- Read all of Ben Pobjie's MasterChef Australia 2021 recaps
- One perfect day in Daylesford (and Hepburn Springs)
MasterChef's Road Trip Week continues, with a trip to Daylesford, home of renowned chef Alla Wolf-Tasker, and overpriced Airbnbs. . It's a freezing misty morning as the notorious crayfish molesters known as the Apollo Bay Four are forced to walk about three miles to Alla's farm.
"This is paradise!" Jock cries, demonstrating his somewhat low expectations of the afterlife. I mean, it's nice, but it's basically just some fields with vegetables growing in them. Alla now shows up to explain to the amateurs her philosophy that food not prepared in the middle of nowhere at exorbitant expense is worthless. The four losers' task is to prepare a vegetarian meal from produce picked from Alla's farm and local pantry. It's a tough ask, because up till now the amateurs have done very little vegetarian cooking, having focused mainly on making things that are good.
"I am in heaven right now!" Minoli exclaims: what is it with these people and their desire to equate Daylesford with the sacred realm of Our Lord? It's disturbing in any case that Minoli feels that heaven is a greenhouse and a fistful of beetroot.
Linda puts a tray of vegetables in the oven. The onlookers murmur excitedly: they've never seen such wizardry. Meanwhile the judges take turns sucking up to Alla. "I know it sounds like paradise," says Alla, sounding a note of caution – she's lived among vegetables long enough to know that there's more to life. She asks Amir what he's up to. He says he's make a beetroot kebab, with a straight face. "Being familiar with beetroot will be a big help," says Alla, as if that's a normal sentence for a person to say.
Minoli is going to try something unique, a la Dr Frankenstein. "Whatever grows together, goes together," she says, embarrassingly misquoting Edison Lighthouse. She's pretty happy with this catchphrase, but another one she might want to consider is the old saw, "Just because something rhymes doesn't make it true". Anyway, the upshot of her folk wisdom is that she's roasting beetroots two ways – classic bet-hedging – while throwing various other vegetables in several random directions. She explains her dish to Alla and Jock. Alla looks at her like a woman itching to summon her hounds. Jock explains to her that she's wearing a black apron, and when wearing a black apron it's always a good idea to not be completely out of your mind. Minoli has a bit of a think.
Amir, this is meant to be a vegetarian challenge. Stop serving up the beef cake*...— anonymissjane (@anonymissjane) June 8, 2021
*please don't stop#MasterChefAU
Meanwhile Sabina is making a carrot salad, which I guess technically counts as food. She feels a heavy responsibility using Alla's produce, but Alla is getting a load of free publicity out of this, so I reckon she'll let a few carrots slide no matter what Sabina does with them. Within reason.
While the four contestants are sweating their guts out to keep the flickering embers of their lifelong dreams alive, the judges begin gorging on cheese and pickles. Has ever a more apt allegory for the conditions that led to the French Revolution been depicted on screen?
Minoli, having mulled over Jock and Alla's advice that she for the love of god stop what she's doing, has decided to not stop what she's doing. As far as Minoli is concerned, life is all about risk-taking, and she's certain that her bold move to make her dish toxic to humans will work.
I just microwaved a frozen apple pie- that’s where I’m at lol #MasterChefAU— Dr Jos 🇦🇺🇫🇷🇱🇧 (@redruby17) June 8, 2021
Andy and Melissa are concerned that without her usual Asian ingredients, Linda is flailing. They suggest that Linda taste everything on her bench in case something tastes all right. Linda is confident that she has a good palate, which is great for determining whether something is good, but doesn't really help you make something good in the first place.
Minoli is on a knife-edge. "This is chalk and cheese to what I normally make," she says, and you have to wonder why Alla even keeps chalk in her pantry. Obvious trap, you'd have thought. Still, she's very happy with her beetroots, as much as a person can be happy with beetroots. Meanwhile Amir is trying to mimic the way he cooks lamb, but with beetroot, but in doing so he runs the risk of simply reminding the judges how much better the dish would be if it had lamb in it.
"I'm really feeling the pressure now!" yells Alla, whose shoes are pinching her. Also there's only two minutes left and despite everyone's best efforts, their dishes remain full of vegetables. Even given the brief, it just doesn't seem right somehow. Time runs out and Linda and Minoli continue the farcical elbow-touching charade.
Sabina brings out her pickled carrots and goat's cheese with foraged potatoes and rye lavosh – there's no doubt it's a dish with a bunch of stuff in it. "The presentation is spectacular," says Alla, and she's right, but what about her dish?
Linda presents her tomato broth with pickled cucumber. "My heart is beating ten million miles an hour," she gasps, but after returning from hospital she serves. "Wow," says Jock. "Wow. Wow." Linda's broth is so good it's given him a stroke. And she did it all despite having only veg at her disposal.
‘The beetroots taste like beetroots and they’re bloody good beetroots’— Amber Robinson (@missrobinson) June 8, 2021
Inspirational words from Andy #masterchefau
Amir serves his beetroot kebab with labna, tabbouleh and flatbread. "I loved Amir's idea," says Jock, in the traditional foreshadowing of a devastating slam. The beetroot isn't cooked, for a start, and though I never realised this myself, beetroot is apparently better when cooked. "Elements of it are really good," says Alla, but you could say the same about Kerri-Anne Kennerley.
Finally Minoli presents her "roasted vegie patch", made of vegetables and hope. Minoli tearfully admits she doesn't want to go home, and fair enough given she lives in Darwin. The judges agree that Minoli's dish looks rubbish, but in a remarkable show of generosity they agree to taste it before passing judgment. "The beetroots are delicious," says Alla, possibly lying. She describes the dish as "Herby Deliciousness" which is not just a description of the dish, but a great name for a jazz-rock band. The judges believe that Minoli's vegie patch, though as unattractive as a real vegie patch, tastes pretty good.
This means that, sadly, Amir has to go home, where he will eventually see the show on TV and realise with shock that he was hardly in most of the episodes. Hell of a blow. "I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would've made it this far," says Amir, who has some pretty tame dreams.
Tune in tomorrow, when the gang heads to Melbourne for a spot of shopping.