MasterChef 2020 recap: Poh, Laura and Callum compete in an alphabetic battle for immunity

What Poh personality will be unleashed today?
What Poh personality will be unleashed today? Photo: NETWORK 10

It's a Radelaide love affair today, with MasterChef's resident South Australians Poh, Laura and Callum all winning a spot in the immunity challenge. (What's that about there being nothing good in SA, Dan Andrews?)

Laura says she is up against MasterChef royalty, and grew up watching Poh and Callum in their seasons. I forget that Laura is basically a teenager. She says she hasn't won an immunity challenge yet so feels like the underdog, but in her Carole Baskin outfit today I'd say she looks more like a tiger queen.

Melissa notes that as well as all being from SA, the three contestants also all came second in their last seasons. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, or something like that.

Behind the judges is an A to Z of cloches. Andy explains that under each cloche is an ingredient that starts with that letter, and the contestants have to guess what the ingredient is without tasting it. If they guess right they get to use that ingredient in their cook today. Andy asks the contestants "U feel me?" like he has been trawling Urban Dictionary to find new things to say on this show.

Callum thinks he can be strategic with this challenge, and decides to pick an obscure letter that he knows there are only a few ingredients of. He picks "Q" hoping for quail, but gets a bowl of white goop instead. Jock takes it over to him to let him have a sniff of it, but then Poh forgets she's not talking to the voices in her head and says out loud that it's "quark". Doh, Poh!

Laura picks "M" and gets Moreton Bay bugs, which she is very happy about. Poh picks "P" for Poh and gets Persimmons. This is funny for everyone on the show, because apparently Poh's archnemesis is a persimmon.

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Callum chooses "S" and impressively guesses sawtooth coriander. Laura picks "F" and gets flaxseed. Poh chooses "B", but can't guess that the tiny dried berries are barberries and loses that ingredient.

Callum goes for "G" and guesses gochujang. Laura picks "L" and guesses "logan fruit". The ingredient is actually a bunch of longans, but no one seems to care that she has called it the wrong name, because Jock says it's correct and anyone who argues with him gets a spanking.

It doesn't get much better for Poh, she picks "C" and gets a bowl of seeds that she thinks are cumin seeds but are actually caraway seeds. I wonder how the judges feel about Poh serving up a quartered persimmon today?

It's a different story for Callum who wants kangaroo so chooses "K" and gets it. Same for Laura who picks "J" hoping for Jerusalem artichoke and also gets it. This amazing not just because she willed it to existence, but because someone actually hoped for Jerusalem artichokes. Poh needs a protein so picks "D" hoping for duck and for once she does something right on this show.

This Sesame Street game is brought to you by the letter zzz, as in, I've fallen asleep wake me up when this mind-numbing game is over. You can skip this bit for your sanity: Callum picks "R" for a rabbit; Laura chooses "H" for halva; Poh picks "T" for tarragon; Callum gets "E" for eggplant; Laura chooses "A" and gets amaranth; Poh goes "O" and gets octopus; Callum's picks "N" and gets nashi pear; Laura picks "W" hoping for watercress and gets it; Poh chooses "Y" and gets yuzu; and I choose "B" for byeeeee.

Jock goes through what everyone has in their pantry to cook with and again with the "logan fruit". They only have to use at least one ingredient from their pantry, which means this has been 27 minutes of my life I wish I had back.

Poh decides to shock us all and starts writing a To Do List for the first time ever, because she wants to "stay focused". She plans on smoking her duck and will be charring the persimmons on the coals of the hibachi. Throwing things you hate over fiery coals seems like a good idea for all things in life.

She explains to Jock and Andy that she will be making an octopus emulsion, which makes me feel like the green face vom emoji, but Jock and Andy seem quite enticed by the idea.

Callum says he "likes playing games" and that this one worked out well for him. He says he will save the quark for a "rainy day" because he doesn't want to use it in this cook. Fair enough, quark sounds like something I'd have at the back of my fridge six months past its used-by date, too. 

He plans on barbequing his kangaroo and serving it with a rabbit sauce and gochujang-roasted eggplant. This sounds like nothing I would ever want, but I believe in you, Callum.

Jock and Andy are back to negging the contestants as they cook, reminding Laura that she's never won an immunity and that lately she's been at the bottom of the pack. She doesn't let it get her down though, she says that immunity is her milestone and she really wants it today.

But Jock wonders why she's not using the longan and now everyone is correctly calling it "longan" and not "logan". Thank you to whoever corrected them, I'm guessing Mel. Jock suggests she juice the longan, and now Laura is all confused about whether she should take his advice or not. She says she feels "lost", but after the ad break she seems to find herself and decides to politely decline Jock's advice and quietly slides the bowl of longans the way I carefully slide hideous homewares back in the cupboard once its well-meaning gift-giver has left my house.

Poh threw her persimmons in "the hibach" and the experiment worked. She says it's "dried out"; this is apparently a good thing. She says she is feeling organised and has a clear head, which is a side of Poh I am not familiar with. She smokes her duck breast using a flour, sugar and tarragon mix over a pastry cutter in a saucepan. Everyone is very impressed by Poh's abilities like they were all so used to her screwing things up all the time they forgot she is actually a legitimate chef.

The judges are having a chinwag; Jock says he wants the contestants to "start bringing out balanced dishes with perfect seasoning." Andy says the competition is "fierce", so there's no excuses. Melissa says they "expect perfection". Question: What have they been expecting in every other episode?

Laura is making a bug oil out of the bug heads, which is better than it sounds, don't worry. She confuses Emelia and Reece by saying it is delicious, then it's not delicious. Reece says, "make up your mind, doll!" which is the kind of gantry commentary I wish we had more of.

Poh says she hasn't felt "so in control in a long time", and even though I agree with her, I still feel very nervous about this octopus "emulsion". She does a southeast Asian technique of charring the octopus, then blitzing it, but she says it's too grainy. She tries to squeeze it through muslin to make it smoother, but it doesn't work and only oil comes out. She's so worried she has ruined it she gets a dramatic ad break, but when we come back adds a few drops of water in it squeezes through smooth and, according to her, delicious.

Callum is freestyling, and obvs not in a cool rapper way. He thinks it might be "nice" to add the rabbit kidneys to his dish, which seems not at all like a nice thing to add to a barbecued kangaroo fillet. We get a flashback to baby Callum losing to Adam Liaw in the second season, and baby Callum looks a whole lot like adult Callum.

Callum has been too busy reminiscing about the past he forgets about his roo on the hibachi and realises he's cooked it too much on one side. He decides to cook it less on the other side, which is not how cooking steaks work, but nice try, Callum.

Surprisingly Poh is done and is plating up. Emelia thinks this is an "imposter Poh", which is not an unreasonable thing to believe. Poh says she is "so proud she has managed to rein in the chaos", and with five minutes to go she might even have time to squeeze in baking a cake.

Laura throws her bugs into the brown butter and says she is happy with every single element. She says she's had a positive confident cook today, and with all the Laura airtime we've had this ep and with all the times they've mentioned how she's never won immunity, I'm willing to bet at least $50 on it.

It's time to judge the dishes and in comes Poh with her duck. Poh says this is not a "weird surf 'n' turf dish, and promises it's full of "bangin' umami". Poh, "bangin"? I'm not mad, just disappointed. Jock says he's never seen a dish like this from Poh, he loves the sauce and the duck is perfectly cooked. Melissa says it's intelligent cooking. Andy says if this is a new Poh, he'd like to see more of it.

Callum is next and says he felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders because he had "good" ingredients. Jock cuts into the kangaroo and notices that he "caned it" on one side and not on the other. Andy says it's a step back for Callum. Jock says the kidney was lost, and that Callum had one too many thoughts. One too many thoughts is also why I am a nervous wreck most of the time.

Laura is last up and hopes that today is the day she finally gets immunity. Melissa says the visuals are stunning and that Laura has returned to form. She says it "vibrated with energy", which sounds either like something she made up to sound smart or the bugs were actually still alive? She also says, "This is food cooked by someone who is happy and centred" and it seems like Melissa has done a meditation class before this episode or something.

Andy says the vinegar in the watercress emulsion "balances out the heaviness of the J-choke". Lay off Urban Dictionary, Andy! He says it is so well balanced and she has produced an "epic plate of food".

The judges just don't have enough nice things to say about Laura's dish so it keeps going on. Jock notes that while he does love her pasta dishes (we know, Jock. Trust us, we know!), "when she doesn't cook a pasta dish you see the way she thinks about food".

So time for the not-so-surprising reveal after all that Laura-loving. She wins immunity! Good on ya, Laura. Now Moreton Bay bugger off.

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