Tonight is a very special night for MasterChef as the World Idol of cooking, Nigella Lawson, pops round. For the contestants, this is both good and bad news; they can cook for their idol (good news) and serve their idol their cooked food (considering it’s Nigella’s food they’re cooking, I’d say this is bad news). It’s team challenge 5, and it’s going off.
A quick recap on the night before and an extended preview of this very special Nigella Lawson episode (definitely required) and we’re in!
I love how it seems every episode starts with a more glamorised view of Sydney harbour than the night before; tonight the producers are bringing out some swank camera angles to capture an extra slice of magic.
Dani emerges from inside the MasterChef house to see a cosy little outside dining suite that looks like something from The Wizard of Oz crossed with something from Alice in Wonderland. There are lots of fancy teapots, a lot of tea and many fancy cupcakes with words on them!
The contestants arrange the cupcakes into a sentence telling them when and where their next challenge will be held and soon enough, they’re zooming there. Adam thinks there will be a bunch of old people waiting to be served before they arrive at Vaucluse Tea Room which is just stunning. Dani thinks it is something from Jane Austen, but as she sees Gary and George, she suspects it will be all hard work from now on.
Gary welcomes them all and tells them that despite its history, it has never seen anything like what will happen today before Gary quickly reveals that today will host the first ever MasterChef Tag Team Challenge (interesting!), saying the contestants will be split into teams and must produce the same six classic dishes.
The first person in the kitchen will get 25 minutes and from then on, each tagged contestants gets 20 minutes. The hard part, the first person in the kitchen will be the only person who can see the recipe and after their time is up, will have to relay as much information to the next team member within one minute. Wow, sounds VERY interesting.
Gary tells them that the communication will be imperative and will teach them that bad communication can be devastating.
For the winner, a one in a million prize; lunch at Tetsuya’s with Tetsuya and Elena Arzak. Wow, sounds great. Elena is one of the few women in the world with three Michellin stars.
The bad news is that the losing team will be heading straight to elimination; well, only two team members will actually go through to elimination at their choice. Oh dear!
Now for the team pick, and it’s quite simple; anyone under 30 are in team A and anyone over 30 are in team B.
The under 30’s, or Gen Y, are team red and compose of Hayden, Ellie, Danielle, Dani, Arena, Alana, Mat, Michael & Shannon. Ellie believes they are good at multitasking because they grew up with facebook and texting. Yeah, whatever you say, Ellie. I’m a Gen Y-er and I can tell you, I can’t multitask for shiz!
The Gen X team (well, some are baby boomers) are blue and consist of Billy, Kate, Kumar, Rachel, Adam, Peter, Sun and Adam. Rachel says it is war between old farts and young tarts; nicely put, Rachel!
Mat believes that their memory is better than the blue team so will have an advantage.
The teams must now pick a captain and a running order. Over at the blue team, Adam becomes leader and comes up with a nice running order, coupling together people who get on well in the house. This suggests some unshown tension?
Over on the red team and Alana is selected captain (god help the red team) and we get a cheesy look at her back story as sports captain.
As the blue team are one person short, Billy is told he must cook twice. He’s chosen because of his good plating ability.
As Alana and Adam are captains, they will be going first and will therefore have 25 minutes with a recipe; the only two people who will get to.
As the captains go into their kitchen, we get another unneeded look at Adam’s life. Ok, there are times that they are necessary, like I can deal with it in elimination episodes; but not on the back of a challenge like this.
Alana and Adam get started and are already rushing. The judges wonder how Alana is going and she has chosen to lay out ingredients for future contestants to put together. When her time is up, Hayden takes over and Billy takes over from Adam for the blue team.
They have a minute to communicate and Adam couldn’t remember a portion of the recipe and hopes that Billy will know what to cook by looking at the ingredients. Sorry Billy!
Adam leaves the kitchen, and it is Billy’s turn. Billy gets stuck in and he begins on the roast and some other things he must make; but still doesn’t know about the devil’s cake. After a while, he tags in Craig, and gives him the 60 minute Lowdown, he gives Craig the impression that the devil cake is actually a chocolate cake.
Over on the red team and they seem to know their stuff as Hayden swaps with Danielle. He has some veal loin in the fry pan with pie mix that he thinks no one will think it will go into the pie (if that makes sense); anyway I can guarantee someone will, if you’ve seen the promo’s, you’d know.
Hayden’s time is up and Danielle is feeling a little overwhelmed. She gets the potato gratin’s on and the rib roast is also on. She starts on the pie pastry and needs to get cracking! She seems to know what she is doing.
George and Gary discuss how fantastic this fantastic challenge is before going through what the dishes they have to make are. They then reveal that all dishes come from Nigella Lawson who is actually here today to taste. Really!?! I didn’t know!
Craig’s time is up on the blue team and next up is Kate who says it looks like a bomb has gone off. With information coming at her left, right and centre, she starts on the pie. She think she has dried it out (the pie mix) before she realises she needs to work on the rib roast.
Rachel is next and Kate gives her all the information as Adam hopes ‘mum’ (Rachel) can sort things out. Kate mentions that ‘chocolate’ cake they need to make before she leaves.
On the red team, Ellie takes over from Arena who tells her to keep an eye on the rib roast but doesn’t think anything of it as there are heaps of other things going on. She finishes off the velvet cupcakes and puts them in the oven before moving confusingly onto the pie. She puts the mix in the pie, as well as the veal loin that Hayden put there for flavour.
Alana knows her mistake, but her time is soon up as Shannon comes in. Ellie doesn’t really convey information quite well in the 60 second takeover and Shannon just looks confused. On the blue team however, Rachel starts on what she thinks should be a chocolate cake; but in a cutaway where she obviously knows the correct answer; she questions her motives.
Time is up and Sun comes in next. On the red team, Shannon takes in Dani and does a good job at conveying information but Dani finds her instructions confusing but starts off by taking the rib roast out of the oven and finding out that it is one of many dishes she actually doesn’t know how long its been in the oven for.
She notices that the cupcakes are burnt to a crisp and must start over in a pit of stress; she has no idea what to do.
She begins to remake the cupcakes, not knowing how to make some of the elements. This is good, as there aren’t many other cooks to go and is good to start on them early.
The judges judge the progress of the challenge, noting Peter has taken over saying things are looking up. They just hope they have made the right chocolate cake.
They are less optimistic about the red team who started off with such enthusiasm, which has faded away with each mistake they have made. Meanwhile, Dani has her 60 seconds with Mat, whom she and the other contestants think can make the Yorkshire Puddings. Um… no!
Alana is stressed as she wants to just step in and take control, but she can’t.
Over on the blue team and it is the Kuminator’s turn and he ices the chocolate cake as soon as he takes it out of the oven. Sun yells out NO, and for interfering, earns her team a three minute time penalty for the next person. Damn you Sun, messing with the Kumanator.
Mat’s time is up and last up is Michael. Mat conveys the last bits of information on the six meals before leaving Michael to his own devices.
Billy is last up for the blue team, but can do nothing for three minutes due to Sun’s penalty.
Michael begins to take out the plates and begins to plate up. Billy’s time is over and brings out the meat, which looks pink and juicy.
Meanwhile, Michael pulls out Dani’s fantastic looking remade cupcakes and Shannon owes her a great deal of gratitude.
For the last few minutes, we get a montage of business as the last minute ticks down. Michael still needs to plate up the Yorkshire puddings, which look more like muffins. Oh well, he needs to plate up.
With 10 seconds left, Billy struggles to get the pie out and when he does, a big chunk comes out the side. Eww. Not a good sign, but it seems yet again, both teams have made big mistakes here and there.
Rachel believes they have shown the ‘young farts’ a lesson and some nice, uplifting music signals the end of the relentless challenge.
The contestants then walk up to the judging table to see a third person sitting there. Some contestants yell out with joy when they find out it is Nigella Lawson!
Alana feels starstruck as Gary introduces Nigella before Dani realises that the contestants have actually cooked her recipes. Nigella, in all her nicely goodness, can relate to how scared the contestants must be feeling, and Shannon starts to cry over Nigella’s influence on people’s lives. Umm… well that was a sob this show could do without. Oh well, it’s a happy moment, as Shannon gets to go and hug her lovely idol.
Red team are first and George asks Alana how the challenge went. She calls it stressful, but thinks the judges will be happy with what they have whipped up. The judges plate up and quickly realises the pie with the big chunk of veal in it. Ellie is not happy. Either way, Nigella seems happy as the plating continues.
The judges begin to eat and nervousness ensures amongst the red team. Shannon is particularly intimidated. Nigella gives the savoury meat the thumbs up before the other nasty judges tell them it is overcooked and ‘crucified’.
Up next is the Yorkshire puddings (the dish beforehand was the rib steak). Nigella gives a nice review again for the terrible puddings. Meanwhile, the judges love the salty charriness of the Brussels sprouts. The potato Gratin also gets mixed reviews.
They then eat the pie and while Gary thought it would be a disaster, they all love the pastry and Nigella loves the filling.
Next up are the desserts. They begin with the devil’s cake. The contestants can see it is crumbly as Nigella calls it flavoursome, but dry. Next up are the cupcakes.
Dani reveals how she had to redo the cupcakes before the judge’s taste. Nigella is ‘pleasantly surprised’ at the cupcakes and think they are fabulous. She commends how the team went back to redo a dish, as it is a good quality.
With that, judging for the red team is over and judging on the blue team begins. Nigella from the get go thinks the dishes look good. Adam thinks they have done a good job despite not knowing the last dish to make (Devil’s cake). Rachel immediately notices the thick pie pastry and is not happy at all.
Nigella starts off by staying that their beef is nice and the Yorkshire puddings are nice. Gary thinks the beef is fabulous. Gary gets from the Brussels Sprout’s is a slightly undercooked, blanched taste before moving onto the potato gratins. George praises the dish, calling it creamy and cooked through.
To the pie and Nigella acknowledges it didn’t work, telling them the problem lies within the pastry and the small pie fillings.
Gary questions Rachel’s cake, which is not a devils cake. Either way, Nigella immediately smiles at the taste of the cake and calls it a knockout, asking Rachel for the recipe. Even Gary is smiling. This makes Rachel’s day, and life.
Next is the cupcake’s and the moistness of the chocolate cake makes the cupcakes seem a bit dry.
George dismisses them before Adam questions whether the game pie will cost them. With that, the judges thank Nigella, and she is off. It was quick and fleeting, and the exit seemed to be cut short, but it was nice having her here. Pity there was not more of her.
In the evening, the contestants gather in one of the luscious rooms of the tea house for the verdict.
Gary recaps the days events and the challenge before going over the prizes and penalties. It’s nice how the judges have only mentioned this prize at the start of the episode, and now. No time was ‘filled’ during the episode with mindless reminders of the prizes.
George begins by complimenting the red team’s resilience to the challenge before telling Alana she did a good job as a leader.
They then talk about the pie, calling it nice and delicious, despite the veal loin. Some negatives included the roast rib, and there is a bit of confusion on who is responsible, as so many people watched over it, not knowing to take it out.
They talk about the horrible Yorkshire pudding’s before talking about the remade cupcakes with the judges highlighting the nice cupcakes by Dani, calling it a ‘good call’ not letting the horrible cupcakes, made by a depressed Arena. The camera work focuses a lot of attention on Arena during this period, possibly hinting as the possible eighth eliminee?
Onto the Blue team and Adam is confident that the blue team has won. Gary compliments the beef to the forlorn red team. He then concentrates on the big negative of the day; the game pie and its huge pastry. Billy finds it to be his fault as he’s the man who was most in charge of the pie making. Gary also criticises the Blue team’s lack of communication, telling Adam that his mistake at the start of the challenge may have hindered their chances.
Kate in a cutaway reveals that this challenge was all about communication; and the blue team’s lack thereof is their big wrist slap; a cause for concern. At first; I was thinking red team will definitely lose, but now I just don’t know.
Adam does however tell Rachel that she saved his backside. Gary congratulates her for delivering in such circumstances.
At the end of the day, George reveals that they were looking for good lines of communication and tasty food.
Gary then reveals that the winners of today’s challenge is the BLUE TEAM. Oh my god; all I’m thinking is… KUMAR’S SAFE! Lovely work.
George tells the two teams to leave after saying their part and while the blue team are over the moon, red team realise the task at hand; elimination.
So overall, I was impressed with this episode. Great challenge, very inventive, much better than the other inventive challenges this crew are coming up with. It was fast paced and definitely fun to watch. There were some rooms for improvement. First; six dishes?! It sure did make the judging process drag out, it would seem. Although, considering this was the only part Nigella was booked for, it’s probably for the best.
Now, I know the judges didn’t want to reveal to the contestants that they were cooking for Nigella Lawson, but the fact that it wasn’t until about 20 minutes into the episode that there was even a mention of her by the judges; and the fact there was no formal dismissal of Lawson after her stint was up; it all just seemed so fleeting; and it felt like she was only booked for 5 minutes and after which had to be cut from scene.
It’s probably just me wanting more Nigella, but still, great episode overall.
Courtney’s Verdict: 9.0/10