MASTERCHEF DRAMA: Dodgy Meringues, Chocolate Butts, And The Rise Of Reynold

PREVIOUSLY ON MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA: On Monday night, we said goodbye to Stephen the Bland, who failed to provide the amount of sauce necessary to mask the taste of some ungodly seafood concoction served inside a hastily butchered sea urchin – basically, the Turducken of the sea; a recipe set by Guillaume Brahimi whose repeated insistence on pronouncing it “cus-taird” morphed me into Freddy Quimby – “IT’S CUS-TAHD. CUS-TAHD. SAY IT, FRENCHIE.
Tuesday night featured the most unlikely of Immunity Challenges you’re ever likely to see – with Ashleigh, Rose (who, through seven pressure tests, is shockingly doing what’s supposed to happen on the show and is actually improving from her mistakes) and Matthew – all charged with the task of creating a sticky date pudding from scratch. Without a recipe or rigid set of instructions to follow, Matthew panics and throws in a TABLESPOON OR SO of Bi-Carb, and produces a pudding that honest to god must’ve tasted like a hot nail. Rose produces cakes that look so dense they’d probably bounce, and Ashleigh puts up the She’s All That of puddings – ugly and outcast in appearance, but with *SO MUCH* inner beauty!
Ashleigh then Steven Bradbury‘s her way into an Immunity Pin, by virtue of of Shannon Bennett looking at her through his eyebrows and saying “Mousse?” repeatedly until she caved in, and by celebrity chef Jim McDougall blindly grabbing at ingredients like the pantry was a Whack-A-Mole game, turning to judges and being all like…
Also while tasting Ashleigh’s dish George licked his fucking plate. It’s been 36 hours and my appetite still hasn’t returned.

And then there were ten.
Here we are again at Number 3 Tree Street the MasterChef Kitchen, where the remaining contestants are lined up, side-by-side, with the Hungry, Hungry Judges smiling knowingly – Matt Preston today is wearing some incredible long overcoat thing that makes him look like a Russian overlord; Baron von Waistband.
The group is split in twain (Rose, Billie, Sara, Jessie, and Matthew on Team Red – Ashleigh, Reynold, Georgia, Amy, and Jessica on Team Blue), captains are decided – Rose (because it’s her birthday) and Reynold (because it’s about goddamned time he actually did something on this show) – and the task is revealed: High Tea at the Hotel Windsor. Though I’m dead sure at one point at a Producer’s meeting the idea of going rogue and getting everyone to just dump a bunch of hydro into some T2 Earl Grey was floated, the reality is that the teams have to whip up different tiny cakes to be served to a pack of well dressed tourists.
Not only that, but the extra seats at the judges table are being filled by dessert experts: Darren Purchese, Bernard Chu, Kirsten Tibballs, and Christy Tania.
They’ve got to make at least five different dishes, for about 25 tables – basically, 80 servings of each. Everyone smiles and nods at this, but inside their stomachs are twisting.
In what’s probably one of the more shocking turns of events in MasterChef this year, there are no leadership issues with either team. None whatsoever. Reynold is a gun from the moment the challenge begins, and Rose‘s cautionary bragging about her past experience as a workplace trainer is not even remotely a red herring. They SMASH it, and keep everyone on track for the entire thing. For the contestants, it’s a calming, motivating consistency. For the viewers, it’s rude and upsetting. We paid for blood, god damn it.
But despite this, things more or less immediately start going awry. Billie begins work on some chocolate pastry, and straight mows through a few batches. She’s doing so well, in fact, that she gets multiple talking heads about it – first from herself, and then from Rose, both extolling how well she’s doing. This is never, ever a good sign. In fact, let this be a lesson to you all: If you plan on going on MasterChef, don’t ever do well at the start of a challenge. It’s a one-way ticket to disaster. Just don’t do it. Phone it in for the first 15, 20 minutes or so. And if you absolutely must be competent from minute 1, then holy shit keep it to yourself.
Meanwhile on Team Blue, Ashleigh begins making some profiteroles by knocking together some choux pastry balls, which she pipes in a quantity Reynold dictates for a test batch. That is until Gary takes one of the pint-sized balls of fluff out of the oven and asks “What is this? A dessert for ANTS?” and the quantity is amended into a size someone could actually put into their mouths and recognise that they were eating something.
Matthew – who, some 7-odd weeks into the competition, I’m still yet to see the point of – has the task of handling some sort of passionfruit curd/meringue thing, that starts bad and devolves rapidly into a giant mess. It’s not that I have anything against Matthew in the strictest sense. It’s just that a 43 year-old Dentist saying the phrase “I’m worried about the meringue” gives me horrific, beige, ‘Nam-like visions of Brooks Brothers crew neck sweaters, Mercedes suburban 4WDs, and inane conservative political chatter over safe, mid-priced wine and “bitey” cheddar at Private School parent information evenings where passive aggressive comments are tossed about because my daughter got first chair clarinet and your daughter did not get that.
With time now at a premium, we check back in with Billie who – lo and be-fkn-hold – has encountered disaster with the chocolate tart shells that promised so much early on. Rather than the crisp pastry delights she envisioned, they’ve all come out of the oven looking like burnt anuses. And they’re being relied on to be the base of TWO dishes.
Thankfully – and honestly, I’d never thought I’d say this – Rose manages to come up with the genius idea of turning the whole thing into a crumb and wing it from there. It’s something of a saving masterstroke. Rose is killing this. What the hell is even happening. Am I dead? Did I die? Is this what hell is like?
Ashleigh is back with profiteroles, which have all puffed up nicely and look – credit where its due – bloody fantastic. She begins piping in a white chocolate ganache. At this point a loud thumping sound interrupts proceedings. Though it’s not shown on camera, word has it that it’s Security trying to hold back the eliminated John from bashing his way through the door. The faint sounds of his screams are picked up on the contestants mics. “NO… NO, I HAVE TO GET IN. ONLY I KNOW HOW TO WHITE CHOCOLATE. WHERE’S THE ADOBO? SHE’LL RUIN EVERYTHIIIIIIIIIING.
The real excitement begins when packing has to commence – everything cooked in the kitchen needs to be transported from the set to the Hotel Windsor for service. There is a kitchen at the actual Windsor, but it’s nice to know that there’s some places that even MasterChef can’t get into. That or the Windsor chefs pulled a Mean Girls on everyone and went “You can’t cook with us.” Either way, suck eggs ya dorks.
If it’s not packed into the crates, it doesn’t leave the kitchen – which thankfully Gary, George and Matt are all more than willing to tell us ad nauseam. Billie knocks a kitchen magic wand over onto Sara‘s cakes, which is about as good a representation of their complete dog’s breakfast of a day as you’re ever likely to see. The whole thing is about as frantic a scene as the series has provided thus far, and seeing people literally shovel biscuit crumb into travel containers is enough to give me the vapours.
And then comes the driving montage.
In theory, this should be the easiest thing in the world to display. People happily driving down the road, a few quick quips about their dishes, everyone arrives at the Windsor safe and sound. It should be this:
But in actuality it’s an editing and navigational nightmare that I’m absolutely certain exists just to fuck with me. Seriously, I have no idea who cut this montage together, but I want to brain them with a Melway. At one point the cars are turning left off the Exhibition Street hill onto Flinders. Then we cut to a shot of them driving north up St Kilda Road. Then we’re taking a panning shot from Parliament down to the Windsor, but then the cars arrive and park from the south. It makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE AND I HATE IT SO MUCH.
Why stop there? Why not throw all sense of direction straight into the bin? Have them stuck in traffic on Punt Road and then show them turning right onto Errol Street past the Comic’s Lounge. Run them through a complete Chap Lap in a lowered VL Commodore, then immediately cut to them merging onto the Tulla in a beat up Tarago. Hell, have one shot of them entering the drive through at the Smith Street Maccas, and then throw that up against a shot of them cutting max doughies in Royal Park as one of them calmly shouts an order for a Whopper and some Popcorn Chicken out the window while a spray of mud cakes everyone’s deadpan faces.
Inside the Windsor is largely a non-event. The teams have 30 minutes to plate up, and 30 minutes to serve. Reynold, so confident is he in the win at this point, starts flitting about plating up one tray at a time, rather than going assembly line on them shits. He cops a little bit of a spray for doing so, but it doesn’t bother him in the slightest because geeeeeeze he’s had a good day.
That’s plainly evident in the tasting with the sight of six grown human beings practically weeping with joy after tasting Reynold’s chocolate popsicle. And then they taste his dessert!
It’s not even close. Team Blue wins, and Reynold finally gets his big moment on a show where he’s gotten by being largely silent. Team Red are sent through to a Pressure Test.
TONIGHT: Will Rose finally fall in her eighth trip to the black apron? Will Billie be able to reconcile her Immunity Pin against the fact that her chocolate buttholes were a huge individual disaster in a team effort? Will Matthew be sent back to his old life where he’ll rue an opportunity lost by accidentally filling a molar cavity with meringue at least twice a week?

John lives to Adobo one more time!
Just when you thought he was out, they pull him back in.