MasterChef recap: Julie gets saucy, puds get sticky and it's all rather icky in the date night challenge

Team leader Aldo. He's Italian, you know.
Team leader Aldo. He's Italian, you know.  Photo: Supplied

Tonight's episode is all about love. The love of a man for a woman, or the love of a woman for a passionfruit mousse, or the love of a MasterChef judge for calling food "silky". Yes, it's date night in the MasterChef kitchen! So all the cooks strip off, and…Oh. No. It's not that kind of date night. It's just more cooking. Sometimes it seems like MasterChef will never feature explicit sex scenes. How long must we wait?

Anyway, tonight it's a live Deliveroo service challenge, meaning the teams have just two and a half hours to underpay marginalised workers and – wait, no. That's another mistake. They have two and a half hours to create "the perfect date night meal": that's entrée, main and dessert for 25 couples plus the judges. "We want food that gets us in the mood for love," says Jock, so the teams' meals will be scored on how much the judges want to  get it on with each other after eating.

Because Tommy was ill for the last elimination, he has to cook in the next elimination, which means he sits out this challenge, which means the fans have nine cooks to the favourites' seven, which means they send one member to join the favourites, so they choose Ali, and then the cooks split into four teams, which are purple, orange, teal and pink. Got that? There will be a test at the end, so try to remember.

Also Ali won an advantage earlier in the week, which turns out to be that for fifteen minutes during today's challenge her team (purple) gets Andy to help them. Everyone claps and laughs and pretends that this is actually an advantage. "Who wouldn't be happy with winning Andy in a challenge?" says Ali, sarcastically, but everyone thinks she means a sex thing.

The two losing teams today will cook in a "shock elimination" – the word "shock" here meaning "expected because Melissa just told us about it" – tomorrow.

All teams begin to scribble on butcher's paper. Melanie decides she's captain of the pink team and tells them that veggies travel well. Jenn suggests that meatballs are very romantic and nobody has the heart to contradict her.


On the purple team, Aldo has taken control. "As you may know, I'm Italian," he says. While everyone reels with shock at this news, Alvin begins stirring two pots at once just to show off. Meanwhile Dan, captain of the teal team, throws a stunning curveball, revealing that Keyma is, in fact, still on the show.

Aldo plays his trump card, calling Andy in for his fifteen minutes. "We can give him something really hard," says Ali, refusing to cease the filth. Aldo orders him to prepare his beef cheeks, which probably isn't a euphemism. As a professional chef and restaurateur, Andy's skills at chopping up bits of meat will be invaluable.

The teal team explain to Jock and Melissa that they are making croquetas. Melissa asks whether that's not more a bar snack than a date night meal, as if bar snacks aren't exactly what people eat on dates because the dates are happening at bars. Jock thinks the croquetas will be too heavy, causing the couples to crush each other. The teal team decides to make something lighter and worse-tasting with broccolini.

Andy leaves the purple team having cut some pieces of meat and given the team no practical benefit at all. "What a legend," says Ali, her sarcasm ever-sharpening. Jock and Melissa think the purple team's menu is too heavy too. Melissa says that on date night she wants to talk to her partner, not fall into a food coma, but Aldo has no interest in catering to Melissa's bizarre fetishes. "I think maybe we should think about doing a different sauce," says Ali. "No," says Aldo, utterly drunk on power.

Meanwhile on the orange team, Sarah is focused on the Madras fish curry as she has nothing else in her life. Jock and Melissa come to the orange team to ask what date night is for them. Julie informs them of her rich and athletic sex life, which they find satisfactory.

On the pink team, Melanie has her brownies in the oven. They've made the brownies gluten-free so Melanie can taste them. But Melanie doesn't like brownies, making this decision pointless. "I just have to follow the recipe and hopefully make it taste good," says Melanie in the voice of a woman who just doesn't give a damn anymore.

Billie is making sticky date pudding for the purple team. "I hope I can make a good dish that the judges like," she arrogantly declares, as always indulging herself in wildly excessive ambition. Meanwhile Julie's ginger puddings won't come out of their moulds, which is definitely not a euphemism. The solution: cut off the bottoms and throw them at Tommy, who is delighted.

The judges come to the purple team and tell them again that their menu sucks. Aldo refuses to change. Ali and Billie plead with him to change. Dying inside, Aldo agrees to make a red sauce, which is a sauce made from fresh red.

Suddenly, the Deliveroo drivers arrive, silent and implacable as the elite KGB death squad in the film "Condorman", but with brighter jackets. As the pressure intensifies, Dan discovers his pork is bland and flavourless: a disastrous development for this challenge, as nothing ruins date night like a tasteless pork. Montana assumes command, telling Dan to tear the pork to shreds so the diners at least know how angry he is.

It is time to start doling out the dishes to be delivered to anonymous strangers, whose opinions of the food will of course not matter in any way. The orange and purple teams begin sending bags out, while the pink and teal teams wallow in inferiority. "I'm feeling so good about service," says Julie, which almost always means something horrible is about to happen.

The judges eat the orange team's meal. The string section on the soundtrack becomes jittery and tense. "I reckon they've really nailed this," says Andy as the strings are replaced by feelgood mellow guitar. "It's outside the box," he adds, accompanied by a closeup of food inside a box – touche, Mr editor! Jock is impressed by the food, but even more impressed by how they worked as a team, noting that the real Deliveroo is the friends we made along the way.

As the purple team works to send its meals out, tragedy! "One of my worst nightmares has just come to life," says Aldo: they don't have enough cauliflower puree, meaning the meal will be incomplete and that Aldo has very mild nightmares. It's ironic, because in most situations having no cauliflower puree would be cause for wild celebration, but this is a one-in-a-million circumstance where cauliflower puree is actually desirable. "We're going to have to do something to bulk it up," says Billie. The idea of combining the puree with some rich hearty glue is floated before they decide to use beans instead.

The judges now eat the pink team's meal. Melissa notes that carrots and dip is not a sexy dish, which shows up her lack of imagination. She also finds the brownie problematic, so god knows why they even bothered.

Over on the teal team, Dan declares that he is like an octopus, so could be cracking under the pressure. He serves his team's meal to the judges, who are deeply disappointed, which is weird because did they really expect anything better? Melissa notes that the pork hasn't been trimmed properly: "you can see bits of sinew and skin," she says, which you'd think would be exactly what you want on date night, but there you go.

Finally, the purple team. The only thing Aldo is concerned about is the puree on the main, which just shows his ignorance of world events. The judges eat the meal. It's good but also bad, illustrating the fundamental duality of Man in a manner rarely seen since the height of the Renaissance masters. Also the pudding is yummy.

Time for the final judgment, and it proves the truth of the old saying, "the favourites are heaps better than the fans this year". The orange and purple teams are safe, the teal and pink teams are not. Tune in tomorrow, when one of your non-favourites will go home.