‘MasterChef’ Update: Please, Won’t You Cook Me A Delicious Helium Balloon?
Is this show still about food?
MasterChef is still on! The bottom three contestants have to compete in a pressure test!
“How can we make them feel like they’re really under pressure?” I imagine Matt Preston saying in-between puffs of his vape pen, reclining in a leather armchair the colour of rich mahogany.
Gary’s head emerges from a pie plate that he has licked clean. “Let’s make them cook something else that isn’t actually food!” he says.
“Yes, good idea,” says George, counting stacks of unmarked bills and stuffing them back into a hole in the wall concealed by a fake bookcase. “They will cook an item that is not food, but also this item must have the ability to hover in the air.” The three men nod. This is how they will find the best amateur chef in Australia.
So, last night they cooked a balloon. Samuel, Trent and Bryan had three hours to cook ice creams tethered to a balloon. I don’t know, man.
What I do know is that Bryan has good hair in the morning.
In the kitchen, the judges aren’t even pretending that this season isn’t just a ridiculous farce designed to give the contestants severe emotional breakdowns. Matt Preston tells them that today’s challenge is one of the worst they’ve ever orchestrated on the show.
“It’s unlike anything you have ever cooked, we have ever cooked, any cook on the planet has ever cooked, it’s not even a recipe!!!” says Matt. By the way, tonight Matt Preston is dressed like the owner of a candy emporium that is partially funded by a covert cocaine ring in the tropics.
The special guest and bringer of pain tonight is Christy Tania. She is a bigwig when it comes to pastry and the opening of franchises. Gary says that the dish she has chosen for the contestants to recreate is so difficult that you would “normally find it in a finale”.
I’m starting to think that, when it does come to the actual finale, the only thing left for the contestants to do will be to cook full-scale houses out of bits of chuck steak in the shape of grapes that they have to live in for a week before presenting to the judges.
“CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???” says George in glee. “It doesn’t look edible,” says Samuel. Samuel doesn’t even eat desserts, let alone balloons!
Samuel knows that balloons are not for eating. Samuel wants to cook food. But the judges want him to cook a balloon. Cooking food isn’t enough anymore. The contestants simultaneously have terrible epiphanies about the insane expectations of this show and begin to question everything they knew to be true.
“I’ll be quite honest with you, the balloon is the hardest bit,” says George. Yeah, no shit George. “Get excited!” says Christy Tania. Christy Tania cannot fathom why these three men are not beside themselves with ecstasy at the prospect of creating a floating edible balloon. Bryan, Samuel and Trent try to pretend that they are just excited to be involved in such an idiosyncratic event.
“This is the most stressful moment of my life so far,” says Bryan. Bryan has not even started cooking yet.
Samuel starts making his sugar syrup, because every journey starts with a single step and every edible balloon starts with… something in a saucepan, I guess.
“I don’t want to be down there!!!” says Callan, his rosy boy 1950s face quivering. Whenever I look at Callan’s face I have the irrepressible urge to join the armed forces and protect my country.
Bryan is so nervous that he is trembling. “I’m the dessert guy!” he says as he splits his cream. “OH, BRYAN!” he says as he drops eggshell in his mix. “Oh, jeepers!” he says when he looks at the clock.
Smelling insecurity on the wind, George ambles over to see how he can torture poor, sweaty Bryan. George makes constipated faces at everything on Bryan’s station. “CALM DOWN AND HURRY UP,” says George, helpfully.
Everyone from the balcony is yelling at Bryan to relax. This does not seem to help. “You’re doing very well!” they lie.
Samuel says that he feels as though “the butterflies have been let loose inside me” which sounds like it would be a wonderful thing, but he means it feels like his intestines are trying to escape his body. Trent is doing so well that he almost looks bored. Perhaps Trent makes edible balloons all the time.
“THERE IS NO WAY YOU’RE GOING TO FINISH,” Gary screams into the kitchen. There seems to have been no reason to have said this, other than Gary has not said much this episode. The contestants are shamed.
Bryan can’t temper his chocolate!!!!! “WHY” he says out loud to himself.
He tries everything! Maniacally pouring it between bowls! Whisking it in the fridge! “Come on, Bryan,” he keeps whispering to himself.
Bryan is so upset that he hasn’t got his chocolate right that he walks away from his station and starts to cry. “I really want my food dream to come true,” he says through tears. I hate the judges for doing this to Bryan.
“Think of your happy place,” says Christy Tania, which isn’t entirely fair, given her happy place is making complex edible balloons. Imbued with a new spirit, Bryan fixes his mixture! The balcony is supremely moved by his inability to melt chocolate.
“I’m impressed by Bryan,” Christy says, eyebrows raised. “Go Bryan!” says the balcony. “The crowd is cheering for me and it gives me a lot of confidence,” says Bryan, who is now confident as hell.
Meanwhile, Samuel is filling his chocolate pots with chocolate sauce. “Make sure it’s not too hot!” says Christy. “I’m going to make sure the sauce is not too hot,” says Samuel. “I hope it’s not too hot!” says Callan from the balcony.
Turns out that the sauce was too hot.
The cones collapse and the balcony act as if they have just witnessed the greatest natural disaster of our time. “I told him,” says Christy, who is mad but also amused. The judges are thrilled by how much pressure everyone is under.
Christy helps them with the balloon because it is extremely fiddly. The contestants have to blow helium into a saucepan of hot sugar, which seems safe and relaxing.
Samuel makes a balloon! Everyone cheers. As soon as he leaves the room, the judges change their tone. “He fucked up the cone, didn’t he Christy,” says George. They all agree that Samuel fucked up, celebration over.
Trent reckons that making a balloon is the hardest thing he’s ever had to do in his life. Trent makes a tiny balloon and cradles it like it’s his firstborn. Then he bursts it as soon as he places it in front of the judges.
Bryan could not make a balloon :(
He is sad :(
The judges are sad :(
“Bryan, why do you feel so much pressure?” says George, despite this competition being specifically engineered to make them cry. Bryan says that he feels like he has to be the best because his parents don’t think cooking desserts is a viable career. Christy tells him that only HE can make himself happy. Christy is nice when she’s not forcing people to make edible balloons.
The judges agree again that this is probably the most difficult challenge that they have ever done on the show. “That was so hard!!!!” Gary tells the contestants, who all look traumatised. The contestants begin plotting their revenge.
The judges find Bryan’s “dish” wanting and he is sent home. George thanks him as he “Bryan-ed up the kitchen” and then tells him to frame his MasterChef apron, which, okay. This show is a joke, #JusticeForBryan.
The contestants give Bryan a standing ovation as he leaves. “NO!!!” they cry out. “Love you big man,” someone whispers sensually in his ear. “I will write my own story from start to finish,” he says :(
Bryan will get his revenge. You’ll see.
MasterChef is on almost every night tbh, at 7.30 on Channel Ten.
Sinead Stubbins is a writer from Melbourne who has done stuff for Vulture, The AV Club, Pitchfork, Vice, frankie and Elle. She tweets about Drake, Gilmore Girls and cheeseburgers at @sineadstubbins.