Masterchef Recap: A Very Special Blossom

The thing about Masterchef is, it’s all about preparing for a successful career in the food industry. Unlike other shows, Masterchef provides its participants with the kinds of challenges that will set them up to survive in the gruelling world outside. Like, for example, building an edible art installation in a greenhouse — how could anyone hope to become a professional chef without doing that at least once?

Divided into red and blue teams, the amateurs must, indeed, create edible installations. Eliza informs us that edible installations are a big new trend in food, which means one of two things — either:

a) Eliza is a liar; or

b) The food industry should be scoured from the earth.

To help the teams make their installation, Darren Purchese has come to the dingy warehouse in which the challenge is situated, to provide unhelpful advice like, “have a plan”. The judges tell us that Purchese is “no stranger to edible installations”, so you’d think he’d have something more constructive to say. Maybe he’s too ashamed of himself.

The blue team, captained by Tamara, draw up their plans. Everyone likes Samuel’s idea of an “urban beehive”, because everyone is a bit dim. It’s difficult to pin down exactly what an urban beehive is, but the main elements seem to be sticky walls and graffiti. So not so much a beehive as a normal Melbourne laneway.

Meanwhile the red team, captained by Sarah, are going to make a Zen garden. They’re all extremely excited and as long as they keep this level of enthusiasm up they can make themselves ignore the essential stupidity of the task.

Darren Purchese pops over to compliment Tamara on her honeycomb. She gives him her thoughts on biscuits and hexagons. The problem is, there are no hexagon cookie cutters. Can she overcome this obstacle? Sadly, yes. She makes a cookie cutter out of cardboard. Hope springs eternal: it might break soon.

The red team busily works on its marginally less idiotic concept. Sarah explains to Darren that the hero of their installation will be the cherry blossoms, made from dehydrated strawberries. Darren diplomatically does not call her a moron, but does note that she’ll need thousands of them. Sarah remains confident, however, because if you’re making an edible art installation in a greenhouse, what’s the point of staying in touch with reality for even a second?

“Only six hours to go!” Gary yells. “Seems like a long time!” Yes, it does. It seems like a long time. Because it is a long time.

The hexagonal cookie cutters are getting soggy and falling apart, as is Benjamin. Without hexagonal cookie cutters, the blue team will not be able to make hexagonal biscuits, and the public might not believe it’s a real beehive. Which would obviously be awful. “These little hexagons need to be bang on,” says Benjamin, and that’s an issue, because one glance tells us that the hexagons are in no way bang on. They are bang off.

Sam explains the red team’s idea of choux rocks — things that look like rocks but you can eat them. Who doesn’t want to eat something that looks like a rock, right? Rocks are so delicious-looking! They’re also making edible sand, and Ben has a brilliant idea. To not make edible sand? No! His idea is…some kind of spoon thingy. I don’t know.

Meanwhile the red team is also making their little dehydrated strawberry flower things, and in so doing are setting a new Masterchef record for greatest imbalance between effort expended and potential result achieved.

The blue team has found a new way to make hexagonal biscuits, which is not only more difficult, but slower. “What’s happening?” asks Gary. “We’re a little bit behind on the biscuits,” says Tamara. Gary nods understandingly — he knew they sucked beforehand. Darren asks how they’re going on the other elements. They haven’t started any other elements.

The red team is doing the maths and realising their strawberries aren’t going to dehydrate in time. They need a Plan B. A good Plan B would be telling the judges to shove their greenhouses up their arses, but instead they decide to crank up the oven and leave the questioning of life choices for later.

Gary and George interrogate Tamara about her biscuits. Darren tells her she’s got a lot to do. She KNOWS, Darren. What sort of frigging mentor ARE you? He is not helping anyone, he just keeps wandering around the kitchen telling them they have a lot to do.

Sarah has gotta be honest: she doesn’t know if this Zen garden is going to happen. The next step in her evolution will be not knowing if it will be worth it if it does. Meanwhile on the blue side Callan explains that they want everything in their greenhouse to be sticky and fun — and what is more fun than walking around a room where everything is sticky?

Meanwhile the red team’s petals are starting to work, in the sense that they look like bits of dry strawberry with holes in them. It’s now time to put the petals together into flowers as part of the continuing depressing trudge into the emotional abyss. They are using fishing line to construct the flowers. It takes a really long time but at least it looks dumb.

Gary and Darren, concerned that the teams will run out of time, scold the team captains. “You’ve got real people coming through that door,” Darren nags. “You don’t want an empty greenhouse”. But then, maybe they do. Maybe an empty greenhouse is the concept here. Maybe it’s meta.

The red team hasn’t filled any of its choux rocks, but Sarah continues to obsess over her freaking strawberry flowers. “We don’t have a plan B,” says Ben, but he’s wrong: the plan B is to lose and go into elimination tomorrow. The blue team has started to dress its greenhouse, but everyone on red is still busy making the flowers. They will die where they stand, dried strawberries floating before their eyes, mocking them in their final gasp.

Time passes, but there’s not a lot to comment on. The red team is still making flowers and Sarah is still doing post-show commentary about how worried she is about the flowers. There’s one hour to go and the blue team is crowding into their greenhouse. “Everything is becoming really sticky,” says Tamara, over-sharing. Callan begins making honey joys just for the hell of it.

Karlie says she needs more flowers and is going to make some more. Sarah tells her she better bloody not. They wanted eight hundred flowers. They only have three hundred. Their greenhouse looks like an abandoned craft shop. Suddenly an idea strikes the red team: walk into the sea. They reject this idea and Sarah tells Diana to make a microwave matcha sponge. Everyone makes everything with matcha these days. It’s fucked.

The red team’s greenhouse looks sparse and sad, but the blue team’s greenhouse is a stark contrast: it looks like a greenhouse with a bunch of stuff glued to the walls. With 25 minutes to go Darren tells Tamara that her installation is too sweet. It’s Sweet Week Darren, try to keep up for Christ’s sake.

To ameliorate her unforgivable sweetness, Tamara decides to get Eloise to make a mascarpone mousse, which will be incorporated into the installation by the amateurs hurling it at punters’ heads.

Meanwhile the red team are still making motherfucking flowers.

“You eat with your eyes,” says Tamara, the phrase as always marking the point at which the episode jumps the shark. With five minutes to go, the blue team’s greenhouse looks like an emptied fish tank and the red team’s greenhouse looks like a bakery in a David Lynch movie. Seven hours of hard work has resulted in something truly pointless.

“I couldn’t be happier,” says Tamara, who suffers a condition that causes her to go into severe shock whenever she feels happy and so must avoid it at all costs.

In come the guests, who have nothing better to do than pick biscuits off plastic walls in a vandalised warehouse. They’re mighty impressed by everything they see because they’ve been kept underground in complete darkness for the last eighteen months.

Sarah just hopes the judges like her greenhouse. That’s her only wish. That the judges think she did a good job. All other considerations are dismissed.

The judges like Sarah’s greenhouse, so whoop-de-frickin-doo.

On to the blue house, which has many different things of various kinds in it and which, if looked at for long enough with a certain level of sleep deprivation might put one in mind vaguely of something related to bees. The judges are delighted with whatever the hell it is.

Darren wants the judges to imagine if the red team had had a thousand cherry blossoms. By which he means dried strawberry fragments. Of course we can imagine all sorts of skills that the contestants might have, but some of us have to live in the real world.

Before learning the winners and losers, we whip quickly through some vox pops, where we find out that after spending seven hours making strawberry flowers, the people looking at them think they’re butterflies; and that some weird kid likes a biscuit.

Now the teams gather for judgment. “I think you’ll agree it was all worth it,” Gary says, probably to reassure himself as much as anyone else. It’s obvious that the better performance has been the blue team’s, and then the red team wins, which is grossly unfair, but to be honest the real winner on the day was crushing futility: a tune we can all dance to.

As the blue team processes the fact that all their hexagonal biscuits were for nothing, and George’s hand movements become increasingly manic and meaningless, we are left to reflect on a Masterchef day that gave new meaning to the word “Uh?”

Tune in tomorrow when Eloise maybe uses her pin or maybe not who knows I guess.

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