MasterChef 2020 recap: Poh wears the 'Captain Chaos cape' again in a clash of the cloches

And under this cloche is the ability to manage your time properly, Poh.
And under this cloche is the ability to manage your time properly, Poh. Photo: NETWORK 10

For today's immunity challenge, the MasterChef kitchen has become a cloche showroom, as rows of cloche-topped pedestals line the floor. "Oh my cloche!" says Reynold, which should be the working title of his upcoming memoir.

Reynold joins Poh and Laura fighting it out for immunity and the first person into Top Five today. Jock says that being in the Top Five means they will have a 20 per cent chance of winning, because he can do math.

Under each cloche is an ingredient, and the contestants can pick two of them. If they aren't happy with an ingredient they can swap it for a third cloche, but must cook with whatever is under that cloche. They'll have to cook one savoury dish heroing one ingredient, and one sweet dish heroing the other. It's the "ultimate lucky dip", says Andy, fondly recalling his childhood birthday parties.

Reynold chooses first. He says he has no strategy and just picks a random cloche – it's madeira, and he's happy about it. Callum, the resident sports commentator of this show, explains that madeira is a fortified wine that can be used in a sweet or savoury dish. Thank you, Callum, too bad there's not a website that we could just type a word into and it could search every publication in the world and just tell us what it was...

Reynold's second ingredient is fennel. He says he can work with it, but doesn't love it, so decides to hedge his bets on a third choice – dates. Apparently dates are Reynold's kryptonite, he hates dates! He hates cooking with them, he hates eating them. Reynold shakes his fist up at the sky like a grumpy old man.

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Laura does a blind spin and picks one at random. Red miso; she loves it. She roams the rest of the cloches hoping to feel a "good vibe" (not on this show, unless Jock pulls out those blindfolds again). Vanilla beans. Laura is happy and decides to keep both.

Poh is up next and says she is in "agony". Jock teases her by saying there are truffles under one of the cloches, but also some rubbish ingredients. Mouldy oranges? Empty tins of tuna? How "rubbish" are we talking here, Jock? Apparently it's bougie rubbish only, because Poh gets the first one: bergamot. Wow, a citrus that's not even stocked in bloody Coles that is pretty much exclusively used to flavour Earl Grey tea? Poh gives Jock evil eyes fiery with withering despair. "That's how I feel about it," she says.

Next she gets ruby grapefruit, which she says is even worse than bergamot. She decides to swap out the bergamot and pick another cloche. Olives. Personally, she could just serve me up a jar of this and I would give her immunity and the trophy, but Poh says her choices are "just ok". I would say that most of Poh's choices on this show are also "just ok".

So they have 90 minutes to make one savoury and one sweet dish. Jock clarifies that they must be able to taste the ingredient in each dish, so no turning it into a cloud of gas, Reynold!

Off to Coles they trot to pick up the rest of their ingredients. Reynold has decided to put dates in his savoury dish and madeira in his sweet dish. He's going to make roasted quail with mushrooms, a date puree and burnt butter "potato foam". For sweet he's making a madeira ice-cream with a chocolate brownie and a madeira "veil".

Poh is making a quail and olive ragu stuffed gnocchi served with a brodo, because apparently you can never have too much quail being cooked on this show! For dessert she is also going Italiano, making a mascarpone yoghurt with grapefruit segments and a chocolate hazelnut pastry. She says she has deliberately chosen a simple dessert so she can focus on her gnocchi dish. Does Poh know that it's 2020 and "simple" has been cancelled this year?

Andy asks if Jock is alright up in the gantry "old man". Jock says he quite likes it up there because he can see everything that happens. The contestants quite like it too because he is as far away from them as possible.

Laura has decided to marinate a pork tenderloin in her red miso, and will serve it with emulsified turnip juice, yikes. For dessert she is using the vanilla in a cannoli-like dessert made with sfogliatelle pastry filled with a vanilla and brown butter bread crumble.

Laura knows she has to make it taste like vanilla, and if anyone has ever bought that pure vanilla extract before, you will know she chucks in about $300 worth of it in her custard.

Forty minutes to go and Poh says she really needs to start on her dessert, but is still "mucking around" with her gnocchi. Andy comes over to "talk time". Good luck, Andy. Queue a comical montage of her umming and ahhing like she has no idea what the concept of time even means. Maybe she needs Reynold to make it into a dessert to explain it? Andy tries to make his question clearer for her, "how long does your dessert take?" Silence. Crickets chirp. Hay bales roll past. A lone owl hoots at the moon. The answer is she has no friggin' clue.

Andy's stressful visit makes her realise she should at least start some of the dessert. She wants to make a hazelnut chocolate pastry in the shape of a citrus wheel, so cuts that up and puts it in the oven. She calls herself "Captain Chaos" like she's a supervillain/awkward sidekick in a Marvel comic.

Reynold, who possibly has a mystery hickey on his neck tonight ~ooooh~, gets on to making his madeira "veil", which he says is like a jelly sheath that goes over the ice-cream. Pastry wheel, jelly veil… what is this? The '70s?

Poh is happy with her brodo and starts on her gnocchi. She rolls her quail and olive ragu into balls, then covers it in gnocchi dough and then drops them into boiling water. Her gnocchi are huge; bigger than golf balls. "Have you ever seen gnocchi that big before?" asks Melissa. Those things would gnoch you out cold. 

Andy yells that there is seven minutes to go with about as much enthusiasm as I have for there being more than three weeks left of this show.

Reynold puts his madeira ice-cream in the liquid nitrogen to save him some time. Though hibachi sales have gone up this season, the need for an ice-cream churner is apparently zero. He has a taste and has a little moment of joy – he says it's the best gelato he has made in this competition.

Don't get too cocky there, Rey Rey – the quail is overcooked. Look, he says that it's overcooked, but there is also some real queasy looking blood on his chopping board. Though that could be just from his finger. It's not clear.

MasterChef season 12. Screencaps fromthe immunity challenge on June 30, 2020.
For good food recap.

Apparently the bleeding quail is too overcooked for Reynold. Photo: NETWORK 10

Reynold says it might be a blessing in disguise, though. He wants this dish to be about the date and the mushrooms, and the quail might overpower the date. He decides not to use it at all and says "this competition is all about what you leave off the plate, as well as what you leave on". Though it might be the smartest thing anyone has ever said on this show, the blatant quail wastage on this show is nauseating.

Laura pulls out her sfogliatelle pastry and, though it's unmistakably the shape of a turd, she says she is really happy. But when Jock asks her if there's enough vanilla in her dessert, she starts having an existential crisis. Jock says that her crumble has an intense molasses flavour that might overpower the vanilla. Laura recalls the $300 worth of vanilla extract she put in earlier and wishes she had put in at least $50 more.

Poh, who should never be in charge of schedule management, has of course not left enough time to finesse her dessert. She just plops everything on the mascarpone yoghurt. She is worried that she hasn't done enough to elevate the ruby grapefruit, and, yeah, I would say just slicing raw segments and plopping it on some yoghurt is a million per cent not enough. She crowns the dessert with her citrus-shaped pastry, which looks more like a wagon wheel, though the 17th-century kind, not the delicious Arnotts kind.

Just a few seconds to go and Reynold realises he has forgotten about his madeira veil!! No, not the veil! Anything but the veil! The judges start the countdown and his hands are shaking trying to cut it into a disc, but he cloaks his dessert in it just in time.

Time for the judgement. "It's the ultimate lucky dip", says Melissa, for the millionth time today. "One in three chance to get into the top five," says Jock, also for the millionth time. No one tells us what Andy says.

Poh is up first. She says she is really happy, so good for her. Andy likes the brodo. Melissa says it has "get up and go". Jock says the gnocchi tasted like olive, but was clumsy and too big. That's what she said, right ladies?

For the dessert, Andy says he can taste the grapefruit (great critique!), but wonders how much technique went into it. Melissa questions whether it is immunity level.

Laura brings over her dishes. Melissa says the pork was a joy to eat. Andy says the cooking was perfect. Jock says he could "taste the miso". Good chat guys.

Laura's dessert has gone from shrivelled turd to shrivelled something else I'm probably not allowed to say. Andy loves the pastry. "It's the way it shatters that matters"™, says Mel. Jock says he couldn't really taste the vanilla and Melissa agrees saying it took a back seat.

Reynold brings his dishes over and Jock is immediately disappointed because he was looking forward to some quail, forgetting Poh's dish that he ate five minutes ago was also quail. Reynold thinks it's better without it.

Jock loves the flavour, but can't get over the lack of quail. Melissa says it is lip-smacking. She likes the dessert, too, and does her signature happy dance after a mouthful. Andy says, "madeira, it's bloody there", and someone inform Madeira the island we've come up with their new tourism slogan.

Time for the judgement. Andy says Poh was clumsy and rushed and she is out of the running. Harsh, but fair.

They tell Reynold his savoury dish was beautiful, but they missed the quail. "At this stage we want more from you." More than space? More than the Sydney Opera House? More than a magic rabbit hole? How much more can these people ask for?

Laura's pastry was cooked beautifully, but the vanilla flavour was too light on. The person who best hit the brief was... Reynold. Reynold says he feels speechless, but then goes on to tell us a monologue about how happy he is. He's into top five, we are getting closer, people!

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