MasterChef 2020 recap: Laura finally makes a pasta Jock doesn't like in a pumpkin challenge

Another day, another pasta for Laura.
Another day, another pasta for Laura. Photo: NETWORK 10

The contestants file into the MasterChef kitchen for today's immunity challenge; no one wants to stand next to Poh in case they catch her chaotic energy (Pete Evans hasn't invented a machine to cure it yet).

Reece says he wants his name on the MasterChef trophy. Emelia just wants the $250,000, which is fair, who wants that big metal plate in their living rooms ruining their Scandi decor?

Poh says she is not sure who will turn up to cook today, a clown or an "able" person. Let's hope it's neither.

Melissa says today's challenge is all about making a little go a long way. We have all lived through the pandemic, so we are all experts at this now. The contestants have to make three dishes using one ingredient: a pumpkin. Reece says it's so "cute". If he thinks that pumpkin is cute, he should see my cat in the jumper I knitted for him.

Andy, who has come as Where's Wally tonight, explains that they have 90 minutes to cook all three dishes. They have to bring a dish up every 30 minutes to the judges, and each round the least impressive dish will see its maker kicked out of the challenge. They have access to the entire pantry, so even though this is a challenge about being "resourceful", it in fact isn't at all.

Andy asks the judges what their strategies would be for this challenge and Jock says, "I'll tell you what I'm thinking". Andy is disturbingly turned on by this comment and asks Daddy to tell him more. We get a flashback to Jock on MasterChef six years ago looking like it could be from the lost years with his shaggy hair, multiple bracelets and not a vest in sight. Jock says back then he did a shaved pumpkin dish that only took a few minutes, which would allow the contestants to have more time to work on their other dishes.

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Reece is on to this strategy – he has decided to make a sweet and sour glazed pumpkin with different textures of mushroom and a chestnut puree, but also start working on the second dish now to get ahead.

Poh has decided to make a pasta for her first dish, pizzoccheri valtellinesi, a buckwheat pasta with cabbage, speck and pumpkin. She says she has never cooked this dish before but thinks it can be made in 30 minutes. So it looks like it was the clown who rocked up today, then?

Emelia runs to her bench with a bunch of whisks. Andy and Jock ask her what she's doing with all the whisks. Presumably she is just trying to steal all the whisks so no one else can whisk anything. A classic Emelia tactic. She tells them she's "whiskin'". Whiskin' it for the biscuit.

Emelia is making a pumpkin salad with whisked creme fraiche and butter bugs. Jock asks her if she is using the "coral" from the bug heads. Apparently "coral" is a more respectable name for what I call all the gross oozy brain bits. Emelia says she doesn't have time to use the gross oozy brain bits, but Jock gives her his classic judgemental "daddy" look, so nek minit we see Emelia whisking the "coral" in the creme fraiche and there's a good girl.

There's 15 minutes to go and, unsurprisingly, Poh has a million things left to do for her pasta dish. Surprisingly, the thing that seems to be foiling her the most is her inability to boil water. Who'd a thunk it? Poh says she feels like she's driving down a ravine and she's lost control. I can accept this metaphor if we also add in that there was also a fork in the road with a sign that pointed "deadly ravine" in one direction and "safe happy calm town" in the other, and we all know what Poh chose.

Laura is cooking her pumpkin on the hibachi, and will serve it with smoked buttermilk, wakame oil and soy-roasted pumpkin seeds. Laura wants to show Poh how a real pasta is done, so is now making her pasta dough for her second cook because she says she wants it to be well rested and it needs 20 minutes to do that. No one asks Poh how long she rested her dough for, but I can assume the answer was zero seconds.

Emelia is destroying everyone – she has plated her bug and pumpkin salad, and moves straight onto her second dish, a pumpkin cake.

Reece is squirting little chestnut poos on his plate, then tops the pumpkin with crispy mushrooms. I guess it looks good? Laura plates her roasted pumpkin and it looks pretty much just like your average roasted pumpkin.

Poh is being the least funny clown in the existence of clowns. With one minute to go she anxiously pulls her pasta out of the water and throws it in the sauce. She stirs it around for a bit then pours it onto her plate without even tasting it. Her car has crashed, exploded and burnt to smithereens. No survivors were found.

Time's up and they all run to put their dishes on the table, then head back to continue cooking. This is wild.

The judges start with Reece's dish. Andy says it was "crying out for acidity". Jock and Melissa liked it though so apparently what Andy thinks doesn't matter.

Melissa says Laura's dish was "lovely", but Andy says it was "mediocre". I'm with Andy for once in my life.

Emelia's dish is next and Andy loves everything about it. Melissa says the pumpkin was the hero. Jock says the bug was cooked perfectly.

The judges taste Poh's dish. Jock says the texture of the pasta was awful and says it tasted like it was made two minutes ago, which it was. Melissa didn't like the cabbage. Andy says it needed "finesse".

Melissa announces that Poh is out of the race, and the care-factor for everyone, even Poh, is zero.

So for round two, Reece is making pumpkin cake with mascarpone ice-cream. He has already roasted his pumpkin earlier so purees it and puts it straight in the batter. Emelia is also baking a pumpkin cake but is making them really mini so they cook in time.

Laura is doing roast pumpkin tortellini with ricotta, brown butter and sage. Jock calls it a "yawn fest" and, oof, is MasterChef's least favourite couple having their first tiff? Laura walks off in a huff and Jock says that pumpkin tortellini is always a disappointment. Laura claps back by saying that the only time she eats it is in her restaurant and she's never disappointed. You tell him, girlfriend! Andy is standing in between them like, where's the popcorn?

Laura thinks it is crazy that Jock doesn't like pumpkin tortellini. But she relents and decides to add fermented Italian chilli to the filling for an unexpected kick when they bite in. Possibly she adds poison to Jock's filling, I cannot confirm nor deny.

Reece is thinking about his third dish, a pumpkin eggplant curry, so gets started on making the curry paste. But when he tries to take the cake for this round out of the baking tin, it tears. He says he's going to have to improvise. Did Reece the cake guy seriously only make one cake? Even I know you are always meant to make extra!

Emelia, on the other hand, has made about 10 back-up cakes and has cleverly used silicone cake moulds so hers slip out easily. PSA to Reece, they are like $2 from Kmart, please invest. She plates it up with her caramelised pine nuts on top. She talks to Melissa with a mouthful of cake but says it's ok because she's done some running today.

The judges taste Laura's dish. Jock likes the filling but says the pasta was too thick. Andy agrees, the pasta was so thick at the seam it was undercooked. Laura's first bad pasta dish, ladies and gentlemen!

Everyone loves Emelia's cake. Even Andy, who "hates cake", says it "couldn't be any more moist". Well, it could just be cake batter, that's pretty moist. Melissa says she could eat it all day every day, which is what I think about most cakes.

Reece ended up chopping up his cakes into chunks so now it looks like a dessert you would serve at a nursing home. The judges try it and surprisingly they seem to like it. Melissa is really visibly sniffing every mouthful in this episode, like she has lost trust in everyone on this show.

Andy says the cake has too much cardamom. But Jock and Melissa really love it. Again it doesn't seem to matter what Andy thinks because Reece is safe and Laura gets knocked out.

So Reece and Emelia are left to fight it out. Emelia is making a pumpkin Paris brest with choux pastry, which I will now write as "shoe" because it is much funnier to read when you imagine an actual shoe.

Emelia thinks she's added the eggs too quickly into the dough, which has ruined her pastry. Callum says, "Emelia makes the best shoe in the world, but this doesn't look like the best shoe in the world."

Emelia seems to agree, her pastry is too runny and pale, so at 20 minutes to go, she decides to cook something else. She throws her shoes in the bin and says she's going to make a mille feuille instead. Emelia is obviously a pastry genius and knows the correct pronunciation, but I really appreciate that she pronounces it like it reads: milly filly.

Callum thinks he is a sports commentator up in the gantry today, doing little interviews on the state of play downstairs. Unfortunately he is just being captain obvious and not saying anything worth repeating.

Everyone is laughing at Emelia running backwards and forwards from the pantry to her bench. Emelia says her body was "not built" for running and I can relate. Jock tells her to get more whisks so she does it, I guess for the LOLs?

She says this is the most fun she had in the kitchen, and I am not used to seeing Emelia project so much joy from her face.

Emelia's mille feuille will be filled with tuiles (say that sentence seven times). When she takes the tuiles out of the oven, Melissa is surprised not to see the choux pastry. Emelia says her "choux pastry should have been a shoe in" and Melissa respects the word play and leaves her alone.

Reece adds coconut milk and roast pumpkin to his curry paste that he started last round. Andy and Jock have a taste. For some reason Jock is swinging off the balcony stairs like he's bloody Juliet and Andy is Romeo. Andy hands his star-crossedlover a spoon and Jock says he can't taste the pumpkin. Reece looks devo, so decides to blitz some leftover roast pumpkin and add it to the curry. The power Jock wields over these guys has really proven itself in this episode, and it is kind of frightening.

Emelia plates up her mille feuille and appears to have some sort of fembot breakdown because she can't stop stacking the layers. She stacks about a 100 layers of it before she realises that's probably enough and starts decorating it. I forget where the pumpkin is in this dish, but she also adds some pickled pumpkin rounds to the top, which sounds extremely not delicious.

It's judging time and Emelia says she isn't happy with her dish – it's not very "her" and is too massive. Jock says it seems like someone who needed a Plan B in a hurry. He wishes there was more character, about as much as I wish Emelia had more on-screen character. Melissa says there's nothing bad about the dish, but it was just fine. She says words like "dynamics!", "single note!", "harmony!" and Jock and Andy nod like they know what she's on about.

Reece brings his curry up and Andy asks the judges what they think. "It looks like curry," says Jock, not understanding the question. Andy thinks Reece missed a trick and could have made it more beautiful with a hibachi-grilled pumpkin. I see Andy's point, the curry looks pretty taste.com.au if you know what I mean, but Andy isn't aware we all hate the hibachi now, so I'm cool with Reece not using it.

Andy says he's done a reasonable job – he says it's not the best panang curry he's ever had and not the best use of pumpkin. Surely better than Emelia's weird pickled pumpkin rounds though?! Melissa says there's something to be said about well-cooked rice, which tells you all you need to know about what she thought of Reece's curry. Jock says that adding the pumpkin puree at the end dulled it down. Jock, the puree was all because of you, at least act grateful!

The judges realise both dishes were actually pretty crap, so it comes down to which dish they would eat again, if held at gunpoint.

Jock tells the contestants that the least crap dish was Reece's. What an honour. Reece says he is looking forward to relaxing in the gantry. I hope someone told him they don't even give you a chair up there.

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