MasterChef recap: There's something fishy about this elimination that sends home another fan favourite

Minoli? We hardly knew ye.
Minoli? We hardly knew ye.  Photo: Supplied

Previously on MasterChef…the fans and favourites travelled to Fitzroy, where they had 75 minutes to yarn-bomb a local landmark or write an edible slam poem. Today, the four least impressive cooks from that challenge are meeting Alla Wolf-Tasker, winner of the Celebrity Chef Who Sounds Most Like A Viking Queen award eighteen years running.

It's a beautiful day at the Lake House restaurant in scenic Daylesford, where thousands travel every year to forget their troubles by paying  lots for lunch. "I adore Alla," says Harry, but she doesn't even know Alla. Bit presumptuous if you ask me. When the four losers arrive at the Lake House, Jock explains to them that the woman next to him is Alla Wolf-Tasker, and Alla explains to them that she started the Lake House because she thinks food should taste like trees or something.

Will Harry use her immunity pin?
Will Harry use her immunity pin?  Photo: Supplied

The task before the losers today: to watch Alla and her head chef Brendan cook a Lake House dish, then go back to the MasterChef kitchen to recreate it from memory. The dish is summer cucumbers with Murray cod, which is clearly the wrong way around. "I couldn't be happier than to be given an intuitive cook with veggies," says Harry, foolishly, not knowing that the cucumber is actually a FRUIT! Joke's on you Harry!

Dentist Jen is all smiles.
Dentist Jen is all smiles. Photo: Supplied

Alla and Brendan cook the dish and explain each step. The four losers watch intently, nodding and staring and forgetting it all instantly. It's a very difficult dish, as it involves cutting into a fish and cutting into a cucumber and rolling stuff up and putting it into plastic bags and smoking a whole bunch of weed. There's also something called "the linguini twist", which is a dance you have to do when cooking the cod, or else it'll come out all stringy.

Having learnt all about cod and cucumbers, the losers return to their cars to fulfil contractual obligations to the automaker who sponsors the show with numerous closeups of the vehicles' many features. A few seconds later – these cars are really fast – they are back in Melbourne, where Melissa informs them they have ninety minutes to do whatever the hell they just watched.

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Jenn begins jotting down what she remembers. "My memory's pretty good. My partner always says I remember TOO much!" she chuckles, painting a dark picture of familial dysfunction. Meanwhile Minoli draws some funny little pictures and declares her intention to breathe.

Harry begins slicing up her fish, a difficult task for her, but she gets through it by pretending that cod is a vegetable. She is feeling conflicted because she has an immunity pin and is struggling under the awful burden of having less pressure on her than anyone else.

Meanwhile, Sarah describes how what Alla has done in Daylesford is a lot like what she, Sarah, has done in Goa, ie barged into a foreign place and started selling the locals' food back to them with a hefty markup. Alla is Sarah's hero for the duration of this episode, so it's very important that she make her proud, to the extent that a woman can be proud of someone she doesn't know.

Fan favourite Sarah Todd has an Indian restaurant, don't you know.
Fan favourite Sarah Todd has an Indian restaurant, don't you know. Photo: Supplied

The judges convene with Alla to discuss which one of the contestants they hate the most. Melissa asks Alla whether they should be nervous. Alla notes that the danger is you can't relax too much, as if you do you might fall asleep at your bench and fall face-first onto a hot stovetop. It's better, she says, to stay in a constant state of panic and have a sickening falling sensation throughout the cook.

As the contestants busily sous-vide their fish like some kind of fancypants tosser, Sarah explains how important it is, at all times, to mention that you own your own restaurant. "It's so great to have the opportunity to cook with Alla," she says, cheerfully ignoring the fact that that is in no way what she is doing.

Melissa and Andy visit Minoli. "How are you feeling about the vichyssoise?" Melissa asks her. "…good!" Minoli exclaims, skilfully covering up the fact that she doesn't know what vichyssoise is and had no idea it was something she had to make today.

Jenn checks her fish's texture. She doesn't know what texture the fish should have, but she remembers saying that Alla said, "trust your instincts", overlooking the fact that Alla said that before she knew Jenn. She puts one piece of fish into an ice bath to punish it but lets her other piece rest. "You can always cook the fish more, you can't un-cook it," she reasons. Melissa and Andy are impressed and attribute this brilliant aphorism to the fact Jenn is a dentist, a profession famous for commonsense seafood preparation.

Disaster strikes as Harry realises her timer has stopped and she doesn't know how long her fish has been in the bath, meaning it could go all pruney. Without the timer, Harry will have to fall back on cooking ability, an utter catastrophe. Alla notes that Harry looks nervous, but has nothing to be nervous about. "It's only cucumbers and cod," she calls scornfully to the contestants, disgusted by their open display of caring about their work.

"I feel like my food journey here in the MasterChef kitchen has only just begun," says Jenn, which is only natural given how little screentime the producers give her. She is desperate not to be sent home and have to start torturing children's mouths again: or at least, to be given the opportunity to torture children's mouths in a whole new way. Meanwhile time is running out and Sarah admits she still has a lot to do: she has to tell us that she owns a restaurant four or five more times before she finishes.

"We want four perfect plates in ten minutes!" shouts Andy. "People in Hell want ice water!" the contestants unfortunately do not shout back. All the contestants are working frantically to make sure that her plate has lots and lots of weird green stuff on it. "I feel like I'm in an OK spot," says Harry, the first time that sentence has been spoken at the Melbourne Showgrounds. But upon discovering her fish is overcooked, she plays her pin and renders her whole day pointless. Everyone on the balcony applauds her intelligence.

With three minutes to go, Minoli tries to flee the kitchen, but finds the door that she thought was an exit is a fridge. Jenn begins plating up. "If this is going to be served at the Lake House, it has to look perfect," she says, having woefully misunderstood the exercise. Minoli returns from the fridge and begins following instructions barked at her by Julie from the balcony. "You can do this," Julie yells, despite having very little evidence for this proposition. Minoli is not going to get everything on her plate. She's going to run out of time. She's not going to make it. She's going to…she's going to…

"Oh my god," says Minoli, and me at the same time. She didn't get her noodles on the plate. She didn't strain her oil. She's melting down. It's the most poignant moment on MasterChef since the last one. "I'm going to let myself feel the pain of having cooked the way I did today, because it's the only way to grow," she says, which is all very well, but does she have to make us feel it too?

The judges sit down to answer the only question that counts: why can't any of the contestants pronounce "vichyssoise" properly? Jenn serves her dish first. Her plate looks like leftovers from an actual meal, so you can tell it's true fine dining. "This is meant to be a summer dish, and it eats like a summer dish," says Alla, as if that means something.

Now Minoli, and I can hardly stand it. She cries, and the judges should say, "It's OK, Minoli, you can stay no matter what your food is like", but the judges are mean so they don't. Minoli's vichyssoise is good but everything else is bad. A black cloud descends over the kitchen and indeed over our lives.

Then Sarah and her dish is pretty awful. Melissa declares the butchery of the fish problematic and demands it be cancelled. Andy says that while eating the fish he got a bone, and after a few seconds everyone realises what he means. But apparently it's not awful enough to save Minoli, who must return to Darwin to reflect sweatily on her sins. The angels weep as Minoli leaves the kitchen for the last time until next season, MasterChef: Operation Alla Vengeance.

Tune in tomorrow, when things get sexy.