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.


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I don’t know. The Big Gay Italians are probably the best cooks in the competition (at least, while using a kitchen), but Zana’s just so damned entertaining in a trainwreck kind of way that I’d be disappointed to see her go.


At least we still have the Big Gay Maltese)


Given the skill set (and general likeability) of Anna and Jordan, i think they’ll be around for a few weeks to come. I can see them making it all the way to the grand final, to be honest. And not because I’m biased.

Well, not just for that.


Lauren who made a broth in the Redemption Round dared to say there is no technique in Zana stew

brain dead dave

Lauren already annoyed me when she bagged the entree as “not a sudden death dish”.She looked very sulky up in the peanut gallery.


Totally agree


Lauren’s comments were just not sudden death standard tonight. Not enough technique and far too repetitive.


As if the judges didn’t know who cooked what. Montenegrin pizza!


Wow – harsh judging! What would a 9 or 10 menu have to be?

I agree with Lauren re the entree, quite basic, but she is not really in a position to judge that.


I loved the Italian guys and i am now sad…what a set up to have 2 of the best teams play off now. .so early in the piece….not happy.


I think the better team won on the night. Thought it strange that the Italians didn’t seem to have an inkling that their main was no good. Lasagne looked incredibly flat and the sauce much too runny. Their entree looked awesome though. Very partial to baklava. Zana might be a bit precious but she can cook!

Tomorrow looks like Cockatoo Island. I was there a couple of weeks ago, and yes there are loads of gulls there! Not good for those with ornithophobia.

brain dead dave

I live in a pigeon area. You’d be surprised what they’ll lower themselves to eating.


Then Lauren better hope they don’t go to a pigeon infested area,,,


They also didn’t know their veal was dry in the Olympics challenge.

The chocolate and pear cake looks really delicious.



There goes one of my teams 🙁


The Italiano are better cooks than many of the remaining teams but they did stuff up in the off site challenge.


Yeah, I don’t know how to feel about the result. They seemed like awesome cooks, but a couple of critical things let them down, both in kitchen HQ and on-site. Plus, we still have the potential of a Lauren/Zana showdown, and I really hope that happens.

Plus I love how they kept cutting to a certain handsome Maltese 22-year-old in the audience, so, I’ve had my fill for the week :).


I suspect neither Zana and Gianni nor the Big Gay Italians are all that good at cooking outdoors. The BGIs just were not as good as ZG at technical details. The lasagna looked really thin and dry and I don’t think it would have tasted or smelled any better. If they’d executed the lasagna properly they would have been home and hosed.

I am sorry they are going, but it does mean we get the LaurenZanadämmerung some time. And bizarre and surprising as I find it, Zana is growing on me.


Channel 7 did the same thing with Ash last year. Her initial edit was deliberately skewed to make her look like a pretentious snob, but the further along we went, the more we got a picture of her self-awareness and general personality.

Same thing with Zana. Sitting down to a dinner table and breaking the ice by telling your police-women fellow guests that, “We hate police officers” doesn’t say *great* things, no, but at least she can cook. And she’s less awful to her partner than Dee, so there’s that.


I used to work as a court administrator. Lawyers and police socialise all the time because they have to, especially in lower courts. They are constantly negotiating witness lists, hearing dates and a lot of other stuff. They drink together, they eat together.

The chance of Zana coming out with that line on her own is nil. The chance of a production assistant writing it on a cue card after watching a Law and Order rerun or Judge Judy approaches 100%.


I think Zana will struggle in any off site challenge as she seems much more comfortable in a decent kitchen. Did any one else notice you could see Zana on the ferry in the ad for tomorrow night’s challenge?


Yes I did but didn’t want to believe it till results. I knew they’d won but was still hoping beyond hope. Desi calls me the eternal optimist. 😛


Yes, I saw her, rewound a couple of times to check. lol


Ones more likely 😕


It would’ve been a lovely twist if both teams had been allowed to continue, and Lauren and Carmine got sent home instead :).

I still don’t find Zana a particularly … pleasant … person, but context is everything. At least she can actually cook, to make up for her lack of filter (ah, the quirks of youth). That puts her lightyears ahead of Jess or Dee (or even Lauren).

brain dead dave

Congratulations, Juz.

Lauren seems to be getting a lot of airtime when it comes to asking for opinions on the dishes. Is she some sort of culinary golden calf ,producers?

My captions had “seagulls” as two words. Love it.


At risk of being pedantic, if we are going to use Gianni’s real name can we call him Gianni instead of Gianna?


Well, they certainly used all the cliches tonight – everyones grandma’s dish, repetitions of “we can’t go home”, raised eyebrows and inscrutable looks between the judges during tasting, the completely fake rushes to get the food plated while that stupid 10, 9, 8 rubbish is being chanted…yawn.

The result was disappointing to me. I like the Italian guys because they seemed as though they were having fun, even while taking the cooking seriously, and they didn’t resort to tearing the other teams down to build themselves up. That lasagna let them down unfortunately. I must try to remember that it is a cooking show, not an Olympic bitch fest.

I find Zana to be bossy, arrogant, and infuriatingly condescending to her husband. Couldn’t care less about a showdown between her and Lauren, I just hope the extreme cattiness and nastiness has ceased for this season. I saw nearly the whole show tonight but think I was right to limit viewing to bits and pieces during ads.

Best bits, the judges oh-so-believable reactions of surprise when they were told which team was which, and Pete for some reason looking as though he was choking after tasting the baklava. Maybe all that tanning has narrowed his gullet somehow.


Spot on, Von. I know these shows have now decided that sticking with the tried and true formula is the way to go, but really…give us some variety. They could make some gentle changes around the edges – more variety in the judges, scores for each course not the whole meal, stop the gallery clapping and cheering for no reason, making the clock run correctly so that sometimes they finish well ahed of time and sometimes not at all.

First change would be replace Karen and the other woman judge with ones we would enjoy watching such as the Khoo.


I agree that the Italians fell down with the lasagne, but I can’t help feeling that the baklava was praised too highly. Every person they showed cutting it had trouble pushing through the bottom layer, there were lots of ‘clunks’ as the spoons hit the plate. Yet, not one comment shown about the pastry being too hard/not soaked enough. Secondly, all the comments focussed on it being good because it wasn’t as sweet as normal baklava. This is a bit of an anti-compliment. I agree with them, normal baklava is too sweet for me too, but it is no great display of technique to add less sugar.

Does baklava normally only have three ingredients in the filling – two types of nuts and cinnamon?


Only nuts and spices in baklava. I guess the judges gave extra points for making the filo pastry.

The Italianos could have served the Entree as Mains, as it was a substantial dish and do something else for Entrée. They would have won. The lagsana really didn’t look very appetising


Who would of thunk it.. But really liking Zana at the moment, for once we might be given a glimpse of a who a contestant really is.. Confident, loves cooking, is cooking with her soul and is staying true to her heritage.

The Italians were always going to lose out.., we have too much Italian already in this series already and MKR never has really had people cooking food from Zanas heritage so never in doubt. Plus also I found the Italians to be a little creepy and suspect they didn’t fit with the seven demographic any longer.

Now on to Lauren and her puppet… WTF???? Seriously WTF?…. What a bitter and twisted individual she is… And one who thinks she can, but really can’t. And her puppet smelling the mulled wine like he was some sort of international wine judge. Hopefully after watching the two teams battle they begin to realise they are no match for decent cooking… Guess that’s why she had the sour face.

brain dead dave

I gotta say it’s weird how you said last week Zana was going to be eliminated and here after the event,””The Italians were always going to lose out”..Which one is it?

How can this be”never in doubt”?


There’s a great recap of last night’s ep on – almost as good as this one.


I love your recaps Juz but have enjoyed Ben’s columns since last year. The two make for entertaining reading in today’s world of “reality”.


Yeah, Ben has the luxury of time to watch and rewind, and then he gets paid for his words. You are awesome doing the same thing voluntarily.


So that’s what happens. You go Girl!


how did we end up with eh Big Gay Italians, the Mean Straight Italians, and the Big Straight Italo-Montonegrins, all in one heavily Italicised season?


Oh my gosh that was hilarious. I love how he called Lauren and Carmine a “bin fire”. And his shots at Zana and whatshisface were hilarious. I’m with him on one point.

“And so, a little bit of joy and love goes out of the competition, but on the upside, the possibility of the much-anticipated Zana-Lauren stiletto duel remains alive.”

My money’s still on Zana. Lauren’s all talk, but Zana would fight dirty without a second thought.


Zana doesn’t yet seem to have an inkling of what Lauren is like. I wonder when the moment of revelation will be? That will be good viewing.


Zana and husband have vowed to give part of the $250,000 they hope to win to the runners-up (Yahoo)
What’s with the weird way people hold their cutlery and then leave it any old way when they’ve finished eating. I watched some of UK Come Dine With Me at the weekend and people seemed to hold their cutlery like fighting implements. Sorry, but I’m a bit of a stickler for table manners and hate to see cutlery being held aloft between mouthfuls!!!


I noticed Guy Grossi eats with his knife and fork in different hands. Always notice too that lot of chefs are left handed.


You mentioned something that has annoyed me for years now. The worst was in USA. Generational, I guess. I’m sure they’d have no probs unwrapping a big mac.
I also eat with knife in left hand fork in right but I do hold them correctly.

brain dead dave

After my recent Prostate examination, which was one of the most thorough examinations I’ve ever had, the Doctor left and the nurse came in.

As she shut the door, she asked me a question I didn’t want to hear….

She said….”Who was that guy?”


Well that sucked. The Italians were my favourites. They were both exceptional cooks, but I guess that’s not the point of MKR.

Yes doing filo is impressive, or slightly mad and pointless- most chefs don’t bother since you don’t really get a better result- but it was one trick. The Italians managed 3 with perfect risotto, poached pears and pasta (even if the lasagna fell short as a whole. I still would’ve scoffed it though, flat or not). And the filo looked way too thick and hard.

Shi*ts me to see them go whilst looking at the gallery of boofheads left behind them. Martino and Luciano, they were unworthy of you.


Yeah you’re probably right Juz. I guess 2 seafood fails can’t be ignored. My head is still saying ‘Friggin’ stew!’ and ‘Friggin’ hard pastry and nuts!’ but. Think I was biased, I love that over-the-top emotional mediterranean personality. Add camp-as-all-hell and they were so entertaining 🙂


I haven’t been following this for a while but I did like the Italian guys and it was a shame they didn’t get through. Their food looked nicer to me, especially the dessert which I would far prefer to the baclava. Seemed like only the main let them down,but the other team had a bad entree so who knows how they judge these things.


Judging by the scores last night, they score like Michelin judges.


I liked the Italians but can’t help but think that they did a fantastic instant restaurant but the 2 other times we saw them cook they really didn’t perform all that well.


I would have liked the Italianos to stay but their lasagna dish really fell flat. Didn’t look like lasagna to me. However wasn’t impressed by the pizettes or the stew. Definitely think the Italianos dishes were more difficult except for Zana’s filo pastry.