It's a two-round elimination for seven contestants, while Keyma assumes the gloating position above. Each contestant is told to take a token from a bag and stand in the order of the numbers they draw: this order is the order which will determine how quickly they get served at the deli.
Each cook's token corresponds to an ingredient and a cloche, which they line up in front of. The ingredients have been chosen by Hugh Allen, executive chef of Vue de Monde, who almost certainly likes to call himself "Hugh de Monde". Hugh is a very handsome man and today's challenge is to cook without getting lost in his eyes. For the purposes of today's challenge, he is also known worldwide for his ability to make lists of random ingredients.
Each contestant must choose whether to cook with the ingredient in front of them, or take a risk and pick the unknown ingredient under the cloche. BUT, if they do not escape to the balcony in round one, they will have to cook in round two with the ingredient they did not choose. Once again, MasterChef prepares contestants for life in the real culinary industry, where risking the possibility of having to cook with a surprise ingredient is an ever-present danger for restaurateurs.
Also, as always, one ingredient is the Death Ingredient, which kills anyone who touches it.
Most contestants stick with the visible ingredient, but Julie and Sarah opt for the cloches and are punished with beetroot and lemon myrtle respectively: a warning against hubris for all. The top four dishes will be safe, so the bottom three go through to round two, meaning there's a better than 50 per cent chance of getting into round two, meaning the bottom three will really be huge losers.
Alvin begins the challenge in positive mood, declaring that he knows what corn tastes like and lording this power over everyone. He is going to make creamed corn soup, because he figures elimination day is no time to be making something nice. Conversely, Dan is cooking with wattleseed, which is a huge advantage because nobody has ever eaten it before, so no one can possibly tell him it tastes wrong. "I reckon I can whip one out today," says Dan, risking arrest under public indecency laws. He goes on to claim he's not here to put socks on centipedes and is sedated for his own protection.
“I really don’t want to gamble with the unknown” ~ Alivin, while wearing another never-before-seen pair of glasses frames #MasterchefAU— Luke (@Rakuli) June 26, 2022
Meanwhile Billie has decided to play to her strengths, so will just be hanging around being sweet and cool. It's the best course, because her ingredient is Jerusalem artichoke, an item rarely used in sweet dishes. Or savoury dishes. Or by anyone for anything. On the other hand Mindy has been given celeriac, which she wisely sets fire to.
Melissa drops by to let Alvin know that his dish is extremely simple. In a panic he runs to the pantry and searches for a hole in the wall to escape from. In despair he seeks the last refuge of the scoundrel: making a sambal.
"I don't want to be in round two, so I have to make sure Jerusalem artichoke is the flavour of the panna cotta," says Billie, which is frankly a bizarre statement to make. Indeed there are countries where making Jerusalem artichoke-flavoured panna cotta can get you prosecuted.
Sarah is in a dilemma, because her ingredient is lemon myrtle, also known as: leaves. How to combine leaves and fish in a pleasing way? The answer is there is no way to do this, it is impossible. But Sarah has never been one to shy away from defying the laws of science. Meanwhile Dan is making a cake or something I guess. Kind of hard to care, to be honest.
With 15 minutes to go, Keyma informs everyone that they are doing so well, but on the floor they know that her words are hollow and meaningless. Mindy is desperate to impress Hugh with her celeriac, not realising that Hugh will never be impressed no matter what she does. He despises everyone in this kitchen. He wanders over to Julie's bench to discuss with Jock how terrible her judgment is. Nevertheless Julie thinks she'll have a beautiful dish on her hands, and hopefully once it's there she can transfer it from her hands to some kind of plate.
With three minutes to go, Billie's panna cotta is too firm, Julie's terrine feels good, and Sarah is still unsure exactly how to pronounce lemon myrtle. But no time to obsess: the clock has run down and the judges are about to unhinge their jaws.
The results of round one in a nutshell are: Alvin's gross soup is fantastic; Dan's cake is fine; Mindy's horrible celeriac is lovely; Aldo's puree is grainy and therefore immoral; Billie's panna cotta is, in Melissa's words, "Not unpleasant", meaning "revolting"; Sarah's fish is unexpectedly edible; and Julie's terrine has insufficient beetroot, which isn't the compliment it sounds like. And so it is that Aldo, Billie and Julie must enter ENDGAME (Samuel Beckett, 1957).
#masterchefau Jock’s “claps” are becoming TIRESOME. Reminds me of Mark Holden’s TOUCHDOWNS!— Daniel Young (@DanYoung555) June 26, 2022
Aldo must now cook with cucumber. Billie must cook with wasabi. Julie must cook with "lion's mane mushroom", a fictional ingredient from the Elder Scrolls series of video games. All three are upset to be cooking against each other, rather than one of the other five remaining contestants, who they hate.
Julie examines her lion's mane mushroom and discovers that it is a hairy mushroom, which is due to it being the result of sexual congress between a mushroom and an African lion. Julie is cooking mushrooms with mushroom sauce, even though what she should be cooking is immunity pin with get the hell up to the balcony sauce.
From that balcony comes the call from Sarah: "Make the most of your time!" All three cooks on the floor slap their foreheads: if only they'd thought of that! "Thanks Sarah!" they yell in unison, grateful for the deeply insightful advice.
There's 25 minutes to go and Julie, though happy with her mushrooms, is also acutely aware that she has both an immunity pin and a working brain, which should pair together nicely. "I don't want to be the reason that one of my friends is going to leave the competition today," she says, but she needn't worry on that score: the reason one of her friends is going to leave the competition is, as in every elimination, the cruelty of a cold and indifferent God. Finally realising this, she plays her pin, to widespread sighs of relief across the nation.
Have I somehow travelled to a parallel universe where Daniel is still in the competition and Billie isn’t? #MasterChefAU— Elizabeth (@OzRetroRecipes) June 26, 2022
As Julie retires to a well-earned balcony, tragedy strikes Billie, who has forgotten her nuts. Her nuts must now be re-roasted and Billie is having a panic attack. With ten minutes to go, Jock and Hugh visit Aldo to make sure he doesn't have enough time to finish his dish. Hugh tells Aldo his dish is in danger of being boring, forcing Aldo to challenge him to a duel at sundown.
Five minutes to go and Billie still has a lot to do, which is pretty slack on her part given she's making beef tartare, a dish that doesn't even require cooking. She's still better off than Aldo, who has to cook cucumbers, one of life's most pointless activities.
Finally time is up, and the ultimate question – is the total flavourlessness of cucumber enough to defeat the terrible taste of wasabi – is about to be answered. Aldo's cucumber crab comes up first. "Wow, I want another one," says Jock. "I thought the presentation was absolutely wow," says Melissa. "I am very rich and have no interest in any of this," says Hugh.
Billie’s got like 5 wasabi elements and Mel asks her ‘is it enough?’ #Masterchefau— Narin Searle (@narin_searle) June 26, 2022
Billie must now put her wasabi beef tartare in front of the judges, in itself an act of enormous courage. "It is delicious," says Jock. "Fragrant and subtle," says Melissa. "I'm off to have a nap," says Hugh. The judges agree that Billie's dish did not make them choke or cough, and what more can one ask from dinner?
It is time to announce the final judgment. Melissa asks Hugh if he was impressed by what he saw today. "Sure, if you like," says Hugh, before wandering off to play Angry Birds. But also, it turns out that though Aldo and Billie both cooked dishes that the judges were able to somewhat convincingly claim tasted good, Aldo's dish, being full of cucumber, was slightly more offensive. And so he must go home, depriving the competition of one its most charming accents. But Billie survives to put something inappropriate in ice-cream another day.
Tune in tomorrow, when everything feels so meaningless without…him.