Recap: MasterChef's barbecue challenge was a baptism of fire

Where's the Gondola, Melissa?
Where's the Gondola, Melissa? Photo: NETWORK 10

 It's the contestants' first off-site challenge, and we know this because the gang emerge squinting into the sun like Jock has had them locked in the pantry all week, and Melissa is wearing a straw hat like she's about to paddle a pair of lovers down the canals of Venice.

On the grey shores of St Kilda beach, three tents are set up with barbecues firing – it's a grilling challenge that Andy tells us will have the contestants "motoring like they've never motored before" – they'll be cooking for 1200 people. Mouths drop, as does mine... ahh, remember when crowds were a thing?

The team challenge splits the group into three, and head of the yellow team is Laura, who wants to play her team members to their strengths. This involves Chris in charge of cooking the meat, and clearly Laura was not paying attention during the great pork belly disaster of last week.

Tracy, who I cannot recall for the life of me, is in charge of the purple team. She wants to do a Mexican-inspired menu, and gets Poh to grill some mango cheeks, which seems like a very smart move considering last night's chiffon cake madness.

Simon is the captain of the orange team, who have one less team member so wants to keep it simple. They've decided to do three classic Aussie barbecue dishes, lamb chops, grilled prawns and... banana? Cut to, Harry, (again, I have never seen this guy before), who is introduced Bond-style sauntering into an ocean in a camo wetsuit. This is all to say that Harry knows his way around a prawn and we can all feel safe with him looking after them.

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Chris tells Laura he wants to make sure the chicken is all portioned properly, he does some complicated math, which, let's be real, someone needs to check ASAP. The foreshadowing happening right now is blatant. They should teach this in schools.

Andy visits the orange team in his checked golf pants to let them know he reckons their all-Aussie menu sounds basic and boring. I don't know about you, but I am really getting mixed messages about what the judges deem to be blah (cacio e pepe, anyone?) and what isn't. Dani suggests elevating the cabbage salad with a tahini sauce, but Simon wants to stick with his guns and keep it simple. In other words, shut up Dani.

But anyway, Dani has got bigger things to worry about. Welcome to the banana drama. First, Simon tells her to cook them on the smoker – odd, but what do I know – but then Jock drags her for that, mansplaining that the smoker is a smoker and if she wants grilled bananas she should grill them on the grill (ok, Jock, whatever you say, Jock, just don't put me back in the pantry). 

Over at the yellow team, Chris asks captain Laura if he can portion the chicken into drumstick, thigh and breast, so he doesn't run out of bird and we can all see where this is going.

BUT, WAIT. It's Ben Ungermann!!! Alert the authorities!!! Wasn't he arrested by the police as mentioned in last night's recap? I guess it was too hard to edit him out of this team challenge completely, so the producers leave him in with one line only saying, "I hope I never see another pineapple again." Well, mate, not on this show you won't.

Cut to Dani and big ol' pile of burned bananas. As if Reynold trusted this part of his dessert with her?

But, uh, that's not the orange team's only problem. There's 20 minutes to go and they haven't started cooking a single bit of protein. Jock stands around like an unhelpful lump in a waistcoat giving Simon a withering look and a big "I told you so". Does Jock remember that they are a man down in this challenge?

It's time for the mass of plebs to enter; they run in like how I imagine we will all run in to our favourite cafes on the day we are allowed to leave quarantine. Some girl is TikToking the whole thing.

The purple team seem the most prepped, with plenty of plates of corn at the ready. Good on ya Tracy, who knew you would be such a great leader. In fact, who even knew you? 

The judges get ready to taste, and Melissa, looking full farmer girl with that freaking hat and an ear of corn to nibble, is 100 per cent committing to the red lippy. Honestly, I am actually just very impressed with its staying power. Slide the name of the brand into my DMs thanks love.

Orange team are next and despite Jock's reprimands toward Simon (back in the pantry for you later, boy) all the dishes were a 10/10. Jock says that the service did let them down, but Andy says every dish was "cracking", which appears to be the only adjective in his repertoire.

Now over to the yellow team, and as predicted, despite cooking the chicken all tender and juicy, Chris' portions were indeed a massive fail. Can we all agree to never let Chris do anything important ever again? Jock is also not happy with the flavourless beef. Oof, a real dud day for Chris 'the Meat Guy' then. At least Reece's (and possibly arrested Ben's?) pina colada doughnut was a winner, served with a rum cream and charred pineapple. Cracking, says Andy, because of course he does.

Despite the last-minute stress, the orange team win with their apparently not-too-safe-after-all lamb and prawn menu. Which means its the yellow team that lose the challenge and are forced to face the pressure test tomorrow. Will Laura receive preferential treatment again? (It's Jock's dish, so, very likely.) Will Ben Ungermann escape the feds yet again to be on the episode? Will there be another contestant who I have never seen before? And most importantly, will Chris 'the meat guy' learn to serve meat properly? All will be revealed.