As we continue Top End Week, the four losers from yesterday assemble at Simpsons Gap, a beautiful spot named after the legendary Simpson and his famous dental problems. They are welcomed by the local Arrernte people, who conduct a smoking ceremony about which there is very little to be said. They then meet Rayleen Brown, a local Indigenous food expert who Melissa claims is a "dear friend of mine", although that might just be one of those showbiz things.
Rayleen shows the amateurs some of the bush foods of the region, which they are all already familiar with because they are constantly cooking with native ingredients in order to show off to Jock. The four losers – Pete, Kishwar, Depinder and Tommy – must cook a dish using the ingredients foraged from around them, for example, acacia seeds, quandongs, desert limes, which are like normal limes but with more sand in them; bush tomatoes, which are like normal tomatoes but hairier, and so forth. They have 75 minutes to do so, and if they do it badly they'll be out. Or rather, if they do it more badly than the other three they'll be out.
Melissa visits Kishwar. "This is my friend Rayleen," she says, even though she already said that before. She's really intent on convincing us all that they are genuinely friends. "Don't let this be your last cook," Melissa says to Kishwar, suggesting that she wants it to be the last cook for one of the other three. Which one, we wonder? Or maybe Melissa hates all three of them.
Depinder is doing something she's never done before: keeping her hands still. Haha, no, just joking! We have fun, don't we? No, what she's actually doing is an Italian-style tomato salad with a damper and a cold soup. She feels she has to move away from her usual Indian-inspired dishes because she has to highlight the Indigenous ingredients, which are rarely seen in Indian cuisine. Whereas of course Italian food is famous for featuring Indigenous Australian ingredients all the time.
Melissa introduces her friend Rayleen to Tommy, who is making kangaroo tartare, or in other words, kangaroo that isn't cooked, which is a clever idea for anyone who doesn't want to work very hard. "Man, desert limes are sick!" Tommy shouts with enthusiasm, the heat clearly getting to him.
Meanwhile, Pete is making kangaroo steaks – cooked ones, because he is willing to go that extra mile. He is not using any non-native ingredients at all. He acknowledges this is a risk because he hasn't cooked with them before, but looking back over the competition, he realises he's always had great results from making weird stuff that makes no sense, so why not continue? He tells Justin that he is making him a necklace out of quandong seeds, and he will make himself one too, and then they will be quandong seed brothers, and it's just really weird. I don't quite know how to respond to this.
Police in the Northern Territory have been alerted to the emergence of a new gang just outside of Alice Springs. The Quandong Seed Necklace Brothers should not be approached as they are known to be dangerously likeable and great cooks. #MasterChefAU— Luke Dingle (@Rakuli) June 29, 2021
Jock and Rayleen visit Depinder, Jock not insisting on telling her that Rayleen is his friend. Rayleen tells Depinder that she makes damper every day, which frankly seems like a hell of a way to live your life. I mean…aren't there some days when there's damper left over from yesterday?
Suddenly a mighty wind blows through the outback kitchen, sending utensils, appliances and Melissa's hat flying. A clear sign from the local spirits that MasterChef is not welcome, this is ignored and everyone just keeps going as if the threat of retribution does not loom large.
Meanwhile, rock wallabies gather to look pointedly at Pete and Tommy. Perhaps they are judging them for serving kangaroo meat. Perhaps they are grateful, as kangaroos are the sworn enemy of rock wallabies. Hard to tell, the world of macropods is a mysterious and arcane one.
The judges gather to discuss the amateurs' dishes. Andy is worried that Depinder is making an uncharacteristic dish, and also that he can't pronounce "gazpacho". Melissa is excited about Pete's dish, but then they're always excited about Pete's dish. They got excited about Pete's dish when Pete's dish was literally just a slice of pumpkin.
Time is up and everyone collapses from heat exhaustion. Tommy is sombre. "I don't know if it's enough," he says, and since he couldn't even be bothered to cook his meat, he might be onto something.
The first to present a dish is Kishwar, with her Australian-Bengali hariyali chicken and various bits of stuff. She tells the judges that she will be very upset if she is eliminated today, particularly as the loser will be required to find their own way home from Simpsons Gap. Her food is excellent and according to Melissa, "confident" – the sense of self esteem that Kishwar has infused her chicken with is an inspiration. She'll be safe.
Depinder, nervous as hell, serves up her tomato salad and gazpacho and damper and etc. She tells the judges that she is terrified, but unlike Kishwar, is unable to tell them about how important it is to inspire her children, so nobody really cares that much. Depinder's dish is nice enough, and Andy is moved to mispronounce gazpacho once again, but the Indigenous ingredients have not been showcased sufficiently and Depinder is in deep trouble unless one of the blokes has screwed the roo.
#MasterChefAU— Dave (@davey0511) June 29, 2021
Cooking kangaroo in front of an audience of rock wallabies is a serious “humans are top of the food chain” flex
Here comes Pete with his grilled kangaroo and various thingummies. Andy suggests that the last two days have changed Pete. Pete agrees that he has evolved beyond the bounds of mortality and is now a being of pure energy. Everyone loves Pete's kangaroo, and I mean duh, who didn't see that coming?
Finally, nervous Tommy and his raw roo. He admits that he was scared that he couldn't balance the ingredients well enough. He also admits that if he gets sent home he will get to see his baby boy, and nothing terrifies him more. Andy is very happy with the raw roo. Everyone is delighted and willing to overlook the fact that it's not cooking if you don't actually cook it. It's a slightly melancholy moment because they know that if Tommy did well, that means…
Depinder has to go. It's a huge wrench for the judges, who consider Depinder to be their own child, but they console themselves with the thought that they can go through the formal adoption process after the show is over. Depinder must now walk back to Alice Springs and try to hitch a ride home.
Pindo has to walk home from the desert? That’s a bit harsh. #MasterChefAU— Jess Lilley 💾 (@lilleyjuice) June 29, 2021
Tune in tomorrow, when the kitchen sink is thrown.