‘MasterChef Australia’ Recap: Crouching Chats, Caper Gate And Reynold Literally Cooking “Space”

"Poh sitting sadly and impatiently by the fridge, proving once again that she’s the most relatable contestant."

masterchef recap tessa elimination

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After last night’s controversial elimination, we’ve been left with our top six.

Walking into the MasterChef kitchen, the vulnerable bottom six learned that they, thankfully, didn’t have to use their brains for the first round.

Presented with a fuck-off giant chalkboard with five classic sweet and five classic savoury dishes, Dessert King Reynold, Vegan Reece, Tessa, Emelia, Sweat King Callum and Chaotic Poh each had to select a no-frills dish to cook with a pre-allocated amount of time.

Before the contestants decided on their dish of choice, Melissa explained they weren’t allowed to make any fancy changes to their classics, which both confused and depressed Reynold instantly. And despite having an array of options like carbonara, paella, vindaloo and the iconic croquembouche up for grabs, four contestants decided to double up on their dishes.

Going for the same thing, both Reece and Poh settled on creme caramel with 60 minutes to cook, Reynold and Emelia picked the 90-minute bombe Alaska, Callum chose the chocolate soufflé with 60 minutes and Tessa went for the only savoury dish of the round with a 60-minute fish and chips with tartare sauce.

With the longest cooking time available, Team bombe Alaska started on their desserts despite neither Reynold or Emelia having any experience in successfully making a bombe Alaska before.

Keeping it as classic as possible, Reynold decided to do a vanilla and orange bombe Alaska by making a sorbet and parfait. Meanwhile, Emelia settled on an a flavour combo of orange and chocolate, with two ice creams placed on top of a sponge cake.

Totally unaware that bombe Alaska’s were more than just ice cream and torched meringue, Bench Demon Jock visited Reynold to ask him about the flavours he settled on. As Jock asked Reynold about his sponge, the Dessert King totally blanked and didn’t even realise that a bombe Alaska actually required sponge cake to be, well, a bombe Alaska.

So, to appease Jock and hit the brief, Reynold decided to quickly whip up a last-minute sponge base for his ice cream to sit on.

With 60 minutes remaining, the rest of the cooks jumped in and started on their classics.

Sprinting around the kitchen with their ingredients, Reece and Poh both started on their creme caramels by browning their caramels to different stages — with Reece going for a sweeter and faster style and Poh taking hers a little further to give it a bitter edge.

To speed up the normally hour-long cooking process, Vegan Reece decided to prepare a bunch of different tins to ensure his dessert would cook fully within the 60 minutes. After pouring his caramel into the tins, he shoved them into the blast chiller to cool before adding his custard layer.

Deciding to, well, not do that, Chaotic Poh was just standing around waiting for her caramel to brown while Reece blitzed on past her. Once it finally darkened, Poh decided to pour her caramel into only fucking huge ramekins in a beautiful case of ~foreshadowing~.

Also starting on his dessert, Sweat King Callum begun to prepare his chocolate soufflé, while Tessa cut up her hapuku fish and potatoes for thrice-cooked chips in an ode to her kiwi fish n chups-loving heritage.

Despite it literally just being fried deep-fried fish and potato sticks, Jock shared that he thought that fish and chips was actually the hardest dish to whip up out of all the classics. And, I’m sorry? Fish and chips is the hardest? When Callum is literally making a soufflé, the most temperamental dish to ever exist in the history of the world? Um, ok then Jock. Sure thing.

With 30 minutes to go, both Poh and Reece were at very different levels for their creme caramels. Switching up staring at the oven to crouching by the blast chiller, Chaotic Poh tried to use the power of wishful thinking to speed up the cooling of her caramel. As she crouched by the fridge, Melissa joined her on the floor for a chat that felt like some oddly romantic moment we were all intruding on.

After their cheeky chat and 10 minutes had elapsed, Poh decided that she just couldn’t wait any longer. Pulling her caramel from the blast chiller, Chaotic Poh started to fill her huge ass ramekins with custard and chucked them into the oven hoping for the best — which honestly really does just sum up Poh’s entire cooking style.

Back over in calm soufflé land, Sweat King Callum put his Strategy Hat™️ back on to plan the perfect cooking time for his dessert. Calculating the remaining time until service to figure out when to throw his soufflé into the oven, Callum settled on exactly 11 minutes being the perfect formula.

With 15 minutes to go, kitchen twins Jock and Andy decided to just be as annoying as possible by coming over to Tessa’s bench just to question the temperature she was cooking her fish at. Not giving a fuck, Tessa continued with her 170 degree cook as she started to whip up her tartare sauce and fry her chips for the third time.

Preparing for service too, as Reynold and Emelia begun to pipe their meringue exteriors for their bombe Alaska-off, Sweat King Callum assumed the Poh Position™️ and just stared at his soufflé in the oven after he threw it in at the strategic 11 minute mark.

Also staring at their ovens were Reece and Poh, who were patiently waiting for their creme caramels to cook away. After turning out his largest ramekin, Vegan Reece realised he had undercooked his dessert as it completely fell apart. Luckily, however, his smaller versions turned out to be perfect.

Sadly, as we all knew was going to happen, this was the opposite for Chaotic Poh, who refused to tale her dessert out with just 30 seconds to go. Finally pulling her singular ramekin out of the oven, she realised her entire creme caramel was still liquid and not cooked at all. Crazy! Totally unexpected result that we didn’t know was going to happen! A shock!

Tasting Callum’s soufflé first — at his bench because of how sensitive the dessert was, almost as though a soufflé is, perhaps, actually more difficult to cook than fish and chips — the judges absolutely frothed the gooey centre, calling it perfect and classic.

Next up, Vegan Reece presented his creme caramel, which the judges thought was delicious but fell on the sweet side, which… I mean, is kinda expected for melted caramel on top of custard, right? Anyway, Chaotic Poh’s version obviously bombed as Jock described it as “looking like water”.

Tasting what was now essentially custard soup, the judges said they enjoyed the flavours of the “aggressively cooked” caramel but couldn’t look beyond the fact that it hadn’t set, which was pretty fair.

Torching her bombe Alaska at the tasting table, the judges said that Emelia nailed her choc-orange flavours and that her liqueur choice of Grand Marnier was perfect. Barely even torching his bombe Alaska, Reynold’s sponge cake came up yet again.

Despite making a sponge, Jock said that if Reynold hadn’t he’d immediately be in round two. Sadly for Reynold, however, the judges found that the sponge that he did make was too thick and dry. And, honestly? At this point I’m lost on whether they even wanted a sponge or not.

Anyway, saving savoury for last, the judges thought that Tessa’s fish was overcooked and debated whether her tartare sauce was “classic” because it had no capers. A bit of a dickhead move from the judges though, considering they told Reynold that he needed sponge cake but wouldn’t tell Tessa about the capers when she was making her sauce. But hey, what do I know.

As expected, Chaotic Poh, Dessert King Reynold and Tessa’s classic dishes obviously landed them into the second round where they had to cook the judges something tHeY hAd NeVeR sEeN bEfoRe. Sweet or savoury and with an open pantry, the bottom three were given 75 minutes to whip up their unique dishes.

To hit the brief, Chaotic Poh decided to tap into her Chinese Malaysian heritage with lettuce cups filled with sago dumplings and rampah udang, which was basically Poh’s own version of a popular street food.

Also wanting to try her hand at kuih koci, the Malaysian dessert she fucked up in a previous challenge because she didn’t have enough time for two dishes, Poh decided to spend this challenge *checks notes* making two dishes again. Logic and sense has truly left the room.

Meanwhile, literally bending the rules of space this time, Dessert King Reynold asked Melissa if she had ever “tried space”, which truly wasn’t a shocking sentence at all coming from Reynold. Anyway, the question came from Reynold’s desire to create a dessert that looked like “a gas cloud in the middle of the milky way”, as you do.

Using elements like raspberry and rum sorbet, rum ganache, black cocoa butter and isomalt shard, Reynold decided he wanted sponge redemption from round one, so also decided to whip up another almond sponge for his little galaxy creation.

Over on the next bench, settling on fish and savoury once again, Tessa thought that her way to win a challenge based on originality was by creating the most unoriginal ~fusion food~ imaginable: Indian tacos. Despite every white person thinking that turning everything into a taco is “unique”, Tessa was sure that her use of spices and flavours could pull her through.

With 30 minutes to go, Reynold took his sponge out of the oven and was a lot happier with it than he was in round one. However, while whipping his ganache, Reynold realised that he fucked up the mix by making it too watery, so he quickly threw it back into the fridge to set. After that changed nothing, it was too late to make a new one so he just carried on with what he had.

Then to add the finishing touches on his science experiment dish, Reynold put his safety goggles back on to *checks notes again* literally spray paint his dish jet black.

Meanwhile with six minutes left, Chaotic Poh decided to still continue on with her bonkers idea of whipping up two dishes in one cook. Despite her kuih koci needing six minutes to cook, Poh was adamant on making at least one dessert to serve to the judges. Managing to assemble one fit for an ant in time, Poh wondered how the judges would be able to split it, but then giggled to herself that they manage to do it with all of Reynold’s dishes, so it should be fine for her. Lmao.

Also finishing up her cook, Tessa was confident in her fusion food despite the dish being pretty boring and honestly looking like your mum’s attempt at a fish taco recipe she got in her weekly Hello Fresh order.

Bringing in her 1.5 dishes, Poh got emotional as Mel asked why she decided to cook Malaysian. Explaining that she basically wanted to go out with a bang if she was going out at all, the judges quickly shut that idea down with their critiques. Basically, the judges loved that the dishes were not only original, but delicious and found that her extra tiny half-dessert was actually a great addition.

Up next, Tessa brought in her taco platter and as the “resident taco expert”, Andy shared that the tacos were packed full of flavour, but felt that the fish was taken over by the “hecticness” of everything around it – yes, he said hecticness. Similarly, Jock and Melissa felt that all the flavours were just too much and that the hot sauce was overpowering and felt more Mexican than Indian.

Saving “space” for last, the judges were just in awe of the look of the Dessert King’s galaxy-inspired dish, with Mel calling it “high-concept edible art”. However, Jock said that the dish wasn’t “overly pleasant” because the rum mousse didn’t really taste or texturally feel like a mousse at all.

But because he actually presented something new, interesting and unique, Reynold’s space dessert hit the brief way more than Tessa’s Indian tacos did. This meant that we had to say ta-ta to Tessa with some more strange, socially-distanced elbow bumps.

On the next episode of MasterChef: Back To Win, the top six compete in a Rubik’s cube and colour-inspired Mystery Box for a spot in this week’s immunity challenge.

MasterChef: Back To Win returns tonight 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