MasterChef 2020 recap: Reynold cooks 'space' in an out-of-this-world elimination

Tune in next week, when Reynold cooks "time".
Tune in next week, when Reynold cooks "time". Photo: NETWORK 10

It's raining, and the contestants march through the cold like a brigade of soldiers heading into a death battle. "My jeans are getting wet!" squeals Reece, who would not be fit for a real-life death battle.

The judges gesture dramatically to the dumb MasterChef trophy no one really cares about, which is standing in front of a mysterious cloaked object. Here's hoping there is not a problematic statue underneath.

In the most boring reveal ever, Jock unveils the mystery object and it is a blackboard with a list of classic dishes from around the world written on it. The contestants have to pick a dish and cook the most classic version they can. "Don't trick it up," says Melissa, looking at Reynold. Tessa chooses fish and chips, Reece and Poh choose creme caramel, Reynold and Emelia both choose bombe Alaska, and Callum choose chocolate souffle. 

Each dish has a different time limit. The bombe Alaska has 90 minutes, so Reynold and Emelia head off first to start cooking, and someone needs to remind them social distancing still applies while running through that damn pantry door.

Reynold says he is worried because he is "self-taught" and has no classic training. Poor Reynold, so unfortunate that he just naturally a genius. He says that he made a bombe Alsaka in his last season and it was a complete fail. Judging by the throwback, which shows baby Reynold with a puddle on his plate, maybe he should have chosen one of the other nine dishes on the blackboard? Just a thought.

Meanwhile, Emelia says she is all about the classics, and her Breton stripes and red lipstick couldn't be any more on brand. Though she seemingly breaks her back and all OHS rules by carrying two ice-cream machines to her bench at the same time, she looks tres chic doing it.

At 60 minutes to go, all the other contestants are allowed to start cooking. Reece and Poh are both equally nervous that the other is also making a creme caramel. Reece says that he normally bakes his creme caramel for 50-60 minutes, so to make it in one hour he is using different sized ramekins and tins to make sure it sets properly. He says Poh usually makes hers really bitter, which sounds as though Reece might win this showdown, or as Poh calls it, "battle of the custard queens."

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Callum has chosen the chocolate souffle because he teaches souffle at his cooking school. He runs a cooking school, in case you had missed one of the many 100 or so times he has brought it up this season. Andy tells him that as soon as time is up they are going to taste the dish straight away in full fairness to the souffle.

Jock asks Reynold if he is making a sponge for his bombe Alaska, Reynold is making exactly zero sponges because he did not know a sponge was part of a bombe Alaska. Laura, who is looking lovely in lavender up in the gantry after winning Tuesday's immunity challenge, tells him he needs to do it. Emelia wishes everyone would have just shut up so that she could have beaten Reynold on a technicality.

Reece spoons his caramel into his different ramekins then throws them in the blast chiller to speed up the process. I wish I could crawl into the blast chiller to speed up this episode.

Poh is staring at her saucepan of sugar, pushing her caramel to the limit, and also pushing all of Australia to the limit with our patience for her staring at kitchen appliances.

Jock asks Poh how many creme caramels she has Instagrammed in her lifetime, which is a weird thing to ask. Poh says she made one last week for "Loz" (that's Laura, in case you haven't heard every contestant yell it incessantly these last 50 episodes), who says it was the "best she's ever had". Did it come with crippling anxiety and arrive 30 minutes later than expected, though, Loz?

Tessa is doing "classic" fish and chips, which I guess means she will be making them soggy with not enough chicken salt and a flock of seagulls to fend off? 

Tessa has decided to fry her chips three times, which is the correct amount of times to fry anything. She says fish and chips are much more technical than people think, which maybe is a reason not to have chosen them.

Reece pulls out his caramel and goes on about his different sized ramekins again. We get it! You used different sized tins! Please move on! Go back to quoting Kath & Kim pls! 

Meanwhile, Poh is crouching by the blast chiller like she's trying to hide from the men in white coats. Melissa visits and carefully assumes the same low position as not to frighten her, which is the same way I deal with my cat when he is high on too much catnip.

Melissa asks her if she's going to live in this spot for the next while. Poh says yes because her caramels need her.

Andy thinks Emelia looks "solid", rude. He also says he wants to talk about the look on Reynold's face when Jock asked about the sponge. Jock says "yeh" then moves on. Good chat boys.

Poh pulls out her caramel, pours in the custard and then puts two dishes in both of her ovens. She now resumes her more normal crazy position of staring into the oven.

At 15 minutes to go, Tessa puts her fish in the deep-fryer. Jock is shocked she is cooking them at 170 degrees, but Tessa says her fish is thick so needs the extra heat. Loz says it smells delicious and wants "chippies". Laura is embodying the seagulls to make Tessa's dish really classic.

Callum puts his souffle in the oven and assumes the traditional Poh position of crouching by the oven. Emelia joins him, in fact, everyone is now staring at their ovens like they are screening reruns of Game of Thrones on there.

Emelia cuts out her sponge – she says she used almond meal for a "squidgier" feel and I don't even hate that adjective.

She starts decorating her bombe and Reynold does the same. Poh and Reece are staring at their ovens the way I stare at my TV when MasterChef is on, with equal parts hope and pure dread.

Reece pulls out his dishes and tests out the first deep ramekin – it falls out in a puddle. His smaller tin, though, has set perfectly. Luckily he has used different! sized! tins!

Poh now wishes she should have also used smaller tins, and I'm surprised she didn't do it after hearing Reece talking about it non-stop. Unfortunately Poh's creme caramel is completely liquid, it looks like a bowl of milk you'd leave out for Santa's reindeer.

Callum pulls out his souffle from the oven and it looks great. It's risen and puffed and beautiful. Callum says "it's not all about appearances" in case we weren't already convinced that he was a good dude.

As promised, Jock dives straight into the souffle to reveal a pool of soft, melty chocolate on the inside. Andy says he "has a big smile on his face" like he thinks this is a radio show and we aren't looking right at him. Melissa says she loved the molten gooey chocolate centre. Jock says it is a perfect classic souffle.

Reece brings out his creme caramel. Jock says the caramelisation was lovely. Melissa loved the flavour and says it wasn't "turbo eggy". I pity the fool who ever served Mel something that made her invent that description. Andy says it's sweet but also bitter, again leaving us none the wiser on what the dish actually tastes like.

Poh is next and feels embarassed she couldn't turn this out properly. The judges taste her puddle and all say they love the flavour, and Melissa says she loves Poh's "aggressive" caramelisation. "Agressive caramelisation" is also how I would describe the level of fake tan my skin needs as a result of this dark depressing winter.

Emelia brings her bombe Alaska and lights it on fire for the judges. Her meringue look so toasted it is verging on campfire-burnt, but apparently this doesn't matter because as the ever eloquent Andy says: "two words – Nailed. It."

After that glowing report, Reynold says he feels stressed. His bombe looks more like an albino hedgehog, and as much as Reynold loves a woodland creature-inspired dessert, I'm thinking this was not intentional. Jock says the sponge was too thick but the flavour is perfect. Melissa says there was a great "balance of flavour". Andy can't "get over" the flavour. I have no idea what the actual flavour was, but seems like the judges loved it.

Tessa has served her fish and chips on a newspaper, so full marks for presentation. Melissa audibly crunches a chip, which I would happily listen to every night as a bedtime sleep meditation.

Andy loves the chips, but says the fish was a touch over. He also says the tartare is controversial, because it should have had capers in it. Jock agrees that the tartare should have capers in it and this could get her into round two. Maybe you just should have told her like you told Reynold about the sponge? 

So Poh, Reynold and Tessa are sent to round two, which is all about the opposite of "classic". This time the judges want something they have "never seen before". 

Poh says she is going to tap into her Chinese Malaysian heritage and make steamed sago dumplings with rempah udang, a shrimp paste crumble. She says she invented it because usually the rempah udang is packaged in sticky rice but instead she is using sago.

Melissa visits Reynold's bench and is not prepared for the extent of how "Reynold" his dish is. He asks Melissa if she has "tried space before". Mel, quite rightly, does not know how to respond to this question.

Reynold tells her that in the middle of the Milky Way there is a gas cloud that has been proven to taste like raspberries and smells like rum. I think Reynold has been sniffing too much Bacardi he has lost the plot, but I Google his claim and his story checks out. Though science.org.au says that it also "smells like horse piss", so I guess he conveniently left out that flavour in his dish today. Or did he?

His plan is to create some sort of galaxy meteor with a raspberry sponge, chocolate and rum mousse, raspberry sorbet. Reynold says he's insanse, and yeah constructing the universe in 75 minutes is pretty friggin' insane.

Tessa says she feels vulnerable up against Reynold the wizard and wise aunty Poh, so she has decided to go with a dish that utilises her strengths. Apparently this is Indian food, even though she rarely cooks Indian food. She is making "Indian tacos" – chapatis with tandoori flathead. I don't know how I feel about this, but I don't feel good.

If Reynold thought "space" was "insane", Poh takes that and raises it ten-fold. She says everything is going well so she is "going to do a dessert" as well. I know we all joke about her being crazy, but I think someone needs to genuinely explain the rules of this game to her.

She tells Jock not to "yell at her" (daddy) and says she is going to make the Malaysian dessert she never ended up presenting in the Heat Week immunity challenge. Jock, like most of us, is over her madness and just says she's crazy. Andy says "please leave yourself enough time" and Poh is like "it's fine, it's fine" even though every time she has ever said that it has never been fine.

Reynold's gas cloud looks nothing like the fart in the jar I would have presented, he has a "moist" almond sponge base and has started whisking his chocolate and rum ganache. Reynold has that look about him like when a Type A sees someone has 451 unread emails. His ganache is just not whipping properly, he says it's too runny and starts worrying.

Reynold puts his ganache back in the fridge and tries not to panic. I don't know why he is stressing, the beauty of serving up "space" is he could literally serve up anything and the judges couldn't argue with him.

There's 15 minutes to go and Reynold starts having a little tantrum about his ganache. He says "things keep screwing up for him always" and jeez get a grip mate.

Poh says she is "happy to be in round two" because it has inspired her to take things to another level. If she means take her craziness up a notch, then yeah, good work. She finishes her first dish and moves on to her dessert, her kuih koci. She says she only has time to make one tiny one and I just don't see the point of this exercise.

Poh is embarrassed about how tiny it is. That's what he said, amirite? She says she is not sure how the judges will divide it but she guesses that they "must do that with Reynold's desserts all the time" and, oof, do I detect some shade?

Reynold plates up his "space", topping the sponge and mousse with raspberry sorbet and his spun isomalt. Reynold says he may just crash land, and I applaud his space-appropriate metaphor.

Tessa's Indian taco feast actually looks pretty good, she has a whole platter prepared with chapatis, smoked kashmiri tamarind hot sauce, pineapple salsa, raita and the tandoori flathead. She says she put her heart and soul into it and gets a bit teary. Oh Tessa :(

Poh brings her dishes to the judges. She says if she is going to go home on a dish she wants to go out with something from her heritage. Jock says the rempah udang is brilliant and clever. He also likes the tiny dessert. Melissa says the textures are all highlighted well. Andy says if it wasn't a thing before, it should be a thing now. He says Poh, "kicked the tasting off with a bang".

Tessa is next and says she's so happy with what she's cooked. She says the flavours are "intense" and delicious. Andy says "she's a tasty taco", but the fish was "lost in the hecticness". Andy seems like the kind of guy who has had a few nights "lost in the hecticness".

Jock says all the elements "were flavour bombs", but that it wasn't cohesively balanced. Melissa says it wasn't Indian and asks if it is "tantamount to a balanced dish". I think this is "tantamount" to a big pile of BS, actually. Surely the balance is up to how much of each of the elements they put on their taco? If it's not balanced, wouldn't it be their fault?

Reynold brings over his galaxy far far away and Jock asks him if he got lost in a black hole. Space reference, well done old man. Jock says the sorbet was delicious but the mousse was not a mousse and the sponge was "damp". Damp sponges are my worst nightmare.

Andy says the flavours were "bang on", but were they big bang on? Melissa says there are "elements that may mean he goes home" trying to convince us that it isn't obviously going to be Tessa.

Time for the judgement. Poh is safe – Jock says that it was everything they ever wanted. Wow, massive call.

Melissa says that Tessa's flavours distracted from the delicate fish. She says that Reynold's dish was out of this world, but the sponge was soggy and the mousse didn't have the right texture.

Andy says that they had to go back to who nailed the concept. He says that Tessa's Mexican flavours of the hot sauce dominated the dish, so Tessa is going home. Eliminated for too much flavour, that's gotta hurt.

Tessa says she did as best as she could, but she "can't beat Reynold's mind". Andy says she's just starting and will go on to do great things. She says she's excited to immerse herself in the industry. Someone better break the news to Tessa that this is not the time to get into the hospitality industry. But also, someone better hire this woman!

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