After all the terrible events of the last week, it was a relief to get back to something as mindless and predictable as Masterchef. This week is the first mystery box of the new season and also the first introduction of a guest judge – Wolfgang Puck.
The minis file in whooping and cheering, accompanied by some old guy who is apparently a contestant claiming he’s gonna take everyone down one by one. If they’re still following the rules from previous years, he is now a hot contender for the first exit from the kitchen. Andrea tells us she’s been cooking in her dorm room on a microwave. I hope that means her dorm doesn’t have a kitchen, because otherwise it means she’s too lazy to walk to it. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt on that one – she spends so much time bouncing around and jiggling that I expect she’s not worried about a short walk.
Two minutes in and I want to kill her
Tosi reminds me why I call her Robo-Tosi – she delivers her introduction with all the energy of a sloth that is feeling particularly down. For some reason Wolfgang Puck comes in with the Masterchef Trophy. Maybe he was using it to prop up a table in his kitchen.
It’s turned my goddamn face blue Gordy
I have to admit that I’ve been overly cynical about the guest judge – at least on the evidence of today. Mr Puck turns out to be an entertaining judge and doesn’t do any PR for his restaurants either.
The contents of the Mystery Box turn out to be potatoes! So the dish has to have some form of potato central to it. Simple enough, you might think. We’ll see.
Immediately the large number contestants causes problems. For instance, Barbara has decided to make one of Wolfgang Pucks own recipes Smoked salmon with potato cakes and caviar, I think. I say ‘I think’ as despite the fact this sounds interesting, we hear from her again today. At all. Did Puck hate being served a shitty version of his own recipe? Or was he blown away by a good recreation of it? We’ll never know.
Alas poor Barbara, we didn’t know her well
Although that does mean she isn’t leaving today of course. She is cast into being reaction shot fodder from here on in.
Nathan meantime, the tuxedo salesman I think, is making a horrendous error. He’s making stuffed potato skins, which is really the culinary equivalent of those ‘Janet and John’ early reader books. Y’know, ‘See the dog run! See John run!’ and so on. Worse, he’s going to use purple potatoes to stuff them. So he’s making russet potatoes skins, stuffed with purple potato. Purple.
Yum, just like my mom from Alpha Centauri used to make
Buffalo Bill the old dude is making potato pancakes and bacon, Andrea is making a Spanish Tortilla which is basically a potato omelette n this incarnation. We never really see it though, except very very briefly.
With ten minutes to go Gordy drops the bombshell that someone is going home from this round. Wolfgang Puck shows an ability to deliver some snappy one liners, which if I repeat them here they’d be as funny as a fart at a funeral so we’ll move on. Tosi could take a leaf out of his book though – less talk, but more meaningful content.
Nathan is praying for them not to taste his dish as he knows its gone wrong. He’s first up. Wolfgang asks him what he calls it.
‘My ticket home’
It doesn’t look cooked, and when Wolfgang cuts into it, it isn’t. Its also purple, which he doesn’t like and says ‘it looks like somebody ate it once already’. Turns out it tastes like that too. So Nathan has failed to make something you cook when you can’t be bothered to cook something properly. .Puck makes him turn around to stare at the Masterchef sign and realise he has a long way to go if he wants to achieve it. He’s very good at this, delivering harsh, unfettered criticism when its deserved – but without the histrionics that some judges used to use. Cough Joe Cough. Or Gordy for that matter.
Wolfgang Puck turns up the humiliation to ’11’
Next up is Cassie. She is mortified to be called up, as she’s never been told her dish is the worst. Could be a new experience coming her way soon then. Having said that, it doesn’t look as bad as Nathan’s.
Cassies Chunk O Brown Bits at a resteraunt near you. In the bins.
The potatoes are supposed to be a potato salad. Er, ok. I’dve guessed they were roasties with a rub, so that’s gone horribly, horribly wrong. Wolfgang Puck refuses to taste it. Cassie must be a favorite now to go.
Last up is Bill. He’s made potato pancakes and bacon.
Now I think Bill is safe here. Although he’s cooked something that is almost so easy its barely cooking, he’s done it well. Crispy bacon with some nicely seasoned potato pancakes? I’ll take that for breakfast any day. Or lunch for that matter. Wolfgang criticizes him for his lack of creativity, and that is a valid point, but I don’t think he’s toast in this round.
The casualty is Cassie, which felt fair based on what she cooked. It’s not often I get to say that. I’ll admit to a small pang as I did think she was cute, but equally this might mean this season is going to be more about the cooking. I know, I set myself up for a fall every time.
Andrea wins with a good Spanish omelette and some other bits. Given the way Wolfgang Puck was judging, I will accept that it must have been a good effort. Andrea then commits the heresy of ‘ I could literally die happy right now’. Winning the first mystery box on Masterchef was the goal of your entire life? Bah.
She gets the infamous ‘advantage’ – she’s exempt from cooking in the elimination test, and she gets to save either all the men, or all the women. Andrea attempts to dress up her choice as some kind of tactical genius, saving the women.
Andrea, the greatest Tactical mind since Napeoleon Bonaparte.
That isn’t a totally fair comparison, of course. Famously when Wellington asked Napoleon at Waterloo whether he wanted to win or lose, he made the wrong choice. So in a way, Andrea is even smarter than Napoleon.
Of course saving your own gender is a better idea, as you’re likely dorming with them right now and who needs bitchy flatmates? Pretending that making a simple binary choice is ‘tactics’ though is hogwash.
Wolfgang leaves, and I find myself hoping all the guest judges are as good. At this point something really odd happens – Andrea stops annoying me. Maybe after prolonged exposure to her antics I’ve built up immunity. Perhaps I’m in shock, we’ll find out next week.
The challenge itself is one of my favorites from Hell’s Kitchen – the ‘Taste it now make it’ challenge. Gordy will prepare a dish of his, then the minis get to try it, and then they have to work out what each ingredient is and replicate his dish. This is definitely a step up from the first challenge, and there won’t be any ‘I could do that’ comments now as I very much doubt I could do any where near as well as any of the contestants do.
Gordy prepares the dish, and its daunting to see. He makes it look easy, but by the glazed expression on some of the contestants faces I don’t think half of them are following it at all.
Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!
Its halibut, cauliflower grated, sweet potatoes, parsnip puree, and Yukon Gold potatoes for the scales? A lot of people plump for sea bass and couscous, including Wild Bill who is panicking. Frat Boy Dan has a lot of the ingredients right, which is annoying. D’Andre hasn’t. Bill has gone spiraling off doing things he knows Gordy didn’t do, but is trapped now because of his choices in the pantry. Or he’s really stupid.
The man-bear Terry is working away at a steady pace and seems to know what he’s doing. Already there are some ‘wow, the big guy is going to surprise us’ comments from the balcony. Why? Do you think peoples brains shrink as they get bigger? Was he supposed to go ‘Thinking hurts Terry! Terry smash!’ and maul half the other contestants?
I added honey to this, because I’m a fucking bear. Deal with it.
Nathan, who is a squeaky young Tom Cruise a like, seems to be doing a bit better in this challenge. Frat boy is messing up his techniques, which warms my cold and barren heart. Manny sets his station on fire, but for once we don’t get Gordy prancing over to dramatically save the day, as even he isn’t arrogant enough to try and save a Firefighter from a pan-fire. Or to show that it is possible to deal with a pan fire without unbuttoning your shirt and making it seem like Vesuvius has just erupted again.
Wild Bill is off in his own little world and its not looking good at all. It seems Andrea is fond of Bill, because as he is failing to plate anything with one minute to go, she is distraught.
If only someone could have had the power to save Bill, hey Andrea?
Even with only 9, we don’t see all the dishes. Nathan is up first.
Its a bit over on the scales, but that’s nitpicking. Gordy loves it, and in a new move immediately tells Nathan he isn’t going home. Everything is going so well, and then he gives Tosi his sob-story of being bullied as a kid, and how hard growing up was for him.
Stop whining you slack-arsed tosspot
All the goodwill he has built up with me is now vanished like a Scotch mist. If you want to whine about your childhood, talk to a therapist or counselor. Not Tosi on Masterchef.
Bill is up next. This ends up being a bit controversial.
Close but no cigar.
He has some of the ingredients right – the fish, the potato, but not the couscous and there’s no sauce or puree. Gordy slams him hard though, and its not entirely clear why. Until later.
Other Fireguy Eric turns in a decent effort. It’s close enough to clearly keep him in the game, but not enough to be a winner today. Which is the best result, as winning means being a leader in the outdoor challenge. David has basically the same story for his.
Next up is D’Andre, and he shakes his head and doesn’t want to present his food. You have no other options mate, except walking out now. This kind of thing is irritating, like those people who start dancing before they get to the dancefloor. Gordy doesn’t like it either and tells him off, so its going well for D’Andre before he even shows his food.
It’s all a bit slapdash and underdone. The ingredients are mainly wrong too.Gordy compliments him on his personal style which is a bit rich considering he’s wearing shoes that light up and change color.
Terry does an effort that is on a par with Nathan’s and Tosi tells him he’s not going home. So Nathan and Terry have won. Pretty simple.
Last up is Frat boy and his pretty good dish – or at least he thinks it is.
‘Pretty Good’ has now been redefined to mean ‘Fucking awful’
The potato scales are underdone, the puree or vinaigrette, or both, are a watery mess. Gordy swears at it, calls it a plate of puke and you might think Dan is in trouble. Gordy tells him to take things more seriously, and Dan accepts this and claims its a life lesson. So he’s safe. Its a set up for cooking journey style thing for Frat boy to go through in the season.
Nathan wins, Terry is second, so they are Team Leaders for the next challenge. Only two people are called up,Wild Bill and D’Andre. Not Dan, whose plate looked at least as bad as Bills. Its a bit suspicious. If you go back and look at the two, it doesn’t seem possible that Bills is worse than Dans – especially as Bill did get some ingredients right. Dan’s is just a hot mess.
D’Andre gets to stay. Bill is toast. This causes some upset on the Balcony and Andrea must be regretting her choice now.
Shenanigans are still present in the show, but at least today it was about the cooking a bit more than usual. The next ep is an outdoor challenge at a wedding, and Nathan seems to be having trouble establishing authority. I don’t imagine Terry will have that particular concern – he comes across as a calm and sensible person whereas Nathan will be unsure of himself and squeaky.
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