MasterChef recap: Tears of joy (and relief) as 'second chances' week finally grinds to a close

Jock looking dapper, Melissa looking glam and Andy looking like a Thunderbird.
Jock looking dapper, Melissa looking glam and Andy looking like a Thunderbird. Photo: Supplied

It's Thursday, which means that we are somehow still engaged in the "returning eliminated contestants" stage of the competition while the producers desperately try to think up next week's gimmick. Minoli, of course, has already won her way back into the contest, but here four more amateurs compete to prove they are second to Minoli. It's Eric versus Wynona versus Tom versus whatsername, that lady who was in the show ages ago.

The four must cook a three-course meal, but after each course is tasted one contestant will be knocked out and forced to hitchhike home. Both the pantry - in which are many useful ingredients - and the garden - in which are weeds and dirt - are available for the amateurs to use.

"I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can to win that apron!" says Eric, foolishly revealing his strategy early. Now everyone knows he's going to work hard, and they can target that.

Oh, Maja. Maja is the other one. Ï'm going to be cooking classic flavours with native ingredients," she says, winning a prize for being the 8000th person to use these exact words on MasterChef. She's been doing work experience in kitchens during her time away from MasterChef, and hopes this will help her today. But experience counts for very little in this show: what counts is making ice-cream out of stupid things.

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Eric suddenly shocks everyone by revealing that he is proud of being himself. This could be decisive.

"I'm going to cook a show-stopping dessert to win that apron back," declares Tom, who seems to have counter-intuitively become even more cocky since being eliminated. Serving dessert as an entree is a fairly bold tactic. He explains that you have a one in four chance of being eliminated on entree, but a one in two chance of being eliminated in dessert, so it makes sense to put more energy into the dessert than the entree. Whether this means it's smart to not bother making an entree or main at all and just go straight to dessert, it remains to be seen.

Andy tells the other judges that he thinks a three-course meal with knockouts at every course was the last thing the amateurs were expecting. Jock agrees, but they are all wrong: the last thing they were expecting was Jock to be nude.

Tom explains his plan to Jock and Andy. Andy notes that he will probably have to work hard on his entree. This throws Tom, who never realised he'd actually have to cook the entree: he'd assumed just describing it to the judges would be enough.

Wynona is busy with her snapper. She wants her corn puree to be silky smooth, which begs the question of why, if you want something silky smooth, you'd use corn, a famously un-silky and un-smooth foodstuff. She should really make, like, a...vegemite puree. Jock drops by to let her know that working on her main course now is the act of a damn fool.

Maja goes to the garden to get native ingredients because she knows that's a good way to suck up to Jock, which is ironic given Jock himself is not a native ingredient. While she's in the garden her milk boils over and her garlic burns and all that stuff about her work experience becomes hilarious ironic. "How are you going Maja?" asks Jock with his usual uncanny knack for disturbing people just when they most need peace and quiet. "I'm going to cook my heart out," says Maja, threateningly.

Tom, meanwhile, has spent two hours making his dessert and must now make his main and entree in the remaining half an hour, so in a way you might say his strategy is kind of dumb. But then, anyone who's ever watched MasterChef knows that the judges always think dessert is more important than anything else. And maybe they're right.

Wynona is concerned her dessert might be too simple, particularly compared to Tom, who has made some kind of terrifying pastry Machu Picchu. "Come on Wyn!" call her friends from the balcony. Or maybe they're crying, "come on, win!" to someone else. Hard to tell.

Tom is picking his crab meat and can't feel any shell in it, so there's definitely shell in it. He tells Mel he is "pretty bloody exhausted", once again raising the issue of why MasterChef contestants are not allowed chairs. Why can't they cook while seated? Seems cruel not to let them. Meanwhile someone on the balcony yells "Let's cook that pasta!" which is undoubtedly just the advice Tom needed at this stage.

With one minute to go there is nothing anyone can really do about anything, but they still have to run around and flap their hands and sweat a lot because it's TV.

Time is up. Three amateurs have cooked for the last time on MasterChef unless there's some other twist or they come back in another series or they become famous singers and do Celebrity MasterChef or something.

Entrees are served first, which is how it should be, as Americans really need to recognise. Eric's entree makes Melissa cry, but she thinks quickly and pretends it's because it's good. It reminds her of her heritage and her childhood, when young medical students would regularly bring her free food. Wynona has made a kingfish sashimi, which is another name for bits of raw fish put into a bowl. The judges enjoy her non-cooked "food", but it doesn't make anyone cry. Maja's scallop, which she actually did cook, is incredibly edible. "I can't believe they loved my entree," says Maja, who knows deep in her heart how awful it was. Andy and Melissa like Tom's entree, but Jock found the pasta rigid and the crab meat gritty because - duh - of the shell in it. And since Jock is the boss of the judges his opinion is the one that matters, so Tom leaves. And I'm not saying it's funny, but...I mean...after all his "Oh I need to put more energy into dessert" talk, it's...look it's not funny, but...you know.

So to mains tasting. With five minutes to finish the mains off, "You've got this," Melissa says to Eric in a flagrant breach of impartiality. Wynona and Maja die a little inside, knowing Melissa wishes them both to fail just because Eric put peanuts in his entree.

Wynona's fish is good. Maja's fish is good. Eric's fish - which is called "squirrel fish" because it looks almost exactly like three-day-old roadkill - is good, but...a bit dry? And Jock got a mouthful of flour? Damn...Eric and his profound respect for Chinese cuisine are both gone. Poor sweet Eric…

Dessert tasting time. Wyonna's orange cake thing with ice-cream is, in Jock's words, "LUXURY". What does this mean? Who knows, it's all about the vibe. But I think he likes it. "You get everything an orange is,"says Andy cryptically. "Melissa commends Wynona on making ice-cream with kaffir lime, which is an imaginary fruit. Maja's ice-cream and granita and some other things I don't understand is...pretty good too. "I've got no complaints," says Jock. but he's kidding himself: he's actually got many many personal problems.

Anyway in the end the best dessert is Maja's even though I reckon it was really Wynona's. What do you think? So Maja gets back in the competition and Wynona has to go do work experience at Nando's. "I feel like I'm leaving on a high," says Wynona, inaccurately.

Tune in next week when for all we know they'll give everyone eliminated in the second chance week get a third chance to come back.