MasterChef recap: Birds of a feather choc together as Zumbo applies some pressure

Adriano Zumbo (right), he of the infamous croquembouche, is back with another pressure test.
Adriano Zumbo (right), he of the infamous croquembouche, is back with another pressure test. Photo: Channel 10

It's Tuesday and that means a pressure test, but unlike the old days, when the pressure test involved seeing who could last the longest with Matt Preston sitting on their head, today's pressure tests are just cooking.

The bottom four contestants from yesterday, who found the box too much of a mystery – that's Julie, Alvin, Max and Dulan – will have to participate. Andy notes that Julie is "The queen of the pressure test" and asks her what she fears most. Julie admits her greatest fear, apart from the future wars between nation-states over water, is Adriano Zumbo. Alvin also fears Zumbo, whose shiny head and terrifying eyebrows have vanquished many a hapless cook.

Adriano Zumbo's "Polly wanna waffle" pressure test on MasterChef.
Adriano Zumbo's "Polly wanna waffle" pressure test on MasterChef. Photo: Channel 10

Conveniently, Adriano Zumbo now enters the kitchen. Melissa asks him how he feels. Zumbo replies that his pay cheque feels fantastic. The legendary cake-fiddler has brought in a fiendish challenge: the "Polly wanna waffle". This is a parrot sitting on top of waffles.

Disappointment ripples through the room as Zumbo reveals it is not a real parrot. They're not real waffles either. Zumbo sits on a throne of lies. The whole thing is full of chocolate and marshmallow and jam and various other diabetes-adjacent ingredients. Zumbo explains the main pressure points: tempering the chocolate, balancing the layers, and general admin.

It looks a bit roadkill-y.

Jock Zonfrillo

The cooks have four-and-a-half hours to recreate Polly wanna waffle. They do not have to make the parrot's feathers, however, as Zumbo has done that for them, a sad indictment of the laziness of today's generation. Back in my day we had to make our own feathers. In fact, we had to catch our own parrot.

"The most important thing is not to get into a flap," says Julie, so nervous that she doesn't even realise she's made a clever parrot pun.

Max explains that he needs to combine two different kinds of chocolate in the microwave, but he's wrong: he is a beautiful, complex human being and he has value no matter what he does with chocolate. He needs to learn to believe this, so he can temper chocolate on his own terms.

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Speaking of feeling inadequate, "I just feel inadequate," says Alvin. He wastes some time imagining what might have happened had he won his season. Looking enviously at the previous winners who have returned for this season, he realises that had he won MasterChef in Season 2, he would now be a contestant on MasterChef in 2022. Oh what a life that would be, he thinks.

Alvin can't get his chocolate right. He starts to panic. "It's just hit me that I'm in a pressure test set by Adriano Zumbo," he says, and let's be honest, that took him too long.

As the possibility of a genuine full-blown nervous breakdown becomes apparent, the spectators on the balcony develop a certain amount of alarm. But, full of love for Alvin and relief that it's not them down there, the throng begins clapping and cheering for the little guy, and, inspired by their support, he breaks through the panic and gets on with the chocolate.

Dulan is running a little bit behind, both in terms of tempering his chocolate and audience investment in his personal narrative. Luckily, someone on the balcony calls out "Keep going, Dulan", so he does.

Suddenly disaster strikes: Julie has forgotten to put pectin in her jam, something for which Adriano Zumbo has previously murdered people. Despair threatens for a moment, but then she declares, "I just get back on the horse and keep going" – another mistake, as this is not in the recipe.

As time ticks remorselessly on, Billie notes that "Dulan looks like he's in a better place". Unfortunately, that better place seems to be the City of Poorly Made Desserts.

Dulan has been sloppy filling his waffle moulds, and the balcony vultures foresee dire consequences. Andy and Jock visit Dulan's bench and taunt him for his bumpy layers. Inside, Dulan dies a little. "You've got this Dulan," comes the predictable lie from above. "I'm still hoping the taste will be enough," Dulan says, clearly having never heard of Adriano Zumbo before.

"Polly wanna waffle, but this challenge is a cracker!" shouts Melissa, rendering her liable for charges in The Hague.

Meanwhile, Julie reins in her violent urges and carefully removes her fake waffles from their mould, causing widespread jubilation from the judges and the spectators, who want her to win and everyone else to lose.

Alvin, hoping for a similar reaction, removes his waffles but pauses in the middle to have a little cry, which makes everyone feel terrible for making such a big deal of how much they love Julie. Alvin's waffles come out looking fine and his next bout of deep-seated inadequacy is postponed for at least a few minutes.

With time almost up, Max dips his parrot's body in green paint, making it deadly to humans. Julie attaches her feathers to her bird, only for them to fall off, causing it to become an ex-parrot. Meanwhile, Dulan declares his parrot looks like a rat with feathers, to which Alvin retorts that his looks like a plucked chicken. Both are wrong: their parrots actually look like desserts.

Time is up. Julie serves her parrot first. She is proud of herself, and why shouldn't she be? Her parrot is spectacular – beautiful plumage. Zumbo, helpful as ever, declares that it looks great apart from the things that are wrong with it. It's also delicious, which is something the judges occasionally take notice of.

Max serves his next, and disappoints with his marshmallow. "I think Max is to be commended," says Melissa, though her tone says, "I think it is a shame that Max has wasted his life".

Dulan comes in with his parrot. Andy is amazed that he finished after falling so far behind, but Dulan simply muscled up to those bars and VOOM. His waffle doesn't look like the others, and the judges consider this a bad thing due to ingrained bigotry.

Here comes Alvin, nervous as hell. He sits down with the judges so they can force him to relive his trauma. "Keep breathing," says Melissa, in case he was planning not to. Jock looks dubiously at Alvin's parrot. "It looks a bit roadkill-y," he says, which is stupid: why would roadkill be on top of a waffle?

In the end, Alvin has done brilliantly. "He's nailed it," says Zumbo, but that's fair enough: if he hadn't it would be pushing up the daisies.

Time for the ultimate judgment. Julie's dish was brilliant. Alvin's was ugly but tasty. Max's was basically kind of OK. Dulan's was slightly less OK, and so he's going home. His MasterChef dream is a stiff. Bereft of life, his hopes of winning rest in peace. His time in the kitchen has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This… is an ex-chef.