That's a wrap on Night 1!
And so endeth the first night of MasterChef Australia 2021: There And Back Again. Thanks to everyone for coming along on this wild ride - and there’s more to come!
Yes, the jury’s still out as to whether or not this really warranted a two-parter finale, but one thing’s for sure: I’ll be back here tomorrow, when the final finale kick off at 7:30pm AEST on Ten, to hold your hand[s] with a white knuckle grip as we find out just who is going to be crowned MasterChef 2021!
Jock delivers the bad news: the final showdown will be “an epic pressure test”. Even worse news? It’s Peter Gilmore, and it’s going to be two dishes. Ohhh mouy gourd!
See you tomorrow for the big finale, folks!
Night 1: The Scores Are In!
So, at the end of Round 2, Pete is still in front, but not by much.
“Last but not least, it’s you, Pete.” Jock rates the flavour combo: 10/10.
Andy gives him, well, “that’s a nine, brother”.
Finally, Mel says “it was almost a perfect cook”, but gives him the bad news: 6/10 for a raw piece of quail.
Pete looks like he’s going to explode. “Okay,” he says, with an expression that’s the opposite of “okay”. King Juzzy, always the bigger man, reassures him. “It’s a good score.”
Next up is Justin. Mel gives him 9/10. Jock gives him 10/10! And Andy? “Ten out of ten, big fella!”
Her parents are proud! We’re all proud!!
Round 2: It's Time For The Scores!
It’s points time. Jock tells Kishwar that “that type of food belongs in this kitchen,” and gives her 10/10. Then so does Mel! And so does Andy!!! Kishwar’s Round 2 score is perfect!
...Aaaand yep, Mel’s portion is raw as hell. Jock’s and Andy’s portions were perfectly cooked, and they love the sauce and the asparagus. But Mel is “heartbroken” because her quail is straight up uncooked. She pulls out her phone to give The Pete Catalogue a strongly worded Yelp review.
Look, I think I speak for the nation when I say I hope to never hear this Survivor: Brains Vs Brawn cover of Stayin’ Alive ever again.
What does an Eddie Murphy standup special and Pete's quail have in common?
But disaster lurks: “Is that rare, or raw?” asks Mel as she cuts open her quail.
AD BREAK EXPLOSION
“It looks straight out of the Pete catalogue,” says Andy, by which he means it looks like some sort of minimalist interior design photoshoot.
ANDY: ACTIVATE. “It looks epic, mate!” Justin’s fused his family’s recipes with his emerging respect for Australian native ingredients. Jock “thought it was perfect”; he’s scraped the plate clean!
Justin’s next. He’s made poached fish...
...in a curried broth!
K.C., you’ve done it again. “This is powerful food,” says Mel. “It is powerful with history and it’s powerful with flavour.”
Kishwar says it “feels scary” to bring the judges a dish that isn’t [extremely every other contestant ever voice] rEsTaUrAnT qUaLiTy. Jock tells her MasterChef is not about being fancy: “What we enjoy, above and beyond anything else in the MasterChef kitchen, is delicious”.
Round 2 Tasting Begins
It’s time to eat! Kishwar is up first.
After her Round 1 fish catastrophe, Kishwar is determined to bring the judges a perfectly cooked sardine.
She’s proud to be cooking this special family dish with her family looking on. But what’s that? Oh no, she’s starting to doubt her simple peasant dish in the face of the boys’ fine dining efforts. No, Kishwar!!
KISHWAR IS MAKING ME CRY AGAIN.
Pete has turned his quince into a glaze. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t know if a quince is a fruit or a vegetable.
(Well, actually, Pete, “The quince (/ˈkwɪns/; Cydonia oblonga) is the sole member of the genus Cydonia in the family Rosaceae (which also contains apples and pears, among other fruits).”)
“That’s the fusion? Your mum and us? That’s weird.” Oh, Andy.
“I love you, Mum,” coos Kishwar’s daughter from the gantry as I suffer life-threatening water loss.
After a season of elevated dishes, Kishwar is going for the soul of her cuisine and making a “very humble peasant dish”. THAT’S WHAT WE CALL A FULL CIRCLE MOMENT, FOLKS!!
Suddenly, Justin’s dad unleashes a powerful dad joke from the gantry.
It appears the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
Jock gives Pete some serious tough love. “You’ve wasted eleven minutes mucking around.” Somewhere, Justin is laughing.
While I’ve got forty seven tabs over, my eyes out on springs, and am about a litre of caffeinated fizzy drink down, my colleague Steph has been keeping an eye on the comments:
Meanwhile, at Pete’s station, things are looking bad: he’s feeling lost and doesn’t know what to do with quinces. His family look worried.
And they’re off! Justin starts off strong by forgetting to pick up the grapefruits from the pantry. Vintage Juzzy!
He’s doing a version of his mum’s fish curry, but using Australian native ingredients.
Look, I don’t wanna be a downer, but every time they show that trophy plate I find myself wondering if someone’s been cleaning it with wire wool. Whatever happened to kid gloves?!
Finally, Pete gets… quince!
And his curveball is ‘steamed’. Sounds about right for Mr Pumpkin Two Ways, but there’s just one problem: “I don’t know how to cook it.”
Justin has ruby grapefruit, and his curveball is ‘fusion’. “That’s good, that’s good,” offers Dan from the gantry. FUSION DAN, COME BACK TO US!
Kishwar’s adorable kids rush forward to choose her fate. She has white soy sauce, and her curveball is ‘smoke’.
The families aren’t just here to cheer on the contestants… this round, they’re choosing the ingredients! And not only that, they’ll be faced with two very Hunger Games esque bowls full of golden balls.
The first balls contain ingredients, and the second ones are “curveballs” (ZING) that contain everything from cooking methods to techniques.
The doors fly open and everyone’s family enters and OH GOD I CAN’T SEE THE KEYBOARD I CAN’T SEE THE SCREEN [transmission failure]
Okay, I’m back. Everybody’s sobbing except the kids (those little troupers). “Are you crying?” Kishwar’s daughter Seraphina asks. “You’re always crying!” Damn, when the whole fam roasts you!
Round 2 Begins With A Surprise...
It’s time for Round 2! “Please welcome…” teases Mel. “...Your families.”
The gantry goes wild as Pete pulls in front with 28 out of 30 at the end of Stage 1. Round 1? ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER THAT YOU’LL— oh, sorry, the stress started to get to me there.
Round 1: The Scores Are In!
Scoring time! Each judge gives Kishwar 7 out of 10. It’s a total of 21 out of a possible 30 points.
Then Justin gets three sevens, too!
Finally, Pete: nines from Mel and Jock, and Andy…
Now it’s King Juzzy’s turn. He’s done pan roasted duck breast with passionfruit glaze and pickled kohlrabi. Nice shootin’, Tex!
The judges like it, but all agree that the mushrooms had dried out. Press ‘F’ to pay respects.
Jock reckons the flavour combo is “unbelievable”, but the fish is “unfortunately” dry. Still, they rate her decision to do a 180 on her initial plan and bring them something with a bit more of the Kishwar magic.
We’re back! The music turns into something like Tangerine Dream’s Sorcerer score, which hopefully doesn’t mean that Kishwar’s whiting parcels are about to explode.
If you’ve just joined us, welcome to part one of MasterChef Australia’s 2021 finale liveblog!
Kishwar, Pete and Justin’s Round 1 challenge was a mystery box, with ingredients chosen by some of the country’s best chefs. They’ll be given a score out of ten from each judge; the contestant with the most points overall at the end of tomorrow will be taking a $250,000 comedy cheque to the bank.
Now here’s Kishwar. She doesn’t know if the fish is cooked perfectly because it’s still tied up in its beautiful pandan parcels...
Round 1 Tasting Begins
The judges await the dishes at an extra fancy black marble tasting table. Pete’s up first.
“Beautiful dish,” Jock announces. “Clean, contemplative, modern, refined, sophisticated,” says Mel. Is it epic, Andy?! No, but it “belongs in any top restaurant around the country.”
Even Kishwar agrees:
With mere seconds to go, all three contestants are plating up with the precision of a Mission: Impossible bomb defusal. Jock and Andy watch on, transfixed.
Martin Benn comes over to check on Justin. He’s still thinking about Justin’s Society lobster.
Senpai has noticed you, Justin!!
“Jock, in a kilt,” Justin says. “Which is very distracting.”
There’s just over 30 minutes to go, and Kishwar is switching to whiting wrapped in pandan leaves. My nerves!!
Jock and Andy are worried that there’s not a trademark Kishwar vibe coming from her station, which leads her to... CHANGE HER DISH [ad break explosion]
Kishwar’s going to make a “beautiful” butterflied out King George whiting. Pete’s in the garden: he’s picked Geraldton wax as his other ingredient, and he too is making King George whiting. Justin’s decided upon duck, which he’s thinking about combining with passionfruit. Sure, why not?
A finale stretched across two nights means molto content for the MasterChef team, but not everybody is psyched.
Maybe it’s a new type of finale? Maybe it’s pronounced “finaaa-aaaalee”?
Not gonna lie, the music for this ep is kinda a banger. I always wondered what it would sound like if Hans Zimmer did a dubstep album.
Round 1: A Celebrity Chef Mystery Box Challenge!
This is going to be a three-stage finale: two stages tonight, and the final one tomorrow, with points accrued across all three cooks from a score out of ten each time. First up: a mystery box challenge! But not just any mystery box challenge… AUSTRALIAN CULINARY AVENGERS ASSEMBLE MYSTERY BOX!!
Yep, some of the best chefs in the country have chosen the mystery ingredients, and one by one, they reveal them. In a dazzling heel turn, Josh Niland pulls back his cloche to reveal a punnet of blueberries. PSYCH, it’s King George whiting!
The usual rules apply: the contestants need to use at least one of the mystery ingredients, plus one other pantry item, and they’ve got 75 minute to cook. Go time!!
Is it weird that I always get a kick out of the judges dressing up for the finale? Also, Jock’s wearing Highland dress so I regret to inform everyone I’m now heterosexual.
Now it’s time for the real thing! Everyone’s back! Look how they’ve grown!
“Justin may have had a slow start in this competition…” begins Mel as I ring Ten and complain about this absolute cyberbullying. King Juzzy gets the James Bond edit, walking in at least two times more slow-motion...ly than Pete and Kishwar.
We’re also reminded of all the times Jock pulled a Disappointed Dad on Justin before he kicked into high gear. Daaaaad!
Now it’s Pete’s turn to gaze longingly at the trophy. Andy recalls a simpler time, when Pete was cooking meat and three veg for his kids.
Now he’s cooking vinegar sorbet for his kids!! Pete wants to win “more than anything I’ve wanted in my life”.
Here we go. Choirs of spooky angels sing as the MasterChef trophy plate glistens in the golden light of the chook shed. Whose name will be engraved upon it tomorrow alongside faves like Julie Goodwin, Adam Liaw, Emelia Jackson and Andy “Epic” Allen?
It’s slow motion recap time. First up is Kishwar and I’m already crying, honestly.
Remember when she was a shy home cook who didn’t believe her Bengali cuisine could cut it with the encapsulated spheres of the MasterChef universe? How far she’s come!
Well, folks, we made it! We’ve had parsnip disasters, problematic apple desserts, shock exits, Covid-19 elbow bumps, and even a lamington made of Murray cod: this has definitely been a MasterChef season like no other, and now it’s time for the massive two-part finale.
Last night we waved goodbye to Elise, saw what Pete would look like if he were starring in a reboot of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and are now on waiting lists for liver transplants after taking a drink every time Andy described something as “epic”.
The first half of this season’s finale kicks off at 7:30pm AEST on Ten, and I’ll be with you every step of the way here on the live blog.
Will Justin describe something as “sick”? Will Pete do something weird with two ingredients? Will Kishwar buoy the hearts of a tired nation with only a shy smile and a recipe her family taught her?
There’s only one way to find out: on with the live blog!