We’re back. Tonight, the final seven are cooking lunch for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. No, really. The actual Dalai Lama. On a reality TV show about cooking. George will presumably force him to yell a bad pun at the contestants. Can’t wait!
They’ve arrived back in Sydney. A mysterious letter arrives telling them they’re going to Melbourne now! The letter includes a mysterious quote about food being the root of relationships. Who could it be from? Dani squeals ‘who is it’? If only Goth Matt was still here to look it up on his smartphone.
They arrive in Melbourne. Michael is terrified of the Melbourne Convention Centre. Fair enough. They arrive, and the banquet room has been transformed into a fake temple. Dani feels a sense of peace. Shut up, Dani.
Gary does the ‘who am I’ introduction of the Dali Lama. Billy grew up in a Buddhist family and is taking this appropriately seriously. Everyone else laughs. It’s a vegetarian challenge, with everyone making one dish. That’s awesome – the first vegetarian challenge, and it’s the episode after Sun the ex-vegetarian gets the boot.
They have three hours to cook one dish. There will be a winner and a bottom three. George encourages them to make a joyful dish. I would focus on ‘please do not poison the Dalai Lama’. Kylie Kwong – a practicing Buddhist – will be in the kitchen helping them to achieve this goal. She is lovely!
Kylie tells them the Dalai Lama hates sour food, but loves his carbs and coriander. You learn something every day. He will not be mean about bad food that’s put in front of him, apparently. Well, yes, he is the Dalai Lama.
They arrive in the kitchen. Dani is excited by the challenge, while Michael looks like he’s about to vomit. He’s wearing his lucky horrible checked shirt. They’re off! Michael’s making goats cheese tortellini with a borsch broth. He wants to show His Holiness his love of beetroot. Weird.
Kate is making a dessert – coconut pudding with papaya mousse. Sadly the papaya sucks. Kylie suggests magosteen instead. It’s perfect. Meanwhile, Alana is making a chickpea tagine, bread and cheese fingers. So, basically she’s trying to cook everything Kylie mentioned that His Holiness enjoys.
Billy is making an actual, recognised dish. It’s Buddha’s Delight – stirfried mushrooms wrapped in beancurd sheets, with dumplings in some kind of broth. Kylie is a big fan. He is the only person consistently remembering to call the Dalai Lama ‘His Holiness’.Ellie is making a mushroom and cheese filled gnocchi roll – so, the same thing as Michael minus the beetroot. Her family loves it. Hayden’s making clear Japanese soup with egg noodles. He thinks the clearness signifies Buddhism. It signifies ‘correctly made soup’.
Dani is making a Sri Lankan curry. She’s never opened a coconut before, and makes Kylie show her how. Shock news: you hit it with a cleaver. Dani nearly takes her hand off. Kylie’s anxiety watching her is palpable.
Two hours to go. Kate is rattled. She’s struggling with the coconut machine, whatever that is. As she is an adult, she does not demand someone do it for her. Ellie thinks the vibe in the kitchen is far less competitive. I think that is directly related to Sun not being there. Actually, they all just seem really jetlagged.
His Holiness arrives in the kitchen. Everyone freaks out. Of course they do! His Holiness mucks around with Dani’s spices for a bit, then tells Billy his dish is very good. What a champ! He laughs at Ellie and Michael – the correct response. He goes and looks at the cheese, then gives Kate some kind of seed and leaves, laughing. That was great.
It turns out Ellie doesn’t know how to make gnocchi. Why did she choose to make this? Michael does know how to make pasta, to his credit. Dani is wasting time again, and realises that she’s stuffed with an hour ago. Nobody else spent the first two hours dawdling, Dani.
Hayden explains the concept of ‘clear’. Thanks mate. Forty-five minutes to go, and Kylie is looking worried. Kate is baffled by the industrial oven. It does look incredibly complicated. Meanwhile, Michael has forgotten his candied walnuts. They are stuffed. He wanders around with a smoking pan for five minutes. Kate has turned the oven down unwittingly on Alana’s pumpkin pieces. They may not cook. Kate is the only person who can get away with this. I believe it was an accident.
Ellie is starting to panic, right on time. Gary comes and makes her dish for her. So, a normal night on Masterchef. My girlfriend is making gnocchi right now about ten times quicker than Ellie and without panicking or crying. Let’s see whose dish turns out better!
Half an hour to go. Dani thinks it’s getting hectic. George turns up, looking dead on his feet. He half-heartedly says that Ellie’s in a world of pain. Go to bed, George! Ellie admits that her dish was a terrible choice. Turns out she can only cook in New York.
Everyone is in trouble except Billy, as far as I can tell. On the communal stovetop, someone’s turned up the burner under Hayden’s soup. Lot of sabotage going on today. Kate is also panicking, unusually.
Fifteen minutes to go! Michael is going great guns, and has time to redo his crazy walnuts. Dani shouts out ‘this is how you make roti’. Nobody cares, Dani. Gary reminds everyone that they cannot be late for the Dalai Lama.
Five minutes to go, and Ellie is on track to serve up a plate of undercooked mush. She cries. Kate’s puddings are also not going great – they’re only half cooked. Cut the undercooked half off! She doesn’t. Alana is smashing it.
Ellie has made a tea-towel full of goo. It is too bad to plate up. She will instead be serving a plate of sautéed mushrooms. Kylie reminds Ellie that His Holiness is not going to be mean to her. The judges, on the other hand, may well be.
His Holiness enters the fake temple, greeted by chanting monks and…Matt Preston strangely wearing a white scarf. Tim Costello from World Vision Australia, Shanaka Fernando from Lentil As Anything, Bill Crews from the Exodus Foundation and Ronni Khan from OzHarvest are joining them for lunch.
Kylie Kwong leads the contestants in to show His Holiness the food. His Holiness starts laughing again. I may convert to Buddhism. Hayden’s up first, shaking like a leaf. Poor little guy. His dish looks great, as do Alana and Dani’s. Billy’s Buddha’s delight goes down well, but His Holiness looks askance at Michael’s fancy plating. Kate addresses him as Dalai Lama. That’s not his name, mate.
Ellie’s failure mushrooms are last. She makes a big embarrassing deal about her failure, and cries. The Dalai Lama does not really care, but pats her hand in an attempt to stop her crying. Dani wishes she cried too. His Holiness blesses the food. Then Tim Costello does. Then Shanaka. Then Bill. Then Ronni. The food is now extremely religious but also cold.
They’re serving the dishes one by one to everyone now. Hayden’s soup is very good. Ronni likes the thing where the clear soup represented clarity. Alana’s dish is a big hit with Tim Costello. Dani’s dish is very authentically Sri Lankan and her bread is delicious. His Holiness is a big fan. Bill Cruse likes the plates.
Billy’s dish is next. Gary thinks his broth is not as good as Hayden’s. His Holiness likes it better, though. Gary is annoyed. Michael’s dish is extraordinary, apparently. The candied walnuts make it.
Ellie’s failure mushrooms are lucky last. Dani has decided to help her. She pan-fries her goop roll and serves it. Meanwhile I am eating homemade gnocchi that is perfect and delicious. Go home, Ellie. It looks pretty ridiculous and tastes largely of flour. His Holiness thinks she tried her best. Correct! Sadly it is not good enough.
Kate’s dessert is last. The pudding is delicious, but the coriander custard is predictably ridiculous. His Holiness, asked what he thinks of the food, says he doesn’t really know much about food and is happy to eat anything. Says it all.
His Holiness comes to thank the contestants, and explains that he is not willing to pass judgement on a reality TV show because he is an actual spiritual leader. The producers really should have checked that out before planning this.
Gary, George and Matt have no religious qualms about judging. Dani and Michael are the top two. Dani wins again! By using Kumar’s recipe. She better not win another immunity pin tomorrow. Matt tells Michael that if he’s always in the final two, he’ll always be in the final two.
Alana and Hayden were the middle of the pack, leaving Billy, Kate and Ellie as the bottom three and facing a pressure test tomorrow. But His Holiness preferred Billy’s soup to Hayden’s! That is ridiculous.
See you tomorrow as the immunity pin saves Ellie and dooms a competent contestant to go home.