MasterChef recap: A chocolate temper trap brings a rejected contestant back

Judges Jock, Andy, Melissa and chef Anthony Hart will see you now.
Judges Jock, Andy, Melissa and chef Anthony Hart will see you now.  Photo: Supplied

Previously on MasterChef: the TWIST THAT WILL CHANGE THE GAME FOREVER came, in the form of the same twist that happens every year: eliminated contestants getting another chance. But the REAL twist is that they didn't just get another chance: they got another chance stretched over multiple nights to pad the series. Most of the eliminated amateurs having been kicked to the kerb last night, it's down to the four winning losers: Eric, Minoli, Conor and another one.

Melissa welcomes back one of the winning losers.
Melissa welcomes back one of the winning losers.  Photo: Supplied

Their challenge is set by Anthony Hart, who has been a pastry chef for 18 years and seems kind of sick of it. His eyes tell of a life of hard graft and things that no man should ever see - mixed peel perhaps. Minoli is nervous. "Anthony's cooking style is so far from my cooking style, it's not even funny," she says, and she's right, it's not. He has tasked the amateurs with creating his "chocolate oasis", an intricate dessert that recreates the feeling of almost dying in a desert. It's called an oasis but it looks more like the surface of a planet on Star Trek.

A horrible sense of foreboding comes over the kitchen when Anthony tells Jock what the dish's pressure point is: the tempering of the chocolate. As has been well established over the last twelve years of MasterChef, tempering chocolate is a task that is impossible for humans to do, and everyone is going to screw it up without a doubt.

Minoli frets as she reads the recipe, which is so long it could've been written by Stephen King. The first step is to boil water, and it throws her badly. She reveals she's a project manager for an engineering consulting firm, and if the thought of her project managing doesn't soothe her nerves, it does at least kind of intimidate me.

Minoli pours the chocolate cream and covers it with go-between, which doesn't sound right. Go-between? It's called that because it goes between things I guess? And because it sings Cattle and Cane on demand.

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The tempering of the chocolate begins. As far as I can tell, the way you temper chocolate is, you sort of brush the chocolate around with a big flat thing, and you get it down to a very specific temperature, and then you put it in the fridge, and then you realise you've done it wrong, and you swear, and get eliminated.

Minoli's chocolate looks beautiful as you might expect. She puts some between two...guitar sheets? Did she say "guitar sheets"? Did they change the language when I wasn't looking? She...she places it between two guitar sheets, I guess.

Meanwhile Eric is way behind everyone else because having buggered up his chocolate, he's trying to temper it again, instead of doing the usual thing people do and just serving an incompetent dessert.

Oh, Katrina. The other woman is Katrina.

Katrina is rolling out her chocolate sheets and could not possibly seem more out of her depth. There are budgerigars flying into mirrors that are less baffled than Katrina is by her chocolate.

Conor begins his mandarin jam. He remembers how in Anthony's dish, the jam held itself: it seemed confident and purposeful, not really caring what anyone thought about it. He envies the jam its approach to life.

The judges gather to gloat over how badly Eric and Katrina are doing. Andy goes over to Katrina, utilising the classic judges' gambit of "interrupt a contestant who is falling way behind and making them fall even further behind by telling them to stop and think about things for a bit."

Minoli suddenly realises what the boiling water at the start was for: the mandarin is going into labour. She left her water too long and she no longer has boiling water. Andy pops over to her bench to smile at her misfortune. Andy is extremely cocky tonight, I think it's his suit. When he wears black, he gets really sadistic.

Eric's chocolate is, in the words of Sabina, "tempered AF", and he is now busy making weird shapes with it, because the chocolate oasis is one of those dishes that won't taste good unless it looks weird. Meanwhile Minoli has made some skinny little sticks out of chocolate and for all we know she was supposed to.

Time is up, and there is much rejoicing from the balcony watchers, who were getting very bored. But Conor is devastated, because he left his little chocolate smears on his acetate, which is one of the most unethical things a cook can do. He will be shunned.

Katrina serves first and has been in this episode little it is very unlikely that she is either especially good or especially bad. "It'll be interesting to see what the flavours are like,"says Melissa, and I mean I guess so but that's becoming a bit old hat. Can't they mix it up with, say, "it'll be interesting to see whether there are any rat faeces in this"? Anyway Katrina's dessert is OK really.

Eric, who has had a hell of a time, serves next, and discovers to his horror that his jam is not a jam but a liquid. But who says jam is better than liquid? The Mediterranean is made of liquid and people seem to like that. The judges, however, are not big fans of the Mediterranean, though Andy is full of praise for the fact that Eric did not simply run out of the building screaming halfway through the cook.

Here comes Conor, the man who left an element behind and therefore deserves nothing but punishment. His dish has no twigs, and while this is not a problem for any normal person, it ain't normal people tasting it. They are impressed to a certain extent but Jock has ended up with a dry mouth, whereas when he ate Anthony's chocolate oasis, he ended up with a mouth full of velvet. A confusing point but an important one. The judges think Conor did a great job, it's just that what he made sucked. Nobody wants to come away from an oasis with a dry mouth.

Minoli brings in her dish. It has twigs, and what twigs they are. They are so twiggy a fairywren could perch on one and not even know it's part of a pointlessly elaborate dessert. All in all, Minoli's dessert is fantastic, and what else would you expect from Minoli, the queen of hearts?

Time for judging, and though we know that Minoli is the one most worthy of love and basic respect, will the judges agree?

Yes. They will. Minoli is BACK, baby! She joins that minority of MasterChef contestants who get the chance to have their dreams crushed twice in one year.

Tune in tomorrow, when the other three get another chance because the core concept of the competition just means nothing anymore.