Masterchef Recap: The Fucking Mystery Box

After a week of having a sweet, gentle, beautiful English rose tell them how marvellous they are and how much she’s enjoyed meeting them, it’s time for a cold hard dose of reality, as the amateurs face the Anti-Nigella. Yes, it’s Gordon Ramsay, the man who put the “fuck” in “you can’t fucking cook you stupid fucking fuckwit”, in what Channel Ten calls “one of the biggest surprises of the show so far”, but what the rest of us call “something that Channel Ten told us was going to happen at the start of the series”.

Apparently Ramsay will be here abusing the contestants for a full week, but the show starts at 7.30 so it’s likely to be disappointingly family-friendly.

It’s amazing, looking at the opening titles, just how many of our favourites we’ve already lost, and just how many of those favourites we don’t remember.

“We walk into the kitchen, and there’s a Union Jack on top of the mystery boxes,” says Sarah, describing the fact that there is a Union Jack on top of the mystery boxes. That’s right, it’s Empire Week on Masterchef, and everyone must cook a dish that was stolen from indigenous peoples.

Matt Preston, dressed in one of the costumes from Mitchell and Webb’s Flamingo Island sketch, introduces the guest chef, calling him a legend and mentioning the chefs he’s mentored and saying “he’s the biggest name in food in the world”, but never once saying fuck, which is misleading.

In comes Gordon, and everyone goes absolutely apeshit. “Oh my god it’s Gordon Ramsay,” they all say in unsettling unison. “Good to see you,” says Gordon to the regular judges, who he does not know or care about at all.

“It’s great to be here,” Gordon lies. “The good news for me is that in this room is some serious talent.” He doesn’t explain why this is good news for him. Is he going to poach them? In general terms, it’s good news for Gordon when the room is filled with total incompetents, as psychologically destroying the inept is the basis of his empire.

It is time to look inside the mystery boxes, upon which Jess becomes visibly upset, as “there’s nothing in the box to make a dessert with”, and she is a one-trick pony with no interest in expanding her skillset or growing as a human being. There is, however, a rack of lamb, beer, tea, biscuits, peas, scallops: everything you need to have a nice lunch made by someone else. Jess immediately starts trying to figure out how to make lamb-flavoured ice cream by pureeing peas and biscuits.

They have seventy-five minutes to cook a delicious dish, or fifty minutes to cook a shitty one, whichever is easier. The winner will go straight into this week’s immunity challenge, where they will get a chance to join Loki as a destroyer of a professional chef’s reputation.

“What would you do?” Jenny asks Gordon. “I’d pull my fucking head out of my fucking arse and get to fucking work you cunt,” says Gordon.

No, he doesn’t really. It would’ve been good though, wouldn’t it?

Gordon tells the other judges that this is the time for contestants to send a message to their competitors, and that message is: “I will skullfuck your corpse.”

Gordon asks Sashi if he can win this competition. Sashi says yes, cleverly not falling into Gordon’s cunning trap. Gordon asks Aldo whether he’s going to seal his lamb before cooking it. Aldo says no. Gordon tells him cooking it without sealing it first will make the lamb bleed, but actually the liquid which comes out of meat in this situation is not blood, and you’d think Gordon Ramsay would know that, what a fucking amateur he must be.

“Not doing a dessert for me is risky,” says Reece, but honestly, doing a dessert with lamb and mustard would probably be riskier.

Gina tells Gordon that she is dehydrating peas. Gordon accuses her of being drunk. The atmosphere becomes extremely tense. “When Gordon Ramsay tells you to do something, you do it,” says Gina, apparently having never watched Kitchen Nightmares, where this is shown to be patently untrue.

George and Gary visit Jess, who is a little bit out of her comfort zone because chocolate scallops aren’t a thing. She tells the judges she’s going to glaze her scallops with English mustard, because she wants to murder them. They advise her to stop being such a goddamn tool. “I’m only 19, I’ve never cooked scallops, I’ve never eaten scallops,” says Jess, grinning like the kind of person Gordon would tell to fuck off on his own shows. But it’s only 7.53pm and we’re out of luck on that front.

George and Gary move on to give Brendan some advice, but it’s hard to take advice from George and Gary when Gordon Ramsay is right there in the room making it obvious how insignificant they are.

“Show Gordon what you’re made of!” George screams, slashing his own throat open to demonstrate.

Meanwhile Sashi is agonising over the fact the mystery box contained no spices. He’s not quite at Jess-and-Brendan “oh god how will I make a dessert” levels, but he’s definitely stressed. At least he hasn’t lost all control of his bodily functions like Sarah, who is so mentally shredded that she’s making a scallop jus to put on her lamb. “I’ve got jus in the oven,” she tells Gordon. “Why have you put jus in the oven?” Gordon asks. “Because I am quite, quite broken,” she replies. She informs him that she’s using scallops for the jus. He wants so badly to call her a fuckhole, but somehow restrains himself.

Gordon checks in with Reece, who is making lamb three ways, hoping this will compensate for the fact that each way is only one third as good as it should be. He confides in Gordon that not making a dessert makes him nervous. Gordon confides in Reece that he hates him. I mean he doesn’t say it, but body language etc.

Gordon taunts Brendan for not having his lamb in the oven. Brendan whines about his injured hand. Injuries are for the weak, Brendan. Gordon will crush you and take your women.

Jess, who is not using the lamb because her father was a sheep, describes her plans to Gordon. Gordon tells her how to cook scallops, which is helpful because she has no idea how to cook scallops. Apparently Jess is special: nobody else got instructions in basic elements of cookery.

Jess cooks her scallops but is confused because they don’t look how they should look. Also, she doesn’t know how they should look. She decides to try again to make them look how they possibly should look but possibly not.

“This isn’t just any old mystery box,” George shrieks, lost in the throes of carnal ecstasy, as Gordon pops by Aldo’s bench to tell Aldo that his attitude to salt is a fucking disgrace. Meanwhile Sarah says she doesn’t want to waste food, which makes Masterchef a strange choice. Then Matt high fives Gina, but I don’t know why because I wasn’t really paying attention because I don’t care.

“With everyone cooking lamb, the one thing that’s going to set one dish apart from another is how well that lamb is cooked,” says Sarah. This is exactly what she said earlier in the show. Did she say it again, or did they play the same clip twice? Either way, it’s good to be reminded, as the lesson that winning a cooking competition depends to some extent on how well you cook is one that can never be repeated often enough.

Although everyone isn’t cooking lamb: Jess isn’t. But maybe Sarah isn’t counting Jess because she intuitively knows how awful Jess’s scallops are going to be.

Time is up. Reece is the first chosen to serve his dish. Gary gives a sort of non-committal shrug, as if to say, “This won’t completely ruin my life, but it’s not improving it either”. However, in contrast to his shrug, the judges love Reece’s lamb. Gordon says, “You’ve nailed the hero” which is disappointing because you’d hoped be able to resist the producers’ insistence that everyone on this show say “hero” constantly.

The second chosen is Brendan, who had to cook one-handed because he is a clumsy oaf. They all like his dish, which is very boring of them.

Next is Gina etc. They like it etc.

Next is Sarah. Gordon looks at her lamb. His head explodes. New Roseanne, next on Ten.

Haha, Sarah overcooked the lamb. Finally, Gordon is really going to fire up and…

Sigh. He doesn’t even raise his voice. Doesn’t call her a donkey. Doesn’t tell her to fuck off. All he says is, “such a shame”. Lame.

The last dish they taste is Sashi’s. They do not want to taste Jess, so she might as well have just drunk the beer and crawled into the pantry.

“Young man, I’m going to be honest with you,” says Gordon, and our hearts leap with anticipation of some good old-fashioned abuse. But no: “That is worth travelling seventeen thousand miles for,” he says. Of course it is for him: he’s a multimillionaire, he can fly wherever he wants for any reason including several bites of lamb from a stranger.

Obviously Sashi wins and goes straight through to the immunity challenge, since none of the others were good enough to travel seventeen thousand miles for, their dishes sitting in the eight-to-twelve thousand mile range. Except Sarah, who they were nice to but sucked.

Matt informs the rest that for their invention test, they must cook “one of the world’s most popular dishes”. That’s right, it’s time for…the most dangerous game.

Actually they’re just making burgers. It’s an invention test, so the challenge is to find something interesting and new to do with a burger. This is why Ben immediately declares that he will be making a basic ordinary burger with nothing interesting and new about it.

Reece doesn’t eat burgers, but he arrogantly believes himself capable of making them. Thus did Icarus fly too close to the sun.

Speaking of falling to your death, Ben is finding the task of assembling meat and a bun well beyond him. Gary pops by to advise him to get on with it “like you have a job to do”, which is a weird way to phrase it, because he does have a job to do. Gary’s other piece of advice, unspoken but strongly implied, is to make a dish that isn’t so boring and shitty, but Ben is ignoring this.

This invention test isn’t very interesting. They’re just all making burgers. Burgers have one of the world’s longest worth-of-eating-to-worth-of-watching-being-made ratios. The discrepancy is just vast. It’s made slightly more interesting when Gordon berates Samira for not getting her buns in the oven quickly enough. “They’re rising,” she says. “My blood pressure’s rising — GET THEM IN THE OVEN,” he replies. It’s not quite, “go fuck yourself you piece of shit”, but it’s something.

He moves on to telling Brendan off for being slow with his lobster, and he says fuck! “Get that fucking lobster on,” he says, and it’s like beautiful music ringing out as a shaft of light pierces the clouds.

But mostly it’s just people making burgers.

Michelle’s polenta chips aren’t working, which is pretty good. Maybe she should’ve put them in the ice-cream maker. Also, Ben has let time slip through his fingers, which is a great look for the guy with the most unadventurous and dull dish.

Then people make burgers for a bit more, then they stop.

One by one, they step up to hand over the burgers.

Samira’s lamb burger is…good.

Michelle’s prawn burger is…FIREBALL!

So George cuts open the prawn burger and examines the revolting pink slop within. “Is that cooked?” he asks.

“It should be cooked,” Michelle answers. Which is obvious: of course it SHOULD be cooked, that’s the whole point. He didn’t ask whether it SHOULD be, now did he? This would be the perfect point for Gordon to slap some slices of bread on her ears, but he doesn’t.

Basically Michelle’s burger is filled with a raw prawn paste. “I’m lost for words,” Gordon says, but he’s not really, it’s just they told him not to traumatise anyone too much on the first day. There are a LOT of words going through his head, I promise. It is an utterly revolting sight and nobody even wants to taste it. Michelle takes her burger back to her bench, as everyone applauds in a frankly sarcastic manner.

Moving on, Brendan’s lobster burger is…good.

Chloe’s burger is…bad.

Jess’s chicken burger is…good.

Janine’s burger is…good. “Tick, tick, tick,” says Gary, indicating that its one weak point is the presence of multiple invertebrate parasites.

Gina’s pork and veal burger is…bad.

Kanh’s burger is…good.

Ben’s boring burger is…raw in the middle. Gordon just says “raw in the middle”, not “IT’S FUCKING RAW!” so you know he’s out of his comfort zone.

Reece’s beef and bacon burger is…good.

“There was some great cooking today,” says Matt, obviously implying the obverse by omission. The two who’ve made the immunity challenge are Reece and Samira. They are moderately happy.

“There’s a little Masterchef rule,” says Gary, “If your dish is inedible, then you’re in trouble.” This rule has not been previously made explicit, but I’m not sure it came as a surprise to many people. It was sort of implied, if you know what I mean? Anyway because their dishes were inedible, Ben and Michelle are in trouble, and so is Chloe, who made something edible but not edible enough. Elimination cook for them tomorrow.

So tune in tomorrow, when Gordon loses his fucking rag at these fucking donkeys.

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