MasterChef 2020 recap: It's chaos in the kitchen as a little black box sends someone home

Wait, what? Katy Perry isn't on this episode of MasterChef?
Wait, what? Katy Perry isn't on this episode of MasterChef?  Photo: NETWORK 10

Another Tuesday, another pressure test, another challenge with Laura because apparently she's always in the losing group during the team challenge. Make of that information what you will.

The judges introduce today's maker of the pressure test dish, Peter Gunn from two-hatted Melbourne restaurant Ides. The contestants applaud half-heartedly, obviously disappointed the celebrity status has dropped significantly from Katy Perry. At least Sarah seems impressed with Gunn, though she'd probably jump up and down at the sight of Ronald McDonald, let's face it.

Gunn pulls the cloche off his dish to reveal a plain black box. Sarah says it's so Darth Vader, I've never watched a single Star Wars film so...sure. Melissa, meanwhile, is dressed in a lacy white dress and looks like she's participating in an arranged marriage to Jock and Andy against her will.

Gunn cracks open the box and so much dessert detritus explodes out of the box it's like a confetti cracker at Mardi Gras. Gunn gets the tweezers out – no, not to pluck Callum's eyebrows, but to take apart each element one by one. Stay with me now, there's a lot of them: yoghurt pearls, chocolate-covered grilled mandarin puree, citrus isomalt wafer, gingerbread stamped into stars, candy honeycomb, dark chocolate crumb, grilled mandarin custard, and finally, the white chocolate box that's dyed with ash, because fine-dining. Reynold may be safe this challenge, but you just know he is getting off at the sight of all these elements.

They've got two hours and 45 minutes to make all this nonsense. Laura says she's feeling confident, apparently she makes black boxes in her sleep. The contestants start on their boxes, they need to temper the chocolate properly to get that "snap-factor".

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Laura mixes ash in the white chocolate and tempers it to the required temperature. She runs to the "liquid nitrogen station", because apparently this set is now a science lab. She pours the chocolate in her first mould and then drops it in a bowl of liquid nitrogen. This seems like a super extra way to make dessert.

Sarah Tiong is making a mess with her chocolate and looks like she should definitely not be around fatally toxic chemicals. "BRB," she says to Sarah Clare, who doesn't care because she's got her own issues to deal with.

Sarah Tiong has to re-temper her chocolate and is panicking because everyone else is already working on the next steps of the recipe. Laura, for instance, is chargrilling her mandarin peel and putting her custard in a bath because she is the best at everything.

Sarah Tiong goes back to the nitrogen station, saying this step is "ebbing at her morale". Gunn takes one look at her lumpy chocolate and tells her to *cough* make another batch *cough*. Sarah kicks her science glasses to the curb and re-tempers her chocolate for a third time, hoping that her positive affirmations will prevent her from having a nervous breakdown.

At two hours to go Andy yells that "it's time to motor!"

Tessa, who could be the dark horse in this comp, is on top of all her elements. She starts working on her yoghurt pearls which she says have sheep's milk honey in it. Either this black box has also tempered the contestants' brains into 30-degree goo or sheep can now pollinate? Anyway Tessa plops her sheep's milk honey yoghurt balls in the liquid nitrogen and Gunn says her pearls look perfect. Liquid nitrogen, the kitchen ingredient you never knew you needed.

Meanwhile, Sarah Clare is still working on her black box. Her chocolate is also having a temper tantrum (thank you, I'm here all season), so she's Nigel no-friends at the nitrogen station finishing up her boxes. She's not happy, but says "it will have to do", which is what I often say about my baked goods, too.

Sarah Tiong, or "Tiongers" as Poh yells out affectionately from the gantry, is running behind. She says she has to "motor", which may be the first time anyone has ever listened to Andy.

But wait, Sarah Clare is listing off her million elements to go and so she says she also needs to motor! I wonder how much Andy paid them to say this. Jock tells Sarah Clare, "no box no dish". Sarah Clare is like, way to kick me when I'm down, man. So he leaves to gossip with Melissa about how worried they are about her. Jock says she's "frozen but still functioning", which is an accurate description of how I feel all of winter.

Andy says they should be removing the boxes from the moulds right now, but no one is doing it except for teacher's pet Laura, and it is perfect, of course.

Brendan tea towels his head and I hope the producers give him an extra tea towel to do such a thing.

Khanh pulls the rubber off easily, because this is not his first rodeo. Meanwhile, Tessa is so chilled she's just snacking on her chocolate.

Simon is nervous about pulling out his box and, boy, there are so many box euphemisms flying around right now I can't keep up. Gunn tells him to just smash it out which seems like bad advice for a fragile tempered chocolate box. Simon thinks they are all going to be too thin. The first one shatters as it comes out. As does the next, and the next. Simon starts performing his own death rites. His second-to-last box bursts into shards as he pulls the rubber off. He has one left and, JFC, he manages to do it! It's wonky but we can't have everything can we.

Sarah Clare's boxes are looking ok, but she's not sure if they are tempered properly. She says she "has to motor" and I'm one more "motor" away from motoring on to another channel.

Khanh says "this sucks" in reference to the challenge, but also probably this show.

Now the set has been turned into Bunnings, as the contestants have to use some strange power tool to spray a matte black cocoa butter charcoal mix on top of their boxes. Tessa heads to a little glass cubicle to spray her coating on. The effort to reward ration in this dish seems a little off to me.

Everyone else starts spraying their boxes in their cubicles. It's what I imagine hairdressing salons post COVID-19 might look like.

Gunn is worried about the two Sarahs. They are going to need to leave something off, but Gunn says nothing can be left off. Personally I would not mind if the sheep's yoghurt gelatin balls were left off and, like, I rarely feel the urge for an "isomalt shard", but maybe that is just me. Jock says there's one word for this, "pandemonium", with a glint in his eye like he may just push someone in a bucket of liquid nitrogen any moment now.

Laura and Tessa are on to their gingerbread stars, and woah that cookie cutter is the second cutest thing I've ever seen. (The first is a YouTube video I saw last night of kittens massaging each other).

A few scenes worth just one sentence: Simon twirls around a pole like he is considering a new career; Sarah Clare says she's going to "motor" again; Sarah Tiong talking to herself with about 50 pots on her stovetop and jars and spoons everywhere is possibly the most relatable thing I've seen on this show so far.

Tracy tries to give Tiongers some advice from the gantry, but Sarah can't handle the pressure and ignores her. Tracy repeats what she said thinking Sarah just couldn't hear her, but really Sarah just wishes everyone would pipe down with their "helpful" hints. Sarah says she has given up a lot to be here, though apparently whatever it is is not worth a montage backstory.

Up in the gantry, Poh can't watch. Emelia says "it's a trainwreck" like the ultimate sass queen she is.

Five minutes to go and Sarah Clare is only just rolling out her gingerbread. For some reason everyone is now whipping their custard, showing nothing but the fact that none of them have any upper-body strength.

Sarah Clare is abandoning her chocolate soil. Sarah Tiong is telling herself to relax. Poh looks like she's watching a puppy dog be attacked by a rottweiler. Tiongers also decides to leave out the chocolate soil and the chocolate coating on the mandarin puree.

Time is up and the benches look like there has been some sort of natural disaster in the kitchen. That or your partner who never cooks decides to make bolognese for the first time.

Laura hugs Sarah Tiong and gives the worst pep talk ever by inexplicably asking her a million times what elements she's left off. Sarah tells Laura she needs a minute (translation: f--- off). She's really upset, because she has only done one pressure test before and was knocked out because of it.

Jock says that Peter Gunn's recipe has "done everyone's peanut in", whatever that means.

Tessa, the masochist, says she would 100 per cent make this dish again. She has four minutes to assemble the dish in front of the judges. She layers on all the elements and it looks pretty much perfect. Melissa says her box is tight...I'm not making this stuff up! Gunn cracks the box open. He says it's tasty. Jock says it tastes really good. I'm trying to get my head out of the gutter, but come on people!

Sarah Tiong walks in next. Unlike Tessa, who carefully tipped the box on the plate with artful precision, Sarah throws her box on the plate with reckless abandon.

It's so thick that Gunn has to hammer at the box like he's knocking down a brick wall. It's missing some elements, but Jock says what he did taste was "really nice". Melissa says Sarah "should be proud". So I guess no chocolate soil didn't matter after all that palava. 

Simon walks in. Despite having only one fragile box, he also slaps it onto the plate like a lunch lady at the bain marie. Thankfully it doesn't crack in front of the judges and Gunn smashes it open with his adorable hammer. Jock says he is proud. Peter says the flavour is up there with his.

Khanh goes next and Gunn is worried it is too thick. He manages to smash it open though and Jock says it's a good effort.

Brendan's smashes nicely and Jock says "for a dumpling guy" he has pulled it off very closely to Gunn's.

Laura brings hers over. Peter says that visually it's the box of the day. Andy says it looks pretty bang on, which means nothing at this point. Jock says she's done very well because "this is no pasta dish", finally acknowledging the actual elephant in the room.

Sarah Clare walks in last. She's concerned about her missing chocolate soil and the tempering of the chocolate. Gunn cracks it open but it doesn't shatter. Jock says it doesn't look too bad, but it is missing zing and freshness. Andy says there's not enough of the "good stuff" inside the box. Melissa says it lacks body and balance.

Time for the judgement and Andy says it was an "epic" pressure test. Peter says he is super impressed with everyone's effort.

Sarah Tiong and Sarah Clare are in the bottom two, but Sarah Clare's tasted the least like Gunn's so she is going home. Sarah Tiong is as surprised as all of us seeing as her chocolate wasn't tempered and she left off another element. Sarah Clare says she will be bringing a fair bit back to her restaurant, but not the black box. Gunn says fair enough, but also it's copyrighted and we would sue you.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about Ben...

Read the rest of our MasterChef recaps here and follow Eloise Basuki on Twitter @eloise_baz.