MasterChef Australia elimination recap: black box fright recorder

A two-stage, two-elimination challenge puts the contestants through the emotional wringer

We were lulled into a false sense of security this week with all the dazzling promises of the judges: no eliminations until Sunday! The biggest immunity prize ever! Write your own pressure test! It stands to reason, then, that we were set to have our hopes dashed by the time Sunday’s episode rolled around, and with it, a [pause for effect; hit reverb button] DOUBLE ELIMINATION.

Having won the Biggest Ever Immunity challenge, which also netted her a $10,000 Coles card, Sabina looks down from the gantry wearing a very glam sparkly top that seems to scream “HA HA, SUCKERS”.

‘Don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful!’
‘Don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful!’ Photograph: Network 10

Perhaps inspired by the evergreen classic Ride On Time and/or Imperial gunners’ helmets, tonight’s two-stage elimination features a black box and a black cloche. The box is a mystery box with the usual rules, while the cloche contains a single ingredient that must be heroed, but the pantry and garden are also available. The least impressive dish in each round will send its maker home. Whoever makes the best dish in round one will head to the gantry with Sabina, and presumably be provided with their own Lurex T-shirt of +4 Gloating.

The decision is made: mystery box up first. The sinister black box is removed, and ...

I guess I was expecting something more … evil?
I guess I was expecting something more … evil? Photograph: Network 10

Pete’s pumped about pumpkin: he wants to serve a roasted pumpkin wedge on pumpkin puree, “and that’s it”. Vintage Pete!

Elise is making pumpkin agnolotti with kombu brown butter with yuzu juice, which leads Jock to wonder what Elise’s nonna would think of this pan-Asian fusion pasta. She replies that nonna would be into it because they went large on a Thailand trip when Elise was 18.

Minoli starts to panic about the number of broth and noodle combos on the benches around her, so she pivots: she’ll turn her green mango into noodles. “I have to listen to my gut, and this is what my gut is telling me,” she says. Huh, my gut just keeps telling me eat another French Onion Le Snak, I want a refund.

Mel commands Sabina to alert the contestants that there’s only 30 seconds to go, and “Beens” Simpsons taco guy voice causes the judges to literally ROFL.

‘And then … omg ... he said he was going to serve us pumpkin … two ways!’
‘And then … omg ... he said he was going to serve us pumpkin … two ways!’ Photograph: Network 10

The judges rate Elise’s fusion agnolotti; somewhere, nonna raises a Singha to her television set.

Minoli’s pan-seared snapper with green mango noodles and south-east Asian broth looks good enough that Jock murmurs “yuuuuum”. Alas, the green mango noodles are just so so, and Minoli returns to her bench to sue her gut.

Pete applies the brown butter to his pumpkin two-way. “If I go home off a wedge of roasted pumpkin, I could go down as the biggest idiot ever in the MasterChef kitchen.”

MC 270621 pete pumpkin
It is a dish, made by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Photograph: Network 10

Jock fakes him out by negging Pete’s declasse monochrome dish … then saying it’s delicious. Mel says it’s sophisticated. ASMR Pete, you’ve done it again!

There’s good news for Justin, too, whose ribeye with chilli pumpkin puree Jock describes as “refined dude food”. But Depinder’s technically proficient dessert hasn’t played up enough of the mystery box flavours.

Minoli and Depinder are the bottom two, but the judges were so baffled by Minoli’s green mango noodles that she’s going home. [Extremely Josh Niland voice] Minoliiii!!!!

There’s no time to cry, however, because now everyone else is going into round two, and it’s time to lift the black cloche: it’s horseradish!

Ohh, a radish spirit!
Ohh, a radish spirit! Photograph: Network 10

If the contestants weren’t crying at Minoli’s fate, they are now.

Pete spies another opportunity to make something truly wack.
Pete spies another opportunity to make something truly wack. Photograph: Network 10

The kitchen quickly descends into emotional chaos. Linda is making horseradish panna cotta, which is clearly a cry for help. Scott has never cooked mirror dory before, so naturally he’s chosen that. Pete is making a trio of sweet-and-savoury dessert components. Tommy’s making rice crackers in the microwave. I’m ready for someone to release some tutu-wearing dogs in the kitchen and start playing Julius Fučík’s Entrance of the Gladiators, because round two is turning into a complete circus.

Kishwar is lost; she can’t believe her friend Minoli just walked out the door, and despite bringing half the pantry back to her bench, she can’t work out what to do.

Nooooo! Somebody hug her!! 🥺
Nooooo! Somebody hug her!! 🥺 Photograph: Network 10

Justin, on the other hand, is feeling so confident that he quotes Dominic Toretto from The Fast and the Furious. And then … with 30 seconds to go, he decides to return to the pantry for some olive oil. Shit happens when you live your life a quarter mile at a time!

It’s time to eat. Despite making another of his truly execrable puns in its delivery, Tommy’s “horse-rad-fish salad” bewitches the judges. Linda’s panna cotta is “lovely”, but the horseradish hasn’t shone through.

Justin’s poached kingfish with asparagus and horseradish broth wows the judges, who can’t believe that someone who lives by the tenets of a street-racing DVD-player thief can turn out such a sophisticated, minimalist dish.

Pete’s dessert, which looks like Vault, is acclaimed: it’s Michelin-star worthy. And Kishwar, who didn’t give up, has made a harmonious and very beautiful mackerel dish.

It’s as beautiful as she is!!
It’s as beautiful as she is!! Photograph: Network 10

It comes down to Scott and Linda, and while Linda’s panna cotta wasn’t “horseradish forward”, it was perfectly set, so despite his nice salad, Scott’s overcooked dory and muted horseradish flavours send him home.

What made me cry: Kishwar! Listen to Andy! Never doubt yourself!!

The white chocolate velouté award for failure: Scott, for deciding to cook a fish he was completely unfamiliar with, in a make-or-break elimination focused on horseradish.

Shoulda cooked something from the Women’s Weekly Cookbook, ay.
Shoulda cooked something from the Women’s Weekly Cookbook, ay. Photograph: Network 10


Clem Bastow

The GuardianTramp

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