TV

Crowning Every Winner From The Seventh Wholesome Week Of ‘MasterChef’

The award for "most fish-encrusted lamington' goes to the lamington they made that's covered in fish.

MasterChef recap

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We’re back for week seven of MasterChef, and so is everyone else because it’s Comeback Week!

Every single eliminated contestant has been dragged back into the arena so we can see most of their angelic faces get sent home a second time. There were just two prized white aprons to win, leaving a lot of people heading out the door with nothing, so let’s hand out some extra awards.

Most Popular – Dan

Comeback Week kicked off on Monday with a shopping challenge. Each of the returning contestants had to pick someone to duck down to Coles for them to buy one piece of produce that they would have to include in a dish.

It was all very natural, and no-one even questioned why they had to go to the effort of nipping off to Coles during a pandemic when there’s a whole pantry with the exact same ingredients right there in the MasterChef kitchen. Don’t even worry about it.

The most interesting thing about this challenge is that it also secretly doubled as a popularity contest. The returnees could pick whoever they liked to shop for them, which led to a handful of people being picked multiple times and some not being picked at all. Are the people who weren’t picked secretly arseholes? I’m not gonna say that, ‘cause this is the most wholesome show on television and everyone is lovely. But they might be secret arseholes.

Dan, though, is clearly the loveliest contestant this season, because he’s sent off to shop for FOUR — Conor, Eric, Tom and Therese — and he gets them all items that they love. What a good friend!

Get a load of Mr Popular over here

Hottest, Smokiest Mess – Trent

Bless this mess. Trent was back in the kitchen, having another crack at making desserts, and the vibe was truly chaotic. Sabina gifted him a punnet of raspberries, which he used to make a sorbet, and that was fine. The trouble was when Trent decided to pair this with some smoked chocolate. 

Rather than setting up his bowl and something to cover it with, and then putting the tube in there and THEN starting up the smoking machine, Trent lit it first and let it spew out into the room, creating the perfect smoky environment to give his basic prep a dramatic look. Iconic.

Trent once again disappears from the competition in a puff of smoke

The Tentacle Porn Award for Hot Octopus – Conor

On the other end of the mayhem scale, Conor returned to the MasterChef kitchen with a calm focus that was inspiring to see. He knew what he wanted to cook with the lemons Dan gave him and he followed through. That’s right, fellow chaos queers — we CAN turn our lives around if we just believe, stay true to ourselves, and have a latent talent for Mediterranean flavours.

Conor’s dish of octopus with labneh and zhoug may have looked like an Eldritch horror, but it was, like, a very pretty one. An Eldritch horror that was up for a Gold Logie and had dressed accordingly. It was a very fancy tentacle. The judges absolutely loved it, and it took Conor through to Tuesday’s white apron cook.

I could see this tentacle in a dramedy opposite Asher Keddie is all I’m saying

Best Gimli Closet Cosplay – Brent

Brent put a little braid in his beard and we’re all here for it. It’s adorable. Andy could not take his eyes off it or stop talking about it and honestly, same.

My dude looks like a modern reboot of Lord of the Rings where the dwarves work in Bunnings instead of the Mines of Moria. (Side note – if anyone wants to buy my graphic novel where it’s just Lord of the Rings but set in suburban Melbourne, please DM me. In it, Gimli and Legolas are married and thinking about opening a B&B in Daylesford.)

Brent is also a big fan of roaring fires, malt beer, red meat off the bone etc

Weirdest Lockdown Hobby – Anthony Hart

The first contest for a white apron went down on Tuesday, with a pressure test from pastry chef Anthony Hart. Minoli, Conor, Eric and Katrina had to attempt to recreate Chocolate Oasis – a horrifying Jenga stack of loose creams and goops wedged between paper-thin sheets of chocolate.

In a little chat with the judges, Anthony said that this dish came about after he spent time in lockdown trying to see how thin he could temper chocolate. And honestly, this dish makes a lot more sense once you can put it in the context of someone losing their mind in the depths of Melbourne’s longest locky-D. 

Some of us made the thinnest chocolate we could and some of us stared out the window, willing a comet to take us out – everyone’s lockdown is valid

The ‘See You In Detention’ Award for Crude Graffiti – Minoli

Once the contestants had tempered their chocolate and spread it as thin as they could, they needed to draw out some blob shapes to create little platforms for their various oozes to perch on. Most of them went with a clover-like splat shape, but Minoli decided to channel a bored teen carving shapes into their desk with a compass and went down a more “dick and also balls” route.

To quote The Internet, “That’s a penis”

Least Likely To Take A Hint – Eric

Generally, when people are yelling at you from up on the gantry, it’s a wise move to ignore them. They’re all the way up there, not cooking, and have no idea what they’re on about. But every so often, they’re trying to cryptically communicate that you have made a huge, cook-destroying error, and unfortunately for Eric, this was one of those times.

Anthony Hart’s mandarin jam recipe called for the entire fruit to be used, so when Eric started to remove the peel, the gantry went wild, yelling at him to read the recipe. Which he did! Eric re-read the recipe, saw “entire fruit” again, and assumed that meant you didn’t want to be eating the peel – like any reasonable person would think. But sadly, that peel was the thing that held that jam together, and Eric was left with a thin, dribbly, unsupportive juice.

Citrus peel – good for pretending you have a mouthguard in and also making jam, apparently

Best Reaction – Minoli

Minoli nailed her Chocolate Oasis, earning her a white apron and a ticket back into the competition, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone more excited about anything. In future years, I will return to the clip of Minoli winning back her apron every time I need to try and harvest a drop of serotonin.

Minoli sees her name on the white apron…

..and then is so excited, she turns into a cryptid.

Most Likely To Offer You An Egg In This Trying Time – Katrina

Wednesday was mystery box day, and the contestants had a choice between a clear mystery box containing four ingredients, or a concealed mystery box with eight. Katrina decided to go with the known quantity of the clear box and then was immediately bamboozled by what she could possibly cook, getting stuck on the idea of a pickled egg… with other stuff?

Me trying to make a shopping list at 2am after drinking a good amount of rose

For most of the cook, she was weighing up what to do, throwing out ideas like walnut and ricotta and fennel, all sitting around that crucial pickled egg yolk. The judges were unconvinced.

Jock and Andy upon being told by Mother that they are only getting one egg yolk for supper.

Silliest Little Cakes – Tom 

Tom went harder in the mystery box challenge than anyone possibly needed to, attempting to bake canelé – a fiddly French pastry that is notoriously tricky to do well when you have hours to focus on it, let alone in a speedy MasterChef cook. Literally every recipe I looked up for them talks about how difficult they are – usually after eight paragraphs about the time the author stayed in the French countryside one summer. 

For the whole hour, Tom frets over his “silly little cakes”, but they do not let him down. They come out looking absolutely gorgeous, provided you fully forget that they are full of black garlic, and he gets through to Thursday’s white apron challenge.

A silly billy

Most Likely To Make You Cry With Joy – Mel

Nothing simultaneously buoys/crushes you under the weight of your emotions like a contestant receiving poetically earnest feedback from Melissa Leong, and we got plenty of it this week. On Monday, she made Conor tear up and then caused Eric to ascend right up out of the kitchen with joy.

I have to go now. My home planet needs me.

But the waterworks really flowed right across the nation on Wednesday night, after Eric went out on the second round of the white apron cook. Eric’s newfound confidence this week was deeply rooted in this choice to cook regional Chinese cuisine, and although it was incredibly inspiring, the main he cooked in round two wasn’t strong enough to keep him in the competition.

After Eric stepped to the sidelines to watch the contest continue, Mel popped over to let him know that although the cook didn’t go his way, he had done something far more important by preparing regional dishes on national television and introducing them with their Mandarin names. It was extremely touching and a wonderful reminder of the good this show does. In a VERY white TV landscape, MasterChef has done a great job of showing some diversity in its casting, and we all get to learn and grow from it.

“Hhhhuubbblghghghg” – me trying to express how beautiful this moment was while crying again at these screenshots

Most Relieved That A Fish Isn’t A Squirrel – Andy

In contrast to Mel’s pure poetry, Andy dished out some typically Andy feedback on Wednesday. After Mel gave a gorgeous speech about the cultural significance of Eric’s entree dishes, Andy pointed at the food and declared, “That’s money.” The producers then had to take him out back and show him the cue cards again with the big pictures of money and food and get him to practice until he got them the right way around.

For main, Eric cooked Songshu Yu – a traditional dish where the fish is cut, battered and fried in a specific way that causes the fish to curl and look reminiscent of a squirrel.

Money?

As he presented it, Eric said that although it’s called “squirrel fish”, he didn’t think it really looked like a squirrel, and Andy let out such a huge, gusty breath of relief, I’m surprised it didn’t blow the dish off the table. Andy – the sweet, simple man that he is – seemed genuinely worried that Eric’s dish didn’t look like a squirrel, and didn’t want to offend him. It’s a bit adorable, but I also wonder how this man goes about day-to-day without being tricked by a con artist, or lured into running headfirst into a brick wall because someone painted a piece of candy on there.

Andy finds out that hot dogs are also not supposed to look like dogs

Jock has a little whisper to the table to see if it could perhaps step in as a judge next season

Most ‘The Second Person To Get Back Into The Competition’ – Maja

Maja cooked three perfectly lovely dishes and got back into the competition. It was a really nice moment for her and very impressive and she’s obviously worked very hard while she’s been away! I kind of zoned out during her bits! She has a sorta Gorman vibe that I find hard to connect with! It’s a wildly unfair assessment on my part! Sorry to this woman!

She’s great! Well done!

Biggest Cake Crime – Josh Niland 

For Sunday’s elimination challenge, Josh Niland came in to show the contestants how to completely obliterate a Murray cod. Just absolutely go to town on that thing. He used every single part of the fish to create three dishes – a fried three-piece entree, a super neat roast with crackling, and then, because on some level he hates us, a lamington with crystallised Murray cod scales replacing the coconut. He also put Murray cod fat in the chocolate. My main question is “Why?” My follow-up question is “How dare you?”

Ooh, a delicious lamington!

But instead of coconut, I’m rolling it in fish detritus because (REASON NOT FOUND)

Boldest Move – Linda

In Josh Niland’s pressure test, each of the contestants were given a whole Murray cod. Potentially, they would need to use the same fish to cook across three rounds, so Linda tried to work strategically and only use the fish skin in round one – saving the entire cod to cook with in the next round if her first dish failed to save her. It was a gutsy move, but it didn’t pay off. Linda’s fish skin chips looked very much like little bits of fried fish skin and not much else.

I’m honestly hurt that this comes under the banner of “chips”

The Olay Regenerist Award for Gelatinous Skin – Pete

Pete is carving out a real niche for himself in the world of ‘cheffy sounding food that Elyce thinks sounds feral but experts say is great’. After two rounds cooking cod dishes that seemed pretty okay, Pete went for it in the final round, making a poached Murray cod with “mushroom juice”, covered in soft blanched cod skin. He talked a lot about gelatinous textures, seemingly wanting to enhance them, rather than make them go away as quickly as possible. Pete, I will never understand you, but congrats on making it through another week.

I don’t wanna keep bringing up Lord of the Rings in this MasterChef article, but this is literally the kinda shit Gollum would make if he was on MasterChef.

Most Unrelentingly Positive – Dan

On Sunday, it was finally Dan’s time to go. I fully expected him to work his elimination magic once again and pull out something incredible, but his final cod dish wasn’t his best. Dan continued to be a beacon of positivity after being eliminated, however, almost saying that his time on MasterChef was the best time of his life, and then quickly having to correct himself because he is married and has had a wedding day. Oh, Dan. Disappointing a Scottish man once again. You’ll be missed.

Next time…

In a personal affront to me and everyone else in Melbourne who’s stuck in lockdown, the judges and contestants traipse off around Victoria. Rude.


Elyce Phillips makes comics, comedy and general nonsense. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s and Funny Ha Ha, and you can see her make a fool of herself regularly at The Improv Conspiracy in Melbourne.