Last night, by the skin of their teeth, the blue team won the team challenge which saw each member face off against a member of the red team in a gladiator-esque battle. This means that the red team, consisting of Mat, Dani, Michael, Alana, Peter & Craig will all be facing MasterChef Season 3’s twelfth elimination!
As usual, we get a quick recap of these events, but MasterChef as always has pulled off another short and sweet. We get a look at tonight’s episode and find out that we’ll be seeing some good dishes tonight! That’s all I ask for at the end of the day from these contestants!
We look at Sydney Harbour to the sound of a violin. It’s Craig’s violin as he dramatically play it. The scene is so corny, I just have to laugh. Hayden is giving Michael some support as the contestants all put on their black aprons.
Dani in the meantime has been given permission to call her dad which is usually not allowed. She is very concerned about today. I must say, the sad scene is probably the most real scene I’ve seen come out of the house.
As the SUV’s containing the contestant’s rock up to the kitchen, I’m surprised the usual back story cutaways have been ditched. The contestants enter to see the round set up; something they haven’t seen for a while. It is reminiscent of the first elimination challenge of the season when Tom and Kumar cooked off.
Gary & George are there to welcome the six to elimination and ask whether they were happy with yesterday’s performance before interviewing the contestants individually. The usually bubbly Dani is obviously teary and it is immediately noticeable that something is not right with her today; hopefully she can get through this challenge alright. Gary even goes to hug her; she is such a wonderful person and has that effect on people. Even I want to hug her!!
Today, the producers have decided to showcase the blue teams reward segment before the challenge gets underway; definitely a good move. Gary throws to the Marque restaurant where the blue team will be cooking and dining with Shane Osborn as a reward for passing yesterday’s challenge. The contestants are very grateful for the opportunity and it isn’t long before we return to the kitchen (without a contestant from the blue team creating the traditional segue). Gary reveals that all six people will be competing in today’s challenge and one of them will be going home, simple as that.
George tells them that they will be fighting it out in the round and there are no big luxurious benches today. They will be split into two teams of three. In the preliminary round, they will have 15 minutes to produce a savoury dish. They have to be creative and have a pantry full of ingredients at their disposal. The two least impressive dishes from the first two rounds will battle it out in an elimination round where the least impressive dish will go home!
In the elimination round, they will have 30 minutes to produce one sweet dish. Dani only wants to be cooking once today.
For I think the first time this season, Gary introduces the knife pool; an everyday knife block containing knives. Each contestant will pull a knife out to reveal what group they will belong to. Mat pulls first and is put in the team that will be cooking first.
Michael is next and is cooking first as well. Peter is the first to pull out a ‘round two’ knife and will be in team 2. Dani is next to pick and is placed in round 2. Great, she didn’t want to be in round 1 as she would have to compete against Mat & Michael; too much testosterone.
Craig pulls the last round 1 knife meaning Alana will be apart of round 2.
Alana, Dani & Peter go upstairs as Mat, Michael & Craig begin their round. Their fifteen minutes start and they are off and racing.
Craig picks some quail out of the pantry with Michael going for steak for a steak tartar. Both contestants pick their dishes based on speed of cooking and simplicity. Mat picks quail as well and the judges are surprised to see him only use the legs; Gary thinks he should use the whole things.
Craig has chopped up his quail and shoved some of it in pancetta and has put it on the pan to cook. He has a game plan that involves keeping the quail juicy. He begins on his glaze as the judges come to see what he is doing. They simply say that the soy sauce and pancetta combination is a ‘good combination’. I love how when they left, the music just cuts off as if they are leaving Craig hanging with their advice. Haha.
With a few minutes left, Mat describes the round as frantic as all three cooks begin to go at it very fast. Gary & George are confident that they will be eating good dishes today, and love how their decision may be a hard one.
Mat finishes before time and with a few seconds to go; the other two are just putting on some decorating finishes. Craig even sneakily eats a bit of his dish by the look of it.
With that, the dishes are plated up for the judges and they begin with Michael’s steak Tartare and he tells the judges that the dish is missing the traditional egg yolk. The judges taste and love the cleanliness and the tenderness of the steak among other things. Gary would polish it off. Nothing negative there as Craig comes up next.
He has Quail with fennel salad. The judges taste and Gary seems interested in the flavour. George loves the legs but says the breast is dry.
Mat is last with his Quail. His dish looks quite busy as noted by the judge’s surprise when he says he thought he could have added to it. The judges are also a bit concerned that they have been given a dish with three quail legs and not an even number of legs. Mat tells them he ate it, hilarious! The judges are also still very surprised that he hasn’t plated up the breast.
They taste and Gary tells Mat he loves the bacon, figs, sherry and the quail working together with the flavours however he doesn’t like the confusion of goat’s cheese, presentation & pine nuts among other things.
With that, tasting is up, and George reveals that each plate was delicious but reveals one must continue on to the elimination round. Michael is called up as safe with, after an ad break, Mat saved second. Thank god. If Mat went on, we all would know he’d have to be safe due to his ‘controversy’.
With that, Craig moves on to the elimination round. The other three contestants; Alana, Dani & Peter, now enter the kitchen for their turn. Gary introduces them to the challenge before quickly beginning the challenge.
They fly into the pantry with Alana choosing Harissa, fennel salad and lamb cutlets with Dani choosing to cook a Vietnamese noodle salad as it is a quick snack at her house. Peter has chosen lamb cutlets as well due to the quick cooking time.
Alana describes some of the things that could go wrong with lamb; like the seasoning and the cooking before the judges share their initial thoughts on the progress of the contestants. With 6 minutes to go, Alana still hasn’t got her lamb cutlets cooking, choosing to crank up the heat on a pan and cook the lamb straight away.
Peter is cooking a potato Galette, thinking it may take more time that he has at his disposal but is really just doing it for presentation.
Alana takes her lamb cutlets off the cook after a while, hoping they are cooked, and begins to plate them up with the other contestants doing the same as the last 10 seconds begin to count down.
When time is up, the contestants breathe a sigh of relief as Dani comes up with her Vietnamese Beef noodle salad. She tells the judges her dish is a particular favourite of her dads’.
The judges taste with Gary loving the colour, the goodness and the freshness. George loves the taste of the beef. Nothing negative as Peter comes up with his Barbecued Lamb Cutlets next.
He isn’t too happy with his dish, already running through dessert ideas in his head as the judges eat. Gary notices the beef is a bit undercooked but George tells him that the elements on his plate have come together really well. Gary tells him to be wary of undercooking lamb.
Alana comes up with her Harissa-Basted Lamb cutlets next which contains a fennel salad. She is worried her lamb is undercooked and considering Peter had his on for longer, she may have done a poor job. She rushes over as the judges cut them open and as we have it, they are quite raw. The dense music describes the atmosphere in the room as the judges begin to announce the safe contestants.
These people are Dani (might I add that when she expressed her excitement in the cutaways, the production guy’s spent a little too much camera reel viewing her funny grin; I don’t think she’ll be too happy when she watches that back) and Peter with Alana going through to elimination with Craig.
Peter is relieved and chokes up as he realises he is actually safe. He begins to cry when he admits that he actually does have too little confidence in himself and he describes how his life is changing. OK, OK enough with all the reality television cliché’s.
Gary explains to Alana why and when she will face off against Craig in the next round. She is glad at least that she has another chance to save herself from elimination but not so happy that she will have to beat Craig to achieve this.
We return as Alana & Craig shake off their emotions and begin their 30 minute dessert race to the finish.
Craig grabs some apples with Alana grabbing some fruit as well. She will be making a spiced pear, chocolate Ganache, orange crème anglaise and some macadamia crumble.
The two competitors finish in the pantry and begin in the round. Craig is cooking some apple fritters in tempura batter. He describes the back-story of this dish before describing how the presentation will look (like an arrow has shot through an apple). The judges then look at Alana’s dish as Alana describes how her husband likes her spiced pear. During this period, we see a bit of a back story from both contestants as I realise that for Thursday elimination’s, we only see the back story when the final contestants are battling it out.
Alana begins to poach her pear however Gary would never attempt Alana’s dish in 30 minutes, saying the wine won’t have enough time to infuse. They talk about Craig’s dish and have a bit more faith in him.
Craig makes his tempura batter, hoping it will remain crispy in tasting. Alana is also working rapidly on her elements as we see a close up of her head showing the sweat beads forming. Very tense indeed!
Craig makes his sabayon with 10 minutes to go as he remembers that he hasn’t remembered to grab some rosemary for his dish. The rosemary was going to act as the ‘arrow’ in his masterpiece dish. With the pantry shut, Craig has to dash outside into the darkness for the rosemary in the garden. Wait, in the dark? Damn, these contestants must have spent the entire day in this kitchen; don’t they enter in the morning? EDIT: Johnson below has clarified that they don’t begin until the afternoon, my bad, thanks Johnson!!
He struggles to find his rosemary in the garden and there are only 5 minutes to go. After the break, we see that Craig has found some. That must have been the first time that garden outside has come in handy.
Alana begins to plate up, putting the Ganache on the plate before plating up her pears knowing that cooking them for a bit longer would have made them perfect. She knows there will be a slight crunch to them even though Gary wants them soft.
She is sprinkling her macadamia crumble over the plate with one minute to go as Craig finishes his dish by pouring the sabayon into a boat.
With 10 seconds to go, all the contestants have to do arrange their plate into perfection as the two contestants express happiness of their plates however Craig is not as confident with his plate. It sure doesn’t look as good as it did in the flashback.
The safe contestants come down and give their final hugs to the two contestants as the judges ask Alana about her Spiced Poached Pears. George asks her if she has done enough today and although she is happy with how it turned out, she is crying.
Craig describes his dish which is called the William Tell Apple Fritters; as it is based on a story or song by William Tell. Very inspiring.
The judges taste Alana’s dish first and she can see the resistance the pear is giving to Gary’s spoon, not a good sign in a way. Gary loves the custard, licking his spoon and also loves the Ganache and red wine syrup. George doubted the pair and was correct, calling it crunchy.
The judges begin on Craig’s dish with Gary giving it a very good review. He calls the apple fritter ‘a little bit crunchy’ which kind of lets the dish down.
With that, tasting is over and Gary begins with the announcement of the result. He tells them that they have produced some brilliant dishes with a lot of confidence but one of them must go. The judges then go to deliberate.
After the break, Gary tells Alana that she is safe and she just bursts into tears in the largest display of hurt I think we’ve seen this year as Craig is revealed to be eliminated from the season.
Gary tells him that if he were to have nailed the batter on the apple, he would have won the challenge.
We see some highlights from his time in the MasterChef kitchen before he leaves as the twelfth person to leave the competition.
With that, the final 12 have been decided and there’s just one more week before the final 10 have been decided and the game well and truly begins to heat up. A fantastic episode tonight filled with humour (thanks to that very first scene), brilliant dishes, emotion and a bit of suspense. It was a fair challenge and a fair elimination.
What I would love to see now is this show trying to shake some of the cliché’s it uses (like the fact that the game is changing the contestants). Other than that, very good episode with a bit to look forward to tomorrow- MasterClass with Mary Calombaris.
Courtney’s Verdict: 9.9/10