Masterchef Recap: It’s Not Ova Till It’s Ova

Previously on Masterchef, the amateurs took over the South Melbourne market in what can only be described as a hostile coup. The red and yellow teams, cursed by being the same colours as McDonald’s, failed miserably and have been punished by being made to wear black aprons, which are less slimming than you might think.

As the familiar strains of Katy Perry’s ode to personality disorders ring through the air, the contestants remember a happier time, when life was as simple as hurling a ball of dough or standing awkwardly behind a bench and smiling. But this is the real world, and in the real world insincere smiles and slow-motion sugar-dusting mean nothing. Only one thing matters in the real world: eggs.

Yes, today’s elimination challenge revolves around the humble egg, invented as the answer to a riddle by JRR Tolkien, but today one of the most popular embryo-based foodstuffs around the world.

“Being a great home cook is all about being resourceful,” says Matt, and viewers’ hearts leap — are we finally to see the Most Dangerous Game episode we have yearned so long for?

Sadly, no — what we get is three elimination rounds, where each amateur gets six eggs. The three best cooks in round one will be safe, the two best in round two will be safe, but for the hapless trio who are forced to cook in every round, the six eggs are all they get over the course of three dishes. So they’ll have to be super resourceful and make a little go a long way and blah blah blah etc etc etc. What would’ve been better would be a taste test where they have to guess which animal each egg comes from just from the taste, but Channel Ten stubbornly refuses to consider even the most attractive of my ideas. Even the six eggs that they’re using are all just chicken’s eggs. Pathetic.

“We’ve really gotta hero the egg,” says Pete, having succumbed to the cult of hero as a verb that has ruined many a promising young human being. Which is the greater sin: his use of “hero”, or Nicole’s gormless declaration that “I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket”? Both betray a craven cowardice, a refusal to stand up to producers and say, no I will not mouth your idiotic catchphrases. Nicole and Pete disgust me equally.

Jess is using three of her six eggs in her first round. This is an objectively terrible idea, but Jess has always stuck to her life motto: fortune favours the stupid.

Meanwhile Ben claims he’s not going to leave anything in the tank, but will the judges appreciate his innovative use of petrol in cuisine?

In contrast to Jess, Michelle is only using one egg in the first round — she may be young, but she has the intelligence of someone months older. Matt asks her what will elevate her dish from simple home cooking to something more special. “The flavours,” she says, like someone who is asked in a job interview to name their greatest strength and says, “being good at work”. She claims her dish is “one hundred percent me on a plate”. Geez Michelle, get a grip.

Over at Jess’s reckless egg-wasting station, she is making a Japanese scotch egg, or to put it another way, a Japanese egg.

Meanwhile Ben is rolling up cucumbers, because a man’s got to have a hobby. Disaster strikes as his egg slides off the top, but then it un-strikes as it keeps its shape. Remember when this would’ve been a weird process to watch on television? I do. But back then we had Man O Man, so which generation is truly the dumbest?

At the end of round one, Ben says he’s never pushed himself so hard, which is probably big clue as to how he ended up in elimination. Forty-five minutes cooking an egg and he’s acting like he just dug his own grave with a toothbrush.

“We always say a quick cook is a good cook,” says Gary, but I’d like to see whether his beep tests back that up. Anyway, that blatant lie out of the way, it’s time for the judging. Wunderkind Michelle obviously impresses the judges and is clearly safe. Everyone on the balcony claps, but it’s a tense clap: they know that next Michelle is coming for them.

The judges taste Pete’s soft-boiled egg. “I’ve got a new name for you: Pretty Pete,” George sniggers in a particularly revolting way. Every minute in George’s company is like having a dodo bird drool on your shoulder. Anyway Pretty Pete’s egg sucks because the white is uncooked, in a classic case of reverse racism.

Hilariously, Jess’s Japanese Scotch egg, which includes three eggs for no good reason, is bad. “I wish that egg was runny,” says Matt, but he doesn’t really because he sustains himself by drinking in the suffering of innocents.

Ben serves up a Dutch potato salad. With bits of egg all over it. I don’t know what a Dutch potato salad and I bet nobody else does either. Matt immediately starts naming qualities of food, and says, “If you’re not safe, I’m a Dutch uncle”. Then Ben says, “I know my uncle would be proud”, and it’s kind of confusing. Is he saying that Matt is his uncle? Is Matt Dutch? He can’t be, because Ben is safe. There’s a tangled web of euro-genealogy to be negotiated here, but no time, because on to round two! Ben is safe, Michelle is safe, and also Nicole is safe, having struck a deal with the producers that if she said the stupid line about her basket, they’d let her through.

So in round two it’s Karlie, Jess, Callan, Pete and Samuel. Jess only has three eggs remaining due to her inability to visualise the future, and is therefore becoming desperate. She’d be even more desperate if she could see the percentage of screen time is being devoted to her here. It augurs badly. She is making her “take” on an Eton mess, which is what Masterchef contestants do when they have no ideas left and just want to curl up and cry.

Karlie is making a Caesar salad, and using egg in the mayonnaise, which is always a good idea as eggless mayonnaise is a turnoff. “Go Karlie!” the balcony-goers cry, expressing their hatred for the other contestants quite openly.

George and Gary want to know whether Callan’s custard is going to cook in time, but you can tell they don’t really care.

Meanwhile Samuel is of no interest to anyone.

Tragedy has befallen Karlie’s salad, as her poached egg has turned into a nightmarish fog from the bowels of hell, containing who knows what horrors. She decides to make a boiled egg instead. “I don’t have time to dwell on the egg” she blusters, the phrase that has triggered many an unwanted pregnancy.

Meanwhile Jess’s curd looks bad, and her haircut isn’t everything it could be either.

“Let’s hope all these brilliant ideas turn into brilliant dishes and keep you out of round three,” says Gary, which is a moronic thing to say, because it’s impossible for that to happen. Three people are going to round three, whether all the brilliant ideas turn into brilliant dishes or not. Gary has forgotten the premise of challenge and needs a stern talking to.

Time is up and everyone is panicking because it turns out eggs are a lot more complicated than they look.

Samuel takes his dish up and nothing interesting happens.

Callan serves his dish. Gary calls him “a very clever cook” in a fairly patronising manner, and complains that his custard is “like eating scrambled egg”. I don’t see what the problem is: what’s wrong with scrambled egg? You’d think in an egg challenge, a nice bit of scrambled egg would be welcome. So narrow-minded.

Pete brings forth his dish and makes Gary pull a face, which is not a great sign.

Karlie, slightly more interesting than Samuel, pleases the judges with her salad.

Jess brings up her “Jess mess”, a far more apt name for the dish than she had intended, and the judges are instantly amazed by how disgusting it is. George urges Jess to “believe in yourself”, which is a pretty hard sell when he’s saying it in the course of telling her she’s failed.

Samuel and Karlie are obviously safe, and Jess, Pete and Callan will cook off for the title of Worst At Eggs. Jess only has one egg left, too, so that decision to use three in the first round just keeps getting funnier. Meanwhile Callan has two left, and Pete has a whopping three, proving the truth of the old adage, “Always prepare to be the worst at what you do”.

“I’m just going to go for it,” vows Callan, foreshadowing some kind of shooting spree.

Jess is going to try to redeem herself for her terrible round one, and give the judges a really good crumbed egg. The judges treat this declaration with some scepticism, which is understandable because they were there for the first round. She could make a good crumbed egg out of three eggs, so how she’s going to do it with one god only knows.

George and Gary drop by Callan’s bench to hear about his insane theories on popcorn and raspberries and passionfruit, and good-naturedly humour him while surreptitiously thumbing Triple-O on their phones.

Meanwhile Pete is making steak and eggs, which pisses George off no end. But why wouldn’t you make something incredibly simple, when every time anyone tries anything out of the ordinary their dreams are crushed?

But life comes at you fast, and it appears that no dish is so simple that Pete can’t stuff it up — it’s a special talent of his. In the twinkling of an eye, he’s destroyed two of his three eggs and is under the pump.

Luckily for him, Jess has also ruined her egg, and she only had one. She tries to save her poor abused egg by rolling it in breadcrumbs and frying it, which may in fact be how Scotch eggs were invented in the first place.

Meanwhile Pete ponders the meaning of life and Callan does something perverted with granita.

Round Three finishes and Jess, terrified that she’s going home, serves her horrible crumbed egg. Her terror is well-founded, but hope springs eternal given that Callan is a lunatic and Pete is bad at everything. “It means the world to me to be here,” she sobs, but sucked in Jess, it means the world to everyone and you’re not special. Your tears will not change the fact that your egg is overcooked. Iron law of reality.

Callan’s turn. “I’m trying to figure out whether you’re bonkers, or brilliant,” says Matt, flirtatiously. Callan’s dish has lamb and raspberry and caramel popcorn and smoked egg yolk and I have no idea what the hell is going on with him. Gary points out that the salt has continued to work on Callan’s meat. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Nobody is willing to tell me.

Pete reveals that this is his fourth time in an elimination, raising the question: why hasn’t he given up yet? It’s the only sensible course, but like all great failures in history, he has indefatigable determination, and ploughs on with his sad little steak and chips and egg thing. Which turns out to be the best dish of the final three. Who would have thought that making something easy makes you more likely to succeed than trying to do something hard? Everyone would have thought that. Everyone on the entire planet.

Judging time, and guess who’s going home?

Did you guess Jess?

Nice work.

We get a quick montage of Jess in happier days, before Masterchef annihilated her soul. Remember when she did that weird tea ceremony thing? Remember when Gary made a creepy comment about a party in his mouth? Remember that guest chef whose name I don’t remember? I don’t!

Bye Jess, you tried hard and were a lot more memorable than the three or four women who I still get confused with each other on this season.

We are informed that Jess is doing work experience at Atlas Dining, and working on her cookbook, which will be a huge success because the public loves cookbooks by work experience kids.

Tune in next week when Yotam Ottolenghi will explain who he is and why he is there.

If you like my recaps, you’ll love my live show! Or maybe you won’t! Why not come find out, if you’re in Melbourne — encore performances of my comedy festival show, at the Joint Bar, 7.30 Tuesday night, and at the Exford Hotel, 7.30 Thursday night!

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