Recap: Chicken-feet ice-cream is all I care about on the MasterChef mystery box ep

Melissa, queen of the chicken feet and spirit fingers.
Melissa, queen of the chicken feet and spirit fingers. Photo: NETWORK 10

It's the first Mystery Box of the season, and it's judge Melissa Leong's turn to pick what will be inside. Melissa laughs like Dr. Evil, which makes me think she's filled the boxes with just a bunch of red lipsticks, but it turns out she is just throwing the contestants a curveball with lesser utilised Asian-skewed ingredients. Taro, black vinegar, galangal, Chinese five spice and, the one that turns all the caucasian contestants an even more ghostly shade of white, chicken feet. Pray the casual racism trolls don't come out on Twitter tonight.

Personally, I am not a chicken feet fan. I have tried, I tell you, I have tried. It's just something about sucking on the toenails that I can't get past. Nevertheless it is a perfect ingredient choice by Melissa for the contestants to stretch their ingredient bandwidth, and I am hoping that at least someone does a Kath & Kim impersonation at some point. B'kerk!

Andy begins to explain the rules. It's all changed since last season, so hang in there all you cool cats and kittens – it's a convoluted ride. The judges will be tasting all of the dishes today (groundbreaking!) and the cooks of the five best dishes will move onto an immunity challenge tomorrow, cooking to prevent themselves from getting in the elimination round on Sunday. All this is to say, this show does not need to be aired five days a week.

The clock starts and we get some snippets of what the contestants are making: Sarah Tiong is getting inspired by weekend yum cha with deep-fried taro; Reynold is taking the chance to do something savoury, grilling whiting on the hibachi (can we make the next challenge the fact that no one is allowed to use the hibachi already?); Simon is making chicken-feet jelly, which quite honestly sounds like my worst nightmare.

But hold up! Possibly-a-crim Ben is (still) here to give you all the nightmares you need with his chicken-feet ice-cream. He's doing it, he's bloody doing it. The ice-cream master tells the judges he plans on doing a chicken-feet caramel to go with his galangal and honey ice-cream. Andy looks like you just told him Whoopi Goldberg doesn't have eyebrows (seriously, look it up). Jock looks like he wishes he had thought of that first so he could charge a fortune for it at Orana.

Advertisement

FINALLY we get a glimpse of Our Beloved Poh, but she's keeping it simple this episode. A bit of an odd choice coming from the drama queen herself as this is probably the one time when she is actually safe to do something crazy with no chance of elimination in this round.

Old eagle eyes Melissa glimpses some dough over on Brendan's table and hightails it over. Brendan tells her that, coming from a Malay-Chinese background, he loves all of Melissa's ingredients in the Mystery Box, and her choices mean a lot to him. He's making wontons in a chicken-feet broth, which he learnt to make with his grandmother when he was in year three. So that was like, a couple of years ago then Brendan? No seriously, I'm just making jokes to hide my emotions. Brendan is giving me cuteness overload RN.

But wait! Khanh has also decided to do dumplings with a chicken-feet broth, but makes a spice paste to infuse into the broth to give it even more flavour. Jock declares a "broth off" between Khanh and Brendan, and now we have to take a shot for every time someone says "broth off".

Chris is looking pretty damn proud of himself, and whatcha got there, matey? Oh, it's a shrivelled fried chicken foot that looks like a cross between that guy from Scary Movie's withered hand and mine after I've been in the bath too long. Not. Pretty.

15 minutes to go and Melissa screams that it's a "chicken foot off". Very much wishing they would stop adding "off" to everything right about now – this is a cooking competition. It's literally an everything "off" all the time.

Simon takes his chicken feet jelly out of the freezer and, bummer, it has not set. Get ready for my greatest line of all time: He is not ready for this jelly!

Simon pulls a strong 2020 move and decides to ~pivot~ to a chicken-feet mousse. He whisks some cream into the liquid chicken jelly, puts it in the nitros container (so that's what you call that thing) and hopes for the best.

Sarah Tiong is first up. Melissa takes a big bite into the whiting-filled, deep-fried taro ball, and, man, that crunch sounds is my new ASMR. The judges love it, they all want her to start a shop, which is actually just really bad advice in this climate.

Reynold's up next and, despite swapping over to the dark side of savoury food, his dish still looks pretty as a picture. Melissa says "this is a dish you dress up for", but only if you are eating it at a Zoom party.

Amina's taro noodles, Emelia's cherry mille feuille and Harry's butterflied whiting are all great but not worth the air time, apparently. "Sick", says Harry, which I didn't know was still a thing people said.

Laura is the queen of serving up something completely beige and boring looking, but still make the judges gag for it, and her grilled whiting is no different. Jock says it is "the closest thing to perfection that you're gonna get". Really? That? If this were a different kind of reality show, it would now cut to an aside of all the other contestants bitching about Laura being a teacher's pet. At least we have the Tweets.

Jock pulls Khanh and Brendan up to the judging table for… wait for it… a broth off! Broth off, broth off, broth off, broth off. There's your recap.

My honest take is that Khanh's looks a little like liquid diarrhea, but the judges think it tastes amazing. Brendan's looks a thousand times more refined and beautiful, but the judges just give him some basic bland compliment and say they can't decide on which one is better than the other. Wait, excuse me? We had to go through all the "broth off" nonsense and you aren't going to decide on which broth is actually better?! That is literally their one job!

Anyway, Simon brings over his grilled taro and prays to god that his chicken feet mousse works. It does! But his taro does not. Jock says something weird about ugly babies and we all think a little less of him now.

Let's get straight to what you all came here for: Ben Ungermann's chicken-feet ice-cream. I gotta say, I am here. for. it. And I'm not just blinded by his biceps. Honey and galangal ice-cream, five-spice biscuit and chicken-feet caramel. The judges take a scoop. It's a triumph. Jock sculls the entire jug like it's the king's cup and he's in his twenties again.

So it's pretty obvious who makes to the immunity challenge round: Sarah with her crispy, crunchy taro; Laura with the undying favouritism from Jock; Reynold, who can potentially do no wrong; and Ben, because that caramel had the smarts that only a convicted felon skirting the law could conjure. And what of the "broth off"? Do we finally get a winner? Khanh's brown broth wins. Brendan looks truly broken-hearted, poor fella. Ah well, I'm sure granny is proud nonetheless.

Read the rest of our MasterChef: Back to Win recaps here.