My Kitchen Rules Recap: The Rime of the Ancient Moron

Josh is known as “the seafood king”, part of the grand cooking show tradition of bestowing royal honorifics on people with no particular skill. In this case Josh gained his title through being able to talk about fish without falling asleep for longer than anyone else in Australia.

We begin with a reminder of previous nights, and of the fact that the voiceover guy is suffering from a severe hernia. You’ve never heard a man so obviously in severe pain.

Then we see Josh and Amy driving along the beach in an SUV towing a boat, because that’s what people do in Broome. They just drive along the beach all day, with their dogs, occasionally catch a fish. Josh works as a deckhand, a job reserved for a person who the fishermen don’t trust with a net. “I love fishing as much as I love Amy,” he drawls, which is not surprising: as Matt has already observed, Amy is batting Merrins, a popular Australian slang phrase which means nothing.

Josh and Amy head to the shops, which despite popular perception, exist in Broome. “Good produce equals good food,” says Josh in his suave, monotonous way. Oh dear. They’re one of those teams that talks about produce.

Having purchased squid from an extremely dodgy looking butcher, they head to an equally dodgy shed where they buy some barramundi. Cut to Alyse bitching about how she’s going to vomit if she has to eat more seafood.

“Is the main course too simple?” asks Pete, but no — he’s thinking of Josh.

Apparently Broome even has a Coles — it’s a real boom town. Here they buy some stuff that isn’t seafood, due to the stupid social convention that serving crabs for dessert is taboo.

“Josh and Amy have really set themselves up for us expecting a lot,” says Court, amazingly not bursting into tears at the poignant thought of expectations.

Josh and Amy’s instant restaurant is called “Longshore Drift”, a term meaning the movement of sand along the coast, and they have gone to great lengths to generate the suspicion in diners’ minds that there is sand in their food, with filthy oyster shells on the walls and a general ambience of rotting timber.

Appetising

“I don’t even order fish and chips at a restaurant, because we do such a good job of it!” chirps Amy in the kitchen. Restaurant owners must hate these two constantly coming in and insisting on doing the cooking themselves.

Amy is busily hurling capers and lemon juice incessantly into her tartare sauce, which refuses to taste right no matter how much she ruins it. Meanwhile Josh starts stuffing his squid, if you know what I mean. “How important is it to get flavour into that stuffing Josh?” asks Amy. “It’s very important Amy,” says Josh. Great — Amy learnt something new today.

Amy is hoping the guests come to love Broome as much as they do, which will be a difficult task because their own love of Broome is mainly a result of lead poisoning. She is seeking to trigger this love of Broome by making a South African dessert.

The guests arrive. Kelsey and Amanda begin talking and the residents of Broome dive into their air raid shelters. “They’re finally here!” Amy exclaims in a studio cutaway filmed hours after the meal is over. Meanwhile Alyse refers to Josh’s “unfloundering confidence”, which she thinks is a pun but is actually just stupid.

Entering the instant restaurant, someone calls the decor “cliched”: you know that old cliche of hundreds of photos of a man holding up various fish being plastered on the wall of a restaurant? That hoary chestnut.

In the kitchen, Amy needs to finish her cake batter before Josh snaps and starts dropping shark fins into it. Josh tries to interfere. “I don’t second-guess you with seafood, you don’t second-guess me with dessert,” she barks, moments before realising she forgot to put the eggs into the batter. Not that Josh knew that: he still sucks.

Pete and Manu show up in Broome. “Fingers crossed he can pull it off tonight,” says Pete, with the barely-restrained glee borne of getting to say that after already knowing that he didn’t. The judges enter the dining room, which is the signal for Kelsey and Amanda to start the klaxons and Alyse to start talking about her fish-hating intestines.

Della and Tully are not particularly impressed by Josh and Amy’s menu, and that’s saying something because Della and Tully are impressed by almost everything. But even they can’t muster enthusiasm for fish and chips. Alyse declares herself “not intimidated”, but then nothing truly intimidates Alyse besides human feelings.

“There’s nothing I hate more than overcooked squid,” says Court, including racism, genocide and cancer in that assessment. No doubt if the squid is overcooked, she’ll cry. And if the squid is undercooked, she’ll cry. And if the squid is perfectly cooked, she’ll cry. And if a gentle current of air passes over her face, she’ll cry.

Josh declares himself confident that they’ll get a ten for their stuffed squid, but he declares this in a cutaway, so there’s every likelihood he was ordered to display dramatic irony by a producer. Meanwhile in the dining room. Della and Tully fill Court and Duncan in on all the scandalous overreactions to uninteresting comments that went on last night.

Back in the kitchen, Josh is becoming frustrated by the squid’s refusal to char, but no matter how frustrated he gets he makes sure not to modulate his voice in any way. Panic is setting in as Josh fights a losing battle with the concept of heat, and the squid takes its terrible revenge upon the humans responsible for its murder.

This ain’t over.

The sauce isn’t right, the squid isn’t right, Josh and Amy aren’t right at all, but they bung it all in the oven and cross their fingers. It’s 90 minutes since the guests arrived, but Josh thinks it’s worth the wait if it’s going to be a “ten dish”. It’s also worth the wait if the squid turns into a talking unicorn, but that’s just as likely.

Amy is delighted to hear the guests laughing and cheering from the dining room, unaware that they are laughing at her and cheering themselves for being smart enough to never marry Josh. Amy doesn’t want to sacrifice flavour for the sake of speed, so instead she’s going to sacrifice flavour for the sake of keeping the guests imprisoned in her house until 7am.

In the dining room things have gotten so dire that the guests have started rapping. It’s a hideous scene of unmitigated carnage as Kelsey squeals rhymes in what seems to be an attempt to spark a mass suicide.

Two hours after the guests arrive, entree is served, and they are finally allowed to force some meagre scraps of squid into their rapidly bloating stomachs.

“Josh and Amy, you were promising wonderful seafood,” says Pete. “I have to say you delivered on the seafood front”. They have not, however, delivered on the stuffing front, the sauce front, or the being good people front. Pete tells them the sauce tasted like tinned diced tomatoes, but to be fair that’s only because that’s what it was. At two hours from arrival to serving of entree, it works out to about five minutes per bad decision. The sauce is not worthy of the competition, according to Pete, and that’s a big call because this is a competition for idiots.

Josh is not fazed by the judges’ scathing assessment at all: in fact he’s barely even conscious. He is sure the main will be the best dish of the night. Amy shares his confidence in the main: “we could do it with our eyes closed,” she boasts, and indeed they probably should have.

Amy observes that if the oil is too hot, the chips will burn, and if it’s too low, they’ll take too long to cook. The couple is slowly gaining a rudimentary grasp of the nature of temperatures, but they remain utterly ignorant of how to make chips.

As Amy and Josh struggle to complete a task that teenagers at McDonald’s manage successfully dozens of times every day, it’s an hour and forty minutes since entree and the guests are wondering what the fuck is going on with these shiny-faced dullards that it’s taking them multiple hours to make fish and frigging chips.

They’ve got something of a handle on the chips, but the fish is really proving a challenge for Josh. As the seafood king, the discovery that he hasn’t got the faintest idea how to cook fish has come as a bit of a blow. It might be time to try that “with our eyes closed” option. “The wheels have fallen off in the kitchen,” Josh says, and it’s no wonder he’s struggling to cook with all these wheels everywhere. He gives up on the beer batter, an exotic culinary technique beyond his simple powers.

Two hours and twenty minutes after entree — ie four and a half hours after the guests arrived — no main course is forthcoming, and the dining room is beginning to assume the atmosphere of the family table in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The guests have started talking into seashells. Madness has taken hold.

But finally, after hours of waiting, the guests and judges receive the fruits of Josh and Amy’s interminable labours: a small piece of pan-fried barramundi, a cup of disgusting tartare sauce, and some soggy chips.

Amazingly, Pete and Manu dislike Josh and Amy’s pathetic abortion of a dish. Apart from the fish and the chips and the sauce, everything is fine — the plates are quite nice. “It’s really fishy,” says Alyce, a comment as idiotic as Josh and Amy’s cooking.

Della and Tully are furious that after what Josh said about them, he’s served up this pig’s garbage. But to be fair, when he said that, Josh genuinely believed he wasn’t terrible at everything.

Meanwhile, Alyce is overwhelmed by everyone’s detailed descriptions of their terrible meal, and rushes out of the room, either to throw up or to call poison control. “That barramundi was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she says, delirious with hunger and no longer able to tell the difference between a camel’s back and her own bowel.

Same basic shape.

Dessert is served: Amy’s South African pudding, which lacks any marine-animal element and is therefore immune from the curse of Josh’s cosmic incompetence. Pete tastes it and doesn’t enjoy it, but by this stage all that matters is he gets to go home soon. Manu says it’s the best dish of the night. “A simple dish, but I think simple is where you should start,” he says, subtly hinting that Josh and Amy should try to master microwave cheeseburgers before moving on to anything more sophisticated.

Josh is looking on the bright side. “We’re still standing on our two feet,” he says, having lowered his standards somewhat since the start of the night. The guests give their scores, which are fairly generous really, considering. Albert and Dave give them a four, which is RIDICULOUS after they gave Court and Duncan a three. Jesus Christ, fricking Albert and Dave. FRICKING.

The guests give them a total of 18 out of 50, a bad score unless you saw what they served, in which case it seems incredibly high. The judges, more in sorrow than in anger, but also probably in secret joy because it must be HEAPS of fun to give a guy like Josh low scores, award them scores roughly in line with their sins. There is some discrepancy when Pete gives dessert a four, but Manu gives it an eight because he’s very very drunk. But in total Amy and Josh get 43, which isn’t the lowest score ever but is in the top five funniest.

Josh, pictured just after hearing the scores.

Tune in tomorrow, when Josh deploys his cunning strategy to win the competition by talking until everyone passes out.

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