MasterChef recap: A fancypants challenge eliminates a fan favourite (and we're not just talking about Andy's outfit)

Judge Jock Zonfrillo, Bond villain Andy Allen and judge Melissa Leong line up to taste fast and fancy dishes.
Judge Jock Zonfrillo, Bond villain Andy Allen and judge Melissa Leong line up to taste fast and fancy dishes. Photo: Supplied

We're really getting to the pointy end now, the sword of Damocles dangling over every amateur's head as they know just one inadvisably applied spice, or one rack of lamb accidentally dropped into the liquid nitrogen, could see them go home.

It's an all-in elimination tonight, apart from Linda who was the most awesome last week and therefore gained immunity. The elimination is in two rounds, which is always annoying because it means I have to write more. In the first round, the six sub-Linda contestants must choose an ingredient from the pantry and make a fast-food dish with it. The three who are worst at making fast food go into round two, the sword dangling that little bit lower. In round two they will have to cook with the same ingredient, but make something "fancy" with it. Basically they have to make an Andy dish, and if they stuff it up, a Melissa dish.

Elise selects sardines, that ever-popular standby of all fast food outlets. "It's a Sicilian style of fast food," she says, as always sounding like she's making a threat. Tommy claims that he's feeling really good – he's making Vietnamese street food, which has the advantage of both meeting the brief and being what he does every day.

Justin is making chicken tacos. "Fast food is just fun," he says. "Probably not that healthy, but you only live once," he adds, controversially for a churchgoing man. The judges gather to discuss the amateurs' personality flaws. They agree that fast food is fun and that chicken is good. Consensus reached, they set out to undermine everyone's confidence.


First they visit Kishwar, who is making chicken and noodles and broth – what is fast food without broth, after all? Jock tells her to concentrate on the cook, something he is actively preventing her from doing. He moves on to Pete, who is making patatas bravas because even when he makes fast food he cannot betray his pretentious roots. Jock tells Pete he must hero the potatoes, not the sauce. Pete has a lot to think about, and none of it pleasant. Jock moves on to tell Tommy his beef is too salty and laugh at him. Tommy has a dilemma: make his beef less salty, or keep his sponsorship contract with Saxa? And he still has to toast his cabbage to add that vital touch of horribleness.

Up on the balcony, Linda looks on, occasionally calling out "Push it" or "Noodles, yum!" But you can tell her heart's not in it. She remembers being on the floor and the fury that rose in her every time an idiot shouted at her from above, and she just can't bring herself to fully commit to that sort of douchebaggery. She knows the producers want her to break her fellow contestants' concentration, but they are fighting a losing battle against Linda's good manners.

Meanwhile Elise's sardines are sticking on the hibachi, as if they're sending a message: "Even we, as sardines, know this was a bad idea". "I just need three good ones," she says, but no matter what she does, they're still sardines.

Kishwar serves her chicken kao soi, which is apparently the national dish of Burma, kind of like what KFC is for us. It's pretty great. Sabina serves her sour fish curry. It is also pretty great, to the extent that Andy assigns it a gender. Justin serves his chicken tacos, which are both chicken and taco-y. Pete serves his patatas bravas, which the judges find a bit presumptuous. It's not very good. Elise serves her gross sardines. They are gross. Tommy serves his Bo La Lot, which, like everything he has ever made, is a dish with a particularly special personal meaning to him. His beef is dry, and the dish isn't great either.

Clearly, Pete, Elise and Tommy are in round two. It'll be a challenge for Tommy, who fears the fancy. On the other hand, Pete is fancy from his ponytail to his sandals, and is excited to get to work on something truly snobbish. Elise, meanwhile, will have to make something fancy with sardines, and may therefore have to consider some kind of toast.

Tommy is fancying up his dish by making a consommé. Usually a consommé takes hours to make, but Tommy is fairly sure he can make it faster using the power of positive thinking.

Meanwhile Elise is making pasta, less as a plan than a kind of involuntary physical reflex. Jock tells her that if she runs out of time she might be eliminated, which to be honest Elise probably already knew. Elise believes that her sardines will be fancier without their bones, which is dubious: think of the fanciest people you know, and it's almost guaranteed that they all have bones.

Pete tells Jock that he's making an incredibly fancy thing out of potato and milk, inspired by a Christian Puglisi dish. Jock has eaten the Christian Puglisi dish and finds the idea of Pete making it ludicrous. He gives Pete a long list of reasons why he'll never do it, but Pete is nothing if not incredibly arrogant. "I want the judges to think I'm crazy," he says in a studio several hours after everything is over. Perhaps he's hoping that if he seems crazy enough, the judges will let him progress just out of fear of what he might do to them.

Andy, who is dressed in his best black skivvy and looks like a 1970s secret agent disguised as an art dealer, notices that Elise's cook is going too smoothly and so goes over to delay her by saying many useless things. Melissa does the same to Tommy, who puts in the most heroic effort of the entire series by not telling her to sod off and let him cook.

Having thrown the amateurs off their rhythm, the judges gather to say the word "hero" and repeat themselves several times.

Pete has a saucepan of what looks like soapy dishwater in which potato skins are soaking. We must take his word for it that this is what he's supposed to have. He begins mixing his potato puree. "I've never been so terrified of a potato puree," he says, which is saying something given a potato puree killed his entire family on one disastrous beach holiday. He has only six minutes to go, and he still hasn't done whatever it is he's trying to do. Meanwhile Elise turns a blowtorch on her sardines as a warning to the others, and Tommy strains his consommé, necessitating a visit to the physio.

The amateurs apply the finishing touches to their fancypants dishes that think they're better than us. Time is up. Tommy hugs Pete. Pete hugs Tommy. Nobody hugs Elise.

The judges sit down and smugly contemplate their absolute power over the lives of innocents. Pete serves his potato puree with buttermilk and dried olives, which sounds incredibly awful but looks almost like food. "At the end of the day, he made a choice," says Jock, who is ready to crush Pete mercilessly if there is even a hint of potato not being heroed. Sadly for his destructive urge, Pete has heroed the potato and his weird dish is good.

Elise brings in her dish. "I'm happy I cooked with sardines today," she says, in the tone of a woman who is very unhappy that she cooked with sardines today. Jock enjoys her sardine pasta. Andy enjoys it also. Melissa enjoys it but with more words. Jock has only one negative: her pasta was too broad.

Fat-shaming done, it's time for Tommy's fancy bun bo hue. He can be proud of his attempt at fanciness, as the dish looks genuinely up itself. Andy is worried that the beef is too rare – possibly bison or zebu. Andy's instincts are correct: the beef is blue, which is a culinary word meaning "dark pink". The broth is fantastic, but blue beef is a sin, and it's extremely doubtful whether Elise's pasta was obese enough to save Tommy.

No it's not. Tommy is going home. Everyone is sad because it's TOMMY! He goes home to his wife and son and a life of overcooking his beef every single time. Everyone cries because they have been told that when you leave MasterChef you die.

Tune in tomorrow, when the amateurs ruin a restaurant