I called it. Did I not bloody well call it? I called this shit yesterday.
Last night’s episode of MasterChef Australia took us to the mean alleyways of Windsor, and a team challenge split across two of Melbourne’s more beloved eateries, Tokyo Tina and Saigon Sally – chosen by the producers for their vaguely similar regional cuisine, and their proximity to a tastefully graffiti’d laneway that the stagnant pools of urine could be hosed out of.
Following on from yesterday’s glorious POWER APRON victory, Billie is automatically installed as the captain of one of the teams, and gets to select her own squad – picking Jessie, Reynold, Jessica, Ashleigh, and Amy, leaving the Blue Team to be made up of Sara, Georgia, John, Rose, Stephen, and Matthew.
Foreshadowing the severe amount of doing the neck thing the episode will induce, we immediately get a talking head from John who brims with excitement about his extreme familiarity with both Japanese and Vietnamese ingredients.
With the Blue Team set the task of selecting a Captain, John puts his hand up and the others follow him foolishly like the town children following the Pied Piper into almost certain doom. Since she has the power apron, Billie also gets to choose which of the two commercial kitchens she wants to take over – selecting Saigon Sally and their delicious Vietnamese food, leaving John and Team Blue to Turn Japanese and takeover Tokyo Tina.
Cut back to John’s talking head, whose confidence in food knowledge has, literally within 2 minutes of screentime, gone from “I know this shit inside and out,” to “I’ve been to Japan a couple of times and I’ve experienced authentic cuisine.”
M8, I’ve seen wheels before, but that doesn’t make me a wagon.
On go, the teams hurry off to their respective restaurants – covered in a running montage that takes about as long running the 230 metres between locations actually would.
The task for today is to set a menu for 50 diners, which must include 2 desserts, but as many or as little savoury dishes as each team would like. Straight away, Billie’s task delegation is absolutely on point – sending dessert masters Reynold and Ashleigh straight into the pantry
for seven minutes in heaven to come up with something good. Recognising the TIME x MAN POWER equation could be a difficult one to reconcile, Billie takes a conservative approach to mains, opting to do two dishes and smash the shit out of them.
Meanwhile, over at Tokyo Tina, Team Captain John sets about his task-long objective of rechristening the joint as Dickhead Central for the duration of the episode. Seeing six people on his team, he crunches the numbers in his head and comes up with “1 = 1 = FUN!!!!” and decides that there’s going to be SIX DISHES on the menu, despite the very real protestations of the five people on his team, all of whom possess the basic understanding of time and logistics that he apparently does not.
Pictured above: The precise moment poor Georgia’s sweet little heart rips in twain.
What’s more, we get very specific shots of people from the Red Team looking in their pantry, whilst the Blue Team stands around a piece of butcher’s paper watching John scribble away years off their lives. I’m not a fancy big city TV guy, but this feels like important information that we should remember for later.
Five grim faced amateur cooks follow John – being amused by the smiling cooking guy in his head telling him “You can do anything if you believe!” as the world behind him burns – into the tiny Tokyo Tina kitchen to begin attempting to pull off a miracle. Matthew and Stephen begin breaking down chicken for Yakatori skewers, Sara hustles to cut all the Eggplant in the world, Rose is off to start pulling together a tofu crumb whilst working on one of the desserts, Georgia – freaking SOMEHOW – is left to handle TWO DISHES by herself, and in the interim John flits about the kitchen gleefully giggling and chanting “I AM HERE TO FUCK WITH ALL OF YOUR DREAMS.”
The Hungry, Hungry Judges rock up and have a look into the kitchens and are a bit miffed at both – the Red Team because they *probably* could be doing a little bit more to push themselves. And the Blue Team because SIX DISHES ARE YOU FROM SYRIA?
John’s doe-eyed enthusiasm can’t really be faulted, it should be said. But ambition has always been the enemy of success.
It’s about this time that the rest of his team finally arrive at Fuck That Station after being hauled along the Bullshit Express for far too long already. With about 45 minutes until service, one of his array of dishes – a Tuna Tartare – remains slabs of untouched fish slowly accumulating e coli on the bench-top. Everyone else in Blue Aprons makes the extremely sensible suggestion to delete this dish from the menu before anyone arrives to eat it. John does not listen to this. At all.
Instead, John asserts “I believe in my team.”
I believe in them too, pal. But I also believe in the concept of time passing regularly.
And it’s because the balance of the ledger has long shifted to “Things to do > Amount of time to do them in” that the team begins cutting corners. Namely, instead of grilling all the Eggplant properly, Sara chars them a bit and bashes them all straight into the oven in the hopes that massive amounts of that godforsaken vegetable will bake down in time.
They don’t. It’s a mess.
Meanwhile, poor Georgia – who is starting to realise that John is to her as Kryptonite is to Superman – has a heartbreaking meltdown because even the most experienced Chef would have trouble pulling together two dishes unassisted for that quantity in that amount of time, let alone an amateur cook in an unfamiliar commercial kitchen.
Matthew plays Dad in this situation and offers ~graciously~ to come help her out after he’s done putting chicken skewers together – a dish that would honest to god cook properly if you gobbed down two jalepeño slices and breathed on them heavily.
Miraculously though, save for the odd bit of undercooked eggplant here and there, the service of mains goes off reasonably smoothly for Team Blue – nevermind Team Red who is quietly operating like a well oiled machine.
But it’s dessert where the real fun stuff begins.
John goes for his pièce de résistance – a white chocolate and green tea mousse that will accompany the choux puffs his team pulled together for him. But when John goes to the pantry to collect the white chocolate he’d spent this entire challenge thus far simply assuming was there, he finds nothing. Nada!
THERE IS NO WHITE CHOCOLATE.
I’M SERIOUS. YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP.
TWO TEAM CHALLENGES IN A ROW WHERE JOHN HAS HAD DECISION MAKING POWER.
TWO TEAM CHALLENGES IN A ROW WHERE JOHN AND HIS WHITE CHOCOLATE BULLSHIT HAS RUINED EVERYTHING.
And what’s more, he’s actually surprised about this. It’s like going into a library and being genuinely surprised that they don’t sell kitty litter.
The entire dessert course crashes in on itself, and leaves all three judges dangerously deprived of sugar – rendering them snippy, irritable, and moody.
And it’s at THIS point – finally, after all this time, after everything that’s happened in the challenge thus far from conception right through execution, from the protestations of both his teammates and the judges, and for all the mishaps and missteps that being stretched waaaaaay too thin has caused his team – John has a moment of clarity.
“I realise I’ve taken on too much.”
Needless to say, Team Blue loses. Quite spectacularly. The POWER APRON goes to Ashleigh who gets it even though she was largely absent from the episode due to the Big Trouble in Little Tokyo Tina, because they have to give it to *somebody*.
And thus, John and the rest of his team have to drag themselves into a blind taste test elimination challenge tonight.
Not that I’m one for actively advocating that someone should be kicked off this show – it’s people’s hard fought hopes and dreams, after all.
But god damn it, man. Take the bloody hit.
Photo via Facebook.