MasterChef recap: Life's a hibachi and then you die of shame because your dish is a dud

The MasterChef funeral home is open for business.
The MasterChef funeral home is open for business.  Photo: Supplied

It's the top six competing for a spot in tomorrow's immunity challenge, the winner of which will progress, via the inviolable sanctity of maths, into the top five. Today's challenge is one specifically designed to confuse everyone so much they forget how to cook.

Give it up for the top six everybody!
Give it up for the top six everybody! Photo: Supplied

A wall has been erected down the middle of the kitchen, much like that which once split Berlin in two. And just like that wall, this one means death for anyone trying to escape to the other side. The six cooks are separated into three teams of two. Each pair must enter two pantries at the same time and pick two ingredients each, without knowing what the other is doing. They must then use all four ingredients in a dish, competing against the other person in their pair. This means Dan v Sarah, Alvin v Keyma and Julie v Billie, with the winning dish from each pair progressing to the immunity challenge.

Understand all that? If not, tough titties, we're going ahead.

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands.
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands.  Photo: Supplied

Julie and Billie enter their pantries. They stay in there for several weeks. Together they have picked lemon, garlic, prawns and star anise: each woman's strategy of mutually assured destruction paying off in spades, as neither will be able to make anything remotely good now.

Alvin and Keyma spend their month or so in the pantry and come out with fish sauce, chilli paste, habanero chillies and plantains, meaning they will both have to cook something lethal to humans.

Finally, Sarah and Dan enter the pantry, and come out with a deeper understanding of themselves and their bodies. Dan picks fermented bean curd just to be nasty, as well as a huge slab of steak. Sarah picks onions and asparagus, both of which she uses in the restaurant in India which you may remember she has.


The cooks have only 60 minutes, making the likelihood of terribleness even greater. Alvin doesn't have a dish in mind, so he carefully slices the plantain up, hoping that'll be enough, as he remembers the winning dish in the final of Season 2 was a plate of sliced plantain with tomato sauce. Keyma is more focused: she is going to make plantain steaks, which are just like real steaks except nobody wants to eat them.

Suddenly Alvin has a breakthrough. "It's not an unripened banana!" he cries, with the joy of epiphany. Melissa pops over to ask him what the hell he's playing at. He declares that he will make sure his dish takes out Keyma, vigorously stuffing the plantain with gunpowder.

Jock asks Sarah what she's up to. She's making an asparagus dish, to express her hatred for humanity. "I feel like Daniel's going to do a big beautiful rib-eye fillet," she says, the bile rising in her throat at the very idea. Sarah intends something MUCH more refined, but Dan tries to stop her by releasing an enormous cloud of smoke, which blinds everyone and ruins all the dishes at once.

Billie is making prawn vol-au-vents, which requires the making of rough puff pastry, which normally takes longer than sixty minutes, but Billie's been on MasterChef long enough to know that the best thing you can do in any situation is give yourself insufficient time to complete your task: judges are always impressed by recklessly bad planning.

Speaking of insufficient time, Dan reckons he's got his steak on just in time to be ready by the end of the cook, but it'll be touch and go given he selected a cut of meat that is actually constructed from several individual cows stapled together. There is definitely a risk that if it doesn't cook all the way through, his dish could stampede.

Meanwhile Alvin's plantain is cooked, and nobody really knows whether this is a good thing or not.

Andy pops round to Billie and tells her that her vol-au-vent has to be the best vol-au-vent he's had this year….because he hasn't had any vol-au-vents this year! Production is paused for a few hours while everyone rolls around on the floor cackling uncontrollably at Andy's peerless way with a zinger. Andy then goes round to Julie, who threatens to spank him. Things really are steaming up in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, "I've got no idea what Sarah's doing," says Dan, finally catching up to where everyone else has been since the start of the series. He's also not sure if his steak will have time to rest, which is an issue because it's been complaining of a groin strain. Also his onions aren't right. Long story short: Dan's entire life is falling apart.

With three minutes to go, Julie's ravioli is done and dusted, which I never even knew you had to do to ravioli. Even better, her sauce tastes like prawns. Even better than that, she wants it to taste like prawns. Elsewhere, Sarah is happy with her final dish despite the fact that, no matter which way you look at it, it has asparagus in it. Keyma is super-confident. "I think I can beat Alvin!" she explains, bursting into laughter because she's giving an interview after the cook and already knows what happened.

Time is up and food must be ingested by the ravening beasts we call judges. The first two dishes tasted are the pink aprons AKA Dan and Sarah. Dan has cooked a huge chunk of meat with bits of asparagus sitting on top. Sarah has made asparagus spears lined up and sitting in brown stuff. Dan's steak is inconsistent due to poor hibachi technique and has broken Andy's heart. Sarah's dish is basically fine which is sufficient because Dan's sucks. "I feel bad," says Sarah, as anyone would who has just slapped around an innocent young fireman so badly in public.

Next, the red aprons AKA Keyma and Alvin. Keyma has made slabs of plantain with red and yellow stuff scattered on top. Alvin has made "plantain abacus beads", which is…like…wet little baubles…or something…uh…yeah. Keyma's dish is sort of good, but Alvin's is actually good. "It was bloody delicious," says Melissa, shocking all with her unrestrained obscenity.

Finally, the yellow aprons: Julie and Billie, our gentle queens. Billie's prawn vol-au-vents versus Julie's prawn ravioli. "Julie, you were worried about your pasta," says Jock, "but you needn't have worried – because honestly it's just pasta, have some perspective." And although in the great scheme of things it doesn't matter, the pasta is good. The vol-au-vents are not good: the pastry, according to Melissa, "lacked tenderness". What this means we'll never know, but it's definitely not a good thing.

And so into tomorrow's immunity challenge go Sarah, Alvin and Julie, the trio already being dubbed "The Three Rocketeers" by the great Australian public. Tune in tomorrow when the essential oneness of food is realised.