MasterChef is ostensibly a cooking contest, but if we're honest, the best bits are the bits where nobody is cooking and people are just naming foods. Which is why tonight's first round of the all-in elimination is so exciting, as each amateur has five minutes to name as many meats as they can. Specifically, as many of the meats that are in front of them, that is: they can't just name random meats. Though naming random meats would probably get them at least a few right answers, so it might be an okay strategy.
It's cold, we're in lockdown and #masterchefau is on. Is it 2020?— Jo Farmer (@JoannaFarmer) May 30, 2021
Linda, of course, watches from the balcony – I refuse to call it a gantry because nobody has proven to me that is a word – as the amateurs are greeted by Jock and Andy – Melissa is absent after a severe and unexpected attack of fabulousness – and 14 different game meats.
#MasterchefAU: “Unfortunately Mel can’t be with us”— Jess Smith (@jesssmithtv) May 30, 2021
Me: *immediately changes channel*
They're all there: pheasant, camel, buffalo, meerkat, rhinoceros, leopard, blue whale. And of course, the most dangerous game of all: quail. The amateurs have to identify them by sight: they're not allowed to taste or touch or rub themselves with them.
Elise is desperate to impress her boyfriend, who is a hunter and has filled their fridge with game meat: clearly not a man you want to disappoint. And indeed she comes out on top, naming 10 out of 14 correctly, thanks to her blood-soaked love life. Kishwar, Tommy, Tom, Pete and Aaron are forced through to round two, their knowledge of corpses woefully inadequate.
The unhappily meat-ignorant quintet have 75 minutes to cook one of the game meats in whatever way they choose, as long as it is technically legal. Aaron picks kangaroo, knowing there are "beautiful Australian ingredients" in the garden so the meat won't get homesick.
Kishwar is not feeling good about cooking in the elimination, possibly because it's an elimination. "I'm cooking against four of the best cooks in this competition," she exaggerates. She is cooking with goat, which is apparently a game meat for reasons. She admits that cooking a goat in 75 minutes is not an easy task, which is another way of saying, "I should have chosen another meat but I'm a bit slow". Kishwar notes that she is spending a lot of time away from her children and husband, and is determined not to let them down by starting to spend time with them. "I'm thinking about my family," she says meaningfully, staring at the remains of a dead goat.
Jock and Andy discuss meats. "I'm excited," Andy exclaims, his arousal at the sight of various meats visible. Jock explains that crocodile does not cook like a fish, which in some ways is what you would expect of something that isn't a fish.
Tom is cooking crocodile, which he is fairly sure should be cooked quickly at high heat. Having done so, he discovers it tastes like leather. Deciding to ease back on the leather marinade, he tries again. "Come on Steve Irwin!" shouts someone from the balcony, not realising it's far too soon.
"For some reason I'm drawn to the pheasant," says Tommy, a mysterious pull that we can all relate to. He is hoping that his hypothesis that pheasant is like quail is correct, as well as his hypothesis that someone who knows how to cook quail but has never cooked pheasant would not be completely stupid to choose to cook pheasant.
Pete is cutting up a quail in a way that nobody supervising the edit has noticed looks, when filmed from above, like an extremely non-family-friendly view of the human anatomy. He hopes he can get the bones out, which is a really unhelpful thing to say at this point.
Kishwar continues to reflect on how her dish would normally take hours to make, but ignoring this fact is a smart strategy. She is putting it in a pressure cooker to do it faster, raising the question of why the dish normally takes hours to make. Why don't people just use a pressure cooker every time?
I think Mel must reign in jocks dad jokes on set. We need her back asap.#masterchefau— I simp for Lady Dimitrescu (@shroomkin82) May 30, 2021
Tom continues to wrestle with the crocodile, but not in an entertaining way. He's trying every different way of cooking it, and finding that no matter how he does it, it ends up more suitable for making a handbag than a meal. Andy suggests that he might want to switch meats with half an hour to go. Tom's head explodes. Ad break. Afterwards he says he would never switch meats as this is the coward's way. Instead he will use butter, the famous crocodile lubricant. From the balcony Linda calls, "Tom, think of other ways you can cook the crocodile." Tom thanks her for her suggestion, which he had never thought of.
Kishwar is feeling better. Jock tells her to hurry up, making her feel worse again. At this point it should be noted that Tommy is making something called "a peasant sauce", almost definitely because peasant smells like pheasant. It could be a long night.
Andy and Jock, STOP TRYING TO MAKE KISHWAR CRY! #MasterChefAU— So Many Earrings (@SoManyEarrings) May 30, 2021
"I'm gonna live or die by this crocodile on my bench," says Tom, and he's far from the first unfortunate person to express such a sentiment. Meanwhile Pete tells Jock and Andy his dish is "interesting", causing Jock and Andy to almost jump the bench and beat him up. Restraining their violent urges, they visit Aaron to tell him his kangaroo is too tight: something no man wants to hear. Aaron admits to a chronic case of roo-tightness, but he has only 10 minutes to cook another piece of kangaroo, and he has to finish his sauce, and the toilet is blocked up, and it's class photo day – it never rains but it pours.
I miss Mel’s warm energy when she gives contestants positive encouragement #masterchefau— Dean Nye (@Dean_Nye) May 30, 2021
Elsewhere, Kishwar opens up her pressure cooker and finds that the goat has been pressurised exactly as much as she had planned, while Tommy chuckles smugly at his recognition of the fact that pheasant rhymes with peasant. Meanwhile Aaron cuts his kangaroo open and the juices run out, causing him to curse his own animal magnetism.
Time is up. Kishwar is feeling emotional: goat always makes her that way. Pete is also emotional: he just hopes he is a good role model to his daughters and that they don't internalise the lesson that it's okay to call a dish interesting.
Kishwar's goat is perfect. Aaron's kangaroo is nice. Tom's crocodile looks like rubbish, and is. Tommy's pheasant is lovely. Pete's quail is small and unimpressive. "This could ruin a lot of my dreams if I go home today," says Pete, but surely it'll only ruin one of his dreams: the one about cooking. His dreams of becoming a Civil War re-enactment organiser will remain intact, as will his dream of pashing Kate Bush. Anyway, despite many issues with Pete's quail, it's better than Tom's catastrophic crocodile. So Tom goes home, to a life of panic attacks whenever he visits a reptile house.
I think his 48 attempts showed us he didn’t really know how to cook it. #MasterChefAU— Robin Illingworth (@bobillingworth) May 30, 2021
Tune in tomorrow, when there will be a TWIST THAT CHANGES THE GAME FOREVER.