MasterChef 2020 recap: Of all the gin tarts in the world, can this one win immunity?

When life gives you lemons, make a gin tart.
When life gives you lemons, make a gin tart. Photo: NETWORK 10

Reece, Brendan, Tessa and Callum are playing for immunity today, and are talking smack to each other as they walk to the kitchen. Reece wants to continue his immunity reign. He says he is feeling energised and it's not just from his double shot almond latte.

The judges are standing in front of 10 podiums covered in mysterious white cloths. Melissa explains that this is a challenge that plays ingredients against time. Every five minutes a new set of ingredients will be revealed for them to use – the longer they wait the more ingredients they can use in their dish, but less time they have to cook.

The clock starts at 90 minutes and the first set of ingredients is revealed: pantry staples – flour, sugar, oils and the like. Obviously no one decides to start cooking yet, although plain white pancakes seem like something Jock and Andy are probably into.

After five minutes the next ingredient is revealed and it's beef. Hopefully the next ingredient is a Patak's curry paste so someone can make a nice rogan josh.

Jock reveals the third ingredient set, gin and juniper berries. This seems like a troll from the judges, they don't even have any tonic water! Reece says the gin is "sick" (as in cool, not as in coronavirus), but wants to wait for lemons so he can finally make his lemon tart that he hasn't stopped going on about since episode one.

Next up is roots and alliums, which is about as exciting as it sounds.

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There's 70 minutes left on the clock and Melissa reveals the next set: orchard fruits – pears, apples, quinces and figs. Despite Reece saying he would only start cooking once there were lemons and this set having a distinct lack of lemons, Reece decides to go for it. He decides to make a gin tart instead of his lemon tart, with quince puree and a shortbread pastry. Andy gets mad when Reece spills the juniper berries all over as he rushes to grab some with a bowl, but maybe give the guy a scoop next time, do you really expect him to use his hands in a pandemic??

Leafy greens are the next ingredient, which no one goes for because vegetables are yucky.

At the 60-minute mark, Andy reveals grains. Crickets chirp, but at the last minute the pressure gets to Tessa and she decides to go for it. She says she wants to do an "elevated meat and three veg" with the beef rib-eye and seasonal vegies. She's going to use the hibachi because nothing elevates a MasterChef dish like a hibachi.

Next up, Melissa reveals the next ingredient is herbs. Brendan was waiting for herbs, but still really wants spices to make his perfect Chinese dish. He decides to hold out until the 50-minute mark in case it comes up next. Everyone in the gantry is starting to get sassy asking what they are waiting for, and by everyone I mean Emelia.

Meanwhile Reece has put his shortbread tart shells in the oven and has set his ginger ice-cream in the churner. He moves onto his gin filling. I can't really imagine what a gin filling tastes like other than a mouthful of creamy Bombay Sapphire. Hopefully it is not this.

Reece says the secret to the perfect tart is "love", which is all very wholesome and lovely but doesn't help us amateur bakers who end up crying in the kitchen corner as their pastry crumbles in shame. We get a flashback to Reece with hair and it is a shock to the system. He actually looks better bald so there is hope yet, fellas.

Reece says it was at this point in the competition on season 10 that he started to "mentally collapse". He says he feels more confident this season and is proving to the judges that he can make dishes that are refined and not just something that looks like it came from a packet cake mix.

There are 50 minutes to go and Brendan and Callum are still waiting for their dream ingredients. Jock reveals the next one is a plate of quails, which no one wants because everyone is scarred by the quail showdown disaster of last Sunday. Brendan realises he can't wait any longer so decides to start cooking anyway. He wants to make the "best" beef dumplings. He doesn't have soy sauce, black vinegar, spices or chilli, so I don't like his chances.

Tessa puts her beef stock in the pressure cooker and Laura cheers her on from the gantry. Laura has braved the salon for a hair cut and is looking rather Anna Wintour, that is if Anna Wintour shopped at Zara.

Forty five minutes to go and Andy reveals the next set of ingredients is shellfish. Callum is in – he wants to make mussels escabeche with smoked oyster emulsion. Escabeche is a technique that relies on acidity to slightly pickle the ingredients in the dish. Callum has no vinegar or citrus so good luck with that one mate.

Melissa announces the final ingredient: a trowel and a glove. Traditionally very hard to cook with, but perhaps easier in the pressure cooker. Obviously, this is a "joke" and it means access to the whole garden. Brendan looks really devastated that he could have done some gardening today, but actually he wanted spices and soy sauce, which I'm pretty sure don't grow in the MasterChef garden anyway?

Jock says he would have waited to the end because he thinks it's easy to cook something great in 40 minutes. He is a hatted award-winning chef so of course he would say this.

At 30 minutes to go Jock and Andy ask Callum if he is having regrets he didn't start earlier. He says there is no point having regrets and continues to massage his unshelled mussels in a slightly pornographic way. Andy is worried about acid, which is a classic Andy concern, and says if Callum had waited he would have had access to the citrus in the garden. Clearly Andy really wants Callum to have regrets, but Callum just wants Andy to escabeche off.

Callum says this was inspired by a dish he had in Spain on holiday with his wife. We get a flashback to a gangly teenage pre-wife Callum cooking some very 2010-looking desserts and also cooking with at least three out of five chefs who have since been publicly shamed. 

Brendan is looking pretty behind – he's only just rolling out his dumpling dough. Emelia says he's doing a "Poh" and Poh says her "poison dust" has fallen on him. The dust explains why everyone has been giving Poh a wide berth in group scenarios.

Tessa's steak is ready – she says she has "decided to cook it medium" for the judges. Apparently she has mistaken the judges for customers at the local pub's $10 steak night; if I know fine-dining chefs and food critics, it's not good unless it's pretty much bleeding.

Brendan's Poh chaos is really rearing its pixie-cut head; he's dropping saucepan lids, forgetting to put his pan on the heat and folding dumplings so fast he could get a career dealing black jack cards if the dumpling thing doesn't work out.

With five minutes to go Brendan has only just put the dumplings in the pan. He pours in the batter for the crispy lace, but doesn't think it's going to cook in time.

Yesterday the judges told Reece that his plating was too "retro" so today he wants to make sure to serve his tart in a "modern" way. He decides to add a juniper meringue shard because nothing says "modern" than a nice shard.

Jock announces there is two minutes to go by reciting a poem full of alliteration that clearly Melissa helped him with. The countdown begins and at four seconds to go Brendan finally inverts his dumplings – luckily the lace has crisped and looks brown. It's a dumpling miracle!

Callum serves up his mussels escabeche, which looks about as pretty as pickled mussels can look really. Andy says the mussels were plump and he was happy with Callum's makeshift vinaigrette. But Jock thinks it's not balanced – it's too sweet for him.

Tessa comes over with her rib-eye steak which she has plated in the shape of a smiley face for some reason. She thinks it is perfectly cooked, but Jock, as predicted, thinks otherwise. Melissa likes the jus but says the leek puree was forgettable. Andy says she should have just concentrated on doing a nice piece of beef.

Brendan comes over next and says he wishes he had an extra 10 minutes to perfect his dish. They look legit, but I like my dumplings assaulted with an indecent amount of chilli oil so it's an automatic no from me.

Melissa says they are not the best dumplings he has plated up. Andy and Jock are surprised by how much they like the coriander sauce. Jock says it's "on its way to be absolutely banging" and obviously Jock has officially run out of things to say on this show and has just started adopting Andy's vocabulary.

Next is Reece, who I guess must be the winner. He says he hopes he has done enough because that is the required phrase for all contestants as they serve up to the judges.

He's made a gin tart with ginger ice-cream, juniper berry meringue and quince puree, which is clearly more than enough. Andy comments on Reece's mental health and says the tart shell and the ginger ice-cream were amazing. Melissa also loves the ginger ice-cream; Jock says it was really good throughout. No one really mentions the gin filling so I am still none the wiser on how he made that taste good.

So it's time for the judgement. Melissa says there were two dishes that stood out today and they were made by Callum and Reece. They were the only ones who got flashbacks, so this was predictable.

Melissa says Callum's dish got the judges "palates popping" and Reece's dish was "to die for". Apparently death-worthy dishes are immunity winning dishes as Reece's wins the day. "Go me!", says Reece. Go you, dahl. See ya Sunday for the squares.

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