MasterChef recap: Tears and disbelief as a dosa bad luck sends a fan favourite packing

Judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo send a popular favourite packing.
Judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo send a popular favourite packing.  Photo: Network 10

As the commercials have warned us, tonight A FAVOURITE WILL GO HOME. Of course, they mean "favourite" in the "fans versus favourites" sense, so don't worry too much: it'll probably be one of the ones you don't like. Like that one. You know who I mean.

Tonight it's an all-in elimination, with everyone except clever immunity-winner Ali on the chopping block. The theme is "time", as in the episode will go so long you will lose all sense of it. "Today is a long-distance race, and unfortunately one of you won't make it to the finish line," says Melissa, who doesn't understand how races work.

The remaining contestants say cheese.
The remaining contestants say cheese.  Photo: Supplied

In round one the teams must cook in ten minutes in order to prove that that's actually all you need to cook a dish and all the faffing around they do in every other challenge is a total waste of time. The creator of the best ten-minute dish saves their team from round two.

And they're off. After ten minutes, most of which Keyma spends running around the kitchen shouting about corn, the challenge is over and everyone must plate up their awful dishes. The food served up ranges from the disgusting to the almost-edible, and in the end the dish that the judges choose to be most hyperbolic about is Melanie's, which had tofu in it so you can be fairly sure the judges are lying.

So the fans are safe, which we knew because of the ad which told us a favourite would be going home, so more than half an hour into the episode we've learnt nothing. It is now round two, which will take place over two days, and since round one was a ten-minute cook that lasted more than twenty, god only knows how long this is going to go for.

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The cooks have 45 minutes to prepare a dish that they'll leave to develop overnight – marinating, proving, slow cooking, or any other show-offy rubbish – before coming back in the morning with 60 minutes to finish it off.

Michael has a pin but is hoping he won't have to use it, and to keep it safe he's whipped out his big meat. Julie responds with her lamb shoulder. Minoli is going to marinate her pork belly rather than slow cook it, until Jock tells her she can do both – which is unfair because it's Michael who's making tacos, so if anyone's going to do both of something it should be him – and Minoli makes the startling discovery that the MasterChef kitchen has slow cookers in it. A whole new world opens up to her: a world of sitting and waiting and taking much more time than the dish is worth.

Aldo is making octopus, a risky move as it is a notoriously impatient animal and could well try to escape overnight. While describing the dish to Andy and Jock, Aldo breaks down and cries, recalling a story from his past that is frankly far too depressing to put in a recap. Suffice to say that after hearing it, it will seem horribly cruel if Aldo does not win the whole competition.

Julie is worried by the amount of time her food has to stay on heat, but she's misunderstood: she just has to cook the lamb, she doesn't have to persuade it to breed. Meanwhile, Sashi is fermenting his batter, which is not really the kind of thing that should be allowed in this timeslot.

Their dishes left to rest and fester and grow fungus all over them, the cooks retire for a restless night. Julie has nightmares in which she is pursued by angry lambs without shoulders. Michael hallucinates that his pin is trying to kill him in his sleep. Sarah sleeps right through without anything interesting happening at all.

In the morning Julie checks her lamb and finds that it is very lambish. Going mad with power, she decides to make some couscous. Michael's brisket, however, is a little bit tougher than he'd like, so he decides to bully it until it cries. Sashi is very happy and has batter on his face, having been engaged in something utterly appalling. The judges visit Mindy and strongly hint that she's got no chance. Mindy thanks them for their help. Moving on to Billie's bench, they are deeply impressed by the fact that she has made duck legs look like oysters, which was presumably deliberate.

Over at Minoli's bench, her experiment in marinating and slow cooking at the same time is going well, and she laughs maniacally as lightning cracks overhead and the pork belly slowly rises from the slab and asks Minoli if she is its mother.

Meanwhile Aldo is still crying, oh god. In happier news, Michael's brisket is dry. I mean, not happier news for Michael, but compared to Aldo…anyway Michael plays his pin, continuing this season's alarming trend of contestants doing intelligent things.

Time ticks away, as round two – which has lasted two days but taken up less screen time than round one, which was ten minutes – draws to an end. Sashi is stressed by his dosas. "You've got this, Sashi!" shouts someone from the balcony, possibly sarcastically. Sashi is in big trouble, a fact emphasised by Melissa pulling that face that she does when she's fairly sure something sad is happening. "I'm losing track of my cook," Sashi says, as his batter begins to sneak out the back door. But then, suddenly, everything is fine for some reason. Phew, that was a mildly tense 30 seconds.

Time is nearly up. "I'm happy with the flavours of my Peking duck broth," says Mindy, as if anyone asked her. Up on the balcony the agitators cheer Julie's lamb. "I wish that were me, that lamb," says Matt wistfully, in what easily qualifies as the most deeply disturbing statement made by anyone this season. He seems to want Julie to cook him. An intervention may be called for.

Time is up. All that is left is to taste the dishes and find out what's better: taking not enough time to cook a dish, or taking far too long.

Julie serves her Moroccan lamb shoulder. It's bloody marvellous. "It's like butter," says Jock, incorrectly: it's actually like really nice lamb.

Aldo serves his octopus. He cries some more. Melissa does her face. The octopus is rather good, assuming you like eating sea monsters.

Minoli serves her pork belly curry and some other things. "This is just so pork," says Jock. "It's so pork," says Melissa. "So pork," says Andy. They sit and think for a while about just how pork it is.

Billie serves her confit duck leg. It is fine. Alvin serves his tofu and pork and eggs and etc. It is fine. Sarah serves her pork vindaloo. Everyone has a brief nap, but it's fine.

Then Mindy steps up with her chicken and duck dumplings. Somehow she has found a way to not have enough time. Her broth is beautiful. Her dumplings have raw dough, a poor decision as few people enjoy the raw dough flavour.

Sashi serves his fish curry and problematic dosas. "Is everyone thinking what I'm thinking?" asks Jock, and indeed they are: Sashi's curry sucks. He spent so much time trying to make his dosas come out right that he forgot to not make his curry taste like burnt garbage. It happens to the best of us.

To nobody's surprise except the rest of the contestants who didn't get to see the judging, it comes down to a choice between Sashi and Mindy, or to put it another way, Sashi is going home and Mindy has to stand next to him for a bit to manufacture suspense. It's a bit sad but not very because he already won this show once so no biggie.

"There'll be a giant Sashi-shaped hole in our hearts," says Melissa who thinks that everyone who gets eliminated is immediately murdered in the garden. And with that Sashi returns to his restaurant to delight thousands of diners with hopefully non-burnt curries.

Tune in tomorrow, when the gang goes on the road solving mysteries.