Nigella Lawson was the cherry on last week’s MasterChef’s week 6 cake and as we head into week 7, we can only expect more things to come! The week starts here, and I’m just teaming with excitement!
Tonight, as shown in a nicely packaged preview, I just realised that Neil Perry is a guest in the episode, so what a way to begin, eh!
It’s early morning and Kumar & Sun are spooked by a couple of cute looking possum’s; quite funny. Back in the house and Ellie realises that the contestants will be cooking with Qantas labelled chef whites. The contestants are a little confused as they head off to the kitchen.
They enter to the faces of George, Gary & Neil Perry! Kate kind of picks up what is going on but George clarifies things.
George is sure they know it will be a big day when they saw the chef whites and Neil Perry. George makes a pun on the challenge based around Neil Perry’s experience as a first class cook, calling today’s challenge ‘Jumbo sized’!
Neil Perry tells them that they will be cooking 8 first class meals from Neil’s cook book for 24 guests in one hour plus Matt and two guest judges. These two judges are elite; sharing 9 Michellin stars between. ‘Even I’m scared now!’ exclaims Gary. We’ll find out who they are later on.
Neil then approaches the 8 closhes covering tonight’s eight meals to cook. The first course is Crab & Fennel Salad, the second is Caramelised Leek & Goats Cheese tart, third is Lobster Burghul Wheat salad, fourth being a poached snapper, fifth is a poached duck, sixth is a Slow-roasted sirloin, seventh is a Golden syrup pudding and a chocolate & caramel tart tops off the list as eighth.
As it turns out, contestants will only have to cook one of the eight dishes (although they have to cook it 24 times!) and the contestants go through the one’s they would and wouldn’t want. So the judges now work out who will be cooking what with who. Neil reminds them that the choices will be based on the contestant’s WEAKNESSES and if they think they can master a dish and want to do it, they can think again!
Cooking the first course will be Dani and Sun and Dani realises that they are two opposite personalities, but they are strong.
Cooking the second dish will be Craig and Rachel and Craig calls the challenge ‘difficult’ due to the sheer amount of pastries that need to be cooked.
Cooking the third dish will be Ellie and Kumar! Hmm… I’ll be disappointed if this group lose the challenge. Neither one should go home just yet!
Cooking the fourth dish is Kate & Danielle while the two cooking dish five is Adam and Alana with Mat and Billy cooking dish six (oh dear, Mat’s not too happy).
Cooking the seventh dish are Shannon & Michael. Hayden and Peter are therefore cooking dish eight. Peter is happy to be working with Hayden.
The recipe, the ingredients and their dishes are at their benches where the contestants now head off to. Gary reveals that the challenge has been divided into two parts; the first part being 60 minutes where they must prepare all 24 dishes. The second part is a 20 minute service where they must plate up and serve all the VIP’s. The winning pair will get the chance to cook for immunity and as it is a big challenge, the winning pair will also win a second prize and while it won’t be revealed until later (Hmm, very secretive episode), Gary tells them that every chef would give their right arm for the prize. Gary and George are envious.
Of course, the two teams that lose will face off in a pressure test tomorrow (what, so is there a double elimination tomorrow?). Their time starts and they begin to rush. In a preview, we see this challenge is about to turn very pear shaped!
People are running everywhere and instruments are flying out left, right and centre. Shannon in team seven is already starting on the batter as Michael tells her there isn’t much time for love! He’s already showing signs of rushing things.
On Kate & Danielle’s team, Kate is making the garam masala while Danielle begins work on the snapper. She is carefully boning the fish, something that has been demonstrated in MasterClass, however Danielle is having a bit of trouble putting the knowledge to practice so Gary gives her a few tips and she is very thankful.
Kumar and Ellie make up team three and Kumar is prepping the pots for the lobsters as Ellie starts work on the harissa and the preserved lemons as these must be cooked for the longest. Kumar has cooked lobsters in the past but not so many, so he is quite nervous.
A montage sees the contestants hard at work as we take a look at Craig and Rachel’s progress; they are cooking the leek and goat cheese tart. Oh, and my mistake; it isn’t 24 dishes, it’s 27!!! Oh dear, this is nerve-racking. Craig is a bit apprehensive that they will get their dish done in the 60 minutes, but they have a plan and they seem confident on it, even if Gary doesn’t.
Gary reminds them all that they want first class food; no room for error and that they have 45 minutes remaining.
On team one are Dani and Sun who are cooking the fennel salad. Dani lists some cautionary measures but seems confident. Meanwhile, Alana and Adam are well into their dish when Neil Perry comes to look at their dish progress. Alana is working on the XO sauce as Neil asks her how long the fish needs to cook for. She tells them that it needs 25-30 minutes and with 35 minutes remaining on the clock, they are a little behind.
Alana realises this and tries to make corrections. The music speeds up as George reminds them again what the elements of this challenge are at the 30 minute mark.
We move to Mat and Billy’s team and Billy is a little confused as to why Mat has cut the bit piece of meat in half and is searing it already. Mat is convinced they must be cut up into portions after they are seared. This is correct, but he was meant to cut the beef lengthways, not in half! Oh dear. Gary tells them that if he can cook it properly, the guests may not know, but they have to cook it perfectly. There is 25 minutes to go!
After the break, this is reduced to 15 minutes as the contestants are frantically cooking, boiling and everything. Neil is worried about Billy and Mat as they are in big ‘beef trouble’. Gary believes this is because of the lack of communication between the two.
They then talk about Craig and Rachel and are worried about the amount of time they have left. Looking at their bench, we can see Craig being pessimistic and Rachel going all mum over him, telling him to stop it! Haha.
Here’s someone we haven’t seen, Hayden and Peter! Hayden is making the pastry, noting it must be perfect. A close up shows us something that really isn’t.
Back at Billy and Mat’s bench, there’s no sign of improvement, but Mat is being really positive! Meanwhile, Gary reveals them that usually they have to work smarter, not harder, but in this challenge with 10 minutes to go, they should work harder… AND smarter. A flip around of the clock and a powerful base-y beat made that comment really stick out. I reckon it’s all gonna fall apart here!
Dani is getting the crab out however realises that with 10 minutes, she needs to crack open and clean 12 crabs! Dani is really nervous as Adam begins to take his duck out of the pot but after cutting it; he realises it is perfectly cooked, so no worries there if they can get the other elements up!
Five minutes to go and that clock is daunting, this is a huge challenge! Dani is wondering who should clean down the benches and while Sun is giving her a half-assed answer of ‘you can do it’, not even really caring about her partner, Dani snaps back, telling her to work faster. I don’t know if this is just Dani being a bit bitchy or nerves, but go Dani! Sun just acted like a total cow; well done for putting her back in her place!
Meanwhile, the contestants are verging on panic as they are checking if things are cooked properly. Gary and George can understand that things can be missed out at this crucial stage. With one minute to go, plating begins as Rachel and Craig’s tarts are still in the oven!
With 10 seconds to go, Hayden and Peter are done and are serving, Dani cuts her finger and needs to run it under water, Kate is cleaning up as the cooking stage comes to a halt!
All of a sudden, Craig can see his tarts have come out shrunken.
After the break, Gary wraps up the challenge with a bit of a recap, telling them that the stress and panic is just a window into their lives. They now have 20 minutes to plate up and serve, however there are a couple of people missing.
All of a sudden, Matt Preston and the two very special guests come into the kitchen. The two expert judges are Thomas Keller and Andoni Luis Aduriz. Again, I have no idea who they are, but the contestants do! They are over the moon.
Michael is definitely over the moon and Matt invites him up to meet Thomas Keller. It nearly draws him to tears.
Thomas expects professionalism from the contestants today and has the same expectations as Neil Perry. Andoni just tells them to be relaxed. No real input there.
All of a sudden, QANTAS’ VIP frequent flyer’s come in to eat at the MasterChef restaurant as Neil reveals that they better do well, because his reputation is on the line. Jeez… definitely not as bubbly as Chef Lam.
20 minute service begins as Sun and Dani plate up the first course. They are being really careful as hopefully for the first time in this competition, there is a real history making dish! Neil runs them through the plating period as their time is up and they seem quite nervous. It definitely was a shaky 20 minutes. Dani is worried about the presentation and if there is still shell in the crab.
Matt, Andoni and Thomas taste. Matt gets a bit of shell in his mouth which worries Dani. Thomas calls the crab excellent while Andoni says the bottom of the dish is lacking in taste. Oh, I know why he didn’t say much before, he can’t speak good English. My bad!
Matt finds cartilage and calls it a sign of ‘rushing’. Come on, Matt. Was there really enough time to sieve through all 12 crabs?!
Anyway, group 2, Rachel and Craig begin plating and they have a pretty good strategy in place. Craig isn’t too happy with the tarts; as isn’t Neil. They finish service ahead of time but Rachel is worried about the dish’s simplicity.
Matt and the other judge’s taste and Matt calls the pastry ‘rustic’. Thomas expected something more refined while Andoni thinks the tart is lacking salt and the salad lacking dressing.
Next is Ellie and Kumar and their time starts on the plating of their dish. They have to do the sauces and dressing. Neil is happy with the cooking lobster and pretty much happy with the harissa. Time is their biggest issue as they enter 30 minutes and Kumar is trying to get through the finishing touches.
The finish just in time and seem happy with themselves. Kumar doesn’t like the presentation and Thomas isn’t too happy with the consistency.
They taste and the judges are happy with the lobster and Matt calls it the most complete of all the dishes so far. So good news as we head on to Danielle and Kate’s Poached Snapper.
Their time starts as they coat the snapper in a sauce however Kate goes into panic as they run out of time and they start taking plates 3 at a time as Danielle even sticks her hand in near boiling water to plate up the noodles.
Kate isn’t too happy with the sloppy effort but is happy the challenge is over.
The judges taste and Thomas is happy with the cooking of the elements while Andoni also loves the dish. He wonders if there is a lack of salt but thinks it may just be him.
Adam and Alana are next with the poached duck and Adam begins to fry the duck as Alana begins to plate the rice and XO sauce. Alana is shaking as Neil tells her to calm down. She notices that the more plates she dishes up, the worse they begin to look. Adam is concerned that he won’t get 27 plates up.
Neil is a bit worried that they are sloppy but comments that the duck is cooked to perfection!
With the last few seconds, they are literally throwing the elements on the plate and it looks messy.
The judges taste and Matt asks what the two like about the dish. Thomas is happy with the duck but not so much with the XO sauce. Andoni thinks it is cooked good all the way through considering the experience of the contestants.
Last of the savoury dishes are Mat and Billy with their sirloin. Their 20 minutes begins and they frantically begin the final parts of cooking. Neil is worried that Mat is going to send plastic out to the guests by not taking it off the butter and there is a bit of rudeness on Matt’s part I sense.
With ten minutes to go, Neil reveals they must have their meat warmed as it is too cold. They were going to plate up cold meat, something that borderline outrages both George and Neil. I must say, Neil is a bit of a hard-arse. I guess that’s what’s needed.
With time up, Neil hugs them and shares in their excitement however Mat isn’t too confident.
The judge’s taste and Thomas calls the dish nicely cooked. Uplifting music highlights the beauty of the dish and when you think back to just before when they were plating up cold food to Neil Perry’s disgust; they have just been saved from the bottom two.
Now it’s time for Michael and Shannon with plate seven, the first dessert. Shannon has underestimated the time they needed to reheat the puddings and with four minutes to go, they have their work cut out for them. With two minutes to go, Michael risks burning his hands to plate up the puddings and when time is up, Michael delivers the dishes to the judges table. Michael is a bit disappointed at his efforts but is quite excited to be dishing up to Thomas Keller. How lovely.
So Michael so desperately wants to impress Thomas who thinks the pudding is way too dense, and Andoni theatrically tells us that the dish is a ‘villain’ before giving an evil laugh as he doesn’t know whether to give it a thumbs up or down. Umm… ok!
Hayden and Peter start on the last dish plating and with 10 minutes to go, they have no confidence. Neil is giving them a lot of advice as Peter happily cuts his tart up into their pieces. Even the shaky Hayden does a good job.
They finish with a minute and a half to spare and this could happily wrap up an intense challenge.
The judges taste and Thomas thought the pastry could have been a little bit better however Andoni believes it is the better looking dish; kind of revealing the episode’s worst kept secret; the dishes as a whole weren’t crash hot.
To summarise, Gary tells them that despite their glum faces, the contestants have done well under pressure. He also tells them their rewards, the secret one being that the winning team will be cooking alongside Thomas and Andoni at the Ultimate Dinner for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. This excites all the contestants.
However, the bottom two pairs will be facing elimination where one (only one) person will be going home. Well, only two mentions of these prizes and failure’s which is a good sign for the episode.
Matt then briefly goes through each group with one good and one bad point before he reveals the top dish. The lucky two contestants are Kate and Danielle. But that’s the good news, now the bad news. Only one person can compete for immunity; and they must decide now. Danielle lets Kate go for it as she cooked the well done fish. Good choice, Danielle has already gone for immunity.
Now for the really bad news; the two teams facing elimination.
The four contestants facing elimination tomorrow are revealed to be Rachel, Craig, Michael (oh dear) and Shannon, who will face her second elimination in a row. Phew, that was nerve racking.
So this episode had it all. A huge, nerve racking challenge with not too much stress. The announcement of the bottom four was very nerve racking and we even get a glimpse of Danielle and Kate participating in the ultimate dinner. What a nice way to end the episode, showing part of the reward!
Productionwise; recaps and previews were short and respectable, camerawork was well done as were all other effects and really, the only thing I think this episode could have improved on was actually finding a dish that was a knockout. Alright, not history making, but still a brilliant dish. That wasn’t found today, and it was a little disappointing.
Oh, and I just realised, it’s spelt ‘cloche’, not closh! D’oh!
Courtney’s Verdict: 9.7/10