Recap: It's crunch time in Sunday night's MasterChef elimination

It's a fried 'naughty' eggplant with miso glaze for Dani.
It's a fried 'naughty' eggplant with miso glaze for Dani. Photo: Network 10

It's Sunday night, which means two things: another week of lockdown has passed us by, and another MasterChef contestant is heading home (and only 19 more to go!). 

As we begin, Jock is munching on a bag of chips like he ate lunch at 11.30 and is now too hungry to finish the rest of the day without a snack from the vending machine. The chips aren't just a blatant sponsorship prop, though; all the contestants need to do to win round one of the two-round elimination is to make something crunchy. Wow, really craving a bag of sea salt Red Rock Deli potato chips all of a sudden. How 'bout you?

Chris has decided to make beer-battered fish and chips. Basic, but beautiful. He knows he's going to have to make it something really special, but luckily there is some dehydrated malt vinegar in the pantry he can shake on the chips. Thank goodness for pantry staples, eh?!

Callum is cooking chilli crab with salt and vinegar onion rings. Callum reckons he'll deliver the crunch from a "sound perspective" when the judges crack open the crab claws. See that point over there, Callum? Nope, you missed it.

Simon is doing a classic English butty, translation – a potato chip sandwich. Simon promises to zhoozh the butty up with some smoked butter, but, wow, anything goes this season.

Hey! Man of mystery Ben Ungermann hasn't been arrested yet! Channel 10 keep teasing us, I'm starting think they are punking us. Anyway, Ben is taking inspiration from his aunty Frida again after her sambal oelek recipe saved him from elimination last... week? Month? Year? The weeks just all fade together these days. Anyway he'll be doing crispy fried pork, Balinese style, as part of his Indonesian heritage he keeps talking about.

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Poh seems cool, calm and collected, which is something new and slightly disconcerting. She's making crispy Thai peanuts and she says she wants to have fun in this challenge. You go girl.

Callum is still going on about the crunchy sound of his chilli crab, and Jock is not looking convinced. No one wants to eat your sound, mate.

But Callum reckons the crunch of his salt and vinegar onion rings will be enough: "there'll be nothing but crunch," he says, to nobody.

Quick cut to Reynold who is blowing sugar balloons and freeze-drying mandarin peel, because of course he is. Reynold says a bunch of words that mean nothing to me, but clearly mean his dessert will be the most deliciously crunchy crazy thing we've all ever seen. May as well head straight to the gantry after that last isomalt tuile, mate.

Quick update on what everyone is doing: Khanh is making fried prawns in a kale batter (ew?); Sarah Tiong is making triple-dipped fried chicken (triple ticks from me); Hayden has decided to do a chicken curry with pappadums (hopefully not the microwave version, we all know how Hayden loves store-bought); Tracy is making potato skins with chicken skin – crispy skin-on-skin action, I like it; Sarah Clare is making carrot cake with horchata cream, which sounds not crunchy in any way, shape or form; Laura is making gnocco fritto with beef tartare (yes, the girl managed to make pasta crunchy); Dani is going to make fried "naughty" eggplant with miso glaze (super risky for the girl who decided not to use her immunity pin).

The contestants are allowed to bring up their dishes as soon as they finish, so Chris comes up first with his beer-battered fish and chips. The judges audibly crunch through the batter and say the fish is cooked perfectly. No one mentions that there seems to be no chips on the plate, but let's just move on.

Thirty minutes to go and… Poh is finished! In this topsy turvy world we live in, Poh just goes ahead and spins us around again by serving up before the time finishes? Anyway her bar snack of praline peanuts with crispy lime leaf and ikan bilis is a hit. "It's a bowl of crunch" says Andy.

Tessa brings up her brandy snaps filled with a lemon verbena cream. They look absolutely delightful – I've said it before and I'll say it again, more Tessa time, 10, please and thank you.

Emilia brings over her chocolate cherry parfait with hazelnut praline, and is parfait the new "hibachi"? There seems to be a parfait on every episode lately. I have never made or ordered or even craved a parfait ever, and honestly I just had to Google it to make sure I actually knew what it was (frozen egg cream, zzz as I suspected).

Simon is ready to serve his potato-chip butty, but wait. THAT is not a butty. That is chips on toast. The whole pleasure of a butty is the soft white bread alongside the crispy chips, am I wrong? I'll let him have it, because the sound of the crunch as the judges bite in needs to be recorded and added to all my Spotify playlists. It's heavenly. Andy says he's achieved the coveted "double crunch"; Jock sends him straight up to the gantry to join Jess, who, if you've forgotten, won Thursday's most boring immunity challenge ever.

Hayden has his curry finished, but he is worried his pappadums are too thick. Hayden tells us his favourite thing to do on a Sunday night is sit on the couch with a bottle of red, an awesome curry and pappadums. Apparently my favourite thing to do on a Sunday night is watch MasterChef. Lockdown needs to end soon, you guys.

Sarah Tiong is ready with her "southeast fried chicken", triple-fried and flavoured with southeast Asian aromatics. It's so crispy, Melissa taps it like a triangle in an orchestra and says she's going to need the chilli sauce recipe. Sarah jumps in the air with glee. She truly sparks so much joy in me with her enthusiasm for everything – she can't possibly go, Marie Kondo says so! 

Laura brings her beef tartare with gnocco fritto. The judges seem to like it, and I get that it would be a great dish in any other challenge, but for a crunchy challenge? NEXT!

Dani's fried eggplant is crisp, but she is hoping that her sticky glaze doesn't make the batter soggy. Melissa bites into hers and there is some audible crunch, and she says she likes the flavours. But, hang on, Jock says his wasn't crunchy at all. Dun, dun, daaa.

Tracy serves her potato skins with fried shallot and chicken skins. To be honest they look a little amateur, like something from a 1999 Women's Weekly cookbook, but Jock says it's the most luxurious potato skin he's ever seen. Good on ya, Tracy, off to the gantry you go.

Callum is next with his conceptually crunchy from a "sound perspective" crab. It's sad because it looks spicy and herby and everything you want crab to be, but as Jock eats his onion rings in deathly silence, we all know this is not going to end well.

Jock says the onions are just a garnish and not the hero (I would also argue that Laura's gnocco fritto and Hayden's pappadums are also not the hero but nobody would argue back). The judges say it was a delicious bowl of crab, but will it be enough? Doubtful.

Khanh's prawns and Brendan's wontons also fail the crunch test, and Sarah is visibly stressed that her horchata cream is too spicy for the judges. Probs not the thing I would be worried about in a crunch challenge, but, hey, we all got problems. Jock says he can handle the spice. I mean how spicy can horchata actually be? Callum served them chilli crab for god's sake!

Reynold brings up his latest contemporary art piece: caramelised milk chocolate ganache with honeycomb, almond sable and isolmalt tuile. It's crunchy, it's beautiful, it's hard to pronounce, it's gantry-worthy, as predicted.

Ben brings up his babi kecap, Balinese roasted pork that his auntry Frida taught him how to make. Andy tells Ben he better get Aunty Frida to send more recipes because it was perfection. Just a thought, maybe aunty Frida can step in for Ben when they mysteriously kick him off the show?

Hayden is up next with his chicken curry and pappadums and hooley dooley they look way too thick and not at all delicious.

Melissa cracks one and they are certainly crunchy, but she says his curry lacks depth and the pappadum was too dense. Andy tries to mansplain exactly what Melissa just said, saying they needed to be "thinner". "I actually meant lighter," Melissa says. Ho ho ho. Jock says aside from the fact his pappadums were too thick, the whole dish needed more salt. "Sweet," says Hayden. No, SALT, Hayden. Jeeeez.

Melissa announces the bottom five via haiku:

"Hayden, your pappadums had crunch, but your curry lacked punch."

"Khanh, your succulent prawns stopped the crunch from being the hero."

"Callum, the crunch was not the star, it was secondary."

"Brendan, your wontons were delicious, but not crunchy all over."

"Dani, you should have used your immunity pin." Melissa doesn't say this, but we are all thinking it.

Round two is all about making a dish that's gooey. Khanh is not impressed, "I don't do gooey," he says, with sass for days.

Dani has decided to make son-in-law eggs, Thai-style boiled eggs lightly fried and, if cooked correctly, with a gooey yolk. Jock humble-brags that he once ate 34 son-in-law eggs at a staff party, and this is amazing not only for the egg-eating feat, but also because now Jock is all of us after too many shots at the work Christmas 'do.

Melissa does a gooey dance move and says "I really hope these guys can bring the goo." Sadly, this probably won't be the strangest sentence said tonight.

Hayden has decided to make an egg-filled ravioli with ricotta sauce and parmesan foam. He's never made it before, but of course why not try now in a life or death elimination round?

Khanh is making a lava cake. Khanh looks like he is as over this episode as I am. He's never made a lava cake before but says, it's just butter and flour, so how hard can it be! Probably pretty hard! 

For reasons not explained, Callum gets a tear-jerking montage of his wife and baby and the cooking school he left behind. Apparently no one else has a back story.

Callum plans to fill his pineapple parfait with a rum salted caramel. Jock doubts his abilities to freeze the goo without over-freezing it. Callum bites back by saying he's learnt enough in the years that he's been out of the competition to have the skills to do it. I think Callum's biggest problem is that he's decided to use Malibu.

Brendan towels his head down. He is making the cheesy dish of our late-night drunk dreams, a Korean cheese hot pocket, and this is sweaty work!

Dani's first batch of test eggs didn't cook perfectly. She looks stressed.

But not as stressed as Hayden, whose hands are visibly shaking as he tries to put together his raviolo. I will say this is making me appreciate the pasta skills that Laura has – she may be the most annoying and predictable and brown-nosing contestant ever, but she does make handmade pasta look easy.

Hayden is first up to the tasting table with his egg yolk raviolo with parmesan foam. Hayden cuts into it, and the yolk oozes out. It looks runny to me, but Jock says it's good cooking. I won't argue with him. 

Brendan brings up his cheesy Korean pockets. The next few scenes are just stretchy cheese porn pics. Looks goo, Brendan.

Khanh is up next with his molten chocolate cake. He cuts into it – goo city! Melissa says it's lovely. Andy says he hit the brief. Jock says it's a winner. Happy music ensues.

Dani serves her son-in-law eggs. She gets a bit teary. As she cuts into it, the egg is runny, and the judges say it's undercooked. More runny than gooey. Sounds like semantics, but I guess you had to be there.

Callum gives the judges his pina colada parfait (here a parfait, there a parfait). The only thing to save Dani from her runny eggs will be if Callum's salted caramel has become solid. He stabs the sphere with slightly disturbing force, to reveal a perfectly gooey caramel. But hold up! Jock doesn't think he's nailed it – he didn't get a mouthful of goo! He says it's more like caramel sauce, which I think is pretty gooey but this episode is all getting very subjective.

It's time for the judgement. Hayden, Brendan and Khanh hit the goo-factor perfectly and are safe. So it's between Callum and Dani now. Andy tries to explain the difference between gooey and runny like we need anymore discussion about this topic. But in the end Dani's eggs were undercooked. Dani leaves with her immunity pin stuck to her 1000th Gorman t-shirt.

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