MASTERCHEF DRAMA: Matt Preston Charms A Nonna In The Show’s 2018 Return

PREVIOUSLY ON MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA: An entirely bland, middling season ended with… someone winning? Lord, I can’t remember. I don’t even think I finished out the season to be quite honest; I ran out of steam somewhere around Heston Week™. Will this year be better? STAY TUNED!


Folks, we’re back. We are BACK, baby. The drama llama of Australian TV cooking shows is done on that other godforsaken channel, leaving us (who prefer our cooking shows to be a sport rather than a showcase for a bunch of underfed loose units slinging pissy barbs over a spatchcock) free to enjoy the glorious, unique spectacle that is MasterChef Australia.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Season 10 (it’s seriously the 10th year of this, my god) opens with the standard MasterChef montage; highlighting the parade of champions that have ascended Mount Food and claimed the ultimate MasterChef glory. They’re all there: BillieAdamAndy… ah… oh, Julie. And, y’know, the other ones.

The hungry-ass judges promise that this season will feature surprises, and the “biggest and most famous guest” in MasterChef history, who I can only assume is Nathan “Bones” Jones from the Melbourne Football Club.

Dunno how well a lumpy risotto is gonna fit into a professional footballer’s strict diet, but I guess we’ll soon see.

As with always, the first episode is less about actually doing anything interesting, and more about whittling away the chaff to reveal who will be in our Top 25 for 2018.

Following tradition, the prospective food psychopaths are shown the grand prize that’s on the line: The ceremonial Silver Plate, brought to the MasterChef Kitchen in the manner dictated by ancient tradition.

Confetti canons and business casual attire. It’s all very medieval.

Matt Preston, today decked out in a resplendent metallic mustard suit (7/10 on the Preston Suit scale, for those playing along at home), dangles his fleshy carrot in front of the meat-starved hopefuls.

And just like that, it’s bloody well on folks.

MasterChef‘s producers must have heard the disinterested grumblings from the audience last year, because they do not fuck around in E01 of season 2018.

First episode. First contestant. First cook on the block. And boom.

Nonna Superior.

This is no ordinary Nonna, mind you. This Nonna – accompanying her daughter Gina, who herself is a Nonna (Nonnas on Nonnas on Nonnas on Nonnas) – is the one Nonna to rule them all.

Speaks predominantly in Italian? Check.

Nitpicks her daughter’s cooking even when it’s being broadcast on national TV? Check.

Wonderful and over-enthusiastic crush on the largest man in the room?

You bloody bet.

20 minutes into episode one and we’ve already peaked for the season. It doesn’t get any better than that, folks.

Gina whips up a gnocchi and gives the judges their first tasting of the year, which was apparently quite ill-timed because, well… look at George.

If that’s not the face of a man that needs to shit badly, I don’t know what is. The tense thigh, the one foot on the ground, the half-perch on the stool… there is a mighty turd in that man’s pants. Guaranteed.

Gina cops our first apron for 2018 and that’s all well and good but if Nonna above doesn’t wind up with her own spin-off I am going to positively wreck shit, I swear.

Give. A. Show. To. Nonna.

The second great success story of the episode belongs to Rhys, a gentle Novacastrian and a giant nerd, by all accounts.

Rhys loves making a hell of a ruckus when plating up, including his signature, artfully inspired move which I am hereby labelling the Stainmaster.

Oh, Mr. Hart. What a mess.

Yes, that’s a joke built on a reference to a carpet commercial from the early 1990s. No, I’m never apologising for it.

‘Course the Stainmaster is a term that isn’t gonna catch on, because George has already figured out his own complex name for the move.

George Calombaris. Brain genius.

By virtue of their We’re Also From Newcastle-ness, Rhys is guided through the process by former winners Andy and Julie, the latter of which hangs around his cooking station like a guy visiting his old high school to reminisce about his glory days.

“Yeah… I was king around here back in the day, son. A god, even. Top Dog on campus.

Rhys, despite a little consternation from Gary, gets Apron #2.

The third and final real success story of Episode 1 belongs to Kristen, a young shy local council worker who has finally mustered up the confidence to apply for the show, even though she’s had the skills to beat the competition’s brains in for the past 5 years now.

You know a cook is gonna run deep in the competition when they give her the emotional, whimsical backing tracks for her back story. And the producers gift her an added ace up the sleeve by allotting her the power of WISTFUL LOOK, which is, as it always is, super effective.

So too is this wild GIF I accidentally captured of her which makes it look like she’s quietly getting down to some choice late 90s dance tunes.

Hiding secret Night at the Roxbury moves in your backstory montage? The girl can do no wrong.

And she can especially do no wrong when she lasers in on the surefire bet of MasterChef dishes: loading a plate up with enough chocolate and whiskey to make the judges go crosseyed.

It works every time. EVERY. TIME.

Let this be a lesson to all you potential cooks out there: Forget the fancy stuff. Sugar and booze. That’s what it’s all about.

The final lengthy backstory of the night belongs to Real Estate Agent Whose Name I Have Already Forgotten; a man who scores the grand distinction of having the Channel Ten cameras around to film his place of work despite the fact he got booted the fuck off the show on day one.

He pulls out the air quotes to sell his “rich man’s take” on a roast lamb dinner.

It’s just that his lamb is “really undercooked” and “fairly bog standard.” Out you go, my man. Better luck next year.

Herein lies the great problem with MasterChef‘s early episodes; there’s too much going on. The show has to focus so heavily on success that it has no time to highlight failure. Casual viewers tuning in to the first two episodes don’t want to see people get sort of near the mark only to fall short because the bar’s too high. They want to see some bloke get his hat blown off by a butane torch before marching to the judges cradling the smouldering wreckage of a tart shell and cheekily admitting “yeah I might’ve stuffed that one up a bit hey boys.”

So throughout the two hours of this premiere episode we only get one tiny, tiny Montage of Failure, which is only notable for this kid’s championship calibre mullet…


…and a dish stuffed so full of pepperberry (the It-Spice of 2018; mark my words it’ll be in fucken everything by the end of the year) that poor Gary just about sucks his own face in on itself.

That’s it. The remainder of the episode is dedicated to handing out aprons willy nilly to any old schmo walking through the door who learned how to quill ice cream by watching YouTube.

So screw it, if they’re gonna blow through that mountain of exposition, so am I.

Folks, presenting the Other Less Important Folk Who Got Aprons On Last Night’s Episode. Including, but not limited to:

A Mexican contestant whose name I did not catch, and for whom the producers made on-lookers do an actual Mexican wave for.

Dios bloody mio.

Adele, who I’m almost convinced used an UberEATS order for her tryout dish.


Rad Dad #1.

Closely followed by Rad Dad #2.

The pair of whom tried to pack George so full of spice that he briefly and totally lost his freakin’ mind.

It’s like he’s got saffron-induced Dave’s Syndrome or someshit.

Next, we have All Red Everything, with the most badass little dude of a kid ever and who used so many Tasmanian products that I suspect she may be Tasmanian which, if true, makes her my absolute odds-on favourite to win because you NEVER BET AGAINST A TASMANIAN EVER.

Then there’s Mr. Forgettable over here, whose name I will not be able to remember until three weeks in.

A DJ named Khanh, who had a borderline holy moment outside the kitchen and whom is a precious bb angel.

Then there’s this guy, Brett, looking like Mack Horton and a picture of a slightly older version of Mack Horton fell into that machine from The Fly.

And lastly, but certainly not leastly, Aldo.

A beautiful, sweet, adorable full-blooded Italian man whom I would follow to hell and back. I got to spend a mere 5 minutes of screen time with him last night and I have no hesitation in stating that I would die for this man and kill anyone who tried to harm him.

Forced to cook last, he spends his day greeting Nonnas and hugging other successful contestants and generally getting around the whole experience. And when his time comes, he not only knocks it out of the park, he celebrates by sprinting out of the MasterChef Kitchen in his brand new apron, screaming the whole way.

My man bolts out of there running like Mose Schrute.

Wrestle fear to the ground, cook up something shithot from the Mystery Box, win the MasterChef crown.

It really is as simple as that, folks.

NEXT TIME: The remaining contestants duke it out for a handful of leftover aprons in the ultimate Second Chance Saloon. Plus, SURPRISES!! What does it all mean? It means MasterChef is back, friends. Here’s to a hell of a season.