Culture

‘MasterChef Australia’ Recap: Supersized Gnocchi, Overcooked Quail Drama, And A Sea Of Cloches

Judging contestants for what they actually cook >> Judging contestants for what you THINK they're going to cook.

masterchef recap poh gnocchi

Following Tessa’s controversial elimination on Sunday, the top six entered into a colour-focused Mystery Box.

Yep, lifting their Mystery Boxes to find a Rubik’s cube, the top six learned that they would have to base their entire cook around one of the six cube colours of white, red, blue, orange, green or yellow.

Quickly de-throning Laura as the new one-trick pony of the season, Reece, sadly made yet another tart — his famed lemon one this time. And while I love him, it’s hard to ignore that the majority of his recent dishes have been, well, some form of tart, and I have previously dragged Pasta Lover Laura for doing the same thing so we can’t let it go unnoticed.

Anyway, also whipping up a dessert, as expected, was Emelia who focused on strawberries, while Callum went all out with orange for a persimmon dish. Shying away from savoury, Pasta Lover Laura even stepped out of her comfort zone for a white creation made of yoghurt and bay leaf.

Opting for green, Dessert King Reynold made his signature dish of ‘Moss’ and Chaotic Poh cooked a whole-ass Malaysian feast focused on red through chilli, which reminded Mel about her mum’s cooking and made her (and the rest of Australia, as a result) violently sob.

Despite a whole bunch of stupid mishaps in the kitchen, like her pan not even being on, Poh’s tear-jerking feast landed her a spot in last night’s immunity challenge, along with Pasta Lover Laura and Dessert King Reynold.

Walking into the immunity challenge, Laura, Poh and Reynold were greeted by a sea of cloches, which is rarely ever a good thing.

After a long-winded spiel about how excited everyone was to be so close to the top five, Andy finally explained that the contestants only had to pick two ingredients each from all the cloches. Then using these ingredients, Poh, Laura and Reynold would have to cook both a sweet and savoury dish, that highlighted their hero ingredients, in just 90-minutes.

To make it a little easier for the chefs, the judges shared that they were each allowed to swap out one of their cloches if they weren’t happy with an ingredient. However, if they did so, it meant they would be stuck with whatever their new choice was. Look. It was all a bit much. They really could’ve just said “pick two ingredients out of a hat”, but here we are.

Anyway, going first, the Dessert King randomly selected some madeira, which is basically a sweet cooking wine. Unveiling his second ingredient of boring-ass fennel, which Laura sooked was her pick, Reynold decided to cash in his third cloche in hopes of getting some citrus. Instead, because the world works in the worst ways, he was given dates — the ingredient he hates above all else.

Picking next, Laura happily bagged some red miso and vanilla bean, and so decided to keep both of her ingredients. Up last, Chaotic Poh disappointedly selected bergamot aka a poor man’s stinky lime. Sadly for Poh, this searing hatred only got worse when Jock unveiled ruby grapefruit as her second ingredient. Going for her third pick by giving up the bergamot, Chaotic Poh jumped between cloches before settling on olives, something she thought was “just ok”. Brilliant.

To highlight his all far too sweet ingredients, Reynold decided to do a Callum™️ and strategically swap around his plans and use the wine in his dessert and the dates in his savoury dish. For dessert, Reynold settled on a chocolate brownie with madeira gelato and madeira gel and for savoury, quail and mushrooms served with date puree and a brown butter potato foam.

Following in Reynold’s footsteps, Poh also choose to use quail to try and highlight her olives through an olive and quail ragù-stuffed gnocchi. Putting on her Cool, Calm and Collected Hat™️, Poh started to write a list of what she had to do for the cook.

To give herself as much time to as possible to focus on the flavour-packed ragù, Poh decided to go for a simple grapefruit-highlighting dessert of *checks notes* chocolate hazelnut pastry? served with *checks notes again* uncooked grapefruit?

Anyway, finally using a meat that wasn’t quail, Laura started to marinate her pork for her main of red miso pork with turnips. As that begun to infuse, Pasta Lover Laura brought back her old trusty dough for an Italian dessert of a vanilla custard sfogliatella cannoli served with brown bread crumble.

To ensure that the vanilla bean flavour was pronounced in her dessert, Laura just manically started shoving vanilla everywhere to cover her bases — from the dough to the custard to the creme pat base.

With the MasterChef producers deciding there was nothing exciting about this episode at all, the clock randomly dropped from 90 minutes down to 40, and yet Poh was still somehow fucking around with her potatoes, instead of, oh I don’t know, maybe doing ANYTHING for her dessert?

Visiting her bench, Andy started to question Poh’s timings considering she had done barely anything. Um-ing and ah-ing for ages, Poh threw any chance of a calm cook away and returned back to her standard chaoticness, as she almost toppled a bottle of oil to the floor.

Realising that she had to motor on with her pastry, Poh abandoned her gnocchi for a minute to shove her pastry into the oven to cook. And now with the time dropping down to 20 minutes in the blink of an eye, Reynold started to fry off his quail as Laura begun frantically whisking her vanilla custard as she blitzed her red miso emulsion with the other hand.

Suddenly now with only 12 minutes on the clock, Chaotic Poh started to shape and boil her, no joke, fucking ginormous golf balls gnocchi, which genuinely scared the judges who were looking on in confusion.

As the contestants begun to assemble their dishes for service, the Dessert King realised that his quail was overcooked when he sliced into it. Deciding to just ditch the quail altogether, Reynold called the overcooked bird a blessing in disguise and trusted in the flavour balance with the mushrooms, chicken glaze and hero ingredient of dates, on the plate.

Waiting for her pastry to cool, Laura started to carve her pork and assemble her main. Conveniently, after moving onto her dessert, Bench Demon Jock returned to add his two cents with literally like two minutes to go.

Asking whether Laura’s vanilla flavours were shining through enough, when she had zero time to do anything about it, Jock started making Laura second guess her molasses-tasting crumble. But with such little time remaining, Laura decided to just keep her crumble on the plate because, in a shock to absolutely no one, it turns out last-minute advice is never actually helpful!

With just seconds to go, despite grapefruit being her hero ingredient, Chaotic Poh decided to just plop some raw, ugly-ass grapefruit segments on her dessert, while Reynold totally forgot about his madeira gel chilling out in the fridge. Somehow, utilising the sheer powers of wizardry he possesses, Reynold managed to cut a perfect circle and gently place it on top of his dessert with one second to go. True insanity.

Taking in her basketballs gnocchi and grapefruit in first, Chaotic Poh said she was happy with how she highlighted her ingredients — despite not actually doing anything to her grapefruit at all. Looking like a damn soccer ball on the plate, the judges felt that Poh’s olive flavour was great, but called her potato monstrosities “clumsy”.

Tucking into her dessert, Jock said he liked where Poh was going, which is never a good critique. Meanwhile Andy called the dessert a “20-minute dish” at best, while Melissa said it was the kind of thing that you’d whip up when you find out people are coming over at the last minute. And so it was pretty clear that Poh’s lazy ass grapefruit and fucking bowling ball gnocchi wasn’t winning immunity anytime soon.

Up next, Laura presented her pork and sfogliatelle, sharing that she was confident in her savoury dish but not so much with her sweet. And the judges agreed, not only was Laura’s pork perfectly-pink but Andy frothed her two sauces and Jock thought that the red miso was “loud and proud”.

However after diving into the dessert, despite loving the pastry, Jock felt like the molasses flavour totally overpowered Laura’s hero ingredient of vanilla — just like he said was going to happen when she only had two minutes left on the clock. Super helpful stuff, really.

Presenting his quail-less quail dish and wine ice cream last, Jock shared that he was upset that Reynold didn’t bring in his quail because he was looking forward to it. Despite quail not being one of Reynold’s hero ingredients and, therefore, not needing to be on the plate, Jock just kept banging on about missing it even though he loved the date and mushroom flavours he was presented with.

And I mean, he just really kept going on about it — including complaining about his phantom quail, that wasn’t on the plate, being overcooked. Like, sir? Are you ok? Anyway, in the end Reynold’s lack of quail didn’t matter because the judges loved his wine dessert so much that Mel even did a happy dance over it.

Delivering the feedback, the judges savagely booted Poh out straight away. Still fucking complaining about the overcooked quail that they didn’t even eat, Andy said they were disappointed that Reynold overcooked the bird this far in the competition and was also upset that didn’t include it on his dish, which truly is mixed messaging at its finest.

Singing praises about his desserts, the judges gave Laura the opposite critique saying that while her main was perfect, the balance on her dessert was a little rocky. Ultimately, however, the judges felt that Reynold’s wine sorbet and overcooked phantom quail were the superior dishes, which landed our Dessert King the first spot in the top five.

On the next episode of MasterChef: Back To Win, the bottom five take part in a two-round elimination challenge featuring a guest chef-run Pressure Test.


MasterChef: Back To Win returns on Sunday at 7.30pm on Channel Ten. 

Michelle Rennex is a Senior Writer at Junkee who can’t cook, but enjoys judging people like she can. You can follow her on Twitter at @michellerennex