Recap: Curtis Stone rolls in for a MasterChef auction and non-stop dad jokes

Still not sure why Curtis Stone was in this MasterChef episode, to be honest.
Still not sure why Curtis Stone was in this MasterChef episode, to be honest. Photo: NETWORK 10

Full disclosure: I didn't watch last night's MasterChef Mystery Box challenge. But from glancing at my Twitter feed I got the gist of it: Laura made pasta again and people are maaaaaad. Whether you want to argue about if gnocchi is a pasta or not (wait, it's not?), the judges loved it, and it gnocched her into the top four along with Callum, Sarah Tiong and Jess.

So here we are at the immunity challenge and in waltzes Michelin-starred chef and Australian national treasure Curtis Stone. The country swoons, especially Laura.

Tonight's challenge is a MasterChef auction, which means that the contestants have to bid for ingredients with time, of which they only have 120 minutes to spend. Each ingredient starts at a price of 60 minutes, but goes down the longer they wait to bid. The more minutes they spend, the less time they have to cook.

Protein is the first category on the table, and Curtis gets us off to a good start with his first terrible dad joke of the night: "What goes first the chicken or the egg?". Everyone nervous laughs. Don't make the national treasure feel embarrassed, guys! Anyway, turns out chicken goes first after all.

As the time starts ticking down, it appears no one wants the chicken. But it all starts becoming clear, you bluff the rest of the contestants into thinking you don't want the ingredient so then you can buy it at a cheap price. It's all about strategy, everyone says, a million times over.

Strategically is how Sarah is playing for the chicken, but unfortunately Callum pips her to the poultry post and gets the bird half a second before Sarah, costing him just 15 minutes. Eggs are next, an essential item if Laura is going to make pasta, but surprisingly she doesn't go for them. Could this be… an episode without pasta???

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Jess and Sarah poker-face it out but Jess wins the eggs at 10 minutes. Laura is hoping for the trout and is prepared to pay big minutes for it – she doesn't want to be left with the dreaded silken tofu. But she stinges out and waits too long; Sarah nabs the trout at 40 minutes. Laura gets her tofu for free, but will it cost her the immunity pin? OoooOOOooooh.

I won't bore you with recounting the rest of the auction, which is actually quite civil and probably should have been implemented in some form during the pandemic panic buying disaster of late March 2020.

Jess ends up with the most amount of time – 100 minutes – with her ingredients being eggs, rice, stone fruit and middle eastern spices. The gantry are sure she's going to cook a dessert, that's her thing apparently. I wouldn't know, because there has been barely any air time on Jess so far this season, so I know literally nothing about the girl.

Jess starts bringing everything to her bench and promptly drops her eggs. She puts them away safely, but drops a couple more in doing so. It's all becoming a Fawlty Towers sketch. The backseat-driving gantry all yell at her to be careful. "They're so fragile," says Jess. "Yeah, they're eggs," shouts Reece.

Despite the gantry all chit-chatting that Jess should defo be making dessert, she wants to challenge herself and make something savoury. She decides to make turmeric noodles with a sous-vide egg and aromatic chilli oil. Good on her!

Everyone stands around waiting for time to pass, kind of like me every day of this lockdown. Sarah massages Callum with a Buddha's hand. The judges start gossiping about what Jess is doing and whether she can pull it off. Curtis says he doesn't know what he would cook with egg and rice except for a Korean bimbledeboop.

Callum starts next – his ingredients are chicken, European herbs, corn and nightshades. H's making lots of different elements, putting the chicken breast in the water bath, making a crisp skin and also a chicken jus with the tomato and thyme.

The judges visit Jess, and Andy gaslights Jess about not doing a dessert. Jess says if it all goes to sh--, she'll just turn it all into an ice-cream. And wow, a bespoke ice-cream in 40 minutes is her back-up plan? What a hero.

So Jess has got her rice crisp baking in the oven. She's made her turmeric dough. Now she has to get her eggs in the sous-vide. She puts them in at 75 degrees for 12 minutes. Pretty sure everyone calls them 63-degree eggs for a reason, but you do you, girl.

Everyone up in the peanut gallery is still moaning that Jess should be doing a dessert. If I was Jess I would be throwing my remaining eggs at them all to shut them up, but possibly she has wasted too many already. Aren't the judges always going on about forcing the contestants out of their comfort zone? Don't we have to do a shot at the mere mention of it? 

At 60 minutes Sarah is set free into the kitchen. She scored the coral trout, asian herbs, root vegetables and citrus, and is going to grill the fish on the – say it with me now: "HIBACHI!"– and serve it with a herb salad.

Curtis comes over to ask what she's doing with the root vegetables. Sarah plans on just using the tops and leaves in her salad. Curtis reckons it's a cop-out, but Sarah thinks it's fair game. Look, my care-factor on this issue is not high, but seeing as Curtis is a judge, I'd be going ahead and making a damn parsnip puree by now.

At 45 minutes to go, Laura is finally allowed to start. She's got a plan though: not cooking her tofu. She plans to just flip it out of the packet and serve with chargrilled leeks and a spiced black vinegar. Controversial, but that seems to be what Laura lives for!

Jess cracks open her sous-vide egg – it's over-cooked. Glad she didn't throw any at the gantry, though it would have been totally worth it.

Callum is dehydrating basil in the microwave. Andy and Jock come over and sniff Callum's chicken jus in his pressure cooker. Jock says it smells "farmy". "Rude" thinks Callum, but he's got bigger problems – his basil has set fire in the microwave. He puts it out swiftly, so unfortunately there is no need for Curtis to remove his shirt and put it out himself… not that I was hoping he would...or anything.

Jock and Andy visit Sarah and she lets them in on her plan to use the root veg leaves instead of the roots themselves. Jock doesn't think it flies, Andy is with Jock. In Sarah's defence, at least she's not just serving up a raw carrot and calling it a day... just sayin'.

Jess cracks take two of the sous-vide egg, but now it is now undercooked! Is the Fawlty Towers sketch still going? Back to the sous-vide we go.

Sarah finally comes to her senses and chucks a purple carrot into the hibachi to roast.

There's 15 minutes to go. Curtis makes us cringe by telling Jess that she's got "noodles of time". Look at Melissa though, she loves it.

Callum has developed a complex about his stinky "farm" jus thanks to Jock, so tries to fix it. Possibly add less horse manure, just a thought.

Meanwhile Jess is still cracking sous-vide eggs. Still too much googly white bits – she keeps going.

It's getting down to the wire. Sarah is stressed and sweating – too much hibachi, too little time. Laura is cool and calm as usual, but I guess that is what happens when you just take tofu out of the packet and say "voila!"

Jess puts her turmeric noodle dough through the machine. Curtis says "hope they don't stick together" ominously. Jess nervously jiggles the noodles with a fork to separate them.

Sarah slaps her trout on the hibachi, while Callum pulls his breasts out of the bath. Thank me later for those visions.

Sarah pulls her fish off. She says the skin has charred perfectly. Oh, honey, that's burnt like the pits of hell. Her face has that look when you know you've messed up but you just keep pretending that that's totally how you meant it to look.

Jess cracks her 5000th egg and – thanks god – one of them works! She slides it carefully onto her turmeric noodles, stacks a bit of rice crisp on top – it looks like a piece of noodle art.

The judges are all lined up in their special tasting room. Jess goes first, excited to be bringing the judges a savoury dish despite every single person yelling at her to do a dessert.

Jock cuts into the egg and it oozes perfectly. That chilli oil looks drinkable. Weirdly we don't get any feedback about what the judges think except for a riddle from Jock about how he likes the idea, but then it's almost luxurious. What are you saying man??

Sarah brings in her trout. Melissa says what we're all thinking that the crispy curry leaves are just hiding the burnt skin. Turns out, they are. Melissa says the skin is bitter and acrid. Huh, kind of like Gordon Ramsay. After all that fuss, the roasted carrots were meh.

Callum brings over his chicken and hopes he's got the flavour balanced right for the judges. Less Old MacDonald and more Biota please on the farm flavour scale. Callum has made one of those dishes that is just a list of ingredients. Chicken, basil salt, corn pudding and popped corn. Curtis likes it but thinks the chicken is overcooked. Jock likes the less-farmy sauce! 

Laura is last and brings up her tofu. Curtis says it looks elegant, but that it looks like the tofu just came out of the pack. Good eyes, Curtis, it did! But, of course, the judges don't care. Andy, in fact, is happy that it came straight from the packet. Full points to Laura who can do no wrong.

So, who is the winner? Jock says how great Laura's tofu dish was. It was just so "Laura". No thank you!

Curtis says that on Jess' dish, the judges loved everything. "But…." *DRAMATIC PAUSE*

And please welcome Curtis' final dad joke of the evening… "THERE IS NO BUT!" Jess is the winner. Jess, poor darling, doesn't get the joke, so the judges have to repeat it to her. Jess still can't believe it, pointing to Laura. But, nope, she done already done had herses. (If you know, you know.)

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