Previously, on Masterchef Australia: a new twist that nobody saw coming! Although mainly because nobody was trying to see twists coming all that hard. Oh yeah, it’s Home Cooking Week, the least interesting week of all. They have to use utensils and appliances they’d have at home. What a thrill for us all.
Anyway, tonight, the three least impressive chefs face off in elimination. I mean, the chefs who cooked the three least impressive dishes last night. Well, let’s be honest: the three least impressive dishes. The opening blurb informs us that the loser will be someone who serves undercooked chicken, so that’s one spoiler out of the way.
Still sticking with Katy Perry, good for them. I think Roar would be a better choice for the song, though. What Masterchef contestant does not, after all, dream of roaring louder than a lion? None.
Anyway, here are three guys. I don’t know their names because hey, it’s only Week Two. Oh one is Ray. Ray is a doctor, who is so sick of treating type 2 diabetes that he is trying to start a new career causing it. There is also Lee, who is Irish so I don’t think he’s really allowed on this show actually. And then there’s Pete, who you’ll remember as the crane operator who has caused many deaths by daydreaming about cooking on the job.
Each of the three losers arrives in his own car. They could easily all fit in one car, but they get one each because these three guys hate each other so much if they’re put in the same car they will hurt each other. Overall, this season of Masterchef features more brutal hatred between contestants than any other.
The challenge: to avoid elimination the three losers must keep up with Gary while he cooks in front of them. As he cooks, they have to copy him. George tells them that the least impressive dish “will send its maker home”, which is a frightening glimpse of the experiments in sentient food that the judges have been dabbling in.
Gary starts. The contestants start. “This is kitchen speed now,” says Gary. “Kitchen speed,” he repeats, both statements being one hundred percent unnecessary.
Gary gets a chicken from the fridge. The contestants get chickens from their fridges. Gary cuts the chicken up. The contestants cut their chickens up. Gary puts some oil in a pan. The contestants put some oil in a pan. There seems to be a pattern forming.
Ray is already falling behind, distracted by the sensual way that Gary keeps saying “breast”. “Ray, watch your chook!” calls Matt from the balcony. What the fuck is Matt doing on the balcony? Stay in your lane, Matt.
Ray almost burns his chicken. “I’m getting flustered,” he admits. His patients must be feeling great about the standard of care they’ve been getting from the man who holds life and death in his hands and also completely loses all composure when asked to cook a chicken.
George helps with Ray’s anxiety problem by calling out to him that his Masterchef is on the line. Every year George lobbies harder and harder for the Logies to introduce a “Least Helpful” category. His main competition would be Matt, who now calls to Lee, “Come on Lee, keep up”. Lee is inspired by this brainwave.
Gary walks along the amateurs’ benches showing them his quantity, in a very saucy manner. Because he’s making a sauce. Get it? Brilliant.
“I’m falling a bit behind,” says Pete, adding, “It’s all about attention to detail.” It’s not though — it’s about keeping up with Gary. Attention to detail can go to hell.
Gary announces that they must make a pea custard, and now everyone knows he’s taking the piss. That can’t be a real thing. Gary pours as much wine as possible into his pan. I don’t think he’s actually ever made this dish before. I think he’s making it up as he goes along. I think this is a sadistic mind game.
Lee is struggling. He’s so far behind he doesn’t even have time to say Yes, Gary. “I didn’t think you’d fall behind so quickly,” says Gary bitchily. I don’t know why he wouldn’t have thought that. Entirely predictable. From above, George calls, “Lee, you’re not turned on”, which is an insulting and needlessly personal remark.
Gary tells the amateurs to use 50ml of cream to make the pea custard (yuk). Ray asks him to repeat how much cream to use. Gary tells him 50ml. Ray nods and says, “150ml”, and puts in three times as much as he’s supposed to. How we laughed.
Ray quickly notices that his custard is much more creamy than the others. On the upside, this means it’s relatively less pea-y, which can only be good for the flavour. But he worries that it might not set properly, which is a minor worry compared to all the times he’s tripled the dosage in his day job.
“Now on to potatoes,” says Gary, boringly. He cuts some potatoes into discs, and peels the discs, and acts like he’s carving David out of marble. They’re only potatoes, for fuck’s sake.
Ray now makes the mistake of setting the kitchen on fire. Many Masterchef contestants do this, believing it’s their only way out, but Ray needs to learn that arson is not the answer. Some blonde woman who seems to have been appointed special comments for this episode keeps telling us how worried she is about Ray, but she says it with a massive smile on her face so you know she’s lying.
Ray gives us the whole spiel about how he’s “sacrificed everything for this”. He hasn’t. We know he hasn’t. When he’s eliminated he’ll just go back to being a doctor. He gets all emotional about spending time away from his kids, but if that’s such a big deal for you, quit now. Stop whining about it for god’s sake.
Anyway Ray is in big trouble because his pea custard doesn’t look right. Pete thinks his pea custard looks right. He’s wrong: pea custard will never look right. It’s a fundamentally wrong concept.
They’re blending MORE peas. Why is Masterchef so obsessed with putting peas in things? Peas are not that good. They’re just not. They’re a mediocre vegetable. People need to accept this.
“There’s no way I’m going back home in the second week,” says Ray, but there is a way. There are probably several ways, in fact — I would not underestimate Ray’s ability to find ways to fail.
“You gotta go, Gary’s about to start dressing,” says George — that’s right, up till now Gary has been cooking nude. Up on the balcony the smug observers have noticed that Lee hasn’t flipped his breasts — so to speak — and his chicken looks undercooked. So I guess it’s Lee going home. Excellent. Mystery solved.
Gary is plating up: disgusting pea puree, potato discs, bits of chicken, and of course the awful, awful pea custard. And some more peas. This is not a chicken dish, it’s a plate of peas with chicken garnish.
Ray’s pea custard hasn’t set and it’s utterly catastrophic, or at least it would be if it weren’t for Lee’s blessedly undercooked chicken. Pete seems to be doing fine, which is surprising because he seems a bit slow in the head. But is there another twist in store?
Probably not, if we’re honest.
Now they’re putting FLOWERS on the plate. The hell kind of nonsense is this? “Use your instinct!” George yells, but nobody would put flowers on a plate if they were using their instinct. Gary continues covering the plate with as much green garbage as possible — the aim is to disguise the fact that any chicken is present at all.
Gary finishes. The amateurs finish. They hug each other inexplicably. “I feel really good about myself,” says Pete, and really, isn’t that the most important thing? As long as the others don’t feel good about themselves, it’s a great result. And that seems likely: Lee just noticed his chicken looked pink. O hubris!
In the tasting room, George babbles about knives and spoons and Matt agrees heartily with his dumb point. When it comes to the tasting, George is overjoyed that Pete has a smile on his face, but that’s not his place to judge. Stick to what you’re paid for, George: you are not there to pass comment on smiles. Pete’s dish seems fairly OK.
In comes Ray, all tremors and angst. He places his plate on the table in close-up to the sound of a cascading cymbal, which means it either looks great or looks horrible. I can’t tell because they all look horrible to me — every plate looks infested with mould. The judges and Ray have a long heart to heart chat about how sweaty and nervous he is and how he loves cooking for his daughters and how he is incapable of hearing the word “fifty”. Then they taste his food and discover what an inept cook he is. It really is Kick Ray Week on Masterchef. However, Matt’s fondant potatoes are beautifully cooked, which produces another cymbal. Gary and George hate their fondants with a passion. The cymbal just keeps coming up, though — it is impartial. However he has cooked his chicken, and that’s the main thing, because Lee hasn’t.
Here comes Lee to serve his revolting raw chicken, but first let’s have a boring conversation. Lee begins by admitting that he was overwhelmed by the experience and will never be able to cope in a professional kitchen. So it’s lucky he’s about to be kicked out.
Which he is, because George makes the horrifying discovery that his chicken is undercooked, reacting as if he’s just found out that his best friend is actually the Thing. Lee has failed to cook his chicken, which is one of the most important things to get right in the chicken-cooking process.
The three losers are brought in to the tasting room for a lecture by Gary about what makes him smile. “Someone is going home,” he tells them, and they react with admirable stoicism to the news of this fact that they were already aware of.
The judges tell Pete he cooks well, tell Ray he cooks badly, and tell Lee he cooks better than Ray apart from the bits that he didn’t actually cook, i.e. the chicken. Apparently there’s a rule on Masterchef that if you undercook chicken you have to go home. So Ray will have to wait a couple more days to disappoint his family. Lee is gone, never to be seen again.
Meanwhile the cymbal keeps doing its thing.
“I’m devastated, a lot of emotions going on,” Lee says, but fails to name these emotions, leading one to suspect that one of them might be happiness. “It’s been a rollercoaster for me, a lot of ups and downs,” he goes on, which is rubbish: he has not been there long enough to have “a lot” of anything.
Postscript informs us that Lee has been doing work experience in restaurants, which is brave of the restaurants given the salmonella risk.
Tune in tomorrow when Masterchef’s misandry is laid bare.
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