PREVIOUSLY ON MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA: Finals week began in earnest with the departure of Sara Oteri, who foolishly approached this whole experience thinking it’d be a straight-up cooking contest, and not a goddamned science fair.
Meanwhile, the MasterChef Australia social media team got stuck into the cooking sherry and accidentally spoiled the result of last night’s Elimination Challenge by plastering themselves, and then plastering an image promoting a Master Class, of all things, all across them internets – infuriating both you the viewing audience, and just about rendering this entire article a virtual waste of time.
But snark, my friends, it waits for no one. FORWARD!
AND NOW, LAST NIGHT.
ALRIGHT. Before we even begin here – before we EVEN START ANYTHING – can we talk about how its bloody SIXTY TWO episodes in and for some *utterly bizarre* reason John is STILL the first face that appears in the opening credits? Every episode, no matter what happens, there he is. Pan in hand and a goofy-ass grin on his face like he’s all “LOL THERE IS SO MUCH WHITE CHOCOLATE IN HERE.“
He was eliminated way back in episode thirty five. Enough is enough. Bin it.
But onto the episode. There’s only four of them left, and that MasterChef Kitchen is starting to look awfully big. Owing to her arrangement of a handful of kale in a bowl at The Press Club, which is about as peak a Melbourne sentence as you’re ever likely to read, it’s Georgia who remains the only safe person today. She strikes a lone figure on the gantry as the other three – Reynold, Jessica, and Billie all don the elimination black one more time.
It’s a final ELIMINATION CHALLENGE. And it’s a doozy.
We’ve only got George and Matt in today, as poor Gary is off sick. Can you imagine being a MasterChef judge trying to chuck a sickie who forgets their head momentarily and tries to blame it on food poisoning? And in FINALS WEEK, no less?
Preston does his usual Michael Buffer-spiel of introducing guest chefs in the most longwinded manner possible. “This man is a culinary genius, and a gastronomic God. He left Australia at age 2 to train with Tibetan Monks on the peak of Mount Everest in the fine art of Japanese Korean barbecue. He then went on to open seventeen restaurants in three days, ultimately eating eight of them in a Guinness World Record that still stands today. He wined and dined with Kings & Queens, and slept in alleys and dined on pork & beans. He learned how to butterfly lamb from the Queen, and was the first person to successfully sous vide a dude’s dick.”
This brings in Brett Graham, a two Michelin Star chef, described as the “World’s highest ranked Australian chef,” which is kind of like saying you’re the World’s Best Two-Wheeled Unicycle rider.
Graham’s cloche contains a dish that – he claims – is a “Chef Breaker.”
It’s the Black Diamond. The Widowmaker. The K-13.
“The K-13? But that’s the most dangerous run in all of America.”
TBH it kinda looks like fish with spew.
Its official name is a Flame Grilled Bonito with Pickled Cucumber, Celtic Mustard, and Shiso. A fish dish. Reynold should just straight up hand over the apron and walk out now to save us all two hours of stress. He might be a dessert wunderkind, but a man of the sea he most certainly is not.
Graham states that the Bonito is a very unforgiving fish. Which is true. I went to the pub with a Bonito once and accidentally left without returning shout. 3 years later he egged my house. Those bastards hold grudges, man.
George and Brett engage in a little game of “Who can state the most obvious thing?” George opens serve with “You overcook that fish, and it’s dry.” Wanting to show that he too shops at No Shit Sherlock Sartorial Supplies, Brett fires back with this pearler: “You undercook it, it’s inedible.”
Sixty two episodes in, and this is what we’ve learned.
The team has two hours for the challenge, with a little ~BONUS ROUND~ of five minutes at the end to prepare the fish, which is *precisely* the amount of time required to cook it, significantly reducing the margin for fuckups.
As they dive headlong into the challenge, Billie bemoans the fact that she’s only got one fish, and thus begins the filleting process begins at a snail’s pace. The show might be a touch on the wasteful side, but they’re not exactly about to haul up an entire school from the ocean just because you’ve got the knife skills of a drunk playing Operation.
At this point, the first of many shots of Anxious Georgia is shown, and my own personal anxiety rises with each one. Deep breaths, Georgia. 5 in, 8 out. 5 in, 8 out.
Jessica begins the process of whipping up the Avocado Puree, which is the name they insist on using for this particular element despite the fact that it is BLOODY WELL CLEARLY just a half-arsed smooth guacamole. Presumably then this dish will cost the judges $1 extra.
Reynold begins doing that thing where he looks at the recipe that was written by an actual professional chef with multiple decades experience and goes full Ron Swanson on it.
Except instead of being a master craftsman ultimate man capable of building anything you can think of with world-class workmanship, he’s a 21 year old kid trying to fumble his way through a fish dish whilst fighting the throbbing urge in the back of his head to serve it up encased in a tempered chocolate shoe.
The bones of the fish are successfully smoked by everyone, save for a small stuff-up when Billie – repeating the same error from the American BBQ challenge – forgets that “HOTPLATE + ON = FIRE” and loses a precious few minutes waiting for spontaneous combustion.
Anxious Georgia, meanwhile, has spent the entire episode quietly muttering “Go Reynold. Good job Reynold. Beautiful Reynold” to herself over and over. Again, I know this is a contest, but surely with gantry representing safety you can lean into things and relax a bit. Order in a pizza, crack open a bottle of red, and enjoy yo’self!
You’re safe! You can live like a King! A damn hell ass King!
At this stage of the competition it’s about as level a playing field as you’re ever likely to see. Everyone is moving along at roughly the same pace, and completing elements at roughly the same quality – including the tricky, delicate fried shallots. Meanwhile, I repeatedly mutter the phrase “Thanks shallot” with a Sean Connery accent to myself, proving definitively that my joke writing skills are currently operating at similarly high levels.
With George on Match Point in the Obvious Olympics against Brett, he makes a run for the finish line with this first serve bomb.
“As soon as you overcook that fish, it becomes really fishy.“
Game, set, match, Calombaris.
With the prep work all done and out of the way, and barely a hair separating the three of them, it all comes down to the cooking of the fish.
Jessica and Billie? Smash it out of the park. No worries. That Bonito didn’t know what hit it. Delish.
But as for Reynold? He looks directly down the barrel of the camera and says the actual sentence “The recipe says to only cook it skin side down, but I decide to flip it to ensure the other side isn’t undercooked.”
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
If the recipe tells you specifically to not flip the fish then maybe you should think about perhaps not flipping the fish.
That should have been straightforward as hell. But you went and did yourself a mischief because you got all Flippy Longstockings up in this biz.
Bloody Flip & Dale: Rescue Rangers.
Flippidy Doo Dah, Flippidy Fkn AYYYE?
And that, sadly, is all it takes. The Dessert King is gone from the show, released into the world to be the blossoming pastry superstar he’s – in all likelihood – going to end up being.
This leaves your final three for MasterChef Australia 2015 to be Georgia Barnes, Billie McKay, and Jessica Arnott.
The episode then cuts to a final Masterclass, where we welcome back the entire Top 25 for the year, who are all there to watch on eagerly.
John says it feels great to be ba…
NEXT TIME: GRAND FINAL! Split over two episodes, the three judges will throw the remaining contestants into a pit of lions, armed with a spear, a net, and a flail, to see who will emerge bloody, battered, and victorious!
And then Tuesday we all start going about our regular lives once again.