Remember report cards? They were the best/worse, depending on how good you were at school. And much like school with its rotund professors, designated meal times, hard to crack cliques and those two guys you know are secretly doing it, our term in the Masterchef kitchen has come to an end. Sadly the time has come for this year’s Masterchef Class of ’12 to graduate; to don for one last time their embroidered aprons, bouffant toques that they shun in blatant disregard of Food & Safety regulations and cook to the same imaginary Vitamin C soundtrack that has accompanied every graduation since 2000 (‘And as we go on/We remember/All the marscapone we/Quenelled together‘).
With the end of semester comes the dreaded report card, and with tonight’s imminent final comes the necessary judgement of each Food Dreamer™ so we might determine who will taste victory as this year’s Class (Thomas) Dux and who’ll end up spruiking whitegoods for years to come (same thing)!
Julia Taylor, 26, Legal Secretary from QLD
I think it’s pretty unanimous that Julia is the least favourite contestant going into tonight’s final and that has nothing to do with her ability to cook. JuliaBot, as she has been affectionately dubbed by The Twitterverse, has the warmth and personality of a recently defrosted cadaver harvested of its organs/offal and her pretty ruthless cut and dry attitude has come under a lot of scrutiny.
Julia and the recently booted Anna Chlumsky Kylie were bestowed with the kinda restrictive, kinda sexist title of “dessert queens” because, let’s face it, that’s all she cooks. She has delivered some decent savoury fare but there’s no questioning that Julia’s strengths lie in sweeter realms. She’s likely to trump the other two should Adriano Zumbo once again rear his telegenically questionable head. However, chances of a dessert-only final are slim and I feel like Julia’s going to hit a last-minute hurdle in the final. Plus, I just get the feeling Gary and George really do not like her.
Haters gon’ hate but Julia is a cold hard reality television killer – and I mean that in the nicest possible way. So what, she doesn’t cry at the drop of a hat? So f**kin’ what, she doesn’t think every single grain of rice is beautiful like Mindy did? Julia’s personality, or lack thereof, has delivered some of the series’ best comedic moments, including her micro-second embrace of Alice after the dessert centrepiece challenge! Brusqueness aside, Julia has remained composed (except for that one time that almost short circuited her homesick hard-drive) and articulate throughout the whole competition; she executes everything to a pretty high/ruthless standard, has consistently clean bench tops and some very questionable designer accessories. She’s almost too together, too steely and probably just not likeable enough to carry the Masterchef brand for another 12 months. Plus people really seem to have a problem with the length of her limbs and/or inability to emote and connect with other humans.
I see a worrying amount of myself in Julia’s unwavering pursuit of victory/perfection so I rate her chances of winning as the least favourite at 6-1 or a less-than-satisfactory B-.
Andy Allen, 24, Electrical Apprentice from NSW
‘Handsome Andy’ is without-a-doubt the odds on people’s choice to take out the title with a string of victories in the last week that have purportedly given him an unstoppable ‘momentum’. He’s the relatable everyman fish pie to Julia’s slightly sociopathic macaron.
Good job, Andy. You picked up your game when it finally started to matter. Obviously each contestant has gotten thus far on their superior – and still amateur – culinary abilities (I think that’s how the competition works) so there’s no merit in questioning their ability to cook. However, Andy has received so much televised help from the judges lately – Gary especially, for having completely changed the direction of Monday night’s braised beef shin dish. What!? – that I’m starting to question the objectivity of the decision makers. Andy cooks a lot of fish, which I like, and can quenelle with the best of them, so, you know, whatever, good job Andy. You’ll probably win.
Speaking of decision makers, like all reality television shows (except Survivor) the decision to eliminate contestants are made in consultation with the show’s producers, and obviously with post-finale opportunities in mind. Andy is probably the most marketable of all the show’s finalists and with his good looks (according to an inter-office survey he is “kewt/handsome and handy and good at cheffing – dream result! But is prob not good at jokes. We all have our flaws.” Katie, resident Andy afficionado), his dimwitted mug would look good staring out at Masterchef’s target demographic from book store shelves everywhere – if they even still exist. But he does come across as exactly that; a bit dimwitted, in the pocket of Gary Mehigan and lacking in the hilarity department. In Andy, the producers/judges might see an opportunity to capitalise on the once passed-on looks and talent of Hayden Quinn, who has gone on to forge some semblance of a post-MC success, culinary or otherwise. That’s some good profile, right there.
On account of the Thee M’s of Masterchef (Momentum, Marketability and Mehiganism) I’d rate Andy’s chance of winning pretty highly at 4-1, or A-.
Audra Morrice, 41, Account Manager from NSW
Out of the final three, I would think Audra has been the most consistent player, regularly delivering dependable mostly Asian dishes that have literally caused me to salivate.
Not only consistent with the SE Asian flavas, Audra can also dish up some seriously good-looking desserts, including a chocolate frangipane, pear and vincotto tart and the dark chocolate raspberry tart that got her into the Top 24. Ya-um, right? From perhaps the whole season, Audra has probably been the best all-around cook but majorly put her foot in it last night, which was an unmitigated sashimi disaster that only just trumped Mindy’s barramundi travesty.
Like Julie, Audra is a bit of a perfectionist and can come across as a fierce Tiger Mum*. Audra is a terrible leader too; absolutely abysmal, I mean, that pop-up restaurant challenge was an complete debacle so there’s no chance of Audra fronting a pass anytime soon. That’s okay though, because Audra wants to open a concept store to shill “Audra’s Gourmet Delights” – the name of which needs work. Plus, her ethnically ambiguous, non-regional, international school dialect is totally disorienting, nasal and annoying but now I’m just nit-picking.
If the Julie Goodwin/Kate Bracks/Poh’s Kitchen factor doesn’t work against her – and I think it might – I still like Audra’s chances quite highly, just above Andy’s at 3-1, or a solid A.
*UPDATE: I now realise that some people find the use of this term offensive, in which case I’d like to apologise and point out that this wasn’t my intention (obviously) to offend/perpetuate racial stereotypes/be a racist dickhead. I merely meant it as a term to describe Audra’s ‘fierce’ determination and pursuit of perfection in the kitchen, traits associated with the phrase ‘Tiger Mom‘ (from Amy Chau’s memoir of the same, albeit, extended name). Of course, it’s unfair to apply the term to any one person based solely on their ethnicity, regardless of them exemplifying the same qualities associated with the original use of the term. Sorry, Audra. Sorry, Australia.