It's the start of a new week, which means on MasterChef it's the end of the week, for in this kitchen time itself is a concept unbound by traditional values. In fact it is the final day of Masters Week, and tonight's master is such a big deal he doesn't even live in Australia.
That's right, it's Curtis Stone, the famous chef who works for Coles but would rather die than shop there. Jock introduces Curtis, explaining that butchery runs in his family, like in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Via video link, Curtis tells everyone that he loves cutting meat. He then proceeds to cut meat in various ways. "It's so poetic the way he cuts off sinew," says Amir, who is getting a little carried away. Sabina asks a question so that they can prove that Curtis is actually appearing live rather than pre-recorded. Unless they set Sabina up to ask the question to fit the pre-recorded answer, but why follow the rabbit down that hole?
Curtis. You are in LA. That beef is not from Coles. #MasterChefAU— Jo Farmer (@JoannaFarmer) May 16, 2021
The meat-cutting goes on and on and on, but eventually we get to the point: the amateurs are divided into eight pairs, each of which must bid for cuts of meat in a time auction. They have 100 minutes to bid with, and whatever time they don't spend on their cut they will have to cook it. Whichever two pairs cook the worst go into round two, in which those four amateurs must cook a dish that demonstrates a flavour, skill or technique they've mastered. Whoever is worst goes home and dreams of what might have been for the rest of their life.
First, the auction, an absolutely gripping piece of television in which people say the names of cuts of beef and units of time over and over again until they stop. Words can't express just how tense this is, and indeed they won't. At one point Tommy and Brent spend 41 minutes on a scotch fillet and everyone squeals and vibrates like they're watching The Sixth Sense for the first time.
In the end, one thing is clear from the auction: everyone has a bit of meat. They proceed to cook them, in various ways and timespans. The cooking isn't particularly interesting, but as the amateurs are cooking in pairs, the sexual tension that bubbles up is incredible. Particularly between Sabina and Linda, and between Conor and his beef knuckle. It gets a bit over-the-top when Aaron asks Eric to cut him a knob of butter, and everyone knows EXACTLY what he means.
"The steaks have never been higher," says Jock, and Melissa laughs the mirthless laugh of the damned. Everyone is very hot and sweaty and their hair is terrible. Jess is fighting a fierce battle with her hibachi, having learned from Scott Pickett last night that everything tastes better when completely burnt. Linda prays that the meat is tender, and it is, thus proving the existence of God. Conor notes that his meat is incredibly moist, and falls apart, reminding him of dinners with his family, who also used to fall apart.
Time is up in round one, and everyone's meat is cooked. The best meat cooking is by Linda and Sabina and Jess and "Scott". The worst meat cooking is by Conor and Amir – who responded to Jock's warning to not let their meat dry out by letting their meat dry out – and Dan and Justin.
Calling it, that was the most delicious looking montage of mediocrity so far this season 🥩 #MasterChefAU— The Cousin Couch (@thecousincouch) May 16, 2021
And so, four proud men with limited awareness of how to cook beef go into sudden death. "Bring your best, and you'll be safe," says Andy, a blatant falsehood since if all of them bring their best one of them will still go home.
Dan is making bao. He makes bao a lot at home, but usually lets it prove for two hours. Here he has just 75 minutes to do everything, so joining the proud tradition of MasterChef geniuses who decided that the moment when the consequences of getting it wrong are the most severe was the moment to try something without knowing if they could do it.
Conor is making ice-cream, because he recently learnt to make ice-cream and has become disturbingly obsessed by it. It's green olive ice-cream, because he knows that to really stand out his dish must be truly repulsive.
Dan has just realised he didn't put baking powder in his dough, something that experts do not recommend. Jock and Andy visit his bench to look smug at him. He makes his dough again and the balcony warmly applauds his incompetence.
Amir, remembering happy childhood days in the kitchen, is determined to convey everything he knows about falafel. He logs onto Wikipedia and starts editing. Meanwhile Conor has taken his ice-cream out of the churner and discovered the texture is different to what he's used to. He's used to an ice-cream-like texture, while this is more the texture of the Hume Highway. He presses on regardless, confident in his ability to get lucky through no particular effort or skill on his part.
Jock visits Amir and tastes his falafel. "Do you wash your herbs before you put them in?" he asks. Amir stares at him for about fifteen minutes, as if he's been asked to calculate pi to eight thousand digits, before answering, meekly, "No". Jock walks off to report Amir to the Health Department. Tasting the falafel himself, Amir discovers there is more topsoil in it than would be ideal, and starts over.
And the moral of Amir's story is that Coles' herbs are dirty #MasterChefAU— Andrew McCarthy (@mreeyore) May 16, 2021
With time ticking down, Conor is concerned that his ice-cream is not as creamy as it should be, and that this might detract from the horrible olivey flavour he's going for. Meanwhile Amir is struggling to get anything on a plate but in a major shock in the nick of time wow he does.
Time is up. Amir is not proud of his dish, and the dish feels the same about him. He thinks he's going home, but little does he know Conor is probably going to make everyone vomit.
Justin serves his spiced sweet potato tacos. They are basically fine. "This is a very strong dish," says Melissa, but with a sort of sad look on her face, like she was really looking forward to eviscerating Justin.
Dan serves his problematic duck bao buns. They're pretty okay. "As a bao, it's fantastic," says Jock, but sadly as a light opera, it fails miserably.
Conor serves his awful ice-cream. "I don't love it, but I don't hate it," says Melissa, but you could say that about anything in this dull, disappointing, seemingly interminable life. The ice-cream is grainy and icy and basically rubbish.
Amir serves his redone falafel. He is in tears as he remembers the joyous falafels of his youth, which compare to starkly to the catastrophic falafels of his manhood. The judges agree that the falafel is tasty, but the bit where they explain what's wrong with it is apparently edited out of the show, because they're deeply disappointed in it for mysterious reasons.
Justin is declared Best of the Losers. Dan is declared Second Best. Amir is declared Crap But Could Be Worse. Conor is declared Maker of the Worst Ice-Cream On Earth and goes home to think long and hard about just how prominent a role in a man's life olives should play.
I wish Masterchef still did the "Where are they now" exit stories and we see Conor about to launch his own olive ice cream range #MasterChefAU— no more hibachi grills!!! (@chefsofcolour) May 16, 2021
Tune in tomorrow, when knives will be out.