It’s a big night: the night of the CHEATING SCANDAL. This has been a much-anticipated and massively-hyped dramatic moment on MKR, and there’s no reason to think it will prove to be a lame disappointment, just because every other much-anticipated and massively-hyped dramatic moment on MKR has been.
It’s Alyse and Matt, the intensely competitive douchebags who compete in Fashions on the Field as a useful signal to others so they know to stay away from them. Matt has already given a pretty decent summation of his character by calling Amy ugly, and Alyse has given a good summation of hers by vomiting. They begin the day by having a workout, and telling each other, “Let’s have a workout,” for the benefit of those viewers who see two people walking into a gym and riding exercise bikes, but can’t quite figure out what’s going on. They then explain their passion for Fashions on the Field, the most shallow and irritating competitive activity humankind has yet devised. Alyse says she is never shy about giving her opinion on other people’s outfits, even though you’d think a Fashions on the Field enthusiast would be too ashamed to ever offer an opinion on anything.
For entree, Alyse and Matt will serve san choy bau. Remember that guy on Masterchef who made san choy bau? He was creepy. Anyway, Pete explains what san choy bau is to Manu, who catches on very fast and explains to Pete that san choy bau needs sauce. Manu is basically the boy who cried wolf at this stage: he’s said so many things need sauce that you can’t take him seriously.
Alyse and Matt go to Coles to spruik their product range. They buy a jar of curry paste, which is a bit of a red flag. BEAR THIS IN MIND.
The instant restaurant is called “Birdcage”, to indicate that Alyse and Matt are shamelessly tacky social climbers. The decor includes a life-size plastic horse, which is pretty much the most vulgar thing it’s possible to put in a dining room without actually using nude models.
The couple begins prep. Matt says he thinks pannacotta should resemble a breast. The only reason this is included in the final edit is to remind us how much we hate Matt. We suddenly cut to Kelsey and Amanda, who make unintelligible screeching sounds, and then back to the kitchen. Alyse doesn’t want to smear the pannacotta moulds with butter, for reasons that are far too boring to go into.
Alyse chops lettuce and wonders what went wrong with the other teams. It’s all so easy, thinks Alyse — how did those fumbling imbeciles manage to cook badly when cooking is the easiest thing in the world? She’s having no trouble chopping lettuce at all, so it’s a mystery why anyone would have any trouble doing anything else.
“I wonder how many of the other teams have ever been to the races,” says Alyse, “this might be their first time.” Please note: nobody is going to the races; they are going to a house with a plastic horse in it.
The guests arrive. Alyse and Matt make some stupid racing puns. They greet the guests with a reasonable impression of people who don’t hate everyone. Josh makes some snide remarks about Alyse and Matt’s demeanour. Della thinks the flowers in Alyse’s hair are a Statue of Liberty hat. Everyone on this show is a moron.
The guests are shown into the dining room, with the plastic horse and the gold plates and cutlery, and it is the tackiest thing you could ever hope to see. If this is what a racing marquee is like, everyone who goes into one at the Melbourne Cup should be gassed. To give a good idea of just how tacky it is, consider this: Kelsey thinks it’s beautiful.
Josh is getting heavily into the vicious comments about the classless phony nature of the instant restaurant and how this parallels Alyse’s personality. But he’s doing it in the cutaways after dinner, so nobody can hear him until they see this on TV. Josh is a complete prick, but he’s right about this. Remember how on another night Alyse bitched that the instant restaurant wasn’t “fine dining”? This is what they think is fine dining. They think fine dining is a plastic horse.
Also, they’ve provided a “form guide” with the menus, describing the other contestants as if they’re horses. It’s horrific. Every single person sitting at the dining table would be completely justified in throwing their drink in Alyse and Matt’s face and storming out. It’s hard to believe that people who think this kind of thing is OK exist. It’s one thing to like the races — and in and of itself it’s a pretty bad thing — but it’s quite another to jam your idiotic obsession with wearing ugly hats down everyone’s throat with this kind of culinary hellscape.
The guests discuss the entree. Della thinks it’s a lot easier to make san choy bau than to make charred quails, but the question is, is it easier to make good san choy bau than disgusting inedible quails a la Della? Josh, for whom self-awareness is something that happens to other people, gets stuck in, slamming Della for talking herself up and then serving terrible food. Tully points out that this is exactly what Josh did — in fact so far talking himself up and then failing is Josh’s main discernible character trait. “I’m talking to Della,” Josh snaps back, jaw set so tight it might break the skin. Josh hates it when any woman talks back to him, but it’s particularly intolerable when the woman is award-winning actor Asher Keddie.
Into the bitchy ambience comes the entree, the famed boring san choy bau. “It’s pretty hard to stuff up,” says Pete, but then disappoints us all by revealing that, in fact, they didn’t stuff it up. “I’m not surprised that Pete loves the dish,” says Alyse, like a total cock.
Happily, Manu disagrees with Pete. He thinks the entree was under-sauced. Alyse explains that they reduced the sauce so as not to be messy. Manu finds such an attitude baffling: in France everyone goes around covered from head to toe with sauce 24/7. But spilling sauce down your arms at the RACES would never do: the races are for dainty, tidy food, vomiting in flowerbeds and collapsing on the lawn.
Della thinks Alyse and Matt have played it safe and “strategically worked out” the menu. I wish the judges could take points off teams for mentioning strategy. Josh and Amy say they didn’t enjoy the dish at all, but duh. Josh believes san choy bau isn’t really high-end dining, like for example fish and chips would be.
Back in the kitchen Alyse makes another dumb racing pun and talks a load of interminable bollocks about how wonderful she is. Matt and Alyse discuss Alyse’s refusal to do housework, in terms of a metaphor for the cooking of rice, which Alyse is also incapable of doing as it turns out. The rice is gluggy, which is just what you don’t want when you eat rice at the racetrack.
In the dining room, Amy reveals her high expectations for the meal, being an inveterate liar, while Josh explains how much he enjoys watching women fall over.
Back in the kitchen, Alyse says she’s not used to failure, but Matt’s haircut tells a different story. She hopes she doesn’t stuff up the rice again, but who knows: rice is notoriously one of the most difficult things to make. They move on to the sauce, and Alyse explains why they decided to buy curry paste instead of making it: they are lazy.
Pete pops into the kitchen to ratchet up the drama and notices they’re using curry paste. He asks if they’re comfortable using it. They say they are because making curry paste is a real pain in the arse. “OK,” says Pete, in the kind of voice that any idiot can tell is saying, “You dickheads are fucked”, and off he goes to catch the latest bird calls from Kelsey and Amanda.
Alyse is concerned that Pete was concerned about the lack of nuts in their main, but she calms her nerves with some racing puns, takes a deep breath, reminds herself that everyone in the country hates her, and serves up the beef satay. Which is not actually satay.
“Right now I could not be any happier,” says Josh upon seeing the unappealing main, although I think he’s lying, because what if he was on a boat spooning a mackerel?
Manu explains there are two ways of cooking: following a recipe, or creating your own recipe. He thinks Alyse and Matt have done the latter, making something that is all their own, but is not in any way a satay. “We’re not fans of the super-peanutty taste,” says Alyse, which explains why they chose to make a satay.
Then the BOMBSHELL drops. Such as it is. Pete says he wasn’t happy when he visited the kitchen, and asks Alyse and Matt to “go and get it”. They return to the kitchen, and come back with the curry paste. The table is shocked to what might be termed their cores.
Pete demands to know why they used store-bought curry paste. Alyse says it was because of time. Pete says they served their entree and main quicker than anyone else, but everyone else made their elements from scratch and even though that doesn’t really excuse Josh and Amy’s chamber of horrors, you get his point. “We’re looking for cooking from the heart, not from a jar,” he says solemnly, but this is very unfair as Alyse and Matt have no hearts.
Besides the dastardliness of the jar, the satay sauce is crap and the beef is chewy. Alyse and Matt retreat to the kitchen, depressed and obnoxious. “I’m not used to failure,” says Alyse once again, a claim that is starting to look doubtful.
But on they go with the dessert, which they think will “show their resilience” whatever that means. Back in the dining room, Josh is fuming euphorically over the jar, while the other teams try to make excuses for Matt and Alyse being dicks. To be fair, Josh is only talking up the “cheating” angle because he’s on the bottom of the leaderboard. But to be even fairer, Della and Tully and Court are only saying that it’s not that bad because they don’t like Josh. Nobody comes out of MKR clean. All have fallen short of the glory of God.
In the kitchen, Matt is shaking his pannacotta — not a euphemism. “We know that this dessert’s gonna bounce us back,” says Alyse, who is talking in a cutaway post-dessert, so maybe she’s right but on the other hand dramatic irony etc. Alyse takes her biscotti from the oven and it begins to fall apart.
The guests discuss the perfect pannacotta. Tully demonstrates a pannacotta wobble with her chest, which is the most useful thing she’s done all competition. Meanwhile Josh is still droning on about cheating and Alyse and Matt being on the bottom of the leaderboard and really, I mean, everyone gets it by now Josh.
Dessert is served. “Let’s hope this gets us some respect back,” says Matt, but that’s a ship that sailed years ago. Manu loves the “samplacaty” of the dessert, but the pannacotta was too set and the biscotti is too soft but apparently that’s a good thing somehow? I don’t know, cooking is so stupid.
“It looked like a restaurant dessert when it hit the table,” says Pete, but then he adds, “it felt like we were at the races,” which seems a direct contradiction. Did it feel like he was at the races or at a restaurant? This is nonsense.
Amanda absolutely loves the pannacotta, but then she would. Josh either likes it or hates, or hates that he likes it, or likes that he hates it. I don’t know, it’s hard to listen to him for more than a few seconds.
Scores time. “I think the food tonight was average or a bit over average,” says Kelsey. “You’re happy with a four?” says Amanda. “I’m happy with a four,” says Kelsey, as the conversation comes to a baffling end.
Josh asks Amy if they can give Alyse and Matt a zero. Amy is shocked by his cruelty — a zero is beyond the pale. So they give them a one, because Amy isn’t completely opposed to cruelty, especially to dicks like these two.
“Thank you for inviting us to dinner this evening,” says Pete, which sounds a lot like sarcasm. As the judges describe the sickening grotesquerie of the main course, Josh grins as widely as if he’d just found a sardine in his underpants. The judges give ones to the main, but the other courses do much better and it’s 33 out of 60. The guests give them 19 out of 50, which makes for a total of 52, which means they’re second last and will cook off against Josh and Amy, whose “strategy” didn’t make much of a difference in the end, similar to every other person’s “strategy” in this show.
Tune in tomorrow, when four real arseholes cook against each other.
Lovers of recaps make great comedy audiences. The best value show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is Degrassi Junior High: The Dining Experience. Tickets HERE.