Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

And we’re back. Did you watch the Renovators? I didn’t. I watched Ninja Warriors and Unbeatable Banzuke on SBS 2, which are Japanese obstacle-course based game shows. I am considering starting a blog about Ninja Warriors.

Nobody won: it is actually unbeatable

This is the actual logo

Speaking of the Renovators, though, this is a real chance for Channel Ten to slip in some public service advisory stuff about correct asbestos material treatement – any house built before the late 1980s is likely to be full of the stuff, and it’s a real hazard for home renovators. Have they done this? I note that nobody is wearing a facemask.

Now we’re actually back. It’s the final challenge for Masterchef 2011. The question of ‘what the hell is Gary wearing’ has not yet been answered. He advises them to relish the challenge, and Kate and Michael talk about their feelings some more.

Ok, you know what? I am definitely going for Kate. She is calm, competent and learns something every day. Michael can go get an apprenticeship. Plus Kate’s kids are totally adorable.

Final challenge: it’s a pressure test! Michael is unsurprised to see the old enemy returning. It’s cookery, Michael, not the Nazis re-invading.

Apparently the best chef in the world is bringing the dish. It’s Rene Redzeppi! Who? He runs Noma in Copenhagen. He’s wearing white sneakers with jeans, and admits that most of his food is difficult. He’s brought the hardest dish on his menu. Thanks, Rene.

He lifts the lid. Kate is so surprised that she bursts into flame. It’s a snowman. What? It is beautiful. So crazy though! Apparently the only thing in Denmark in winter is snow, inspiring Rene. He slices it open and it’s orange! It’s made of amazing soft meringue. Also, carrot and passionfruit puree, carrot sorbet and liquid nitrogen. Michael is contemplating stabbing himself with the spoon.

How do you eat it?

It's made of carrots!

Matt Moran decides they have to make four, in his last moment of villany for 2011. Their three hours start…now! Ha, they have to do this facing each other. Thankfully they do not have to use a T-Pad.

Rene is super creepy. ‘Hello, Kate’. She’s finishing her meringue then moving on to her carrot sorbet. Gary and Rene go and bother Michael, who is easier to bother. The peanut gallery save Kate from forgetting her snow coating.

Kate hasn’t got enough carrot! She’s got 237g as opposed to 375g. Rather than making slightly smaller snowmen, she chooses to panic.  Alana dispassionately explains what she’s done wrong. Rene doesn’t help. Kate eventually decides on smaller snowmen.

Michael is worse off than Kate – he’s only got half his puree. Very small snowmen, then. Finally Kate’s sorbet is in the freezer. She’s combining yogurt from five animals or something to make the snow.


'I make three-hat yogurt!"

Michael realises that he hasn’t put his stabiliser into his sorbet. That is the difference between making sorbet and making icy carrot. He recovers, and moves on to his passionfruit mousse.

Forty-five minutes to go! That was quick. Kate’s snow is frozen too solid. Uh-oh! They’re assembling their snowmen. This is pretty boring compared to the snow egg. Hayden makes a good try of selling the blender as an exciting innovating tool.

Rene blandly tells Michael to get a wriggle on. Liquid nitrogen time! This is so crazy. They dip the sorbet balls in the nitrogen then spray it with yogurt. What? Michael enjoys it slightly too much.

'it's alliiiiive!'

Michael taking cookery too far

Rene is totally uninterested in what’s happening. George is giving unhelpful advice to Kate. Five minutes to go! It all comes down to who is the best at balancing spheres on top of one another. Kate’s sorbet balls are stuck! She gets it together.

Thirty seconds to go! Michael’s mousse balls are flat. He drops one. C’mon Kate. She’s doing a good job. Michael has it together as well. Nobody has their granita on!

Judging time. Kate’s up first. Oh, they put their granita on last. Her snowmen look pretty good! The middle ball is a bit cracked. Otherwise, she’s nailed it. Gary inhales his. Matt Moran follows suit. He is the lizard queen.

Michael’s next. He has gotten super fat. He is also pretty focused on not dropping his snowmen, although looking at them it might improve the presentation. He had fun, at least. Gary eats it all, again. It tastes pretty good. Matt Preston is having an emotional moment again.

Final scores! OMG OMG OMG. But first: all the celebrity chefs. Maggie Beer races ahead, such is her enthusiasm. Where’s George’s mum? Now we’re talking about everyone’s feelings for ages. Boooooring. George can’t sustain his interest. The families are here! Kate’s kids are still super cute. Michael has a surprise girlfriend! George tears up.

Now it’s scores time. Someone is about to lose in front of their nearest and dearest. Michael gets a nine from Matt Moran, an eight from Matt Preston, a nine from an over-emotional George and an eight from from Gary. He’s on 82 and he is gone unless Kate’s snowman tasted surprise terrible.

Kate’s next. She asks Gary to put her out of her misery. It doesn’t work like that. She gets straight nines! The older kid has worked it out but the two younger ones only realise Mum has won when the glitter falls. Kate has won Masterchef 2011!

The smaller child actually drowned in glitter

Universal sign of victory

Michael gets a ‘culinary scholarship’ to Gary’s restaurant. Does that involve paid work, and an actual apprenticeship? Hard to say. Everyone hugs then fire rains from the ceiling – no, really.

That’s it for Masterchef 2011. Thanks for reading the blog – particularly to those who commented on this blog. Hope you enjoyed the recaps. See you next year – or maybe for junior masterchef!





And we’re back. Apologies for the slack blogging this week. It’s all down to Kate and Michael. Who will win? The mum from Orange, the film projectionist from Adelaide or the Renovators, which for some reason is being screened in between the two halves of the finale. I am going to be super drunk by the time the second half is on.

I’m tearing up as the titles play. This is the last time we’ll see Ellie dropping apples, or Craig waving fabric. I think Hayden may make a tv reappearance, somehow.

Kate’s up early. So’s Michael. He’s considerably more intense than her. He’s going for the Sonic the Hedgehog look with his hair. Kate has an opportunity to call her husband and kids. Sadly she has to use the T-Pad. Michael calls his mum. I hate that T-Pad so much.

It's the stupid man's ipod

Worst product ever

The entire failure brigade is waiting for Kate and Michael in the kitchen. Who are half these people? They let cheating Goth Matt back. That’s nice. Oh Kumar, we’ve missed your work in the commentary box.

The judges are all wearing black. Matt Moran is also here. Gary is wearing some kind of velvet smoking jacket. It looks completely ridiculous. Matt Preston is doing his best Napoleon impersonation.

This is actually a picture of Matt

The resemblance is striking

They’ll be fighting three rounds tonight. They’ll be scored out of one hundred points all up. No time for faff – round one starts now! No it doesn’t, it’s just applause time. Finally they get around to starting, after the Matts leave.

Round one is a Mystery Box Race. Not just any Mystery Box, though – there are four mystery stations. They’ve got forty-five minutes to make one dish, setting the mis en place from each box before they move on to the next with no back-tracking. What? I’m confused already.

There are twenty points up for grabs in this round. They’re off! Box one is surf and turf – beef and some serious crustaceans. Michael goes for the beef, while Kate is into the crab. Michael cracks on to his next box. Kate waits to see what’s in his. Smart! She’s struggling with her crab. She gives up and cracks some Balmain bugs.Box two is full of vegetables. Michael’s on to box three, which is oil and truffles.  He’s making a steak and oyster pie. Gary questions whether he can make a pie in that time, at which point Michael reveals that ‘pie’ was a bit of an understatement.

Fifteen minutes to go! Wow. Ten minutes now. Kate’s finally up to box three. Kate’s making a celeriac roulade with Balmain bugs. Total waste of crab. She has left her lemon at the last bench! Cleo is willing her not to go back. Craig has some opinions about Micahel’s dish. Nobody cares, Craig.

They’re both on the last bench, which is the cooking bench. Kate identifies that the thing with Balmain bugs is that you have to be careful to neither over nor undercook them. Much like all cooking. Seconds to go, and Kumar tells us that on the one hand Kate has made an inviting dish, but on the other hand Michael has made an inviting dish. Thanks Kumar. Time’s up!

Kumar should commentate everything

'I'm helping!'

Judging time. George reiterates the rules. I still don’t understand. Kate’s dish is up first.  George does his best serious face. The vegetables and mayo are perfectly prepared, but her bugs may be slightly underdone. Michael’s steak and oyster pie – featuring no pie – is delicious and the steak is perfectly cooked. The carrots, however, are hard and Gary is frankly enraged to have been promised a pie and not get one.

My mate Amber has come around to watch the final and has brought an antipasto plate that surpasses both dishes. Home made pate! Just saying.

Scoring! Kate gets a seven from George and an eight from Gary, largely for her good recovery. Michael gets an eight from George and a nine from Gary. Woah. Early blowout for Michael! Kate knows it’s slipping away from her. Rachel thinks it’s good for Kate. This is why you got kicked out, Rachel.

Matt Moran’s back to demand they cook the best dish of their life. It’s an invention test! Two hours and fifteen minutes to show what they’ve learned. Michael grabs lobster and a whole bunch of stuff. Kate is actually thinking about her choices.

Jay is suddenly dressing like an inner-city hipster! Michael’s using the goddamn sous-vide machine again. That is the only technique he’s learnt. Meanwhile, Kate is showcasing a range of techniques to showcase quail.

George is sceptical about Michael’s ability to get everything done. He likes Kate’s approach, though. Hey, in other news, George’s wife had a beautiful baby boy early this week! His name is James.

It’s bucketing down in the Masterchef kitchen. Must have been shot during the Sydney monsoons. Kate loves it. She is making a ton of different sized garlic custards. Why? No idea.

Michael’s lobster is out of the sous-vide.  He throws some to the peanut gallery, and Hipster Jay fights off Danielle to get a taste of it. Gross. It’s tasty, apparently. Only two of Kate’s variety of custards have cooked! Matt Preston makes a disapproving face at Michael’s champagne sauce.

Hard to argue with

Australia's leading food critic

Kate’s first custard doesn’t work. She’s not a quitter, though, so tries it again. Micheal is cooking boring leeks in a boring way. I still don’t know who I’m going for. My head says ‘Michael’ but my heart says ‘stop stuffing it up, Kate!’. Kate it is.

One minute to go and Kate hasn’t plated anything! Her custard doesn’t work, but she doesn’t have time to save it. Come on Kate! Ten seconds. Kate gets it together.

Judging time. Michael’s up first. He’s made butter-poached lobster with fennel, lobster and champagne. Matt Moran is mean to him. Flustered, Michael develops a stammer. Michael’s left the root on his leeks for some reason. Moran spits it out. Chill out, lizard king. The champagne sauce is also no good. Michael’s embarrassed.

Kate’s up! She’s made quail with garlic custard and some other stuff I missed because I stopped paying attention. She couldn’t have done it at the start of the contest. It’s magically delicious, and the technique is very sophisticated. The custard is a bit of a mess, but she gets away with it.

Forty points up for grabs here! Michael gets eights from the Matts and Gary, and a seven from George. Eights for messed up leeks? Kate gets nines from the Matts and Gary gives her a BLOWN CIRCUIT IN MY USELESS HOUSE.

When the power comes back on, Kate’s on 51, Michael’s on 48. She got an eight from George? I can’t do maths. Michael is deeply unhappy.  Up next: another TV show. Why are you doing this, channel ten? Complain here: See you in an hour.

We’re back. Michael stood out yesterday as the only contestant who could communicate with humans so got to hang out with Maggie Beer, who had apparently been hiding in the pantry. She taught him how to make the dish they’re all making tonight. Will this backfire on Michael, as it always does? Let’s find out.

Michael spent last night setting up elaborate red herrings to trick the remaining contestants into thinking they’re making a dessert. He succeeds! This is hilarious. Who knew Michael had it in him? Kate is now convinced it’s a Zumbo dish.

They arrive at the kitchen. Matt Preston is dressed like a 70’s couch set. Gary tells them they’re on the highway to the danger zone. I miss Pilot Paul too, Gary.

George calls Alana a quiet achiever. That is an understatement. Kate has steadily delivered great dishes. Matt praises Michael for finally pulling his finger out. I think this guy is surprisingly tactical. Finally, we replay Dani’s triumphs. It doesn’t take long.

Michael’s illusion holds right up until the last minute, when Matt makes Michael introduce Maggie Beer. Kate is so surprised! She’s easily tricked. Maggie enters and all is forgiven. She is super pleased to see everyone, and hugs them all.

They’re cooking an even harder Maggie Beer dish than before. Alana calls her the ‘smiling assassin’. She reveals the dish: it’s a chicken terrine, with a whole bunch of other stuff. One of the sides are bread and butter pickles, which I could happily eat for the rest of my life.

why have pickles not featured more heavily on this show?

All of the food groups

The chicken terrine also contains pork. Maggie calls it easy, then laughs. Maybe Alana’s right – she’s enjoying this too much. The terrine is wrapped in chicken skin, which terrifies Dani. They only get one chicken, so if they get the skinning wrong, they’re stuffed.

The contestants taste the terrine. It tastes delicious. Maggie is delighted that everyone is having a good time. She’ll be judging today. She’s a terrible judge – far too easy-going. They get two hours and fifteen minutes, which start with a giggle from Maggie.

They’re off! Michael looks exhausted. Spent too much time planning tricks and not enough time sleeping. Kate, meanwhile, has never skinned a chicken and has decided to go slowly. Alana’s doing the same thing. Michael and Dani, however, are doing their mis-en-place. Dani sounds really pleased with herself. This could be trouble.

George reminds them that Maggie Beer’s in the house. It’s only been fifteen minutes. Michael happily tells us that the girls are being too delicate with their chicken skin. Amazingly, he then doesn’t tear his in half. He’s behind time, though. Gary thinks this isn’t easy. Maggie sees his ‘not easy’ and raises him a ‘tricky’. Everyone’s taking two or three times as long to do anything as Maggie expected.

Kate finally gets her skin off! She has taken all the time in the world, but has done a good job. Gary comes and tells her she doesn’t have much time, taking up enormous amounts of time while he does so.

Michael nearly cuts his thumb off. The on-site med techs will not let him bleed all over the place. Maggie comes to have a look, and helps him wrap it up. She tells him to toughen up in the nicest way possible.

Life advice that Michael needs

"Just drink a cup of cement, son"

Alana’s churning along, in her traditional ‘middle of the pack’ way. Kate hasn’t caught up yet, and sees the danger zone approaching.

Nobody is on track to get this up in time. George helpfully tells them to get a wriggle on. Dani is going surprisingly well. Michael’s on to his walnut flatbread. Dani has decided to clean. It looks like Michael isn’t the only one maiming himself – Alana’s wearing gloves too.

The pickles have verjuice in them! For a moment there I thought Maggie had forgotten. All the sides look so delicious! I’m so hungry, and my housemate is roasting an entire chicken which he is not planning to share. It smells great.

Dani, true to form, demands Maggie check her bread. She’s forgotten to put walnuts in her walnut flatbread. She decides to give up on the flatbread entirely. Stop being such a quitter.


She had them in front of her

Maggie announces that there’s only thirty minutes to go! She completely fails to summon the menace that Gary was looking for.

Michael’s terrine hasn’t reached the magic 57 degree internal temperature. He’s doing better than Kate, who decides to crank the oven up. She makes a good point: better to serve overcooked terrine than to kill everyone with undercooked chicken.

Delicious, though

Salmonella is not a Masterchef winner

Michael’s terrine is hot enough finally! Alana’s is also on track, somehow. Dani can’t remember what temperature it needs to be. It’s written down in front of you, Dani. Just pay attention for like thirty seconds.

Five minutes left! Michael is in serious terrine based trouble. I think this is yet another sneaky victory for Alana. She is seriously going great guns. Really, as long as it’s not Dani I’m happy.

In the ad break we find out that Julie from season one supports gay marriage! This show is awesome. That said I do enjoy the fact that my parents are legally unable to hassle me about when the wedding is.

We’re in the final seconds. Kate’s terrine is probably half-cooked. Dani’s terrine holds together, disappointingly. So does everyone else’s, so that’s okay. I am really more interested in the condiments.

Judging time! Kate’s first. She struggled most with the time. Her dish looks pretty good though.  She cuts her terrine and it’s undercooked. Maggie’s nice about it, but Gary refuses to eat it. Stop being such a wuss, Gary. Oh well, at least the condiments are delicious. Matt is upset that the cooking time has let her down.

Alana’s next. Her dish looks fantastic. Maggie was impressed with her serial killer calmness. That’s what gives Alana her edge! Her terrine is cooked in bits and raw in others. How? It’s beautifully assembled though, and the edible bits are delicious.

Dani is next. She has failed to plate everything up, and has not followed the terrine cooking instructions. Maggie’s unimpressed. Dani thinks her terrine’s pinkish tinge is okay. Everyone else thinks that it’s undercooked. It’s not even close to serveable. Her figs are the best, though.

Michael is lucky last. How’s he coping with the pressure of the advantage? Not well – he looks like he’s about to faint. His presentation is excellent, and his terrine is – while undercooked – is edible, putting him well ahead of the pack.

Decision time! Gary drops the shock bomb that the condiments are irrelevant. Why did you make them cook them then? Also, those sides looked considerably more awesome than the actual terrine.

This is a small collection, for travel

Condiments: 90% of a successful dish

Back in the kitchen, everyone in turn learns that their terrine was undercooked. Gary has changed his mind, and starts talking about the condiments. Apparently this recipe was tested fifteen times, and they should have been able to cook it in time.

So who’s going to be facing off tomorrow? Surprise! Everyone. This doesn’t feel planned at all. Maggie tells them not to lose heart. Michael’s pretty cranky.

See you tomorrow as, presumably, Dani somehow remains in the competition.

Shuck It To Me in the news

Posted: August 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

Sorry no blog last night. In the meantime, here is an article I wrote about Masterchef for this week’s edition of the Spectator (click the link to view).


On page 3: 'The Mystery Deepens: Who is Alana?"

'Extra! Dani sets Masterchef kitchen on fire!'

And we’re back, for the last elimination round before finals week. To nobody’s surprise, Dani and Ellie were the weakest contestants last night, and will be fighting for survival. That is, unless Lego-Head decides to use her immunity pin, meaning that she’ll get swapped out for Alana. Brutal!

Actually I think this is a better haircut

Dani contemplating her choices

Tensions are high in the Masterchef house. Dani is pretending to have a tough time deciding whether to knife Alana. Alana, meanwhile, is pretty much reconciled to cooking tonight. Ellie explains that being eliminated would be bad. She can only cook in elimination challenges. That is a problem.

The judges are dressed for a funeral. The contestants aren’t, apart from their apron. On the balcony. Alana’s waiting for the axe to come down. Dani feels that this is the hardest decision she’ll ever make. Michael realises that it’s actually a very easy decision. Dani uses it, claiming not to be a bad person. You’re not fooling anyone, Dani. Alana looks completely unsurprised, and pretends to care about Dani’s feelings.

Alana isn’t happy about going up against the Eliminator. The challenge is ‘fix your biggest stuff-up’. This is a great challenge! I don’t know how the judges are going to pick Ellie’s biggest stuff-up, given that that’s been 90% of her cooking on the show. Alana’s been riding the middle of the pack the whole way, something that may well save her tonight.

Ellie’s fixing her appalling stuffed bell pepper from the Spanish challenge, described as ‘weird’ and ‘strangely unpleasant’. The judges struggled to come up with something for Alana – she gets her undercooked cutlets and spiced pears from her last elimination challenge. Too easy! I wonder what Dani’s biggest stuff-up would have been? So many options.

They have to use the same ingredients – Ellie is stuffed, her major problem was that she used bizarre ingredients. Alana has to make two dishes and gets forty-five minutes to Ellie’s seventy-five minutes. Ok, that’s a pretty serious handicap. Still, I have faith. Go Alana!

Kate won last night, so gets some kind of sweet reward! No, wait, she has to hang out with Matt Moran. They’re making seafood. She doesn’t even get to leave the Masterchef house! She looks pretty underwhelmed in the commentary box.

Seriously, he'll never leave

Do not invite this into your house

Back in the kitchen, Ellie’s off! She has scrapped her terrible bell-pepper. Alana is using her spare time to stare blankly at Ellie and plot her death. Or plan her dish, whatever.

Ellie’s making orange icecream. Michael already thinks that she’s cooking it wrong.  Everyone, including Ellie, is pretty sure she’s not going to get there in time. George tells her she’s got an hour and calls her Allie again.

Finally, Alana’s off! She’s making the same dishes again, just without undercooking everything. Ellie is now making crème caramel, but she’s using whole eggs. Dani tries to help. She confuses Ellie and makes Alana hate her more. Ellie moves on to overcook her crème caramel. Meanwhile, Alana’s going great guns, with thirty minutes to go. George comes and explains to Ellie that she’s really stuffing up. She responds by stopping and staring vacantly. Poor little idiot.

Fifteen minutes to go, and Ellie is sulking. George comes to assess the fat on Alana’s cutlets – too much, apparently. Her first road block of the night. Gary’s also worried about the heavy marinade. Dani’s also worried about it. Didn’t shout advice to her. Ellie’s icecream is delicious but incompetently made, characteristically.

After the ad break, Dani will not shut up about Alana’s fatty cutlets. A girl can take that kind of talk seriously, Dani. Meanwhile, Ellie is failing to cut up an orange properly. She has to go.

If I can do it it is not Masterchef

This is not that hard

Five minutes! Alana’s got her lamb plated, but Ellie’s crème caramel are still in the oven. Sure enough, they’re wildly overcooked. Ellie asks Dani  for help. Why? Dani is no help. Somehow, Ellie produces a perfectly plated crème caramel. Nobody is more surprised than Gary.

With a minute to go, Ellie is in a frenzy while Alana is calmly plating. Ellie thinks her inability to organise herself is a skill. She better not win. Ellie cannot believe Alana has made twice as much in half the time.

Judging time. Ellie’s crème caramel with orange ice-cream and citrus salad looks okay, I guess.  She hasn’t so much ‘fixed’ as ‘abandoned’, but whatever. Her icecream is delicious, the citrus salad is okay but badly done, and her crème caramel is somehow perfect. Wait, no, it’s too eggy. What’s that sound – no, it’s victory music! Nooooo. Ellie is proud of herself for learning something. Anything.

She really rocked that hat

Very different from her school experiences

Alana’s lamb cutlets and poached pears are next. They look beautiful. She has actually fixed her dish. Gary pretends that is the wrong choice. Gary cuts into the lamb and it explodes.

After yet another failed attempt to get me to buy a Telstra T-Pad, we find out that Alana’s lamb is far too fatty, but the meat is well cooked. The salad and the dressing are delicious. The lamb fat makes Gary feel unhealthy. Don’t think it’s just the lamb fat, Gary. Her pears, however, are perfect! C’mon Alana.

Decision time! George badges the challenge as a second chance to re-cook a dish again. Wait, what?

He is the 13th doctor

I had no idea George could travel through time and space

Ellie is sad about doing a degree she doesn’t like. You’re twenty-one, Ellie – stop learning to be a nurse (please, you would kill someone) and go and do an apprenticeship.

She may well have to. After twenty-odd eliminations, Ellie is going home. Alana is safe! We see a montage of her smiling, looking cute, and occasionally winning elimination challenges. Plus that brief moment of competence in New York. George creepily flirts for one last time, and Alana tells her to go and get a job.

Back in the Masterchef house, everyone’s making canapés. Dani visibly fears for her life when Alana returns. Ellie has written a nice letter, which makes Kate sad as it reminds her of her eight year old daughter.

Ellie’s welcomed home by a party of people who don’t look old enough to drink. The gaggle of teenage girls squeal at a pitch that can only be heard by dogs. Since leaving Masterchef, Ellie’s started doing work experience at Rockpool. She hopes it will lead to an apprenticeship! Good on her, that’s actually an excellent life choice.

Posted: July 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

And we’re back. It’s the final immunity challenge for 2011! Time flies. If Michael wins tonight, he’ll be straight through to the final three. After last week’s choice of ‘a swimmer’ I can’t wait to see who he’ll be up against. A cartographer? A seeing-eye dog? The Dalai Lama again? Sky’s the limit.

Dani helpfully explains the concept of an immunity challenge. The girls have made him a heart-stopping full cooked breakfast in an attempt to slow him down. Ellie wants to pamper Michael because he’s the only boy in the house. Settle down, Ellie.

The breakfast does not defeat Micheal and he makes it to the kitchen, where Gary taunts him with the immunity pin. Shannon Bennet is back as a guest judge. He still doesn’t say anything.

Goth Matt would have loved this guy

The silent chef

Michael is disappointed to hear that he’ll be cooking off against a chef. Not just any chef – Victoria’s chef of the year, Teage Ezard. Teage talks himself up like crazy. He is not nervous about fighting an amateur chef. Fair enough. He threatens to deck Michael with a sink.

The judges leave Gary to it. Teage lifts the lid on his dish: it’s three tiny dishes. Prawn dumpling soup, roasted pork belly and polenta with egg. This is worlds away from what Dani faced. Teage identifies the entire thing as one huge pressure point made up of a series of small pressure points.

Michael gets the recipe and a ten-minute head start. That’s not a lot. Michael’s two hours starts…now! He reiterates that he’s cooking three dishes. At least they haven’t kneecapped him by making him use the T-Hub.

Michael’s strategy is to cook fast and follow the recipe. Don’t laugh, that took effort. He identifies that the prawn dumpling soup has two elements: prawn dumpling and soup. Thanks, Michael.

Also, everyone else

Michael's secret identity

His head start’s gone. Teage is off. He ruins his hard-man persona by immediately starting to help Michael. Teage says it’s important not to let the soup boil. Michael then boils his soup. Dani is delighted to see that Michael’s falling behind. Gary tastes the soup and basically tells Michael it’s wrong.

Michael’s starting his soup again. He’s taking advice from Dani now. Why would you ever do that?

An hour to go, and Teage’s having trouble with his crackling. Gary reminds Michael that this is his first and last chance at immunity. Good work Gary, Michael didn’t look worried enough to me either.

Forty-five minutes left, and Michael hasn’t quite caught up. He sounds mopey. Gary hassles him, which can’t help.

They’re on to the quail egg! It is adorable. Michael goes through about seven. Five minutes to go! Both Michael and Teage have burnt their crackling – Michael to a much greater degree. Don’t worry guys, you’ve got to go pretty wrong to stop Matt and George from enjoying pork crackling.

And in life

Secret to Masterchef success

Michael doesn’t even finish his soup properly. He more or less gets everything on the plate. Dani is staring down, judging his eggs. Now the other contestants are helping Teage. So much for friend time.

Juding time. Michael’s dish is first. Shannon is pleased with the presentation. They may have assumed that because all three dishes are there that it was Teage’s. Michael’s dumpling is delicious, but the soup is no good. The egg is overcooked. The crackling is surprise perfect – that is key to a good score.

Teage’s dish is next. The crackling is no good, and the presentation is apparently less refined. It looks the same to me. His egg is perfect though, and his soup is not totally wrong. Not a tough decision.

Back in the kitchen, the judges have their final crack at surprise faces when they find out which dish was Michael’s. Michael gets an eight from Shannon, a nine from Matt and an eight from George. Must have been the crackling.

Teage is not feeling optimistic. He gets an eight from Shannon, a nine from Matt and a nine from George. Aw, poor little Michael. Teage is a little embarrassed about almost losing to an amateur chef.

Matt Preston thinks that Michael’s now the favourite! Michael nearly passes out with excitement. I really would like Gary to stop calling grown women girls.See you tomorrow for – OH MY GOD Dani is the only one with an immunity pin. Argh.

And we’re back. Tonight the remaining contestants are cooking for their families who they haven’t seen in ages. Yes, I am disappointed I missed last night’s knives-out episode for this schmaltz-fest. In the Masterchef house, everyone’s feeling relaxed. Kate misses her adorable family. Apparently nobody else does, because they’re off to the kitchen without any other recaps.

In the kitchen, Matt Preston tries to freak them out, successfully. They are really expecting a soul-destroying challenge today. Surprise!  Matt talks up the guests. Dani points out that it would be hard to top the Dalai Lama, but guesses ‘Barack Obama’. Yeah, he’s busy.

Also, the risk of Dani poisoning the leader of the free world is too high

Doing this, among other things

Surprise -it’s their families! Kate’s face is priceless! Even Alana is showing human emotion for once.  Everyone is hugging their loved ones and crying. Excuse me, I have something in my eye.

Alana’s husband is as much of a goon as she is – he’s lost ten kilos since the competition. Dani introduces her mum, who is not a giggling idiot to my surprise. She does, however, look like Liza Minelli.

It's uncanny

Delighted to see her daughter again

Kate is so excited to introduce her family. Her kids are the best. They laugh at George’s baldy head. The youngest girl eagerly accepts George’s invitation to replace Matt Moran, a proposal I wholeheartedly endorse. She does a fantastic impression of the snake king. Everyone makes fun of Matt Moran. He’s not even there! He will find out somehow.

If you see him, hold still - he can only see you if you move

Matt Moran is coming for that adorable small child

The little boy loves Hawaiian pizza – turns out so does George, who has a natural affinity with the under tens. I would happily watch these kids all night.

Ellie’s mum is also a serious business lady. She thinks that Ellie has strength of character. She’s hiding that light under a serious bushel. Ellie went into cooking because she thought that ‘Ellie’s Deli’ would be an amusing name for a shop.  Yep.

Michael’s mum and sister are here. His mum seems like a champ. Michael tells the nation all of his sister’s business. She seems a bit unimpressed. He loves them so much though! God, this is unrelentingly adorable.

George tells them they’ll be cooking for the people they love. Thanks for clarifying, George. There are no losers today, but the best dish of the day gets a special prize. All of the guests will be eating each dish! Ellie thinks they’ll all be votign and  plans to cheat until Gary points out that that would be stupid, and only the judges will be judging.

'no, you listen to me, Dani!'

That's what judges are for

Winners get a night at home with their family! Escape from the gulag. Also, George and Gary will be cooking for them, plus Matt. I’d really rather just hang out with my family. Although watching these guys cook in my tiny kitchen would be awesome. I think one of them would fit at a time. Maybe.

They’re off! Kate is dominating the commentary box. I hope she wins. Who will explain to those kids that Mummy doesn’t get to visit after all? Alana’s making fancy crepes. Rob has bought pictures of their ridiculous dogs, which he worryingly calls their fur children, plus a footy scarf.

Ellie is making a chicken pie because her mum loves pies. All pies. Michael is making a better version of the last dish he made his mum – roast lamb. Plus brains, because he knows his mum doesn’t like them. Wait, what? Kate’s making roast pork. She’s also making pizza and chips for the kids (but largely for George).

BBQ meatlovers is the clearly superior pizza

Press Club chef's special

Dani’s making a vanilla slice for her grandma, who isn’t there. What are you doing, Dani? Michael is using that vaccum bag cooking machine again. He loves that thing.

Ellie’s mum comes to tell her to make a good pie. Ellie explains her pastry for a while, ending with ‘this pastry makes a nice pastry?!?’. Dani is also using pastry, even though she doesn’t really know how. Alana’s under the crepe pump. She can’t open the bottle. Rob obliges, foiling Gary’s efforts to make a move on his lady. Asked to give an update, Ellie tells us that she’s making her pie. Thanks, Ellie.

Kate’s kids are time-checking her! They have gotten cheeky in her absence. George has befriended the kids, and makes them yell the time at all the contestants. Awesome.

Michael is frantic as usual. Michael’s mum and sister are unimpressed with his lambs brains. Of course they are, you knew they didn’t like them. After the ad break, he helpfully recaps everything that has happened.

Dani wants to make nice custard for a change! Good choice. Ellie isn’t blind-baking her pastry. She forgets to do an egg wash until her mum reminds her. Her mum is in full ‘idiot child in the kitchen’ mode. Hope Ellie doesn’t burn herself.

One of Kate’s kids comes down for icecream. Meanwhile, Ellie’s mum is cleaning up after her. That only took forty-five minutes. Kate’s cracking looks incredibly delicious. She’s also making a fancy potato bake. She is on to a winner here.

Gary is unimpressed with Alana’s pancakes – wrong butter, or something. He is a fan of Michael’s fancy roast. George is concerned that Kate’s forgotten the food for the kids, and will basically make a pizza himself if she doesn’t.

Dani is struggling with her vanilla slice. Gary mocks her. She has forgotten to prick her puff pastry. She tells Gary it’ll go down. It doesn’t. He stands around not helping and continuing to make fun of her. Her mum doesn’t even look surprised. Ellie’s mum tries to be encouraging.  She and Dani’s mum bond over their idiot kids.

George and the kids are making their ham and pineapple pizzas! What a touching family moment. Meanwhile, Michael is talking as fast as an auctioneer and talking about brains. Less endearing.

mmmmm indeed

Interesting plating choice from Michael

Dani is trying to salvage her pastry. Here’s a hint: it’s not going to work. She is convinced that her grandma is going to love it. Again, her grandmother is not here. Ellie’s pie has by some miracle worked.

Thirty seconds to go, and Kate’s forgotten about her pork! It looks ok. Wait, so they can plate at their leisure? No, they get a couple of minutes.

Time’s up. Everyone hugs. Michael’s mum thinks the brains are stupid. The little boy is hungry! Everyone heads upstairs.

Kate’s dish is first. She is playing on the jduge’s weakness for crackling and butter. It looks amazing. The kids are also enjoying their pizza and chips. Her husband is a sweetheart, even if he does sound like his voice is breaking – he brought in her heirloom cutlery, which makes her cry. It also makes my girlfriend cry.  Everything is delicious. Gary is stealing people’s crackling, then makes the couple kiss. He’s so weird.

Ellie’s pie is next. A chicken and mushroom pie with rustic vegetables. Her mum is so proud of her idiot child! She is shocked at Ellie’s newfound semi-competence. The pastry has turned out well, and the gravy’s delicious.

Michael brings his brains and lamb rack. He’s happy but not ecstatic. He’s looking more manic than ever. I think it’s the sous-vide machine. His mum loves it though. She’s even going to try the brains. So is his sister. Surprise! They’re delicious. What a family of amiable doofuses these guys are.  Sadly, using the sous-vide has once again left Michael with badly-cooked meat. Meanwhile, Alana’s crepe stack with lemon curd and meringue looks amazing. Her partner is overwhelmed, then demands it every night. It is festooned with those tiny flowers that everyone has started using recently. It’s delicious!

Dani thinks her Dad would think her vanilla slices look beaut. Where is he? Dani and her mum have not stopped holding hands. That is adorable. Gary makes them cry. Ellie’s mum is nice to Dani again. Most of the slice is delicious, but the crap pastry lets her down. She makes excuses.

Decision time! I hope Kate wins. Everyone talks about how great it is to see their family, and George tells them their food was all amazing. But there can only be one winner, and it is: Alana! What? The kids look confused. I am also confused. This is the first time she’s won a challenge. And she gets ‘ the three chubby amigos’ visiting her house. No, they actually call themselves that.

And working for the butter lobby

Like this, but fatter

The amigos have brought their head chefs to do their work for them. Matt is taking his job as head waiter very seriously. Alana’s ridiculous dogs want to eat all of Gary’s outlandishly complicated food and George’s Chiko rolls. They get none.

See you tomorrow for the final immunity challenge! Because it’s Michael and not Dani, he’s cooking against a chef rather than a sportsman.