MasterChef 2020 recap: Poh, Ben and Rose fight for 'pasta' perfection

Poh Ling Yeow is a chaotic good.
Poh Ling Yeow is a chaotic good. Photo: Network Ten

The contestants are out in the wild for "Suburban takeover" week, taking in the sights of a Melbourne 'hood for tonight's elimination; parked cars, trees, garbage bins – all the icons. "Wow, it's so green," remarks Amina, who has never seen grass.

After Tessa's team lost yesterday's Thai restaurant challenge, she, along with Reece, Amina, Poh, Ben, Laura, Rose, Simon and Emelia are all fighting for their lives in this elimination pressure test, not to be too dramatic or anything.

The contestants and the judges are huddled in the front yard of a small brick house, looking like a group of adults awkwardly gathering for a baby's first birthday party that no one but the parents wanted to attend (possibly not even the parents). But this is not just any suburban house – this is the home of Enter Via Laundry, which Andy says is Melbourne's most exclusive dining experience.

Serving only 10 customers per week, this hidden eatery supposedly has 1600 people on its waiting list. Owner Helly Raichura says some people have even been waiting 18 months to dine at her "secret" restaurant. I hope someone told Helly that this show is airing on national television.

Helly has brought along one of her signature dishes, and the judges explain the first round of this challenge will be a taste test. The contestants need to identify the 20 ingredients that make up Helly's "Pasta Not Pasta". Before Laura can get too perky, this, as its name suggests, is not traditional pasta. It's a refined Indian version, inspired by Helly's heritage.

The five minutes of tasting begins and the contestants scramble to get spoons and bowls and sit on the ground prodding at their food and wow this really is looking like a kid's birthday party.

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Despite it not being a dish from Laura's pasta restaurant, which is pretty much all she has been cooking this entire competition, Laura recognises that the pasta dough has been made from chickpea flour.

Poh, meanwhile, is acting like a soap star whose character has just woken up with amnesia after falling down an elevator shaft. "My brain has seized up. I can't recognise anything," she literally says. Um...IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THESE SUBURBS??

Time is up and Poh hasn't even bothered to guess what the ingredients are. I mean, it's almost as if she is trying to get into the bottom three for extra air time? Has her drama been a cons-Poh-racy all along?

Tessa scores the highest, but only with 10 of the 20 ingredients, which means that these "master chefs" are actually not very masterful at tasting. Simon, Emelia, Amina and Laura are safe. Poh only got four out of 20 correct and is sent to the naughty corner. Reece, Ben and Rose all scored six so have to do a sudden death round to continue, guessing ingredients to Helly's mysterious Indian snack. This actually is more sudden than anyone thought because Rose can't even guess one ingredient (Almonds is your first choice? Really?) and joins Poh.

Reece guesses salt, because he is not a dummy. Ben says his strategy is to identify with his eyes because he is no good at tasting. Not a great quality for a master chef, one would think. He fails on his second guess.

So Ben, Rose and Poh get ushered into Helly's laundry (which is like the size of my entire Sydney apartment – I need to move to the 'burbs). Helly tells them that today they will be attempting to recreate her Pasta Not Pasta dish in only 60 minutes.

How lucky that Helly happens to have a massive MasterChef kitchen marquee in her backyard, so the trio get straight to work. Ben shuffles around carrying pots and pans in his bulging biceps; he reckons he's a good multitasker and that will be his strategy today. I reckon he has maybe done too much multitasking in real life, if you know what I mean. Wink, wink.

Meanwhile Rose is just reading the recipe like she's casually doing the Good Weekend quiz on Sunday.

The other contestants are all standing around like lumps, just getting in everyone's way blocking the fridge and shelves. Helly, please install a gantry in your backyard kitchen marquee next time thank you.

Poh, who would not be Poh without intense chaos and stress, has decided that today she is going to stay focused and fight! She has already started her chickpea dough and it looks silky and golden from the turmeric. Helly tells her not to take her eyes off the pot and she promises she won't. She does not want to go home! (I also do not want her to go home because it is really hard to write a good recap without her drama, frankly.)

Ben's dough is looking – as they say in the industry – blonde (or maybe that is just about pastry, no one tells you anything on this show!). Helly can tell he's left out the turmeric and so asks him if he's forgotten anything. Ben wasn't born yesterday so takes the hint and rereads the recipe. "Doh! The turmeric," he exclaims, his voluminous hair flopping across his face like Elvis is in the building.

Speaking of belated rockstars, is it just me or is Khanh giving everyone major Michael Hutchence realness right now with those lush curls and baggy white shirt!? Jumpsuits, kimonos – Khanh, please dress more like your off days when cooking, my potentially fabulous style commentary (no promises) thanks you in advance.

Anyway, I digress.

Rose is bumbling along stirring her chickpea dough and we get a lovely backstory montage that we've already seen before from another episode, thanks producers. Is this a subtle hint that she is going home?

Ben brags that he is "working at a very fast pace". Like a typical man he is all about speed. But in all his caveman-like beating of his chest, he has forgotten about his chickpea dough boiling on the stove. Sarah looks perturbed, and whispers meekly at Ben to check his pan. Uh oh. It's got lumps in it.

Poh tests her dough and thinks it may be ready. She scrapes it out on the bench and it looks as perfect as chickpea dough can look spread out on a bench. For once Poh is blitzing this challenge and, phew, that's one less thing Australia has to be anxious about right now.

Ben's dough, meanwhile, is Lump City. He scrapes it out on the bench and it looks like a batch of scrambled eggs. "It's a lumpy mess. I've seen mountains as high as that in India," says Simon, who has decided to channel his inner mean girl today.

"I'm not stoked," says Ben, obviously. It looks like a dog's breakfast (his words) and he decides to start again. Andy tells him he has 21 minutes to make the 20-minute pasta that he can't take his eyes off of. Sounds unachievable but Ben is a Man and can do anything! Laura tells Ben not to give up and, how nice for being wholesome and lovely and all, but just more of Simon's sass thanks.

As Rose spreads her dough onto the bench, Simon gets back in his backseat for more commentary, saying it's too thin and judging her for scraping it back and forth so much. Simon, would you like to write a guest recap next episode? Call me!

But it's not as bad as Ben, who is in so much strife they show us the dreaded slow-mo backstory montage. He has come so far – from shoe salesman, to MasterChef runner-up, to ice-cream business owner, to….handcuffs?

Ben faces the facts and decides to dump his second batch of pasta dough – it was never going to cook in time. He strains his lumpy first batch through a sieve and hopes it works. Surprisingly, it does. Ben is just as shocked as the rest of us.

Poh has gracefully glided through this challenge like Steven Bradbury in the 2002 winter olympics. She has her curry sauce on, her oils in her bottles, she rolls the pasta up and – nothing goes wrong. I am shook.

As the countdown starts, Rose and Ben both manage to roll up their pasta and surprisingly they both look fine.

The judges gather around Helly's kitchen table to taste. Poh tell us that growing up as a migrant kid has given her the motivation to fight. She plates it up, and it looks like a mirror image of Helly's. Jock likes the flavour and says the pasta melts in his mouth. Helly says it is spot on and she would serve this up in her kitchen.

When Rose brings hers over, it is definitely not as voluptuous as the original, but we appreciate all shapes and sizes on this recap. However Jock is not impressed with the lack of umami in the sauce, and is shocked and appalled to find a big chunk of chilli in his sauce. "Laura would never do this," he thinks.

Ben comes over looking defeated. He begins to tear up, maybe because he thinks he is going home, but also maybe because he seems to be wearing a t-shirt three sizes too small. He plates up the dish and the judges taste it.

Happy music plays! It's delicious! The sauce was good! The chilli was subtle (which I think is a good thing)! Helly likes the texture despite the whole sieve situation! Andy is surprised Ben even served us anything!

So back to the front yard for the final judgement, hopefully none of the neighbours call the police, for Ben's sake. Poh is safe! The judges say she was laser-focused; she should probably try to remember to be like this in every challenge.

Rose's pasta was too thin, and her sauce lacked balance. But Ben's pasta was silky and he is safe! (For now). Rose says goodbye to everyone. Jock says he will visit her cafe when they return to Adelaide, Rose chuckles, fully aware that will never happen.

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