MasterChef recap: One dish takes the judges' broth away and the top 10 is finally revealed

Jock, Melissa, Nick Holloway and Andy adopt the power stance.
Jock, Melissa, Nick Holloway and Andy adopt the power stance.  Photo: Supplied

Another week begins, another innocent person is informed that they do not deserve to be happy. Yes, that most glorious of public displays of ritual sadism: the MasterChef elimination challenge.

The amateurs enter the kitchen and each takes their place behind a small table. Melissa, who is dressed as a lethal international assassin, informs them that if they survive today's elimination, they will be in the top ten, so today's loser should definitely feel worse than usual. Andy then introduces today's guest chef, Nick Holloway from Nu Nu. Nick is a large jolly bearded man who has made his mark as one of the few cartoon characters brought to life by a wizard to make it to the top of the food industry. The elimination challenge will contain an added degree of difficulty as today the amateurs must do everything while having Nick's wild animated eyes staring at them.

The first round of the challenge involves three dishes from Nu Nu. They must taste the dishes and correctly identify all the ingredients. The five most ignorant contestants go into round two. They have 15 minutes to write down as many ingredients as they can. If they identify every ingredient correctly, the curse is broken and Nick will be forced to return the princess and wake up the castle.

We are not treated to the always-riveting televisual sight of people eating food and writing things down. "I'd like to say my palate's pretty good," says Depinder, and regular viewers know she's right: she does like to say that. And yet the dessert is a complete mystery to her. Everyone is baffled by the dessert. It's served in a coconut shell, but apart from that nobody knows whether it's chocolate ice-cream or paprika yak butter.

The thrilling rollercoaster ride that was the taste test is over. Tommy got 30 out of 50 ingredients correct, which makes him the high scorer and really brings home how much the group as a whole sucked at this. The five who bombed out are Scott, Depinder – look at little Miss Great Palate now – Aaron, Minoli and Pete. Many of the amateurs failed to even identify that the main course had lamb in it, which is a pretty strong indictment of the standard of the modern Australian palate.

In round two of the challenge, the five bad tasters must choose from the ingredients featured in Nick's three dishes to make a dish of their own. "Make these ingredients sing," says Jock, which seems appropriate for a challenge inspired by a jolly woodland giant. "In fact, don't make them sing," Jock suddenly backpedals, "make them scream", which really places a dark, sordid atmosphere over the whole kitchen.


The amateurs set to work, picking out their pineapples while trying not to think about the fact that Nick looks like someone used Photoshop to swap his chin with the top of his head. Scott laments that he has no interesting cultural background and that he is therefore forced to make incredibly boring dishes and to burn easily when at the beach. He is making a pavlova roulade, which is one of those dishes that is simultaneously fiendishly difficult in a technical sense and really not interesting at all.

Nick and Andy visit Pete, who tells them he's making a curry ice-cream, and doesn't even apologise or promise to spend the rest of his life making amends for his horrible sins or anything. Nick is extremely unsure about the concept of a curry ice-cream, and fears it might go as badly as his attempt to take over Toon Town. Pete admits that if he ever saw curry ice-cream in a restaurant he wouldn't order it, but he's fairly sure that when the challenge was set the judges told him the dish should be inedible, so he's sticking with it.

Jock tells Nick that if he was in this challenge he'd make a dish using only ingredients starting with P, playing up to Nick's Muppet ancestry. Depinder tells Nick that she's making glutinous rice, and Nick warns her that although glutinous rice is good if it's good, it's also bad if it's bad. Depinder thanks him for his advice.

Aaron is struggling a little bit. Nick gives him some sage advice: "Sour is sour, spicy is spicy, hot is hot". Aaron can barely contain his gratitude at this incredible insight. Focusing entirely on the job at hand, he doesn't have time to notice that when Andy and Nick stand next to each other, it's really obvious that Nick is Andy twenty years in the future after becoming a pirate.

Depinder is starting to crack under the pressure. She's beginning to doubt herself and isn't even sure what direction she should wildly flail her arms in. If only she knew that Pete was making curry ice-cream, she'd feel so much better about herself. Pete is also making a granita, because what would a MasterChef episode be without a pile of crushed ice pretending to be food?

"I'm using hibiscus flowers to dye my cream a beautiful hot pink," says Scott, sounding a LOT prouder of this than he objectively deserves to be. "Never before has there been so much pressure on a pavlova," he asserts, showing his historical ignorance regarding the infamous Munich Pavlova that brought Neville Chamberlain to grief.

Jock is worried about Aaron: his dish is so simple and basic that it may struggle to compete with the complex and disgusting monstrosities everyone else is making. "The only way he's going to make it through is if somebody pulls an Icarus," says Melissa, pulling out one of her filthy euphemisms.

Speaking of filthy euphemisms, Scott now takes a deep breath and starts rolling his roulade. It…works? I think? Sort of.

Time is ticking away, and Depinder and Minoli are engaged in a vicious knock-em-down, drag-em-out battle to see who can make the most expansive hand gestures when describing spices. Meanwhile Aaron's prawns are glistening and great and totally unaware that Jock has been badmouthing them.

Time is nearly up, and the amateurs work frantically to finish in the nick of time or at least to be edited to make it look like they have. "It's crazy!" cries Minoli, possibly referring to her broth but also possibly referring to the fact that Nick is a cross between Ming the Merciless and the BFG. The clock runs out and Scott begins to cry, devastated at just how white he is. Aaron hugs him: Aaron too is white, and knows how hard it can be.

Minoli serves her prawn soup and tells a story about her mother that makes Nick's heart grow three sizes and give back everyone's Christmas presents. Minoli's soup is a cracker. Figuratively speaking, that is: a soup that was literally a cracker would be a terrible failure.

Aaron serves his incredibly boring prawns. He tries to make it more interesting by arranging the elements so the prawns look like they have grown pubic hair, but it's fooling nobody. "I feel really disappointed," says Nick, like a Lorax watching a logging operation. "Everything on this plate is nervous," he adds, but can you blame it? Wouldn't you be nervous if this towering bald ogre was putting you in his mouth? Anyway everyone hates Aaron's food and, from the savagery of their comments, Aaron himself.

Scott serves his Anglo-Saxon pavlova roulade. It's wonderful. Nick thinks it's like rum and popcorn and burning cane fields, and to be honest he scares me a little, but he seems to like the pav.

Depinder serves her prawns and her problematic rice. The curry is good but the rice is raw. They WARNED her about the rice. Did she not LISTEN? The judges will have to draw on all their reserves of favouritism to save Depinder after this. Or maybe just draw on Aaron sucking.

Here comes Pete with his curry ice-cream, garnished with shame. It is absolutely vile, or as the judges put it, "absolutely beautiful". The bizarre ice-cream world of MasterChef strikes again.

Judging time. Minoli and Pete and Scott are safe. Depinder and Aaron are not safe, but Aaron is just a little bit more not-safe than Depinder, inasmuch as he's going home for his bland depressing prawns. Let that be a lesson to all: when in doubt, put something stupid in ice-cream instead of just cooking something normal.

Tune in tomorrow, when Andy kidnaps everyone.