. She is right in that it is unusual to have two seafood dishes for entree, but she’s definitely providing the editors with ammo for her new sore loser edit. Still, she’s only 19 and it must be hard to “fail” on national TV, then have to sit through several more instant restaurants through gritted teeth when you know you’re probably going home.
Plus One tries to come the raw prawn but Zana doesn’t trust him and catches them in time. He stands by his call, though.

That's the biggest prawn I've ever seen.
That’s the biggest prawn I’ve ever seen.

Foolishly they did not get any spare seafood so can’t taste one. Why oh why does this still happen? MKR is paying – buy a bucketful of prawns!

Time to chew

Pete laboriously peels his mega prawn and for a germaphobe it seems Zana is happy to ingest prawn poo because it’s “traditional”.
Manu loves sardines and, yes, that was a sardine skeleton he held up. But he thinks the dish lacked salt, which horrifies Zana given it had olives and capers in the sauce. However, they have been criticised for their lack of seasoning in the past.
Pete gets a bit aggro at them serving such a messy seafood dish when everyone is so dressed up. Surely if they’d modernised it they’d be bagged out for messing with tradition. This smacks of them trying to ramp up the tension to make a Laura V Zana cliffhanger. He says they should have cleaned the prawn and it lacked salt. “Apart from that it’s a smashing dish.” The seafood was cooked well (good one, Plus One). Zana wilts under the criticism.

Back in the kitchen
They’re organised with their mains but they do look more like entrees and – filo pastry making aside – rather simple. Before we know it it’s …

Time to chew

Pete, who had the burek cigars, says his burek was dry. The textures didn’t work and it was “average”.

Zana'a freaking out.
Zana’a freaking out.

Luckily, Manu “can’t fault” his lamb and chestnut dish.

Back in the kitchen, it’s on to dessert. Zana is happy with her squeegie dish (apologies to any Montenegran readers) and brushes off Plus One’s concern that the mascarpone is bland. He’s ready to tip out his molten lava caka AKA chocolate fondant, which must be the most troublesome dessert for cooking shows – perhaps after ice cream and panna cotta. It looks good but a cake, some ice cream and a coulis is a bit basic compared with some other team’s efforts.

Time to chew

Pete had the choc cake and says it was moist and rich, while not super lava-like. “This, is a great dessert. Strongest dish of the night for me.” Go Plus One!
Manu doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings because he knows it’s her grandma’s recipe “but I didn’t really enjoy it”. Ouch. He says it’s all rather savoury tasting (and, yes, Plus One was right on the mascarpone). Zana is totes devo.
The other teams who got the squeegee are looking longingly at the lava cake. Anna says it’s like cardboard.

We’re back in Kitchen HQ for the scoring, but first a reminder of the scores thus far. leaderboard

Entree Manu (sardines) 8; Pete (seafood stew) 8
Main Manu (lamb with chesnut) 10; Pete (burek) 5
Dessert Manu (squeegee) 3; Pete (choc cake) 9
Total 43/60
Teams: 28/40 Total: 71

This woman could do Pantene commercials.
This woman could do Pantene commercials.
Laura (who again they’ve applied make up to like she is 50, not 19) tears up, wishing she’d done MasterChef instead. Perhaps they’ll open a farm kitchen at their folks’ place. bye

Tomorrow night:S It’s the semi finals, with the Sisters V Zana and Plus One. Surely the Sisters will ace it, although they’ve never been in sudden death, so that’s a disadvantage. We know from the ad some cracker dishes are served up and the Fass sing’s someone’s praises, so it must really be good.


MKR – Sun – Curlies cook

Go Curlies!
Go Curlies!

After a quick hug with Mum and Dad the Curlies are off shopping, and we’re reminded they live in the boondocks so that when they forget an ingredient on their list later we’ll realise what a big deal it is. They say they like to cook food that’s different and challenges people.

That is a lot of shopping! And so much plastic - tsk, tsk.
That is a lot of shopping! And so much plastic – tsk, tsk.

Their menu sounds very modern rustic and the judges are excited:
Goat’s cheese fondant with roast beetroot and port figs
Caramelised onion broth and truffle french toast (Fancy french onion soup? Yum)
Lamb sweetbreads with charred cauliflower and hazelnuts
Beetroot risotto with roasted pheasant
Porcini and caramel tart with coffee ice cream (Mushrooms in dessert? This will be really interesting.)
Poached meringue in orange-scented custard and pistachio praline (So, fancy floating islands?)

Is it the sweetbreads (glands) that freak Zana out when she finds out? She eats liver, though. As the Curlies set up their mossy, foresty restaurant we’re reminded of Zana’s germphobia.

Curly Laura gets started on prepping the pheasant while sous chef Mitchell does veg stock prep and brioche duty. They know their coffee icecream has to be awesome because the Sisters did such a delish pandan ice cream. But then Laura realises something: “We’ve done something ridiculous.” (Umm, entered a cooking competition that won’t finish until you are in your 30s?) No, they forgot the cream and it takes 20 minutes just to get to the shops. Pity they can’t just milk a cow but I guess MKR liability doesn’t cover unpasteurised milk.
Mitch dashes to the shops and they still seem to be going ok. They get changed and the stylists have put Laura in a dress that’s so impractical for cooking. a) it’s white b) it has flowy sleeves b) it looks like it’s made of highly flammable material.

Forget the muslin and use your sleeves to strain the stock, Laura.
Forget the muslin and use your sleeves to strain the stock, Laura.

Here come the other teams to the tune of Elle King’s Exes and Ohs (bizarre fact: Her Dad is Rob Schneider AKA Deuce Bigalow).

Everyone looks nice, like they’re dressed for a spring wedding.

Nice suit, Plus One.
Nice suit, Plus One.

We’re reminded that Anna and Jordan and Zana and Plus One have been here before, so that’s three teams from Group 1 still in the comp. Tasia and Gracia are the sole survivors of Group 2 while Lauren and Carmine were in Fass and Khoo’s Group 3. At the table Zana is clearly uncomfortable with the natural setting and Lauren is on the same wavelength for once: “This grass is making me bitchy.” Oh, sorry – that was itchy.

Zana inspects the moss placemat for dung beetles.
Zana inspects the moss placemat for dung beetles.

In the kitchen the brioche looks divine and Laura is teaching viewers how to clarify stock with a raft.
The judges arrive to the “It takes two” lyric from Gossip’s uber funky Heavy Cross and do their synchronised buttoning up of jackets.

Buttons up, gents.
Buttons up, gents.

Time to order and Lauren drops the first “amazeballs” of the night in confessional when talking about how the onion broth had better stack up against her own creations. How many more minutes until we get the dreadful American accent?
No-one at the table who ordered sweetbreads knows what it is. Anna tells them it’s lamb balls, but later in confessional refers to them as the more genteel “testicles”. Not quite right, anatomically, Anna, but we get the drift.

Did Zana think sweetbreads were doughnuts?
Did Zana think sweetbreads were doughnuts?

Luckily Zana is reassured they’re kind of like liver.
In the kitchen the Curlies are plating their goat’s cheese fondants and they look gorgeous. Their plating is way beyond everyone else, but while it may look lovely Mitch is worried the time it takes means the fondants won’t be oozy.
Time to chew

Pete loved his fondant, even though it wasn’t oozy. Manu – who took a swig straight from the broth bottle – thought it was fabulous and a flavour explosion but they should have pan-friend the french toast.
Sisters love their broth, Jordan loves his fondant but Zana is not impressed with her entree and, shock, horror, Plus One finds an unwanted garnish on his plate.

At least it's not a bug. Or a bird. Or dirt.
At least it’s not a bug. Or a bird. Or dirt.

After Manu has finished saying he loved the broth, Lauren gives her critique: “I wouldn’t be going back to the kitchen asking for more. Am I blown away? No, I’m not.” Ah, so tonight we get more strategic scoring?

Back in the kitchen
Laura’s taken on a lot of work doing risotto for an instant restaurant – it could easily go wrong.
Night has fallen and some contestants are finding the bush setting a little creepy, especially when a dog starts howling.

New MKR twist: John Jarratt is going to leap out from under the table with a knife.
New MKR twist: John Jarratt is going to leap out from under the table with a knife.


Pity Pete and Manu weren’t at the table when it happened. Curlies plate up the mains and they again look great, but the pheasant may be overdone. She’s managed to make beetroot risotto not look too much like a crime scene.
Time to chew

Manu says the risotto was delicious but it’s a little undercooked and he’s sad there was no skin on the pheasant, as it lacked crispiness and was dry. Pete says the sweetbreads weren’t enough like little clouds but the other elements were great: “For such a young team cooking like this, you should be very proud.”
At least Jordan is loving his first taste of sweetbreads: “It’s my first gland and my favourite gland.” But then, disaster: Zana has a hairy sweetbread and this time because it’s on her plate and not Gianna’s she flips out.

She could be a gurning champion.
She could be a gurning champion.

Jordan offers to eat Zana’s dish as she says she can’t try any of it.

Back in the kitchen Laura is working on her porcini caramel tart and the pastry is too short and being problematic. Once cooked it looks really cracked – they should just crumble it and treat it as a deconstructed job. Yep, and that’s what Laura does. It’s a bit messy but we’ve seen worse. “Oh, this looks like absolute balls,” Laura says. Mitch is happy with the meringue but not the consistency of the custard.
Time to chew

Manu loved the coffee icecream but knows there was a problem with the dessert. He says there is too much sweetness but the porcini was something “kind of special”. On the whole, it did not deliver. Pete liked his meringue but the custard was flat.
Curly Laura knows they bit off more than they could chew and it’s true – it’s the kind of menu we’d usually see in a grand final, after they’d had time to hone their skills.
In confessional Carmine suggests Lauren give Laura a lesson on both custard and tart making. “I’ll give her a two-for-one demo; I’ll make her a custard tart,” says Lauren. Judging by the ad for your instant restaurant, Lauren, you shouldn’t be so cocky.
Everyone’s eating and then – calamity – Zana finds another hair! That’s two for her and three in total for her team. Well, that’s what happens when people with mop hair cook and TV producers won’t let them wear hair nets. Zana flips out more than Grant Hackett on a Virgin flight.

Zana and Plus One 3 (or a hair-free 5 or 6); Sisters 6; Anna and Jordan 6; Lauren and Carmine 4. Total 19/40
Pete takes the unprecedented step of informing Curlies one team found hair in their food. I can’t remember the judges saying anything before.
Entree Pete (goat’s cheese) 9, Manu (broth) 9; Main Pete (sweetbreads) 7, Manu (risotto) 6; Dessert Pete (meringue) 5, Manu (caramel tart) 5. Total 60/100

The devastated Curlies are in danger but Lauren and Carmine cook tomorrow, so who knows.


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 – Wed barbecue challenge

It’s the barbecue challenge and we know scandal is brewing for the Chopses. What do we think their shortcut ingredient is? More bottled garlic? Spice mix? Did they forget to slaughter their own cow?

And we’re at the Luddenham Rodeo for a barbecue challenge. It’s in Sydney and on a different netweork, so sadly no sign of Farmer Lance lassooing fillies.
They have to cook for the public with a marinade theme, Zana is scared of dirt (so they’ve dressed her in white), Lauren thinks Zana should get over it, yadda yadda yadda …
Pete’s big reveal: Only four of the eight teams will be safe.
And now Man Bun is out of the comp, the most interesting hairdo award goes to Mitch, aka Curly Bro.

Let's hope he's not a tax evader, also.
Let’s hope he’s not a tax evader, also.

Zana and Plus One are doing Eye Fillet Kebabs with rosemary potatoes and spicy ajvar (Plus One pronounces it ay-var). It’s a capsicum relish.
Lauren and Carmine are making Jamaican jerk chicken with rice and pineapple relish and she’s holding back on the chilli. How can you do jerk chicken without heat?
Anna and Jordan are doing homemade Sicilian sausage with focaccia and tomato relish. So a snag sanger with soz. Again they are showing their technical ability, making their own snags.
Laura and Mitch are going out on a limb with bush spice kangaroo with tortillas. Curly Sis is using a tonne of native spices – looks like someone’s been reading a lot of Jock Zonfrillo recipes. Kangaroo can be tricky to cook.
Straight off their sudden death win, Rosie and Paige plan to crank out pomegranate-glazed lamb cutlets with harissa pumpkin. Lamb is always popular with a crowd but they usually don’t do well in these off-site challenges, just like Zana.
The Dads are cooking BBQ scotch fillet with smoky potato salad. Yum – sounds delish but I hope their potatoes cook through on the barbie.
Dad and Tarq are doing Argentinian spatchcock, loaded sweet potato and chimichurri (which is a fabulous sauce of fresh herbs). Wonder how the rodeo crowd will react to spatchcock?
The Chopses are another team using chicken but they are using the whole bird. It’s bourbon chicken, slaw and jalapeno poppers. And Mr Chops whips out the bottle of lemon squeeze for the marinade, so that’s what all the fuss will be about. Seriously, guys – buy a bag of lemons, chop ’em in half and squeeze ’em. You’ve already been busted once. Fass comes over to berate them and Chopses’ defence is he needed a litre of juice for his 21 chooks. Yeah, if you were at your house, Chops, but not on tellie.
Squeezy scandal.
Squeezy scandal.

Eve is saying anything to get rid of Fass and afterwards whispers to Jason: “Why didn’t you hide it.”
Jordan is making sausages to the tune of Kid Rock’s Cowboy when Fass comes over to stir up trouble, questioning whether Anna’s focaccia will rise in time and whether they are meeting the brief of a marinade. At the next table over, Paige can’t believe Jordan is taking on Fass, but it looks the cheeky chap has got away with it. A media career beckons.
Watching Zana trying to fry potatoes on the barbie is hilarious. There’s much oww-ing and oh-ing.
Barbecueing in a tank top is not a good move.
Barbecueing in a tank top is not a good move.

“I need to go and have the longest bath ever known to human beings. Put some bleach on me and detergent,” she jokes. Surely Montenegran people barbecue? They’re big meat lovers.
We cut to Lauren doing the world’s worst Southern accent in a bit to build up this supposed Zana V Lauren feud, which I’m sure Zana knows nothing about.
Both the Dads and Tarq are doing chimichurri sauce – I was going to pick Tarq as the winner until he added honey to his.
Carmine and Chops are both having trouble with uncooked chicken, while Rosie and Paige are confident in their flavours and aren’t freaking out for once. It looks like the Chopses are in the most trouble when service starts.

Time for the judges to chew …

Pete looks excited to be tucking into this one. Both judges think it’s a winner.

The judges think it’s a bit bland and not all the spuds are cooked. Fass: “You don’t give an Irishman raw potatoes.”

They like the look of this chimi but say it’s oddly sweet (yes – called it!). “It’s not a great dish,” says Pete.

“The whole dish is screaming mediocre,” says Pete. There’s no spice and the rice isn’t properly cooked.

The judges appreciate all the work that went into this.

Pete likes the spicy relish and tender beef. “It’s not the worst,” says Fass.

Chopses finally get some food out but say the chicken has no marinade flavour. The slaw is limp; the poppers are the best bit.

All we hear from the judges is Fass’s “good, hey?”, so they’ve probably won.
To the strains of Black Keys’ Lonely Boy we get the last rush of food pushing, and Chopses still have dishes sitting on their table.

The judges’ verdict
Pete gives Anna and Jordan mad props again for their teamwork, a combination of her experience and his youthful twists. Curly Sis is chuffed to hear Fass say: “It takes balls to do that.” And that is why we love him on MKR. His pairing with Pete seems a more comfy one than the Pete-Manu screen presence. The Dads won the chimi-off. The lamb was Fass’s dish of the day and Pete says it was exceptional. Good to see the girls happy again.

I’m thinking the breakdown will be:
Anna and Jordan
Paige and Rosie
Zana and Gianni

Tarq and Dad
Lauren and Carmine



MKR returns Easter Monday

It’s movie challenge night and the teams have to create a dinner box for 300 families, consisting of a star dish and some sides. So I’m expecting ads for KFC in the breaks, offering a similar product.
Tasia and Gracia look scared when they hear 300, but it’s not like they have to cook 300 actual portions of their food.
Paige is back after her hand surgery and I can’t see a bandage.
And in the next scene she’s driving the car to Coles, so that fish fin injury can’t have been too serious, even if they did have a break between filming (although later she does mention she’s having trouble carrying things).
Lauren and Carmine get to sit this one out because they won with the fisherfolks’ hearts with their straightforward salmon dish at the seafood challenge.
Are we missing JP and Snow White? Not on your Nelly. We spend a good minute promoting whatever car brand that is and the show is now called My Car With a Reversing Camera Rules.
Sisters are cooking Korean fried chicken with miso corn and cabbage salad. Yum – winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Jordan and Anna are doing Mama’s homemade pies with mash and peas. Anna is making not one but two pastries. Shortcrust is a quickie but puff is tough – these guys sure do like to challenge themselves. They are a world away from some of the others in the comp.
Mr and Mrs Chops and Zana and Plus One are first ones back to the warehouse, so they’ll have the longest cooking time. Chopses are cooking lamb rogan josh with pilaf rice and chapati.
Zana and Gianni are also doing lamb – always a crowd fave: Lamb souvlaki with lemon potatoes and Greek salad. We know from the ads they struggle with time management, yet they have chosen a dish that has a long cooking time.
Curlies are making katsu chicken bento box with pork dumplings. They’ll be battling the Sisters for title of tastiest fried chicken, but I’m not sure if another meat element is a good idea.
There’s more lamb on the menu, with the Dads doing lamb kofta with quinoa and pomegranate salad and haloumi (aka tastiest fried cheese in the world). It should be quick for them to make and sounds like something the grownups will love – just don’t think the kids will go for it. They could just eat the meat, since it’s on a stick.
Finally the boys arrive and get on to their cola ribs with onion rings and slaw. I hope they have enough time for their ribs to cook properly. It has a similar vibe to the tortilla they did well with at the Rio challenge, so they may live to fight another day.
Tarq and Dad are making chilli con carne with blackened corn and iceberg wedge salad.
Rosie and Paige are making pulled pork burgers with chicken bites and chips. Again, not sure about the two proteins in one dish.

The judges are watching the action and Fass is particularly excited by the thought of Anna and Jordan’s pies.

"I loike poies."
“I loike poies.”

Any Ben and Holly fans out there (if you have young kids you’ll know what I mean). He reminded me of the gnome.

Pete is excited by the Sister’s Korean Fried Chicken. They are wisely slashing their drumsticks to help them cook evenly, so there should be no raw chicken disaster tonight. The girls are doing their bickering thing. “Concentrate on your mayo; don’t screw it up,” says Tasia. Or is it Gracia?
Zana is having potato dramas; they’ve stuck to the tray and seem to be swimming in liquid. They do not do well at these away from the kitchen challenges.

"Not happy, Jan."
“Not happy, Jan.”

Fass pops over to spook the Miners and implies to Paige her planned method of cooking chips is rubbish, so you know there is trouble ahead.

The families start to arrive and it looks like it’s going to be a fun night for them. They’ve brought eskies with them, so hopefully there’s some backup food in there for if they get a dud dish.
Service starts and the Sisters’ dish looks delish. Anna and Jordan’s pies aren’t ready and Zana is, as always, not ready to serve. “I feel like I’m cursed with the outdoor kitchens,” she tells Confessional.

Time for the judges to taste …

They love this one, which comes with toasted cheese soldiers for dipping.

This gets the thumbs up and Fass notes a lot of work has gone into it. Good on you, Chopses – you started off shakily but are reaching new heights every challenge.

The Dads get the thumbs down for their bland koftas but the salad is tasty.
Tasia and Gracia are having trouble keeping up with the demand for their chicken, so the Miners kindly let them use their deep fryers. Aw, good on you, boys. You’re still learning to cook but someone sure raised you well.

Pete and Fass tear into the Sisters’ chook and they are loving it. I want a bucket delivered to my house. Fass: “I’m not going to talk; I’m just going to eat.”

Mitch and Laura (aka Curlies) rice is overcooked – which they know – but as a whole the dish is “flavour plus”. They’ still looking solid to make final four.
Oops – there’s no pic of Paige and Rosie’s pork sliders and nuggets, but you’re not missing much. As expected, the chips are no good (soggy) and Pete says the nuggets are all batter. The pulled pork burger is dry. Oh dear – no doubt the girls have had a few sleepless nights since Paige injured herself, and this is the result. They are definitely in danger.

The lamb is a bit dry and underseasoned (the second most often uttered phrase on MKR, after “where’s the soz?”) and the Greek salad doesn’t seem to be dressed. The pita bread is good, at least. These guys need to work on their time management.

The Miners cop a caning for the sweetness of their ribs and their weird honey dressing. “That is a shocker of a dressing,” says Fass.

Pete's not happy, Jan, either.
Pete’s not happy, Jan, either.

We see the judges taste the pies and then just get Pete saying: “I’ve got three teams jockeying for bottom place and we need to pick two.”
Editors, is this meant to make us think the pies are bad? Because it’s obvious they are fabulous. Pete’s bottom three would have to be Paige and Rosie, Zana and the Miners. I think the Dads will be safe because they had other tasty elements.

It’s back to Kitchen HQ for the judging lowdown. We already know most of it. Curlies are stoked to hear Pete describe their tonkatsu sauce as “a revelation”. Zana’s dish was mediocre, and she knows it.
And now to the pie praise: “Mama did well. She knocked it out of the park,” says Fass. They did amazingly well to make the two pastries, chicken and leek filling, peas and cabbage, mash and their own tomato sauce. They have yet to put a foot wrong.

And People’s Choice goes to … no surprise: Tasia and Gracia. They are stunned.
And off to Sudden Death are … Rosie and Paige and Alex and Gareth. Not a surprise – Zana is lucky she makes awesome bread.
Poor Miners, but they absolutely deserved it.

So, sudden death tomorrow and the Wednesday synopsis is: A quintessential family favourite, the Australian Rodeo is the backdrop for today’s challenge. Teams must focus on creating an unforgettable marinade that’s full of flavour for their BBQ based dish.
Sounds an awful lot like a barbie challenge they did for MasterChef last year.


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 – Mon, Mar 21

Surely tonight can't be the last we see of this face?
Surely tonight can’t be the last we see of this face?

It’s Zana and Plus One V Hat and Sans Hat. Who will triumph?
i cardys

Ok, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: Is all that hair of Zana’s real?

That is one massive plait (and Jordan nails it later with his Lara Croft call). How much better does she look when they cut back on the heavy eye makeup.

Rapunzel, is that your real hair?
Rapunzel, is that your real hair?

Manu gives his speech about how disappointed he is to have two strong teams suck so early.
The judges are introduced and it’s the same old Guy Grossi, Karen Martina, Liz Egan and Colin Fassnidge. Urgh – can’t we have some new blood? As usual the contestants have 90 minutes’ prep time to do mis en place for their three-course meal.

The menus

Luciano and Martino  (who are both Sans Hat tonight)

Entree: Stuffed calamari with marinara sauce and cuttlefish ink risotto
Main: Seafood lasagna in salsa rosa sauce
Dessert: Chocolate and red wine pear cake
It all sounds fabulous but they have two elements that always prove troublesome: risotto and poached pears.

Zana and Plus One (aka Gianni – given it could be his last night let’s use his real name just this once)

Entree: Montenegrin Pizette with caramelised onion and goat’s cheese
Main: White bean stew with Balkan sausage
Dessert: Pistachio and walnut baklava with honey whipped ricotta.
The entree and main sound a lot less complicated than the Italians’ and Zana is gutsy trying to make her own filo in such a tight timeframe, and under the hot camera lights.

Zana is being head chef and Plus One is an able sous chef. As Paige says: “Zana is always wearing the pats. Gianna doesn’t even own pants any more.” Zana has made her basic filo dough, then moves on to bread, while Gianna gets on to pizza dough. They’ve said their pizza is unusual in that it’s fried, which the judges may not have tasted. Sounds  lot like the pizza Poh Ling Yeow’s Jamface crew do at the markets here in Adelaide and it’s bloody delicious, with just sugo, fresh basil and cheese.

The Italians are playing it tight for time to get their risotto done, but seem confident. Everyone’s multitasking well. Poor Luciano is sweating through his light blue shirt.
Both dishes look pretty but the Italians’ certainly appears more sophisticated.

The calamari and squid ink: Everyone loves it and it’s technically challenging.
The pizza: Liz says there’s too much raw garlic. Fass agrees. Karen Martini ate a similar dish as a child; she loves it. Pete prefers the other dish. More importantly what does Lauren think? “I just don’t know if it’s sudden death material.”
So, one to the Italians.

It’s on to mains and it’s a delight to watch Luciano crank out those sheets of pasta. You know it’s going to taste fabulous.

So pretty.
So pretty.

Martino is in charge of sauces – bechamel and the salsa rosa (seafood and tomato) – so he has two whisks going.
Gianni and Zana get their baklava layered up and he whips up a gremolata to add zing to their stew. They’re happy (but what does Lauren think? Too simple). The focaccia-like bread they’ve made to go with it looks delish.
The Italians are cooking their scampi and the onlookers are worried the pan was not hot enough. Martino says to his partner: “I’m worried they are not going to look sexy, bello. You know sexy is important for me.” The lasagna is thin and insipid looking.

The judges love the pasta but the seafood is overcooked and the scampi is undercooked. Liz loves the smokiness of the stew and Fass also loves the bread. One to Zana and Plus One, so it’s a dead heat and both desserts look promising.

Dessert round
The chocolate and pear cake looks beautiful when sliced but I’m wondering if they’ll get in trouble for not coring their pears. Zana is happy with her sugar syrup, but she can only soak it for a short time, rather than the usual overnight. They are smart quenelling their ricotta cream in advance on a baking tray, ready for plating up.
Plus One is in charge of lifting out the delicate baklava triangles. “Baby, don’t ruin it,” a tense Zana says.

Baklava-related anxiety.
Baklava-related anxiety.
Remember way back when we thought she was absolutely dreadful, until Jessica and Lauren came along? Will their dessert be too sweet? They need to serve a short black with each plate.

The judges taste the baklava and Guy says it’s stunning – not at all too sweet. Liz is impressed by the filo-making skills. It’s cake time and Fass likes the cake but not the mulled wine drink served with it (pulling some Zana-esque faces when he tries it).

Oi don't loik it.
Oi don’t loik it.

Guy schools him that it’s a traditional Italian thing, to serve the cooking liquor as a drink, but Pete thinks it detracts from the dessert. Karen loves that they used the whole pear. Can we get a judge with and Asian background to shake things up – we don’t need two chefs with Italian backgrounds.
So, Zana for the win?

What a delight to watch two teams who can cook dishes that challenge them after weeks of watching people struggle with far more basic meals. Can we have a twist where one team is brought back down the track?
Judging the Italians
The judges don’t say anything too surprising but Guy tells the guys their cake is even better than a similar recipe he has in his cookbook. Let’s hope they make this one on Better Homes & Gardens.
Scores: Karen 7, Guy 7, Liz 7, Fass 6 (he’s always on the lower end), Pete 7, Manu 7. Total: 41. Yep, they are going home.
Judging Zana and Gianni
Fass says they converted him to like baklava and Manu says the stew was “fantastique”.
Score: Karen 8, Guy 7, Liz 8, Fass 7, Pete 8, Manu 7. Total: 45.
Ciao, Italians – you were a delight to watch.



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.