Previously on Masterchef: Curtis Stone made some of the easiest money of his life and Tim won an immunity pin due to his ability to make meat hot.
Tonight on Masterchef: the very first Mystery Box of the season, as yet again the producers chicken out and include no live arachnids inside.
It’s a really long opening titles sequence. Way too many people. Who ARE these people? These aren’t the people from other seasons: why not?
Steph has dreamed about doing a Mystery Box in the Masterchef kitchen forever: the dirty little girl. She can’t believe she’s finally doing it, and neither can anyone else, particularly the people she beat in qualifying.
“It’s almost like they’re glowing and singing to me,” says Abbey about the mystery boxes. Abbey has been pre-loading before breakfast, and she is off her face already.
The amateurs squeal and gasp as the mystery box’s contents are revealed, despite the incredibly unimpressive nature of those contents. Each judge has selected three ingredients for the box. None of the judges have been particularly imaginative: it’s lemons, mangoes, fish sauce, spatchcock, and Brussels sprouts to make sure the dish is horrible.
The judges will only taste the five best-looking dishes, making the whole exercise a waste of time for the vast majority. The best dish goes through to the immunity challenge, and doesn’t have to cook again today, in the dark and menacing task that lies ahead. Dramatic sting.
Huda wants to show the judges the knowledge that she has, but this seems very unambitious: why not show them something good instead? Meanwhile Abbey cuts up her spatchcock: “I’m in my element right now,” she says, remembering the many years she spent cutting up spatchcock for fun. Her stomach is churning, making her wonder if the massive alcohol intake was the right move.
Abbey plunges straight into her backstory, hoping to shoot down her opponents’ as quickly as possible. As best as I can tell, she is good at cutting up chicken because when she was little her mother would make baked beans or something. Hard to follow, but very emotional.
Tim throws the bones and the wings into the pan, because he is a maverick who doesn’t play by your rules. “How good would it be to have two pins?” murmurs Matt, like Satan tempting Jesus to jump off a cliff.
Gary and George visit Tessa’s bench to ensure she won’t be able to concentrate on her work. She explains her dish in a very boring way. Gary tells her he likes it because she’s thinking about it, unlike the other amateurs who have all just shut their eyes and waved knives around randomly.
Steph is making fried chicken, but not the usual fried chicken that she makes: she has decided to go with what she doesn’t know, pretty certain that Masterchef is all about having no idea what you’re doing. “I don’t know what it’s going to taste like,” she says, instilling confidence in all her fans.
Matt, still floating around the kitchen like a malevolent household spirit, visits Steph to suggest she use Brussels sprouts to give her chicken that extra kick of nausea. “Thanks Matt,” she says, because she’s not allowed to say “fuck off”.
George and Gary ask Huda what she’s doing. She tells them she’s making ice cream and crumble. They tell her she’s a lazy cow. She better do something else or they will be disgusted with her. Yet her intention was to show the judges her knowledge, and making ice cream and crumble is all she knows. She should’ve gone with Steph’s “make something up on the spot” strategy.
Huda thinks that the judges telling her that she should make something better is kind of a sign that she should make something better. She gets out her spatchcock and begins on her spatchcock ice cream.
Wait, no, she has made an even bigger change and now isn’t making ice cream at all. She’s making a chicken pie. But will that go well with the crumble?
Gary and George visit a strange little woman with glasses, who says “lemon” a lot. Apparently her name is Anushka, and she has an unsettling obsession with tamarinds. “I’m hoping to impress the judges today,” she says, instantly marking herself out as a reckless dreamer.
Matt visits Tessa and asks if she’s happy. “I am very happy,” she says, believing him to be referring only to her cooking. But Matt wanted to access a deeper truth, and Tessa is still shutting him out. When will she let her walls down? When will she let him in? When will we get to know the real Tessa, and deal with her pain?
Twenty minutes to go, and many of the contestants are nowhere near ready to have people remember what their names are. Abbey is doing Brussels sprouts a few different ways, but since they’re still Brussels sprouts, none of those ways is “edible”. “How good are Brussels sprouts?” asks Matt. “I love Brussels sprouts,” says Abbey, like a good little sheeple.
Matt tastes some of News Ltd columnist Joe Hildebrand’s dish, and pulls a face. It’s not a good face. It’s an “I am going to die if I take another mouthful” face. Joe Hildebrand agrees to try again.
With ten minutes to go, some dude is frying stuff and some dude is stirring stuff and Huda is making pastry. “My main concern is that the pie might not cook in time,” says Huda. It’d be funny if it was raw and the judges told her off for not sticking to ice cream.
Anushka’s caramel has over-set. She incorporates some more warm water. See how dull food is?
No one has claimed that Vespa.
With two minutes to go everyone is very stressed. Abbey thinks she has a really good chance despite the fact her dish is a portion almost invisible to the naked eye.
Jesus, we’re only 22 minutes into this episode. It’s been going FOREVER.
I guess it’s time for tasting of the five dishes that the judges have decided are the best based on nothing reliable. “The five dishes that we’re most excited by,” is how Gary puts it, but that’s a bit fucking subjective don’t you think?
Steph is picked first. “I just can’t believe they called out my name,” she squeals, reinforcing the fact that she thinks as poorly of her abilities as we do.
“It looks wonderful,” says George, looking at Steph’s lumpy stuff. They taste. “George, put the chicken down,” George says, in the terrifying growl of his alter ego, Dark Ken. Dark Ken is triggered by fried chicken and all he desires is blood.
Steph’s chicken is fine I guess.
The next dish to be tasted is Tessa’s. George says “Tessa” in a weird way. Like he’s really…aroused. They taste her dish, which has been plated in a 70s style which is embarrassing as that matters for some reason.
Tessa’s chicken is fine.
Next up is Tim, who apparently wants all the fucking immunity pins to him fucking self. Gary takes a mouthful and makes a face like, “Yeah, I guess I don’t mind if he lives or dies”. George has an issue with Tim’s skin. The chicken skin, I think he means.
Anushka is next up. “I am so excited that they called my name,” she says, “but I am concerned that some of the flavours are quite strong.” Strong flavours are a big mistake in Masterchef, where the judges are constantly reminding contestants to be blander.
Anushka’s sorbet is fine. Huda should’ve made something like that. “They finished the plate, that’s the best compliment,” Anushka says, incorrectly: the best compliment is, “You’re the best, you win.”
Abbey gets to serve her dish next, as a tribute to her mother, who has vowed to disown her if she fails. “I’ve never been so excited watching someone else eat,” she says, panting with desire.
Abbey’s chicken is fine basically.
All the five dishes are fine but there can be only one winner and that winner is of course is Abbey, probably because of her superior backstory. Abbey heads to the balcony — no I still won’t call it a fucking “gantry” — safe from the hell into which the other amateurs are about to descend.
The music turns ominous and a fleet of grim-faced, black-clad functionaries enter, like those creepy priests in Buffy who kill people with knives. Instead of knives, these sombre minions of hate are carrying black mystery boxes.
Black Mystery Boxes! So portentous. So unclean. So inevitably harbingers of death.
“When you see black in the Masterchef kitchen, it is danger,” says Dee, racistly.
The black mystery boxes contain a black apron, which the contestants must don to signify their failure and sin in the eyes of God. “There’s a big rock in my gut and I’m not feeling good,” says Kyle, reflecting on his poor lunchtime choices.
Tim must decide whether to use his immunity pin or chance his arm in the elimination. Gary asks News Ltd columnist Joe Hildebrand whether Tim should use the pin. Why? What does it matter what he thinks? That was weird.
Anyway Tim decides to play the pin, avoiding the stress of an elimination and accepting the stress of having to make conversation with Abbey on the balcony.
Besides the apron, the mystery box contains other black things, none of which are really black. Blackberries, black angus steak, eggplant, some other stuff that has “black” in the name.
“Don’t be scared of that black apron: embrace it,” says George, who doesn’t understand how to put an apron on. “If anything,” he adds, “that apron should be scared of you.” What? The apron should be scared of them? What the hell does that mean? Who is in charge of this show? How did that gibberish get through?
The worst cook in the elimination goes home. The next three worst will go into tomorrow’s pressure test, when George will probably tell them that any apron that would bully them is not their friend or something.
The judges gather to discuss their inherent cruelty. George thinks the contestants should ignore the fact they’re wearing the black apron, which would prevent them from enjoying how scared the apron is of them. Gary thinks the contestants don’t want to have a crazy idea that sends them home. Which is unfair, because the judges have crazy ideas all the time without getting sent home.
Kyle mostly cooks vegetarian dishes, which is surprising for a man with a moustache like that. He’s just learning to cook steak, and is still unsure whether to use the oven or the freezer. He strives to remember Chapter One of Meat For Dummies.
Matt asks Sandeep if he’s excited. Sandeep is so excited he’s practically suicidal. He tells Matt his plan, which is to cook some marron and then put some stuff on top of the marron and then to sit in a dark room and cry for a few days. Matt encourages him by looking doubtful and saying nothing encouraging at all. He advises Sandeep that when cooking with something you’ve never cooked before — like Sandeep with the monster from the deep that is Marron — you should have a backup plan. He might as well have told Sandeep that he would tear his still-beating heart from his chest and eat it, and Sandeep’s facial expression suggests that he did. Sandeep decides to change his dish on account of the visit from the ghost of Masterchef Future he’s just suffered through.
George asks Tessa why she’s staring at the water. “To see how bubbly it is,” says Tessa, a woman of simple tastes. George mocks her stupidity. Tessa restrains herself from hurling her pot of boiling water in his dumb face.
Matt visits Blake’s bench. Blake’s plan is basically exactly the same as Sandeep’s plan was, but Matt is a lot more enthusiastic and positive to Blake, because he’s already induced his daily quota of panic attacks.
Huda hopes the flavours come together. Real original Huda.
A trend starts to become apparent: none of these people have ever cooked with marron before. This isn’t surprising: who the hell would cook with marron? Who the hell has ever even EATEN marron? I put it to you that the answer to this is: nobody. Nobody has ever eaten marron. Marron, as far as we know, might not even be food. It’s put in the mystery box as a test: anyone who is fooled by the presence of marron into trying to cook marron will be instantly put into elimination.
Derek has burnt his chocolate soil, shattering his dream of replicating dirt on national television. Hopefully he can come up with a Plan B for making food look less appetising.
Blake is feeling the pressure. He says he needs to cut out his “raviolis”, revealing his ignorance of the fact that “ravioli” is already plural. Surely an eliminatable offence?
George and Gary wander the kitchen making dick jokes while Kyle makes eggplant and tahini puree like some kind of sick pervert a la the film “Se7en”. “I’m really excited about how it’s tasting,” he says, but he’s a vegetarian so he doesn’t know how things should taste anyway.
Gary and George visit Sandeep. He desperately tries to coax a compliment out of them. George tells him his sauce tastes nice, but Gary undercuts that by telling him he has to hurry the fuck up, slowcoach. Sandeep returns sadly to his work.
With 20 minutes left, Huda has a big slab of raw beef and not enough time to cook it. On the upside, in the last series of MKR, everyone was mad for raw meat, so maybe that won’t matter.
With five minutes to go, Abbey yells from the balcony to compliment Nicole on her markings. Why do they let people on the balcony say things? There should be a gag order on balcony people.
Tessa is leaving her marron whole on the plate so she won’t know whether it’s cooked correctly or not. Poor naive fool: of course it’s not cooked correctly, because there is no way to cook marron correctly. Marron is the War Games of cooking: the only way to win is not to play.
“Get everything on that plate!” Abbey shouts. “Thanks a fucking bundle, Abbey,” the amateurs shout back.
Ten seconds left as Huda wonders if that’s enough time to cook a steak. Then time’s up!
Gary tells the amateurs that life is tough and they better suck it the fuck up. Then he asks Tessa to bring her gross marron up. The judges taste the gross marron and pretend that it’s good.
Derek brings up his chocolate creme brulee. It looks like mud. The judges taste it. It’s good mud.
Blake is feeling pretty good, which is a bit bloody presumptuous of him. “I’ve tried to hero the marron,” he says, like a total prick. The judges taste and shrug and nod and pretend once again to like marron.
Sandeep steps up, hoping that the judges’ opinions will not cause him to walk into the sea. The judges bloody love his dish and Sandeep’s psyche remains intact for another day.
A bunch of other people serve their dishes and are OK. The letdown is coming…
Yep, here it is. Gary tells Dee her steak looks butt-ugly. The judges taste and declare that it also tastes butt-ugly.
Yossra’s steak “just doesn’t work”, begging the question: who is Yossra?
Nicole serves steak and blackberries, leading Gary to declare that he doesn’t like steak and blackberries: his polite way of saying that everyone who’s served steak today sucks donkey dick.
Huda serves up her steak, which you might recall was cooked in less than the amount of time it takes to cook a steak. “Do you ever cook steak at home?” asks George. “Rarely,” says Huda, which is as ironic an answer as you’ll ever hear.
“The vinaigrette is delicious,” says Matt, as a prelude for telling Huda that her dish is the most revolting pile of shit he’s ever seen in his life. She’s somehow OVERcooked her steak, despite only cooking it for about three seconds. That’s a talent.
The last to serve is Kyle. He’s fine.
“Now that was a challenge,” George says, to reassure himself of his own grip on reality. “It’s not all bad news,” he goes on, which they already knew: it’s only bad news for four of them.
The three best dishes, who go into the immunity challenge, were Tessa, Kyle and Derek.
The four worst were Yossra, Huda, Nicole and Dee. Three of them will fight for their lives tomorrow, but one of them is going home right now and that one is…
Huda. It’s a shame, because she seemed such a nice lady. But in the end the judges had to invoke the rule that specifies Masterchef contestants should be able to cook at least a little bit. If Huda’s fall shows anything, it’s that applying heat to meat is pretty easy but still some people can’t do it.
Tune in tomorrow, when the rest of the bumbling losers knock heads.
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