MasterChef – Mon, July 25 – Three cooks enter, two cooks leave

The final three contestants vie for a place in the Grand Finale in this service challenge. Each contestant must prepare a main and a dessert for 20 guests plus the three judges.

Here we are at the MasterChef house and Intense Matt, Growing Elena and Harry are competing to see who’s now the tallest, because it’s all about growth in the MC boxing ring – ahem – kitchen, and rounder tummies do not count.
Matt Preston has worn his tartan-iest navy and purple suit for the occasion; he seems to save his pink numbers for the “away” challenges.
“This is going to be the hardest day you have ever spent in the MasterChef kitchen,” Gaz warns the trio. I dunno, Gaz – there was that one jaffle challenge …
They each have to serve a main and a dessert for 20 guests plus the three judges. They have four hours to prep. Blah blah … destiny .. blah blah … journey .. blah … deliciousness. The last being, George says, the main criteria of the judging. Umm, surely that’s beetroot, George?
Shannon is there to mentor them.
Oh god, we’re eight minutes in and they haven’t started cooking yet because it’s all about the dream. And then George makes them do the “yes, George”.

IM is cooking confit duck with harissa pumpkin and baby beetroot (BINGO!) and a brioche doughnut with orange and coffee. Yum! Winner! He’ll get points for his desert technique and not doing an Asian dish, which is his strength.

GE is using native Australian ingredients (we usually get a native challenge but didn’t this year – maybe because Jock Zonfrillo was on another netweork?). She’s doing an Aussie nicoise salad and for dessert, apples, bickies and cheese. This must be the dish with the perfect apple batons they showed on the preview. The apple component is a green apple sorbet. She is hard boiling a massive pot of eggs – I guess one per person. Her dishes will take forever to plate up.

Harry is showing different skills by doing European instead of Asian. He’s making lobster cannelloni with a smoked custard and a twist on a tiramisu. “This is something I’d want to see in a three-star restaurant,” he tells the camera of his dessert. Classic Harry. He’s obsessed with layered desserts, having missed out on serving a trifle that day Brett went rogue.

IM is getting a lot of “at home” shots. Building the winner edit? Harry’s delivery seems a little flat – and his enunciation is worse than usual – so perhaps he’s the goner.
GE has 16 elements to complete and has calculated she needs to do one thing every 15 minutes. It would take me that long to peel just seven eggs, so good on her. But, uh oh – they took her twice as long as she anticipated.

Now she has to cut up the world’s biggest piece of tuna and she starts freaking out a little. Don’t get stuck in the Mimi and Elise brain freeze trap, GE! Serenity now! At least you have the lovely Shannon Bennett there to try to calm you down.
IM is showing off his mad butchery skills, chopping up 14 whole ducks.
Harry is chopping up kingfish for his cannelloni filling and Shannon expresses concern about the fattiness of the fish. Harry listens – a bit – and ups the ration of lobster to kingfish.
GE is talking a lot about how far behind she is (and Shannon points out using unwashed potatoes is just adding to her workload). No doubt she will triumph on the end.
IM is starting to panic a lit and pops butter in the microwave … in a metal bowl! On the gantry a horrified Trent starts to clap his hands to his mouth and someone – it sounds like Chloe – yells out to him, luckily before there’s an explosion.
With 90 mimnutes to go Shannon gives them the “dig deep speech”. More from GE about being behind (she’s just completed a wattleseed crumb and a fennel gel and is simmering spuds in saffron). Shannon goes through all the steps she has yet to complete.
The gantry is whooping and clapping on cue – I wonder if they get to sit down in between whoops? IM revs them up by flaming his duck with madeira.

“I think he’s just amazing to watch,” Heather (sans headband) tells the camera.
Harry is prepping artichokes for his dish, which will take forever to do. It’s the skewered prawns all over again. After a while he tells Shannon he’s going to ditch them, but Shannon points out the word artichoke is on the menu, so he needs to lose something else instead. Harry decides to bulk things out with some brussels sprouts so he doesn’t have to do as many artichokes.
IM’s duck is looking pretty good – they haven’t alerted us to any potential mistakes yet. He is a machine.
Someone has shown Shannon George’s cue card: “It’s crunch time – push, push!” He tells GE she needs to speed up by 10 per cent. She’s stresed out but hasn’t yet cracked.
Harry is happy with his lobster reduction but he hasn’t made enough – aargh – how many times have we seen this (most notably with – jew-ess Heather).

Service starts and GE is still cooking her tuna. Shannon tells her she just needs four plates to start with.
IM gets four out quickly. “I’m really liking the presentation,” says Shannon.

The judges taste

IM’s duck: The judges are drooling just looking at it. Gary tilts back his head in ecstasy. “I’ve got nothing negative about this dish .. thank you Matt for being in this competition. He brings us so much joy every time he cooks,” says George. Gaz admires the French techniques used. He would drive 100km to eat this duck.

Harry’s kingfish and lobster cannelloni: “I really don’t taste the lobsert,” says Gaz. George and Gaz are confused there seems to be no soz. George heads to Harry’s bench to taste the soz and reports back it’s delicious. They yell out to Shannon to bring the soz over and drown their plates in it, so they can see what they missed. So a lot of diners will be missing out on it altogether. The kingfish was the wrong choice of fish for the dish.

GE’s Oz Meets Nice (Aussie tuna nicoise): And just before she serves it we hear her say it should have more sauce but she’s worried about keeping the diners waiting any longer. Not again! The judges notice, too. But she’s cooked the tuna well and they like the bush tomato sauce and tempura samphire. So she’s ahead of Harry.

Dessert time
From the gantry, Nicolette (wow -she’s a distant memory) gets to yell out George’s lines: “Good job, Elena – push, push, push!”
IM’s doughnuts look fab and he’s doing his curd in the microwave, but it’s not behaving itself. He chucks butter in thinking that may help but Shannon gives him the bad news that he’s just stuffed it by doing so. It’s the first sign of trouble for IM but he’d have to drop dessert on the floor, scrape it off and still serve it to not be put through.
Harry is using some fancy techniques, spraying his dessert with a melted chocolate and coconut oil mix (aka Ice Magic) and Trent gets a talking head to say how coll this is.
Luckily IM’s second go at curd works.

The judges taste

IM’s doughnut with orange and coffee: They look even ore excited than they did for his duck. “I haven’t seen a doughnut look that good for as long as I can remember,” says Gaz. They taste and are in heaven. “Can’t get enough of that,” Gaz says. George says it’s a restaurant quailty dish. “Those doughnuts could be coming out of a food truck with people queuing round the block to get them,” says Matt. (Well, he is a former barista, so a coffee and doughnut truck could be a goer.”

GE’s Apple, Cheese and Bickies: “How modern and exciting does this dish look.” says George. They all love it. “I love the fact it’s real – nothing’s mucked around,” says Matt. He actually prefers this over IM’s doughnut.

Harry’s espresso bavarois with marsala ice cream: (It looks good on the dark plate – much more refined than the desserts Harry and Elise served last night. and, to his credit, he did a good job after no doubt being rattled by George coming to his bench to taste the lobster soz.) The judges like that it’s not what they expected – fooled by the sprayed chocolate coating. Matt says it’s sophisticated and fun. George says he’s pulled out all the stops.

The judges decide
They pretend it’s going to be a tough decision but it’s obvious IM is going through. And surely GE’s only transgression of not enough sauce on the main far outweighs Harry using the wrong fish and serving only a skerrick of soz on his.
First up Gaz raves about two flawless dishes, and of course they belong to IM. He’s through! And starts crying and laughing. Good on you, IM! Winner winner, duck dinner! Pity they weren’t finale dishes.
George gets the talking stick and raves about GE’s and Harry’s desserts but says both their mains were too dry. Harry’s choice of kingfish was wrong. So GE’s through. More tears and Harry, to his credit, is grinning and clapping away.
“How do you feel about being in the finale?” George asks GE. “Pretty bloody stoked,” she replies (channelling a bit of Elise, there). “Matt and I sat on the first table on the first day of auditions, so it’s especially cool to be there with him.”
Hooray – the result we here at Talking TV have wanted for weeks.
Good luck, Harry – go find a great mentor to channel that energy in the right direction.

Tomorrow night
Heston is back. Well, that’s a surprise. I hope it’s not just two hours of recreating a Heston dish, as usually the finale has three different challenges. But since they did the service challenge tonight maybe it will be all Heston. Will he be able to muster up more enthusiasm for this latest appearance?



    • Greatest $emifinal Evah in the wanderful Ma$terchef Kitchin. Two out of three ain’t bad, said Meatloaf.

      (Captions have taught me that “semifinal ” is one word)

  1. At least we seem to be doing something different tonight. Why weren’t these sort of challenges set earlier.

  2. What? How can you enter a cooking competition and not know how to cook Italian. Tiramisu for a place in the final two???

  3. The concept for the Tiramisu is similar to his earlier dish

    Black Sesame Bavarois Dacquoise with Fennel and Strawberries

  4. Elena is doing too much. Right from the beginning the judges keep on emphasizing on deliciousness ( new word). I think some dishes will be late in services but the maker will make it to the final based on taste

    • Reminds of the occasion when the three stooges had to share one scallop. Bon apetit.

      Now it’s a lonely canneloni.

      That should teach the judges for inventing stupid words like “crustaceany”. Fail.

  5. George reaches new levels of rudeness, marching up to the pass and tipping some of the lobster sauce into a teaspoon to taste. Yes Harry clearly screwed up the amount but there was no need to make a production out of it. Feeling bad for Elena at the moment. She should pick up on dessert though.
    Agree LP – not the first time Harry has produced a miserly main.

  6. Oh thank you, thank you!!fabulous result and they seem like friends too even nicer. Happy days.
    I am now quite keen to watch the grand final (can’t bring myself to say ‘finale’) and happy either way. Though I would prefer IM, GE is fine by me too. πŸ™‚

  7. Initially I was not very keen on IM. But I can see his intense passion about food and he can cook. I hope he wins

    • Great recap – hats off especially for highlighting the ego formerly known as Harry tooting his own horn (so to speak)…. “This is the kind of dish I’d like to see in a three star restaurant.”

      • Thank you. Can’t believe the MKR/MC risde for 2016 is almost over. I had coffee at Rose’s cafe today to mark the occasion.

      • yes – when Juz can pump out this beautiful piece. . .
        β€œThis is going to be the hardest day you have ever spent in the MasterChef kitchen,” Gaz warns the trio. I dunno, Gaz – there was that one jaffle challenge …”

        the pressure is ON! I chortled into my tea over the jaffle line.

        • I was pretty pleased with myself over that one πŸ˜‰ Not sure how quick I’ll be tonight. Mr Juz is having work dramas so I have to put the 4yo to bed. He’s extra rambunctious as it’s been raining on SA for days. A trip to the Ikea ball pit seems only to have fired him up!

  8. Ahhh justice prevails. Excellent result.
    I didn’t think much of Elena’s sorbet with fennel, and she clearly struggled – a whole team of assistant producers probably had to help her.
    But I’m glad she made it.

    Now for Matt to overcome the final hurdle!

  9. Finale tomorrow:

    Thirty points are up for grabs in the first round with contestants having 60 minutes to create a dish based on one hero ingredient.

    The second round, for another 30 points, is a main course with no rules β€” any cuisine, any style, any ingredients.

    The final round, for 40 points, is an epic five-and-a-half hour cook to recreate a dessert created by Heston Blumenthal and his head chef at Dinner by Heston, Ashley Palmer-Watts.

    Wonder what kind of dessert

    • It promises to be a big nitrogen. Yeah?

      Gazing into the crystal ball , there’ll be a point in it after round two, then it’s down to the wire in a blaze of fennel and beetroot. There will be a hundred ads for The Bachelor. It will be unctuous entertainment.

      One drink for every time Gary bleats “Ma$terchef Kitchin” in his opening salvo.

  10. Great results. Like both Elena and Matt but my preference would be Matt for the win and I do think that he will be MC 2016. However, if Elena wins, that’s fine, too.
    Harry…doesn’t listen to Shannon regarding the fish but then would there have been different fish available in the pantry if he had decided to swallow his pride and finally listen to a professional chef w/ many years of experience.

  11. Thanks for another great recap Juz.
    Well I’m really happy with that result. Good on Matt & Elena. I think this is the first time I like both finalists & don’t mind who wins.
    Harry Harry Harry, you know the judges love their sauce. You should have given them lots of sauce. Fuck the customers, they’re not judging you.
    Matt’s duck looked absolutely yummy.
    Poor Elena was getting really stressed out & seemed to have taken too much on, but she got there in the end. I wonder if they were the only potatoes there & if she had a choice.
    The last couple of years they have cooked for their family for the finale. Wonder if they’ll do that tonight.

    • When Marco bleated that generosity is the greatest garnish of all, it went in one of Harrison’s ears and out the other. That was the mother of all miserly portions he dished out last night. Same with Shannon’s sage warnings about the kingfish. King Dick barged on regardless. Again his fatal flaw, knowing more than real chefs.

      • To be fair, king Dick couldn’t pick another fish or protein as all their ingredients were pre-planned and ready for use. The judges etc would have looked at his menu leading in and realised what he was doing was probably risky and orchestrated a lovely moment to tell him so. Harry is an ego but don’t think he had any option other than not use the fish and make it all lobster.

  12. Thrilled for Matt. He’s gone from strength to strength. Less thrilled it’s Elena and not Harry next to him in the finale. Harry bowed out with good grace, though.

      • Lol – thanks, Gice. And I guess there is Zumbo’s show. I guess it and Survivor are after the Olympics? If their times clash Survivor will win, though.

      • I’ll recap the premiere but, honestly, Rosie from Mamamia’s recaps are brilliant (and more X-rated) , so I may just jot down a few notes and put up the link to her page.

    • If I ever get into Masterchef, gonna cook that for Uncle Fester (George), Lurch (Matt), and Pugsly (Gary). And wonder if Cousin IT (Shannon) would also sample it?

  13. Watched Harrison on Studio 10 this morning. He seems to have been listening to feedback as he has had a new haircut. Looks okay.
    And he has a job in Tasmania. Mini-boom in cooks with an influx of Masterchef contestants to the fair isle.

  14. The judges and Shannon bent over backwards last night to put Elena off. Constant harsh comments and harassment. I couldn’t believe my darling Shannon deliberately stressing her by enumerating all the steps from her list. The producers must have made him be mean.

    I have a set of metal mixing bowls that I put in the microwave. They don’t spark unless the bowl hits the side, so I just have to make sure that the bowl is centred.

    • I suspect the whole time thing with Glowing Elena and Harry was a myth thought up by production. At one stage they had Intense Matt behind as well. Shouting useless slogans at contestants is about as helpful as whacking them over the head with a frypan and they really should stop doing it.

      Alla Wolf Tasker was so much better at getting the best out of these cooks. She did not raise her voice once. And it made better, more compelling television than finding out what success manual psychobabble the producers have read this week.

  15. Thank goodness Elena got through, the finale would have been dreadful with Harry in it. Don’t mind who wins it now but i have a slight preference for Elena.

    • She could well win as George in particular likes that meticulous kind of presentation, whereas Intense Matt is more about big flavours.

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