Masterchef Recap: Disgustation

Previously on Masterchef, Khanh cooked against Matt, who seemed vaguely familiar. The voiceover guy says Matt “proved impossible to beat”, but this is not true: he only proved impossible for Khanh to beat.

Tonight, the final six take a walk to Melbourne’s swankiest restaurant, Luminare.

Sorry, I misspoke. That should have been “Melbourne’s wankiest restaurant, Luminare”. When they arrive, Gary insists they check out the view, in a frankly aggressive manner. He goes on to explain that they will be cooking a six-course vegetarian degustation, a word which sounds a bit like “disgusting”, and with good cause. The winner of this disgusting challenge will go straight into Finals Week, which I think is next week but who knows, it could be next February.

Matt tells the amateurs about the charity SecondBite, which Masterchef donates leftover food to in order to assuage the cast and crew’s gnawing guilt about their complicity in western capitalism’s culture of conspicuous consumption. “We’re telling you this for two reasons,” Matt goes on: firstly because today’s degustation is a fundraiser for SecondBite, and secondly because George is trying to rehabilitate his public image.

George will be supervising the amateurs in the kitchen, and has donned his favourite underpaying uniform for the task. Four of the six courses will be savoury and two will be sweet, because that way the odds are that at least one person will be devastated. As it turns out, it’s Jess, who will be forced to work in her weakest area: non-ice cream.

Chloe has the job of first course, and will also be working in her weakest area: food. George takes her into the kitchen and tells her that he is excited by cucumber, which nobody needed to know.

The rest of the gang unload fruit and vegetables from a truck even though there are people paid to do this. Jess sits and waits for her turn, praying loudly for eggplant. Everyone surreptitiously rolls their eyes and wills her to shut up.

In the kitchen, Chloe is planning to hero the cucumber, and says so out loud, making her more irritating than usual. She begins putting pieces of cucumber into plastic bags and squirting soy sauce into them. God only knows what she’s doing. Looks like a hate mail campaign. She moves on to juicing cucumber, which is unforgivable.

Khanh begins his preparation for the second course. He feels he has a little bit of momentum behind him after yesterday’s challenge, which he lost. Mysterious fellow, Khanh. He says he will be heroing broccolini, which is a revolting thing to say both because it’s incorrect use of the word “hero” and because broccolini is just revolting in general.

Ben begins his vegetarian journey. He must cook something tasty with celeriac, which was one of the 12 Tasks of Hercules. The one Hercules couldn’t finish because it’s impossible. Ben is beginning to sweat bullets as George berates him with increasing anger. He has nothing to fear from George, however, as he’s not getting paid for this job in the first place.

“I’m not getting much from you,” George tells Ben sternly. In desperation, Ben offers him a bottle of vitamins. Bad move — George already has plenty of those. Ben change tack and instead decides to make some kind of foul puree with his horrible celeriac.

“Come on, man!” George snaps at Ben, who is completely lost and has forgotten how ovens work. George notes that Ben is a builder, and tells him that cooking is exactly the same as building. This is a bald-faced lie, as can be illustrated by the fact that you cannot live inside a six-course vegetarian degustation, and that you can’t make a house by putting a brick in a sous vide machine.

Khanh is putting the broccolini in ice water, presumably in the hope that this will somehow turn it into something edible. Meanwhile Chloe has fifty minutes until service starts, but is confident that if she tries really hard, she can get the judges to completely ignore the time restriction and let her win anyway, like last time.

It’s Jess’s turn to start. Her hero ingredient is mushrooms, an unusual ingredient today in that it’s quite nice to eat. She wants her dish to taste sweet, because she did not understand when she was told that it had to be savoury. “I feel really excited about my dish,” she says, proving her need for medication. George tells her that he loves her pigtails, which is workplace harassment and will hopefully cost him down the line.

Ben is still cutting up his celeriac and explains that he will be using a building technique to do so. George is extremely impressed and shouldn’t be.

Sashi has begun his course. It seems like he is cooking a fairly good dish in a fairly competent way, making him incredibly bad television.

The diners begin entering the restaurant. “There are your diners,” says George. “They’re coming in. Yeah?” The amateurs agree that yes, there are their diners, and they are definitely coming in. George now allows them to get back to cooking, confident that now that they understand that their food will be eaten by actual live human beings, they will try to make it edible. Or as edible as possible given that it’s vegetarian.

First course is served. Chloe has cleverly arranged several minuscule slivers of cucumber in the centre of a large plate. It is entirely possible that someone would notice if this dish was in their mouth and they were concentrating very hard. Gary and Matt love it, as it’s a prime example of what connoisseurs call “nearly food”.

It is time for Reece to start the final course, which will involve blackberries, hopefully as food. “Just think of some really cool things that are going to blow their minds,” says George. Reece immediately thinks of fair wages, but must get cracking on his dish, so he can’t think about it too long.

Khanh’s second course is now to be served, but Khanh doesn’t seem to be ready. Time is running out, and the diners are extremely hungry because Chloe’s course contained nothing that could be identified without powerful equipment. Chloe is in fact finished for the night, having sent out all of her plates and almost a gram of food.

Khanh’s second course is a fragment of burnt broccolini on top of a mud pie. It looks absolutely delicious, but only when compared to Chloe’s. Gary and Matt love it. Gary declares that the broccolini “jumps off the plate”, which is indeed the only thing you ever want broccolini to do.

Sashi’s course has apples in it and seems to be fine. Meanwhile Jess is making a mushroom puree that George says needs salt. Interestingly, the word “salary” comes from the Latin salarium, or money for salt. But that is a word George is unfamiliar with.

Ben serves his third course. It is a smear of playdough with a gross little lump sitting on top of it. Matt and Gary love it, or at least claim to in order to avoid admitting that they don’t know what celeriac is. Gary, however, thinks it’s too much like peanut butter, the substance they put in his mouth before each taping to make it look like he’s talking.

Jess’s turn. “Start getting everything done,” says George repeatedly. Is this how he manages his own restaurants: just shouting the same sentences at his employees over and over? No wonder they don’t make enough money for the staff to earn a living.

George tells Jess that her savoury course is too sweet, something nobody could have foreseen except everyone who heard Jess say she wanted her savoury course to be really sweet. Jess has no idea how to make her course less sweet, because they didn’t teach that at her Adding Sugar To Things School.

George tells Jess he wants eight plates, all the same. Only the plates going to Matt and Gary will actually get judged though, so really George can stick it up his arse. George forces Jess to do a lion impression at him. This too feels like harassment.

Jess serves up her fourth course: dried worms in diarrhoea. Gary and Matt hate it because it’s eighty percent sugar. “There’s a lot of effort in this dish,” Gary says, to emphasise that the problem is that Jess simply lacks ability.

Sashi serves his dessert. It seems fine. Gary and Matt think it’s fine. It is fine.

Reece is busily preparing his blackberry mousse, which he is pairing with olives and tarragon because he wants to make everyone sick. Disaster strikes as he finds that dehydrated tarragon doesn’t taste as good as he thought it would, which is saying something because it’s fairly obvious that dehydrated tarragon would be horrific. Reece runs into the coolroom to find a new flavour. He finds some fennel and puts it on top of his dish, transforming a bland mousse into a bland mousse with green things on top of it.

“I think we’re going to name this blackberry stegosaurus,” Matt says when he sees Reece’s dish and notes how old it looks. Gary and Matt find Reece’s dessert so boring that “blackberry mousse” is an appropriate name for it.

Finally the degustation is over, and the diners have finished all six courses, adding up in total to almost a tenth of an actual meal. The diners all decide how much they think their dinner was worth, which is the amount they will be donating to SecondBite, who are probably regretting pinning their banner to this mast right now.

The amateurs have raised $6780 for SecondBite, which…I mean…that doesn’t sound like very much, somehow, does it? Not worth the effort.

Oh, Masterchef will match it dollar for dollar, a move which could very well bankrupt Channel Ten. This means the total raised will be $13,560. Still…seems a bit low.

The amateurs who have done well are Chloe, Khanh and Sashi. The amateurs who utterly suck balls are Jess, Reece and Ben. Sashi is the one who goes through to finals week, partially because he is the best at cooking food.

Tune in tomorrow, when the other five descend into a primitive animalistic state in their desperation to avoid returning to their families.

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