Masterchef Recap: Five Easy Pieces

Monday is Loser Day on Masterchef, and Ray, Pete and Eloise are three of this year’s most consistent losers. In the sadistic tradition of forcing the least talented cooks to undergo the most difficult challenges, they’ll have to make five dishes under the calm, unhelpful eye of Yotam Ottolenghi, a chef so legendary, and so in need of easy cash, that apparently we have to have him here for the whole week.

We begin with the losers in the house, talking about their dreams and their lives and other boring things like that. Ray, as usual, speaks about his daughters and how hard it is to be away from them and all the milestones in their lives that he’s missing, and adds, “That’s what makes me even more determined to stay here”. He says that every time, and the only conclusion it is possible to reach is that he intensely dislikes his daughters’ company.

Arriving at the kitchen they discover that Matt is not present, having been rushed to hospital after one of his cravats rebelled and tried to strangle him. Luckily, Yotam is there to make up the numbers with his phlegmatic, slightly threatening presence.

Yotam brings out the pressure test: five of his dishes, to be made by people who have already proven their inability to make one dish properly. “It’s a mezze!” George chirrups. “It IS a mezze,” Yotam affirms in a reproachful manner, resenting George stealing his mezze thunder.

The losers taste all five dishes and fulfil their contractual obligation to say that they taste great and use fresh ingredients and the flavours are popping and blah blah blah, you know it is statistically almost impossible that not a single Masterchef contestant has ever tasted a guest chef’s dish and not liked it.

The losers have one hour to make their five dishes, because the purpose of today’s pressure test is to make all three of them look terrible. In this regard they’re off to a flying start, as within seconds of the challenge beginning, Ray is talking about how stressed he is and how much he misses the kids that he is determined to stay away from, and Eloise is practically suffering a seizure.

Eloise reveals she recently finished a law degree, before moving as quickly as possible to ensure that effort was wasted by going on Masterchef. She also reveals she has a nonna, which you’d think she’d have mentioned more often — usually people with nonnas on cooking shows never shut up about them.

Meanwhile Pete fucks up royally by mixing his yoghurt in with his parsley, or his parsley in with his yoghurt. Something’s been mixed in with something, anyway, and it spells disaster for this humble crane operator who has neither nonna or kids to miss. He has to do it again, which is anti-climactic: it’s always more fun when there’s no way back.

Up on the balcony the other amateurs pass judgment on the three losers, like they’re so great. Your time will come, Samuel.

Meanwhile Eloise is hyperventilating over the speeding of the clock, her stress showing in poorly-edited sound grabs. In the cutaways her face is extremely red: is today’s twist going to be that Eloise quits halfway through and goes to the beach?

“This is getting really stressful,” says Ray, who is the most easily-stressed doctor in Australia. He finishes his hummus, but on the balcony Arum is concerned that Ray is not tasting everything. Classic Arum. Such a backseat driver. Elsewhere on the balcony Tamara shouts, “Gotta get it done, come on!” which is not doubt a really useful interjection for the cooks on the floor.

Eloise is concerned that her finely chopped onion is not finely chopped enough. The producers are concerned that this episode doesn’t have enough good footage, forcing them to use extended sequences of onion-chopping.

Tamara is extremely concerned about Ray, but the upside is, she doesn’t care if Ray goes home. Ray, like Eloise, is worried about the size of his onion chunks, but unlike Eloise, he hurls them into his kofta mix in a blind panic. This is how he treats his patients too — never takes the time to finely chop them up. George comes along to passive-aggressively pass judgment on Ray’s onions, so he starts pulling onion bits out of mince and chopping them up more. Yet another innocent victim of George’s vicious hatred of human decency.

Pete wants to get everything perfect, but just doesn’t have the time. His only consolation is that the series up till now has demonstrated that he also doesn’t have the talent.

“Ray, you’re behind,” says Yotam, the smug Professor of the Fucking Obvious. Ray knows he’s behind. He’s more aware of his own inadequacies than any previous Masterchef contestants, and you have to admire that.

Eloise wants to make sure that everything looks as beautiful as it can look, so she begins sewing her koftas into small velvet pouches. Meanwhile Pete claims to be “under the pump”, which I guess is crane operator slang.

Karlie is all a-twitter on the balcony — she can see that Pete has left his koftas in the pan, which Karlie correctly identifies as an offence against God and Man. But everyone has problems — with ten minutes to go, Eloise is starting to panic, which is her big mistake: she should’ve started to panic with fifty minutes to go. “I’m shaking like a leaf,” she burbles, so at least there’s no change there.

Pete is so stressed out he begins trying to paint the benchtop with oil, a rookie mistake. George pops over to say, “gotta keep moving mate”, a real prick of a thing to say to someone when you are the person making it harder for them to keep moving. George is basically Sybil Fawlty ringing Basil in the middle of his hanging the moose head, to remind him to hang the moose head. But he’s less attractive than Sybil, let’s be honest.

“Am I going to have time to do my olives?” asks Eloise. “You have to do everything,” says Yotam, deliberately not answering the question. “I know that my whole future in this competition rides on these dishes,” Eloise frets, not understanding that it actually rides on Pete and Ray’s dishes, which are probably awful.

Drama hits fever pitch as Eloise, hands flying with panicked speed, accidentally knocks something onto the floor. Yotam gasps like he has a mouse in his throat. Everyone on the balcony puts hands over mouths. “Is that one of my dishes?” Eloise yelps. Nobody tells her. Yotam just walks away. The people on the balcony, who have spent the whole hour whooping and screaming empty banalities, completely ignore this one opportunity they have to actually contribute something helpful to someone. Eloise has no time to look and see what happened. Well she does really, it’d only take a second, but she’s in no state to think.

“Ray, you’re behind,” Yotam says, AGAIN. He is close to breaking the Masterchef record for Least Helpful Guest Chef: his entire role in the kitchen is apparently to find people who are failing, and rub it in.

Eloise is stabbing her beans with a whisk, so extreme has her madness become. Pete assures us that he remains “under the pump”. With ten seconds to go, everyone starts yelling numbers to throw the losers off, and then it’s all over and they can commence reconsidering their life choices.

Eloise finally gets to see what she knocked off the bench: a jug with eggs in it. The relief is enormous: she has managed to achieve the bare minimum by serving five dishes. “It shows what you can achieve when you want it enough,” she says, and it’s true — if you want something enough, you can finish a task with no conception of whether you’ve done it well or not. For his part, Ray describes the challenge as “like an episode of Fast and the Furious”, which is weird, because The Fast and The Furious is, for one thing, not a cooking competition, and for another, not a TV show.

Judging time, and first is Pete, the crane operator with a heart of beef. “You’re like a regular in this nightclub, aren’t you?” says George. “Yes,” says Pete. “WHY?” George demands, furious at Pete’s persistent ineptitude. Gary looks at him as one might look at an incontinent chihuahua. “What do you love to cook?” Yotam asks Pete. “Bad food,” says Pete.

Haha, just joking. Of course he actually talks a bunch of crap about roast chickens and B&Bs, and then leaves, upon which the judges begin talking about how incredibly ugly Pete’s dishes are and how much they hate him on a personal level.

Pete’s food doesn’t taste as bad as it looks, but his kofta is garbage and his pomegranate jam is disgusting. “I found your jam more fresh,” George tells Yotam. Of course he found it more fresh. Yotam is an experienced world-famous expert chef, and Pete is a crane operator who has consistently proven himself one of the worst in a pack of amateurs.

In comes Ray to talk interminably about his daughters again. He thinks his daughters are the harshest judges of food, which is why he keeps ending up in eliminations: he doesn’t realise that little kids have no idea what good food is and so he has gained the erroneous impression that he can cook.

The judges decide that Ray’s dishes are a “mixed bag”. Some bits are good and some bits are bad and isn’t that just like life really? Interestingly, his onion bits are too big. Even more interestingly, my use of “interestingly” was quite inaccurate.

In comes Eloise to confess that she has naturally unsteady hands which get worse under pressure, and is therefore in no way suited for a career in cooking. “My passion in life has always been food,” Eloise tells the judges: that explains why she did a law degree.

Eloise has plated up beautifully, so she’s clearly safe, before they even taste it. You could sort of tell by how happy she seemed in the redface cutaways.

The moment of truth. Who will be going home, and who will be hanging around until the next elimination when they will go home? The judges explain that Ray and Pete both managed to make dishes that were not 100% revolting, but also made some real crap. But Pete’s real crap looked worse than Ray’s real crap, so it’s back to the cranes for him. “We’ve loved having you here,” George lies.

Pete is now doing work experience at Ezard and Atlas Dining, which seems to have an insatiable thirst for work experience kids. He also “dreams of owning his own bed and breakfast”, which is a depressing way of saying that he is not any closer to owning his own bed and breakfast.

Tune in tomorrow for an immunity challenge that promises to be I don’t know something or other.

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