Another week, another round of vicious, no-holds-barred competition as these titans of celebrity cheffery strive to prove just who is the best at disrespecting the Masterchef judges.
We begin with a quick reminder that previously on Masterchef All Stars, Masterchef All Stars began, and that the competition is all about raising money for charities, and denying money to other charities, and also there’s a trophy apparently? We are also reminded that these chefs are, indeed, hot, then cold.
The show itself begins with the Masterchef ladies having their morning cup of coffee, and Julie ruthlessly laying bare Poh’s cupcake fixation. Dani then reveals that elimination is around the corner, which brings light to the viewers’ hearts, as we’d been thinking the competition was just going to keep stretching out to infinity.
Into the cars and off to the kitchen, where Gary waits, with a smile on his face that says, “I am Gary Mehigan”. What is strange though, is that the benches are absent. Justine smells a rat – is it possible that this will be the twist that changes the game forever? Or maybe she literally smells a rat, and the health inspectors will have to be called in.
Gary reveals that they will no longer be cooking in teams, rendering those fancy aprons meaningless, and that they will be competing individually for their charities, meaning even more charities will miss out on prizemoney.
George tells them that today they will be undergoing an immunity challenge, and the contestants react with surprise, having had their memories wiped by electroshock earlier that morning so they no longer remember what Masterchef is.
At this point twelve professional chefs enter the kitchen and line up opposite the MC gang – today’s challenge will involve implanting the Masterchefs’ brains into the professionals’ bodies.
Haha, that was just a joke about how much better the show would be if that was true. Actually the Masterchefs will just have to cook one-on-one against the chef who is standing opposite them, staring at them with undisguised hatred because they have become famous celebrities without ever having to do an apprenticeship under a psychopathic head chef. Interestingly Poh is up against an Asian chef – yeah producers, WE GET IT.
As the music rises to a dramatic crescendo in a last-ditch attempt to convince us that something exciting is happening, George reveals a massive mountain of bacon and eggs, to which all the chefs present react like a group of people looking at bacon and eggs. They can cook with bacon or eggs, but not both – the All Stars get to pick which core ingredient will be used, an agonising decision, as choosing the wrong ingredient could literally destroy thousands of innocent lives.
After much intense standing around and mumbling vaguely at each other, a decision is reached – they will cook with eggs, and may God have mercy on their souls.
“There’s no way George and I and are going to judge 12 of our peers,” says Gary, completely negating everything they have done for the last four years, Instead the dishes will be judged by leading food critics, which terrifies the All Stars, as their strategy tends to rely heavily on judges with no sense of taste.
Time begins, and the All Stars begin milling around the kitchen like drunken ants, except for Aaron, who ducks off to the diary room to confess that people on Masterchef quite like food, and being around food is quite nice for them. Back at the kitchen, meanwhile, Kate confesses that she is insane, which she doesn’t have to be to cook there, but it helps.
Dani is reminiscing about the time she escaped death at the hands of the gigantic Mafioso axeman currently staring at her from the end of the bench with blood in his nostrils, while she cooks eggs Sri Lankan-style because she long ago caring in the slightest about anything.
Kumar, on the other hand, is terrified because he is cooking against Sean Preston, who is a perfectionist, and perfection is a long way outside Kumar’s wheelhouse. Even competence only pays the odd fleeting visit.
Meanwhile, Alessandro’s menacing stare has broken Dani’s spirit, and she has ceased cooking in favour of tapping out a Morse code message on an egg, hoping to contact the outside world for help. This is as nothing to the dilemma besetting Kumar, who has set himself on fire and must decide whether it’s worth trying to put it out.
Back in the diary room, Aaron is still talking, wanting to ensure everyone fully understands just how bad at cooking he is, and just how certain he is to be defeated in a humiliating manner.
George sidles up to Justine’s bench and tells her she should be the most frightened of all – which she is, of course, because George is at her bench.
Gary yells some stuff, but it’s the same stuff he yells every episode so there’s not much point listening. What’s more interesting is that Marion is blatantly cheating by getting assistance from her opponent, a dapper little Aryan with a nice line in mime-peeling. George tells Marion to be careful with over-cooking her duck. Marion thanks him in the most patronising manner possible, and then discovers she’s overcooked her duck. At some point on Masterchef, an amateur cook will actually listen to a professional, and something edible might result.
We now pause for a community service announcement about the horrific mental illnesses caused by being a Coles employee, and then it’s back to the action, where the professionals step forward to begin whipping up their own concoctions. It’s been about fifteen minutes since we learned the premise of the episode, so Dani runs through it in minute detail for us all.
Justine’s opponent takes the opportunity, before beginning, to crush Justine’s confidence, while Dani steals Alessandro’s pan and he wanders off to the kitchen to get his choppin’ knife. Alessandro then declares his love for Dani and gives her the kiss of death.
And speaking of the kiss of death, Marion is still crying over dry duck, but using her quicksilver, steel-trap-like mind, comes up with a devilishly ingenious solution – she’ll do it again! How do they come up with this stuff?
Hayden is cooking against Vincent Gadan, and is falling behind because he’s using all his time reciting a list of Vincent’s ingredients. He’s falling even further behind because he keeps screwing up.
Over to George, who is busily telling an experienced, highly-acclaimed professional chef that he should try not to cook eggs the wrong way. Jeremy Strode seems to be aware of this advanced cooking principle already somehow. Enraged, Justine begins hissing at George and transforming into a demon.
The pressure, though, can tell on even the coolest heads, such as Sean Preston, who at this point is seen to be trying to eat his own arm. Gary asks Sean if he’s concerned about Kumar, and we all have a good chuckle. While Sean races through his dish, Kumar is spending his time smiling beatifically at an egg. His dish will have the highest self-esteem of all.
Marion slices her new duck to check that it is properly cooked. Her Aryan tells her that was an incredibly stupid thing to do. But why does she trust him? They are ENEMIES.
“I think I’ve come to a standstill,” says Kumar, in what one might have thought was a clip from early 2011, but actually he’s only just realised it tonight. He can’t seem to peel a quail’s egg, which to be fair is a pretty dumb thing to have to learn how to do, and mankind was probably better off before it began thinking peeled quail’s eggs were a desirable commodity.
A quick ad break, in which young Tasman once more informs us that he’s not a morning person and pretty much seals a Logie nomination for Most Kickable Child.
Back in the kitchen, Sean tells Kumar to change his eggs. He meant it metaphorically and was trying to convince Kumar to pursue a new career, but Kumar takes it literally and ducks out to hold his hand under a new quail for a while.
Justine, meanwhile, is living on the edge and is going to make a citrus salad, because to hell with your rules, man, she is here for a good time not a long time.
Kate is in bigger trouble – she is running out of time, but confides that she “feels a pull” – classic Kate, way too much information. She is mesmerised by the beautiful and charismatic Darren Purchese, the Christian Grey of the kitchen, and cannot take her eyes off his smooth hands and rippling apron.
Over at Dani’s bench Alessandro unveils his tactic of defeating Dani by eating her dish before it can be judged, while simultaneously proposing marriage/threatening murder.
Time is up, and in come the three food critics, whom we have never heard of because they are food critics. Gary and George explain the terms of the challenge because we just haven’t heard those enough yet tonight. The two Gs leave and the critics wander in a daze about the kitchen. It seems clear that they have been drugged or struck heavily on the head in order to get them here. This is shown even more obviously when one of them says “There is no doubt that the egg is the hero”, and one becomes increasingly concerned about the producers’ failed duty of care in not getting these people medical attention.
Anyway they continue staggering around, eating things like prawns and fried duck eggs and salads and the woman critic says “That’s a fish sauce chilli mint prawn party right there” as the chemical delirium really starts to exert its terrible grip on her mind.
For several hours the critics poke dementedly at the inside of an egg, before the woman echoes the thoughts of millions: “there’s something not quite right,” she sobs, on the verge of collapse. Channel Ten graciously cuts away before she falls to her knees, unwittingly exposing us to an even greater horror – the Scottish woman who wants to stick bacteria inside us.
Back to the kitchen, where Marion gives us a much-needed rundown on the rules of the challenge, and a critic is anticipating smoke and egg, which he claims is the language of love because the medication is kicking in to a massive degree. There is something inherently wrong with Marion’s dish, according to the Doobie brothers.
They move on, an army of eggs dancing maddeningly in their fevered brains, the horror growing as they wonder if they can ever escape this endless prison of eggs. “Lemon meringue so deliciously toasty on the top,” says the woman critic, by this stage able to do nothing but string random sequences of words together.
Moving on to Kumar’s bench, they discover three blobs of fish mucus and a pair of elf-buttocks sitting on a bird’s nest. They’re through the looking glass, and in fact begin at this stage to express doubts as to how to eat. What’s worse, the noodles are hard, and Kumar may regret infusing them with liquid cement.
They move on, and on, and memories of a time in our lives that wasn’t filled with bizarrely-prepared eggs and atmospheric electronica begin to fade as we accept that this is our life now: we will be watching these befuddled souls tasting eggs until the day we die.
Raviolo, truffles, yolk, limes, roti, Dani’s face: all float tauntingly before our eyes and I swear this whole exercise had a point but damned if I can remember what.
Perhaps George and Gary can remind us – the critics have brought them out to deliver their verdict. “I dunno who’s more nervous than who!” says Gary, although it’s pretty obvious that the most nervous is the Ten executive who greenlit the show.
At this point the judges and the critics talk and talk and talk and talk because there’s five minutes to go still and there’s padding to be done and then everything bursts into flames and this week on the Project Will Ferrell and Jeremy Renner and we no longer know what is real and what is fake, what is true and what is lies, what is Masterchef and what is an ad for the new Mistubishi Lancer Activ, but eight cents per litre off fuel at Coles Express seems like a good deal right?
Oh thank Christ we’re back in the kitchen, and things seem to be moving glacially towards some kind of resolution. Three All Stars have defeated their professional opponents, and Dani’s heart is coming out of her chest, although that might just be the poison Alessandro kissed onto her taking effect.
The first winner is Kate, whose lemon meringue pie is a big hit with the pie-loving stoners appointed to judge the dishes. “Unbelievable!” cries Gary, who has always found Kate’s success baffling. Then Darren Purchese donates a thousand dollars to Kate’s charity and everyone sighs and claps and we all move ever closer to our dotage.
The next winner is Dani, whose dish was hot and rich, just like her, and also, apparently, “tissuey”. Tissuey. Honestly, that’s what they said. They said it was tissuey. I really think it’s time we stopped taking this nonsense.
The last winner, whose moment of triumph is soured by the bad feeling generated by that “tissuey” thing, is Justine, who will now I think elope with Jeremy Strode. Justine admits that it’s a fantastic feeling just to have these chefs in the same room, although one feels that if the show had just been about chefs being in the same room it would have lost a bit.
Everyone leaves feeling good and happy and pretty mellow, and we leave behind our day in the valley of madness and look forward tomorrow, when two All Stars will go home, and Masterchef will return to what it does best – cruelty.