MasterChef recap: Reynold attempts a Sydney Opera House dessert in an 'Australian food' challenge

Reynold wants to make a Sydney Opera House dessert, how hard can it be?
Reynold wants to make a Sydney Opera House dessert, how hard can it be? Photo: NETWORK 10

It's time to decide who makes the Top 10, which is apparently a very big deal for the contestants, as they are all being very dramatic about it. "It's the most intense and important cook yet," says Reynold, who plans on inventing a dessert version of the coronavirus cure for tonight's dish.

Callum's up in the gantry after he skated into immunity like the underdog champ that he is. He's wearing his glasses tonight because he plans on catching up on a bit of light academic reading while he's up there.

Melissa asks the gang what they think is a classic, iconic Australian dish? Easy, Bunnings sausage sizzle – what do I win? Pavlova, yells Emelia, enraging all of New Zealand. Meat pie, suggests Khanh. Melissa agrees, quietly pretending it is not just a British dish.

So for round one they have to cook a savoury pie – it must be completely encased in pastry and served with sauce. Andy is really excited about the pie, he has that bulging look in his eyes that he gets when someone mentions pub food. Melissa says she wants to see personality in the pie. For Poh, this will mean multiple personalities, because she's either chaos and drama or Zen and calm, and nowhere in-between.

Jock says he would serve his pie with a bottle of HP sauce and seems shocked that Andy would take points off for that. Jock pretty much sentenced Hayden to death after he made nachos with packet corn chips, but sure, use your HP sauce from Coles.

Even though Reynold is some sort of dessert prodigy and apparently used to run an "artisan bakery" he says has no idea how to make a pie. You're telling me you can make a chocolate forest with a hot caramel river and magical rabbit hole, but some puff pastry gives you mild anxiety? Get off it, Reynold.

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Khanh is working next to him and seems to be in the same boat. He has no idea how to make a pie either so is just going to make a chicken curry pie and wrap it in a rough puff pastry. It has been scientifically proven that everything is better wrapped in buttery pastry, so this isn't a bad move.

Laura and Emelia are like the nerds up the front of the classroom, in complete control, making something perfect and probably flirting with the teacher for better grades.

Sarah is doing a pork belly pie with apple sauce, while Simon next to her has chosen a beef and stout pie because he knows a bevvy is the easiest way to Andy's heart.

Poh is doing coq au vin, chicken in red wine, because French cooking is her comfort zone, she says. We've seen Poh break out into true chaos when she last tried to make a French-style pie before, so I call BS. She tells Jock she doesnt have time to make a stock, which he turns up his nose about. Melissa says it's a "no stock coq" and could we love her anymore?

Breece (Brendan and Reece for those not familiar with the bromance portmanteau) are side by side as always, with Brendan showing his Mauritian pride with a spiced beef curry pie. Next door, Reece continues to be the worst vegan in history, deciding to cook a wallaby pie. I mean, he didn't need to pick the cutest animal in the world to cook, but, whatever, I'm a carnivorous heathen and it sounds damn tasty.

Tessa's grandma's name was Josie Pye, so Tessa feels confident that her long line of pie heritage can cinch her a spot in the top 10. She's making Josie Pye's braised beef pie, which usually takes four hours and they only have 75 minutes. She says doesn't want to be an embarrassment to the family, but I don't like that math.

Andy yells that they'll be "eating humble pie" if they are in the bottom four, and Jock and Melissa are impressed with Andy's improv for the first time in history.

Poh, who runs a pie-making company, is thankfully showing no signs of her trademark chaos today. She is "loving" her coq au vin filling, she has her smoked cheddar pastry under control and plans to serve it with a pea and mint sauce. Andy asks her a confusing question about the sauce and she just tells him straight up to go away. Poh is clearly on fire today because she calls herself "Poh Exotic" and I am jealous I didn't think of that. I wonder who is Carole Baskin in this scenario? Probably Laura.

Thirty minutes to go and surprisingly Poh is the calmest in the room, everyone else is "wiggin' out" as Andy says to Khanh, undoing any respect we had for him with the "humble pie" line. Barely anyone has their pies in the oven, so I hope the judges look forward to eating lots of raw pastry today.

With less than 20 minutes to go, Sarah, Reynold and Khanh still don't have their pies in the oven. Jock runs over to Sarah to tell her to hurry up, so she puts it in and cranks the oven to 220C. Reynold has his in and says he "feels like Poh", because he is staring into the oven. Poh has become an adjective on this show. Khanh is the last to put his pie in at 14 minutes. He turns the oven up to 250C, not understanding how pastry works.

Reece says looking into the oven is like looking at a car crash – his pies are "so ugly" but he can't look away. He obviously hasn't looked at Brendan's, though. When Jock peers into Brendan's oven, he says his pie looks "rustic". This is Jock actually trying to be polite, because Brendan's pie looks like a Beverly Hills housewife who has had so much plastic surgery her face looks like it's melting off – the pastry is all droopy and scary looking. He says he has his scissors ready to trim the ugly bits before it gets served, which I guess is how we all plan to tackle re-emerging from lockdown. Note to self: call hairdresser.

Meanwhile, Poh has taken her pies out with five minutes to spare and they look golden and flaky. As predicted, the front row nerds Emelia and Laura also have perfect looking pies.

It's all a bit of a disaster as the rest of the contestants finish their pies though: Brendan is casually trimming the burnt bits off his pastry; Tessa drops all of her pies as she brings them out of the oven; Reece's pie crust is crumbling as is his will to live. Reynold's pie looks puffed and golden, but he doesn't know how to get it out of the tin. Shut up, Reynold, says Khanh, who can't deal with him pretending he is bad at stuff anymore.

Poh serves her coq au vin pie first. Jock says it's "textbook coq au vin" although it wasn't because he was giving her death stares for not making a stock earlier. Andy likes the cheesy pastry and says the filling sings of wine and cognac. Melissa says it is generous, hearty and homely.

Khanh brings over his coconut and chicken pie with chilli sauce and has served it with an unnecessary side salad, which is how I feel about all side salads. He says he is "uber nervous" because he is not sure if his puff pastry is cooked. It's not, the top is raw. However Melissa says she was "transported back to when she was three and eating chicken curry pie at preschool in Brighton-Le-Sands". I cannot wrap my head around this statement. Can three-year-olds even eat pies? Melissa is from The Shire? How does she remember anything about being three? Was Melissa a baby genius?

Brendan's Mauritian beef curry pie hack job is delicious and he gets three thumbs up. Simon isn't so lucky though. Even though he served it with schooners of beer, Andy says the flavour of his beef and stout pie "wasn't lovely" and needed more herbs. Sarah's pork pie also gets a backward compliment; Melissa says it's "not wonderful".

Reece serves up his wallaby and pepperberry pie with davidson plum ketchup. He is devastated about the pastry. Jock says it's not all about the pastry, but…. Isn't it? Jock says it's the best filling he's eaten but the pastry is raw. Andy says the sauce is "rip your head off" acidic. Apparently that's a good thing.

Laura and Emelia get varying degrees of "pie perfection" as expected.

Tessa brings up her grandma's Josie Pye's pie. If you think this is going to be a love fest for Tessa's nan and this incredibly cute story, think again, The judges hate it, Andy says the beef was dry and the sauce was "so reduced and hectic". Andy, please! No one understands you. Jock says the chuck was overcooked and the brisket was undercooked. Melissa says it was not her best work. Poor Tessa is going to come back home after all this and her family will have changed the locks.

Reynold seems fairly convinced he is going straight to round two, and with raw pastry and overcooked chicken, yeah, pretty much.

So Tessa, Simon, Sarah and Reynold are in round two. Reece can't believe he got through and looks like a stunned mullet, the fish kind, not the hair kind, obviously.

Round two is a dish that represents "your Australia". Andy tells them they have 30 seconds to plate up in the tasting room if they want, which seems like not enough time to do anything, but okay. They run to the pantry and this time Sarah opens the pantry door because she's the strongest.

Tessa is doing sticky braised pork with a mix of succulents and native herbs. She is braising the pork in an "Asian stock" to represent the multicultural aspect of Australia. We don't hear much about what makes it Asian, and what specific part of Asia she is referring to, but sure, whatever.

Reynold humble brags that this is his first time in a round two elimination. He says he is going to make a "Cherry Ripe", which he says there is "nothing more Australian". I could probably list off about 100 things more Australian but I have better things to do. He says he will be adding a personal twist to it by making it look like the Sydney Opera House, which is the ultimate Reynold flex.

Simon the vegetarian says he is doing "naked broccoli" and, can I stop you there, I have a thousand questions. Firstly, WTF? He says it's going to be just the broccoli stem (ok, naked) served with fried capers and broccoli cream. Sorry, one more time. WTF? He says it's a thank you to the producers and represents the farmers. I can't work out if Simon is trolling us or if he is being serious, this seems like it could definitely be a skit you'd see on a parody show.

Wait, it gets better. Callum asks Simon what "delicious sauce" is he cooking the broccoli stem in and Simon says he is going to sous vide it in pumpkin seed oil. Um, what? Does pumpkin seed oil even have a flavour? Simon says he thinks this is "whacky and different" and if someone served me a broccoli stem sous vide in pumpkin seed oil, a "whack job" is one name I would have for them, sure.

Sarah is doing charcoal chicken, which is a cool idea. She says it has nostalgia in her family that starts with her mum, who migrated to Australia as a young student. Back then charcoal chicken was a "luxury" dish so she only had it on special occasions, but Sarah and her brother grew up eating charcoal chicken and chips. Sarah amps herself up with some third-person, kind of embarrassing motivational cheer – "Tiong is back!"

Reynold is pulling out all the usual suspects with a yoghurt "snow", nitrogen coconut gelato and a coconut dacquoise. Even though Reynold adds dacquoise to every single dessert, I still have no idea what it is… I guess I could Google it, but I won't. Laura keeps yelling "Go Rey Rey" from the gantry, which is giving me a headache.

Reynold explains his Sydney Opera House concept to the judges and how he will make meringue shards into the Opera House sails. For some reason Jock looks unimpressed with such an architectural concept, but then again, he hasn't been to Simon's bench yet.

Jock looks equal parts confused and appalled with Simon's naked broccoli idea, which is the right way to react. He thinks it might be ok if the broccoli is only just cooked, but then that should probably take him 10 minutes not a whole hour. It's like Simon doesn't even want to be in the top 10.

Aunty Poh is looking down from the gantry and even she looks concerned. She thinks it is way too simple. Poh would at least try to grow the broccoli herself to symbolise the farmers if this were her challenge.

Sarah usually has chicken and chips and so is making fried potato cubes to go with her charcoal chicken. Melissa thinks they are strange and she should just make hot chips, but Sarah is trying to "MasterChef it up", which seems like something the judges would want. Maybe Melissa's brain is still in Brighton-Le-Sands.

At 10 minutes to go, Simon takes his broccoli stem out of the sous vide bath. It's overcooked. He says he envisioned his dish to be a "minimalist sick broccoli dish", and yeah I will say it looks pretty "sick". It's a special kind of putrid green colour, not dissimilar to the colour of mucus and/or vomit.

Reynold's meringue has not turned out like he had hoped and is cracking everywhere. He wasn't able to make them into nice Opera House sails, but says he is "going to do his best". Reynold "best" is the average person's "unachievable" so exactly no one is worried.

Reynold is up first. He takes his 30 seconds to sprinkle his Cherry Ripe with yoghurt snow and decorate it like the Sydney Opera House. Melissa says she can see some sort of deconstructed interpretive Opera House in it. Andy says it is technically perfect, Jock says it's "the bomb" and Melissa is a "big fan".

For Sarah's southeast Asian charcoal chicken, Andy says it has "get up and go". He says he prefers his chicken more charcoally, that is to say, I guess, burnt? He also says the coriander sauce has "pumping" flavour. Where does Andy learn this stuff? Jock says the chicken was perfectly cooked, but Melissa is still hung up on the potatoes, which she says "don't have a role to play on the plate". Potatoes are always appropriate, especially fried ones, so I respectfully disagree.

Tessa spends her 30 seconds sprinkling herbs on top of her pork. She says the dish represents a fusion of Asian flavours and native herbs. She doesn't really explain what the Asian symbolisation means to her, which I find weird seeing as she is a blonde white girl and the judges asked for something personal. Andy says this is "Tessa to a T" but the pork belly was not cooked property and too dry.

Simon presents his sad flaccid broccoli stem. Simon gets on his vego soapbox and says that vegetables are the way forward in Australian eating. Jock is wondering how Simon spent an hour on this bowl of green sludge. 

Jock likes the taste, but says he is really disappointed – Simon promised him bright and vibrant and al dente, but the broccoli is overcooked and the pumpkin seed oil, as predicted, has done nothing. Melissa says it's ugly, only in about 100 more words.

Jock doesn't even bother to create any suspense narrowing the four down to a bottom two. He tells each of the contestants that their dishes were great, except for Simon. None for you, Glen Coco. Jock says it was underwhelming, which is one word for it, I guess.

Andy says he has been a legend and his cheering was always "infectious". Hopefully not of the 'rona kind.

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