And we're back. Did you enjoy your two-day break? Did you miss the deep burn of Gordon Ramsay's stream of expletives slapping the contestants as they all wondered, like me, why the hell they signed up for this? Fortunately for all the complaining Karens on Facebook, Gordon and his profanities have gone back to London. So get ready for much less yelling, but, most definitely still the same amount of stress. It's elimination day and after a really, really, really long week of episodes... not a whole lot has eventuated to tell you the truth.
ICYMI (and I can't say I blame you) Callum won immunity on the last episode and is safe from feeling the searing shame of being the first person eliminated from the show. However, in a strange and hush-hush plot twist, that glory went to Ben Ungermann, who has been quietly edited out of the rest of the series due to "police matters". Huh.
But moving on. Gordon's left the contestants a little parting gift, and, much to everyone's disappointment it is NOT a Queen Liz collectable plate, but rather: the dullest kitchen timer on earth. But Melissa explains it for the numpties: Gordon has given the gift of time. As if we all don't have enough of that right now.
But anyway, the clock on the dullest timer on earth is set to 90 minutes, the exact time the contestants have to complete this two-round challenge, and also the time they have been allotted to see the show's therapist after all the PTSD from Gordon's yelling this week.
What about a show where Poh, Amina and Rose just slowly cook nice things but it's totally OK and there's nobody yelling? #MasterChefAU— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) April 14, 2020
The challenge is to cook a dish, but if it doesn't win approval of the judges, they have whatever time is left on the clock to make something better to keep them in the competition. Andy, who has tonight decided to dress like a second-rate Hot Priest from Fleabag, suggests to the other judges that surely the strategy to win this round is to be as quick with your first dish and leave yourself plenty of time to get the back-up dish perfect. Jock agrees. Melissa agrees. We all agree. Except for masochistic Poh and her damn strawberry lychee chiffon cake. Poh decided to use the entire 90 minutes to make the absurdly complicated tedious cake and, gurl, we beg of you, can you not?
POH!! WHY ARE YOU PLAYING WITH ME! This is no joke.. My emotional well being is on the line.. SHE’S GOING FLAPS TO THE WALL PEOPLE! #MasterChefAU— Em Rusciano (@EmRusciano) April 19, 2020
So now begins the flurry of trying to get the gist of what all 500 contestants are making in as little air time as possible. Dani has decided to not to use her immunity pin and tells Melissa she's making a hot and sour Thai seafood soup. Melissa inexplicably strokes a pineapple in response. I'm about at that point, too, and we're only 10 minutes in.
Chris is doing beef tartare with "Korean flavours", which maybe means he's made a marinade out of gochujang, but we will never know because thinly veiled cultural references is all the channel 10 audience is ready for, apparently. Courtney is steaming prawns; Brendan's making dumplings; Reynold's doing something – get this – savoury, though slow-cooked quail seems like an odd choice for a speed round; and Simon is burning cabbage, but apparently in a good way.
As the dishes begin to hit the judges table, Laura turns up with quite honestly the most boring bland looking plate of pasta. Of course, cacio e pepe just so happens to be Jock's all-time favourite pasta, and he wets himself so much over it he goes rogue and sends her straight to the gantry without even consulting the other two judges. *Cough* Nepotism! *Cough*
Chris' tartare is chunky but lacklustre, and Rose's tart is misbehaving (that's what he said, amirite!) and eventually Poh is the only one left in the kitchen whispering motivational encouragement gently to her cake through the oven door.
She pulls out the beast (seriously, it's massive) to put straight in the blast chiller to cool for 15 minutes ,THOUGH IT NORMALLY TAKES TWO HOURS. I am not a numbers person, but I can do the math on this. How do blast chillers work again?
Of course it's still warm in the middle when she cuts it, so back in the blast chiller it goes and Australia has a collective anxiety attack.
Grandchildren: How did you cope in the pandemic?— Michael Lucas (@MrMichaelLucas) April 19, 2020
Me: Look basically okay until Poh decided to use the entire 90 minutes to make a strawberry lychee chiffon cake in the #MasterchefAU time challenge.
But in a signature Poh move, with seven minutes to go she manages to turn things round: the cake gets frosted like a dream, dressed like a botanic garden and slices as pretty as a picture. Andy, who says he doesn't even like cake (WTF, Andy!?) says it's what cake should always taste like. Melissa says Poh is pure joy; I say part psychopath.
Chris, Lynton, Hayden, Rose and Courtney are our sad bottom five and have to duke it out with their remaining time limits. Chris has the most, so has a min to share with us a nostalgic story about his grandmother's cheesecake recipe being handed down to him and maybe there's a shred of emotion underneath his fedora? Hayden's squid carbonara sounds extremely questionable and Lynton's crab whatever-the-hell sounds like a hot mess; am I seeing things or is he is literally grilling crab shells filled with massive knobs of butter? Andy tastes a spoonful of his sauce and asks Lynton if he's happy with it; Lynton does not read between the lines.
Lynton I don’t think Andy likes your sauce, just a hunch #MasterChefAU— Fiza Zali (@fizawanders) April 19, 2020
Rose only has 36 minutes and has decided to make smoked eggplant with several hundred components which maybe doesn't seem like a good idea? Someone from the gantry yells at her to "slap that dough", maybe I've been in isolation for too long, but I giggle. Courtney's cauliflower steak looks perfect, so let's gloss over that – she's not going home. Unfortunately, Lynton is the real one to worry about. His little strange stack of buckwheat, crab and asparagus spears looks like some health blogger's baby just blew chunks. Why yes, I am a food writer, can't you tell? The judges think it looks beige, but can we really trust their colour judgement when they thought Laura's literally beige pasta was straight-to-the-gantry worthy?
Hayden's squid carbonara was surprisingly delicious, and Melissa does her signature red lippy noodle slurp to prove it. Despite Chris' cheesecake looking more like a pancake to me, the judges love it and the fino cream sounds like something I would happily eat by the spoonful to get through the hard times of this damn pandemic. So it's down to Rose's eggplant, and, look, it doesn't seem promising. The judges reckon her sauce was too garlicky (but, wait, is there such a thing?) and her yoghurt flatbreads too doughy. The ad break editing makes it look like Rose is a goner, and probably for the best to be honest. She is stressing me out almost as much as Poh.
But, gasp! The judges, like most of us, think Lynton's crab dish was trash, and unfortunately it's his time to go. Everyone looks forlorn and genuinely confused because quite clearly Lynton has cooked better than Rose all week. But, just like Kate Winslet in Titanic, Rose hangs on for dear life.
MasterChef continues most nights on Network Ten. You can watch catch-ups here. And read all of our recaps here.