PREVIOUSLY ON MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA: The dregs of the first round who weren’t quite good enough to get an apron, but weren’t quite shit enough to be sent home outright, get to face off in a challenge set by Maggie Beer where the mystery ingredient somehow wasn’t verjuice, immediately wrecking half the nation’s Bingo cards.
Somehow a big bowl of lemons brings three people undone, and they are booted out of the kitchen to have a long, hard think about what they just did. Three others, however, manage to rise to the top of the pile, earning themselves a precious apron and a spot in the top 24. All this leaves 6 contestants still dangling precariously in purgatory, and one apron left up for grabs. This is culinary Battle Royale, folks. And I am here. for. it.
AND NOW, LAST NIGHT.
Six contestants, all dressed in purgatory grey, march into the MasterChef Kitchen to attempt to desperately cling on to the apron that will see their life completely change after finishing probably about 23rd.
Aaron, Christina, Brandon, Emily, and two others the show deems not worthy of names (never a good sign for your chances TBH) are set to face the first Pressure Test of the season. And if they thought they were gonna get away lightly, in the immortal words of Judas Priest, “no.”
In strides Channel Ten‘s replacement-Zumbo Anna Polyviou with a cloche that’s audible fizzing, which means they either have to cook a hot pot, or a dying tube TV.
Turns out its neither of those things, and apparently Polyviou wants these amateur home cooks to build her a low-grade cartoon explosive.
Who the bloody hell is on the judging panel, Wile E. Coyote?
Inside there is a mess of a bout 76 steps with mousse and marshmallow and somehow it also bleeds? THIS is proper MasterChef at its finest. None of this “do that thing you’re really good at and have done a hundred times before” nonsense. Grabbing these food people by the scruff of the neck and tossing them to the wolves. Sink or swim. Survival of the fittest. Who is the cookiest of all the cooks. Hell yeah.
Of the four contestants that are actually featured on this episode, it becomes a three-pronged story.
- How decently well Emily and Aaron are doing.
- How calmly middle-of-the-road Brandon somehow manages to perform.
- And the many splendoured ways in which Christina creatively discovers to balls the recipe up.
They all race off to embark upon this 3.5-hour cook as the 23 already-through contestants have their first crack at a MasterChef staple: encouragement shots from the gantry.
Folks that uh… is not a great start. You’re gonna have to pick your game up. Quick.
Aaron’s day begins woefully by somehow splitting not one, but two different batches of milk on the stove largely because he refuses to read the recipe properly and tries to do too many things at once.
LOL recipes, am I right?
Meanwhile on the other side of the temporary kitchen island benches, Emily is enamoured by the size of a tiny pot, leading the Already Apron’d to speculate about her occupation, which leads to the most ‘Arrested Development‘-narration pair of sentences you’ll ever see on this show.
*very Ron Howard voice* “She wasn’t.“
Christina‘s nightmare day begins right at the top of the episode where, in the quietest talking head of all time, she asserts that it took her years to build up the courage to apply for MasterChef because she wasn’t sure she could handle the pressure. Hot tip to all new contestants: do not gift the show self-fulfilling prophecies. Just commentate the dang action and don’t muse on yourself. You sit in there and drop a “I’m really not good with lamb,” and OH SHIT the next challenge is a lamb one. You look into the camera and state “I’m pretty afraid of heights, actually” and then BOOM you’ve gotta cook while dangling from a crane. You let slip that “the last person I want to see is that ex who broke up with me 10 years ago” and then suddenly you’re being forced to cook while they verbally eviscerate your genitals. It happens every time. Every. Single. Time.
Meanwhile Emily, the intrepid sod that she is, discovers that at no point on Anna’s recipe does it explicitly forbid bashing the ingredients with a saucepan.
If you’re not supposed to do it, they’ll bloody well tell you. Bash a fucking ham, pals. Bash it good.
Somehow during the course of an ad break we manage to time jump about 2.5 hours, skipping through to a point where suddenly there’s only 30 minutes left, leading me to believe an actual full, real-life production team had to stand around shooting while 6 dorks shot the shit and waited patiently for things to freeze. Whatever they’re paying the person who has to run around with the boom mic for these shoots is not nearly enough.
The assembly phase of this cook is where the real wheat gets separated from the inedible chaff.
Emily misses a crucial crunch element and somehow sets her thermometer to Fahrenheit (FUCKING HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE) resulting in a mild meltdown. This leads us into an ultra-rare appearance from dear old Uncle Matt™.
“Oh, I think I know a thing or two about love, young lady.”
Christina’s bad day gets extremely worse when she leaves a sheet of plastic inside the cracker and still maintains hope that she’s going to get through.
…she is not.
After eliminating Christina, Brandon, and they who shall not be named, the judges narrow the last apron recipient down to a race between Aaron and Emily. Brandon gets one last parting gift in by telling Anna that she’s one of his cooking idols, to which Anna responds with all the animation of a half-burnt sock.
And ultimately it’s the lack of crunch that decides the fate of the apron: Emily is going home, Aaron is through to the top 24. He sheds the grey skin of purgatory like a just-too-drunk bridge half-deliberately pegging the bouquet at that bitch, Rochelle.
“She wore WHITE, Tim. No, n-NO. I’m not… I’m not too drunk. She wore WHITE to my WEDDING.”
And with that, we cast aside the scraps to finally, after three long-ass episodes, have our top 24 for 2017 firmly in place. Let’s meet the new gang!
MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA 2017 TOP 24
ARUM NIXON (NSW) – wait, his name is Arum? Not Aaron? A R U M? Bloody hell.
BEN UNGERMANN (QLD) – man with an impossibly square head and somehow three kids who cannot stop smiling and is set to remind everyone extremely often that he is, in fact, quite Dutch.
BENITE ORWELL (QLD) – a delightfully nutty legend and the oldest cook in this year’s class. Benita Supreme.
BENJAMIN BULLOCK (WA) – with a beard for a hair and a hair for a beard.
BRYAN ZHU (NSW) – who needs to work on his clapping technique tout freakin’ suite.
CALLAN SMITH (NSW) – the musical theatre, molecular gastronomy wunderkind who can create pea puree spheres in dry ice in his sleep, but will probably trip up on cooking chicken before exiting stage left.
DIANA CHAN (VIC) – an accountant who is out to prove that there’s no accounting for unbalanced flavours *rimshot.gif*.
ELIZA WILSON (VIC) – one of two nurses battling it out to see who will be crowned the Wurst Nurse. Get it? Because… because wurst is… y’know… sausage, and… ah, forget it.
ELOISE PRAINO (SA) – finally made it to the top 24 after years of repeated attempts to apply for the show, which is a lesson in both persistence, and a possible hint that she’s unaware of the existence of apprenticeships.
JESS BUTLER (VIC) – filling the “tattooed badass woman” quotient for the season, a role previously filled by the likes of Jessica Arnott (Hi Jess!). Can talk. Can cook. Probably has at least two Thursday records buried away in her collection.
JOSH CLEARIHAN (VIC) – the first tile eliminated in every game of Guess Who.
KARLIE VERKERK (NSW) – a copywriter and journalism grad, which means that in this cut-throat modern media world there’s a fair chance she’s at least attempted to do one of these recap articles in the past, before making the jump across to the actual world of doing stuff, making her a far braver soul than I.
LEE BEHAN (WA) – the second tile eliminated in every game of Guess Who.
MICHELLE LUKMAN (VIC) – a 19-year-old student who can temper chocolate by feel which, at that age, legally counts as witchcraft.
NICOLE STEVENSON (QLD) – she cooked the pho/carpaccio dish in episode one and I love her eternally for it.
PETE MORGAN (WA) – the people’s champ, a FIFO crane operator who talks like a man who has a regular stool at the bar at his local. Top bloke, top contender.
PIA GAVA (VIC) – Mama Italiana who is gonna hand-roll the living fuck outta some linguine.
RASHEDUL HASAN (NSW) – the son of Sir Licky Lips and father of the child from ‘Lion‘ who probably has a RASHEDFUL of ideas (I can seriously do this all day).
RAY SILVA (NSW) – YOU ARE A DOCTOR, SIR. YOU CAN’T JUST WALK OFF THE JOB TO GO ON A COOKING SHOW. PEOPLE’S LIVES ARE AT STAKE. GOOD GOD, MAN.
SAM GOODWIN (VIC) – a body snatching alien who has somehow inhabited the body of season two’s Callum Hann and is parading around in it like the bug from ‘Men In Black‘. Get him some sugarwater stat.
SAMUEL WHITEHEAD (SA) – voted “man most likely to serve a dish on a slab of repurposed driftwood or a surfboard or someshit.”
SARAH TIONG (NSW) – a “risk consultant,” which means she’s either gonna play it as safe as humanly possible, or rebel against her former corporate bonds by going boonta all over the pantry. There is no middle ground here.
TAMARA GRAFFEN (WA) – the apron swapper from episode one who exchanged her brightly coloured number for a white Top 24 apron with the judges, and I hope to CHRIST that means George is gonna show up to a master class in a floral number. Y’know, before they rightfully haul him off to jail.
TRENT DEVINCENZO (NSW) – I refuse to believe he even appeared in the first episode and scored his spot in the 24 by knocking together his own apron before sneaking onto set.
NEXT TIME: It’s game time, folks! The competition begins at long last! Who will rise to the top and take home the Silver Prop Plate? Who will crack under the almighty pressure of the MasterChef Kitchen? Who will be stupid enough to attempt a risotto first despite the fact that it NEVER WORKS EVER?
Colour me K-E-E-N.
Photos: Channel Ten.