Tonight, an elimination challenge that is also the final instalment of the considerably ill-defined How To Succeed At MasterChef Week. Will the following How To Fail At MasterChef Week be as successful? Only time will tell.
In today's elimination, the contestants must try to fill their briefs. Wait, no – that's a very different show. They actually have to fulfil their brief, in the sense of "do what you're told, dammit". The judges explain that meeting the brief is the most important lesson of all, with the possible exception of "make ice-cream for every dish". After all, cooking a delicious casserole is not much good if your brief was "bake a cake shaped like Maria Venuti".
Why is Andy dressed like a toddler with wealthy parents? #masterchefau— Judy (@Judithr32685596) May 9, 2021
Today's brief is to create a delicious interpretation of a common food-related phrase. The phrases they can choose from are "as cool as a cucumber", "bring home the bacon", and "the proof is in the pudding". Of course, the last one is entirely incorrect: the actual saying is "the proof of the pudding is in the tasting", and it's a sign of deep ignorance on the part of the producers that they have used the erroneous version. This may seem like pedantry, but guess what, attention to detail is important in the kitchen so how about we get these things right huh MasterChef?
If i were a contestant id pick the phrase "hot as balls" and make chilli cheese arancini #masterchefau— David May (@davidmayauthor) May 9, 2021
Several amateurs have decided to make a dish based on "as cool as a cucumber", which for some reason they think should actually have a cucumber in it. This seems like a terrible mistake, because the saying is a simile – they should be making something as cool AS a cucumber – using an actual cucumber is just redundant. Meanwhile Eric has decided to do "bring home the bacon", and yet he is staying in the kitchen instead of taking the bacon home. Why doesn't anyone understand their brief? Next someone will make a pudding without a smoking gun inside it.
Tonight is basically the battle of the cucumber granitas... #masterchefau— Minoli De Silva (@minoli_cooks) May 9, 2021
Conor is making a black olive ice-cream, because if How To Succeed In MasterChef week has taught him anything, it's that when in doubt, put a really disgusting flavour into ice-cream. This is Conor's idea of "cool as a cucumber". "To me, cool is original," he says, without apparent irony regarding the fact that it would be impossible to think of anything less original than making ice-cream with an unusual ingredient on MasterChef.
Connor is wild & love how random he is...of course olives and cucumber should be in a dessert! What could possibly go wrong? 🥴 Go Connor! #masterchefau— Lozza McSpozza (@mack_or_mick) May 9, 2021
Brent, freshly out of quarantine and barely able to restrain himself from licking his fellow contestants' faces, is making a Mexican pork belly, which is his interpretation of "bring home the bacon". The mad fool – the saying isn't "bring home the pork"! Meanwhile Pete is basically just mushing up a massive pile of cucumber, bringing home really effectively just how horrid a food cucumber is. He's also using choko as a dumpling wrapper, leaving us with no alternative but to conclude that Pete is heavily concussed. In response to this plan, Jock makes quite a clever Monty Python reference that is utterly wasted on Pete.
Justin is making pork belly bao. He explains to Melissa that, for him, "bring home the bacon" means really boring stories about going to restaurants. Tommy, meanwhile, thinks the phrase means he should transport the judges home, and so is building a large outrigger canoe out of bacon.
Everyone is coming up with emotional justifications for their cooking choices so that the editor has an excuse to slap warm emotional music over the top of their explanations. Yet, in the end, every "interpretation" of the brief just comes down to "make something with cucumber"; "make something with bacon"; or "make a pudding". To be fair, today is about meeting the brief, not about being interesting, which is why over 95 per cent of the amateurs seem to be making cucumber granitas.
“There’s a lot of cucumber granita in there, I’ve got nowhere to put my ice cream”— Michelle 🐿💨 (@MichelleMackey1) May 9, 2021
Peak 2021 so far
Kishwar has noticed that the mint in the MasterChef greenhouse is exactly the same as the mint that grows in her garden, and she obliquely accuses Jock of theft. She is combining her cucumber granita with fish coated in chilli oil and drenched in hot tamarind sauce, as she believes that being cool as a cucumber means setting your mouth on fire.
Brent admits that grains can be boring, so he has put his grains in bacon fat to make sure they are boring AND unhealthy. "The biggest thing is I've gotta bring this bacon home," he says, which is a dilemma because Melissa just told him to NOT go home. It's tricky.
Why didn’t more people choose pudding or bacon? This Baffles me #MasterChefAU— Lone Vlogger (@Nardeen_92) May 9, 2021
The judges tell Wynona that just putting pickled cucumber in her dish isn't enough to meet the brief. She decides to do something really innovative and add a cucumber granita. But the brief is "as cool as a cucumber", not "tastes like cucumber", so meeting the brief should be entirely dependent on temperature rather than flavour. The best way to meet the brief would be to simply place your dish in an esky.
Eric, misinterpreting "bring home the bacon" as "start a fire", starts a fire. The time it takes to put out the fire, clear the smoke, be cleared of arson by investigators, and be discharged from the burns unit, has put him way behind his competitors. Meanwhile Pete is facing his greatest challenge: getting his wrappers to stick together. Same problem NWA had.
Which other sayings about food would you have liked to see for this challenge? Mine would be ‘A piece of cake’ #MasterChefAU— Lone Vlogger (@Nardeen_92) May 9, 2021
Eric, who cannot afford another mistake, makes another mistake. Melissa pulls a discouraging face as he discovers his pan is too hot, which means he can't, uh, emulsify his carbonara or something. The pan has cooked his eggs when it wasn't supposed to, and Eric says his only hope is that he has met the brief inasmuch as there is bacon in it. But he's wrong: his only hope is actually that someone else sucks even worse than he does.
Time is up and there's still like 40 minutes of the episode left, which means these judges are really going to run off at the mouth.
Here's the condensed version: Conor's awful ice-cream is great; Elise's sticky date pudding is delicious (though still based on an incorrect saying); Eric's disastrous carbonara is gluggy; Jess's fish is too gingery; Aaron's fish is overcooked; Dan's fish is muddy; Brent's pork belly is good; Kishwar's incredibly hot-but-also-cool-thingy is perfect, just like Kishwar's adorable face; Sabina's fish is fantastic; Amir's sorbet is fine; Justin's bao is OK; Linda's fish is great; "Scott" is still pretending to be on the show; Therese's gelato is relatively decent; Tom's sorbet is basically all right; Wynona's salmon is painfully uncool; Tommy's bun cha Hanoi is as fabulous as Tommy's own hair and makes Melissa have an autoerotic moment at the bench; Pete's numerous cold cucumber lumps are wonderful somehow.
The judges have plenty to choose from in terms of crappy dishes, but even among mounds of garbage, Wynona's garbage was the most garbagey. Eric, Jess and Dan breathe sighs of relief at their dodged bullet, as Wynona walks away in tears, to hitchhike home as per the MasterChef contestant contract.
Tune in tomorrow, when someone who is good at something will be in the kitchen for once.