MasterChef recap: Who cracks under the pressure of this egg-limination?

The judges only taste test half a dozen dishes from round one. But which one, in Andy-speak, is the most "cracking"?
The judges only taste test half a dozen dishes from round one. But which one, in Andy-speak, is the most "cracking"?  Photo: Channel 10

The egg: nature's perfect container. Bringer-forth of life, provider of nutrition, colourful primary school project in waiting. Is any food more versatile than the humble egg? Probably, but we can't be bothered thinking that much about it. Point is, tonight's MasterChef all-in elimination involves the egg – the variety that comes out of a chicken, that is. It'd certainly make for a more interesting show if the contestants were permitted to select any species they like to take an egg from, but this is commercial television: being interesting just isn't what they're about.

As the day of the egg dawns, Harry expresses her distress that three Fans have gone home, with as yet no Favourites suffering the same fate. "We're losing all our mates, we're losing some amazing cooks," she laments, stretching the truth to breaking point. The only person safe from elimination today is Favourite, Michael, while several other cooks have immunity pins, which as tradition dictates, they will not use if they need to.

Round one of the challenge sees the contestants given 30 minutes to cook a dish using a single egg. The best egg dish will keep its cook, and their entire team, safe from elimination.

When presented with their eggs, the contestants make a variety of noises to indicate some kind of egg-induced emotion. Ali provides her expert opinion that eggs can break, and that she will therefore be forced to be extremely careful with her egg, taking care of it in much the same way as the students from Degrassi Junior High were forced to take care of their eggs when learning about the realities of parenthood: a reference I am sure everyone reading this understands perfectly.

Daniel is making a crab omelette. He got the idea from a cafe in Darwin which was once overrun by a horde of murderous crabs. Walking past, Christina – who is sitting out the challenge to even up the numbers – asks how he's going. "We're having fun, Christina!" he says with savage sarcasm.

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The stress is telling on Daniel, and he longs to be back running into burning buildings. He is running out of time and may be forced to make crab scrambled eggs, one of the most shameful dishes known to man.

Meanwhile Steph gets cracking (egg pun 1!) on a chawanmushi, a Japanese steamed egg custard that she assures us is "soft" and "silky" and "other adjectives that the judges keep using". Harry believes Steph's dish will be the winning one, so she deliberately makes her own dish disgusting to help Steph's look better. Elsewhere, Ali is making a Scotch egg, a traditional Highland dish where you wrap an egg in meat, then deep-fry a Mars bar and toss an enormous log in the air.

Time passes quickly in the kitchen, especially when there's not much of it, and the clock is soon close to running out. "I love the fact that there's just one egg here," says Julie, sticking to her lifelong motto, "Multiple eggs are an affront to God". With one minute to go, it's time to put eggs on plates, which is in some ways the hardest part of the cook, although in many more ways it's obviously very easy.

Time up, the judges taste, but they are only tasting the three dishes from each team that look most appealing, making this the rarest of beasts: a MasterChef episode where they don't make everything last much longer than necessary.

First up is Aldo, who has put an egg on top of asparagus which is self-evidently revolting, and so naturally the judges love it. Next is Daniel, whose crabby omelette has many vibrant colours and causes the judges to become ova-whelmed (no. 2!) by the flavour. Next is Steph and her chawanmushi, which is perfect, though takes up suspiciously little screen time.

Minoli's curry is good but her rice is undercooked so she must be punished. Next, John, whose egg is rubbery, which is a shame because everything else in the dish is non-rubbery and had this been a rubber challenge he'd have been in pole position.

Finally Ali's Scotch egg, which is so good every judge pulls a weird face about it. "I think the thing that makes me happiest is that this is an amalgamation of ideas," says Melissa, bafflingly.

And so we come to the conclusion that the best dish is of course Daniel's crab omelette: not for nothing is the crab known as "the Ferrero Rocher of the seas". This means that the Faves must go into round two, and finally one will go home, causing wild animalistic celebrations among the Fans.

In round two, the Faves must cook a dish using the remaining 11 eggs from the egg carton they got the first egg from. They have 60 minutes. The pantry and the garden are open, if anyone needs a place to sit and cry.

Mindy is full of vim. "I'm from Byron, it's all about peace, love and mung beans," she says, and will therefore be making an Asian-style omelette with pork broth. The connection between these things is not readily apparent, but then she is from Byron.

As the Faves collect their ingredients, Billie drops a bombshell (no. 3!): she is using her pin. This is absolutely unprecedented: a MasterChef contestant with common sense. Billie just might be setting a new trend of good decision making. However, Christina and Tommy, who also have pins, are going ahead with their cooks, even though they don't have to, so it hasn't quite caught on yet.

Julie is making a salt and pepper egg, which she explains is like a salt and pepper squid, only it's an egg. If you get her gist. Andy tells her he likes the fact she's making something she's never made before in an elimination. Julie tells Andy that this is the very fact that she doesn't like. Everyone has a good laugh and the judges leave Julie alone to continue her breakdown.

Minoli is making Sri Lankan pan rolls. "It's so good," she assures us, and I for one am willing to take her word for it, so I don't see why it's necessary to taste them. Are the judges calling Minoli a liar? They can go to hell.

"No matter what happens," says Jock, "we're going to send one of the Favourites home." Andy agrees, saying, "And I think they know that." Andy is right: the Favourites almost certainly do know that this elimination challenge will end in an elimination.

As Alvin works on his mother's recipe, introducing the possibility of double jeopardy – disappointing the judges AND his mother – Julie plays mad scientist, cooking different eggs for different lengths of time to see which is worthy of her love.

Meanwhile, Tommy is feeling his immunity pin weigh heavily on him. In a way he wishes the pin had never come to him: if only Bilbo had destroyed the pin when he had the chance.

With seven minutes to go, Minoli's brain is telling her there's not enough time, but her other brain is telling her there is. The possibility arises that she may be disqualified for cheating by using two brains.

Meanwhile, John is trying to make meringue but the egg white is not obeying his orders. He decides to take the only course open to him: a white chocolate veloute.

Christina discovers that she's stuffed up her rice, and so plays her pin out of a desire to not be an idiot. Tommy feels his pin weigh even heavier, as the fires of Mount Doom lick at his ankles. Finally he decides that his dish is terrible enough to justify being as much of a non-idiot as Christina, and the pin comes off.

This violent outbreak of sensibleness threatens the very fabric of MasterChef, and also makes Julie panic, as the odds have now shortened. Her heart threatens to "piston out of her chest" – a sobering warning about the cholesterol content of eggs – as she struggles painfully under the yolk (no. 4!) of favouritism.

Time is finally up and the tasting begins. Aldo's filoscio – which is Italian for "eggs and red stuff" – is delicious. Sarah's dish is nice but not nice enough to convince anyone that she has ever been on this show before. Sashi's dish is adequate. Alvin's egg curry is "intelligent", according to Melissa, which is a frankly terrifying thought. Mindy's omelette is basically fine.

Minoli's pan rolls have reduced her to tears but cause Andy to froth, which I'm led to understand is good.

Julie's fried rice with salt and pepper egg is good, although Jock finds it a "little bit gritty" – but then isn't grit a good thing? It won John Wayne an Oscar. Julie is heartbroken, as she never saw that movie.

John steps up, without any meringue. Has he celebrated eggs enough? Andy immediately notes that the absence of meringue makes the dish look like it doesn't have meringue in it. Also, John's curd is overcooked. "It's a shame," says Jock, but it's all relative: it's bloody fabulous for seven other contestants.

In the end it's between Julie and John for elimination. Over-cooked curd and non-existent meringue versus the main character of the show? Not really a contest is it? Bye-bye John. It's been fun.

Tune in tomorrow when the contestants must scramble (no. 5!) to choose their own mystery box.