MasterChef recap: Beautiful setting, shame about the food, just blame it on the bougie

The winning MasterChef team from the 'basic to bougie' challenge.
The winning MasterChef team from the 'basic to bougie' challenge. Photo: Supplied

Today's challenge is a chance for the contestants to get out into the fresh air and remember what freedom was like, in the Before Times. They head to stately Werribee Mansion, which is right next to Werribee Zoo. They could've gone to Werribee Zoo and done a challenge where they have to choose between making lunch for lions or gorillas, or a challenge where they had to cook what they could successfully hunt. But no, the producers don't believe in fun, so they just go to this old mansion.

At the mansion the fifteen contestants are greeted by the judges, who inform them that today they will be split into three teams of five and urged to hate each other with deep and fiery passion. These teams must cook for snooty diners using rubbish ingredients: "basic" fruits and vegetables and "secondary" cuts of meat. Mouldy apples and goat anus ahoy! Mind you the produce is still better than what you'll get at Coles most days. The trick is, with the garbage ingredients they must make two courses worthy of Werribee Mansion, so it has to be pretentious and it has to be overpriced.

As soon as the challenge begins, a vicious brawl breaks out between the yellow and orange teams over who gets the mussels. They settle it by rock, paper, scissors. Not the game: they just grab whatever they can and hack each other to pieces. The orange team wins out and therefore gains the mussels, which should allow them to make something truly horrible.

Meanwhile on the pink team, Sarah has been made team captain because she trained in fine dining at Cordon Bleu, a background that stands her in good stead as she gets to work telling everyone about her fine dining training at Cordon Bleu. With ruthless efficiency she instructs the rest of the team to ensure that by day's end not a single diner is left not knowing that Sarah trained at Cordon Bleu.

Some of the orange team begin removing the beards from the mussels using straight razors, while Julie and Michael work on the chicken for the orange main course. "Bonin', bonin', bonin'," Julie sings, her mind clearly on far more enjoyable things.

The yellow team, denied mussels, has chosen whitebait for their entrée. "Whitebait is pretty plain," says Billie, so that's pretty appetising. The judges come over to shame Billie over her terrible rock paper scissors skills. They ask Billie how the whitebait is elevated. Panicking, Billie cuts to a commercial to buy some time to think. After a few minutes, she remembers the names of some spices that she can say, and the judges, being suckers for a good spice list, are mollified. They advise Billie to taste her food to find out if tastes good, advice that Billie finds powerfully inspirational.


From the yellow team Aldo calls out to Julie to ask how she is. "You've gotta laugh or you'll cry," Julie replies, the true darkness at the heart of human existence having hit home sometime in the middle of her boning song. She continues to prep her chicken despite now fully understanding what a terrible exercise in futility it is.

On the pink team, Alvin notes that his team has different strengths, like Sarah is skilled at French cooking, and he's good with southeast Asian flavours, and Dan, Montana and Keyma are good at something that Alvin refuses to identify. A schism has appeared in the pink team, and it'll take all of Sarah's leadership skills to pull her teammates together and get them all focused on the ultimate goal of telling people that she trained at Cordon Bleu.

Aldo asks Billie how his whitebait is going. "The judges are expecting something extraordinary," he says, which is a little egotistical. I mean, the judges have met all these people, their expectations are by now pretty realistic. Billie informs Aldo that he needs to add more of every spice, if the whitebait is to do its job (luring white people).

Meanwhile on the pink team Sarah is striving every sinew to teach her teammates the difficult French techniques she learnt at Cordon Bleu. "I hope that we have enough time to balance this beetroot," she says, and admit it you don't hear that sentence every day.

The yellows taste their entrée and find it extremely acidic, inasmuch as it burns holes through all their cheeks. They add grapes, as if that's ever been the answer. Meanwhile the pink team's beetroots have taken longer than expected and there are rumblings about a leadership coup.

It is time for service. The first dish to be served is the orange team's entrée. It's definitely fine dining, because it's tiny and looks like leftovers. The judges love it.

The pink team is still frantically manhandling their beetroot. An impeachment motion is moved against Sarah. While they debate, the yellow team serves their entrée. It is whitebait but it seems OK anyway. However, the grapes are confusing, as grapes almost always are.

The pink team, checking the clock and finding it's been several months since they started, get their entrée up. Jock stares at it in confusion. It is a "trio of beetroot", which is the Cordon Bleu term for a pile of purple gunk. Jock is underwhelmed. Melissa thinks it feels flat. Andy believes there's potential in the dish, and asks the Council to give him permission to train it.

The orange team is refining their chicken, Julie cheerfully observing that there is a definite possibility of her committing murder today. Cutting into the chicken, which they've given a fancy name but which looks like sausages to me, they find it's cooked perfectly and probably won't kill anyone.

The judges taste the oranges' fancy chicken sausages. The servings are inadequate enough to be extremely fine dining. "How good is charred lettuce?" asks Jock, apparently not wanting an honest answer. Melissa calls the jus "glossy", as required by her contract. Everything is lovely.

The pink team serves their main. Sarah suddenly realises that pulled meat isn't very fancy, and could in fact result in an indecent exposure charge. Still, too late now: she'll just have to hope the judges remember she trained at Cordon Bleu. The judges taste the pink team's pulled beef and find it deeply offensive to both palate and moral sensibility. Melissa sadly observes that the beef is glossy, yet still somehow unsatisfactory.

The yellow team serve their main. The lamb is well-cooked, but there is a danger that the dish might be too close to a satisfying meal to qualify as fine dining. Despite risking nourishment, the judges love it.

When the time comes to pass judgment, the orange team is the best and they will cook off for immunity tomorrow. There is no punishment for failure in this challenge, so everyone must be satisfied with pointing and laughing at the pink team.

Tune in tomorrow, when third-degree burns are a huge possibility.