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Poh on MasterChef

MasterChef Australia Recap – S12E02 – Porky’s IV

After the euphoria of the first night, the crushing disappointment of the second night. The contestants face the horrifying prospect of a friendly, non-abusive Gordon Ramsay with nothing to protect themselves except their own desperation. Their challenge: to remember who Reece is without looking it up on Wikipedia.

On a bright sunny morning the contestants arrive at HQ. Dani, newly pinned, is feeling like a superhero. One of the ones without any good powers. Hawkeye, probably. Inside, Jock asks them if they’re feeling good, as if that’s any of his business.

Gordon tells them that they created history yesterday. His explanation of why this is proves to be fairly unconvincing and anyone who concludes that they didn’t create history yesterday has a lot of evidence on their side. He then announces that today they will be doing a full service, and he will be running it. “I’m expecting one of the best-run restaurants anywhere in the country,” he lies: as someone with experience of running restaurants, he knows that there is zero chance of this happening.

The contestants will be split into teams and forced under threat of violence to make three courses for 120 people. Each course must feature one of three ingredients: potato, ginger and black garlic. “You have two and a half hours before the first entrees begin leaving the pass,” says Jock, probably confusing the shit out of Gordon, who’s spent many years making Hell’s Kitchen in America, where they call main courses “entrees” because they are stupid.


The teams rush to the kitchens and immediately begin jabbering mindlessly at each other. Khanh says that he doesn’t want to be the green team’s captain. The rest of the green team are comfortable with accommodating his desire. Amina steps up to take control because she is a nurse, a job that has nothing in common with this at all.

On the blue team, Ben — not the ice-cream Ben, the other one — is the captain, as if being best friends with a judge wasn’t enough for his ego.

The blue team’s Laura decides she’d like to do a beef carpaccio for entree. “I’ve done something similar with kangaroo before, but there’s no kangaroo,” she says, risking her team’s fortunes on her insane experiments.

The green team is forced to pause for a moment while Amina flashes back to her depressing life at home, where she is forced to do everything in slow motion due to a court order.

Gordon tells Khanh that if he has any questions he should ask him. Khanh is not an idiot: he’s watched TV, he knows this is a trap. Meanwhile Lynton goes out into the garden to pull enormous plants out by the roots. He refuses to explain his actions.

Gordon demands Ben — not ice-cream Ben — explain his plans. Ben tells him the menu. Gordon has concerns. He draws a picture of a pork belly. Ben nods enthusiastically. They agree that this is what a pork belly looks like. They part on good terms.

Meanwhile Ginger Sarah suddenly becomes obsessed with rye bread and flees the scene, while her captain Amina talks to Gordon. She tells him that the green team’s entree is potato rosti with no protein. Gordon finds the whole idea ludicrous. Amina tells Khanh. Khanh rubs his temples. Gordon tells Khanh that his starter is not as good as the blue team’s, and he’s right, because it’s just fucking potato.

“About a week ago I was at home sitting comfortably on a couch with my little girl,” Amina muses. Surely she had more than a week’s notice that she’d be on the show, though? I mean it didn’t come as a surprise when she turned up in the kitchen? Though to be fair she can’t have foreseen that Khanh would have such a stupid idea for an entree.

On the blue side Reynold describes his dessert to Gordon, who doesn’t have the guts to challenge him. He tells Reynold how wonderful he is, as is traditional.

Gordon goes to visit Callum, under no obligation to compliment him in any way. Callum is sous vide-ing his meat. Gordon tells him not to be such a dickhead. Callum decides to ignore Gordon’s advice, which normally turns out well.

Gordon tells the other judges that the green team is doing a potato rosti and then sous vide-ing lamb. The judges agree with Gordon that the green team is fucked. It’s basically just the luck of the draw that when the teams were separated, all the bad cooks were on the green team’s side.

Chris is cooking pork belly and dreaming of laying waste to his enemies’ land. He wanders the kitchen, a look in his eye that speaks of bloodlust. Before this day is out, he will kill again.

Khanh is busily making the disappointing potato rosti, while Sarah fondles a loaf of bread. Gordon appears beside her to inform her of the correct spelling of “salt”. She goes into hysterics. Gordon moves over to Lynton. “I’ve got eyes in my arsehole,” he says. Lynton cruelly laughs at Gordon’s brave admission of his medical problem.

“Captains, I need to see some food!” Gordon cries, his urges bubbling up from deep within. Laura shows him some food. He eats it — this was not part of the deal, he said he just wanted to see it. He says the beef carpaccio is delicious and does not hurl it at a wall, which is a huge shame.

The green team shows Gordon their lame rosti. He tells them it looks awful. Inside the potato is stodgy. Everything is crap. Callum shows Gordon his lamb. He tells him it looks awful. He predicted this, but Callum insisted on his dumb sous vide machine.

Gordon calls the whole green team together and informs them that they suck. “I know you can do better,” he implores, but this is a lie. He doesn’t know they can do better. He has no idea. For all he knows shitty potato and grey lamb is literally the extent of their abilities. “Ask me anything you want,” he says. None of them have the courage to ask him the pressing question: “How do we cook food good?”

Amina starts laying down the law, nurse-style. Callum agrees to redo the lamb from scratch. Khanh agrees to polish the turd that is his entree. Everyone on the green team agrees to shout “Yes” when Amina wants them to. Gordon feels the energy.

Over on the blue team Reynold is doing unnatural things with ice-cream. He claims it’s quite risky, but the judges have already decided that they will drool orgasmically over everything Reynold does, so he’s fairly safe.

The green team’s dessert is not running so smoothly, because Poh has to work alongside Rose, the kiss of death. She knows that if even one element is off, the dessert will be a disaster. But deep inside she also knows that there is no hope of one element not being off.

Diners begin arriving, with high hopes of not having to pay for their meal. Excitement in the kitchen reaches fever pitch. Khanh admits that this experience is very different from that in his own restaurant, as in his own restaurant there’s nobody to tell him that his entrees are shit before he serves them.

Service time. The blue team begins piling their raw meat on top of their unpleasant blobs. The green team begins chucking some bits of fish and potato together and praying.

Ben gets Chris to begin slicing the pork. Gordon asks Ben why the fuck Chris is slicing the pork. He informs them that pork goes dry very quickly and should be sliced as they need it, not well in advance. To be fair, Ben and Chris had no way of knowing this, as they are only professional restaurateurs who have no experience with cooking meat.

Chris confesses that he is confused because Ben told him one thing and Gordon told him another one. Chris is very easily confused.

Meanwhile at the judges’ table, the three judges discuss how great it is for the show that they haven’t been on screen much tonight. They are then served the blue team’s beef carpaccio. They make up some reasons why it looks good, and then some reasons why it tastes good.

As the green team assembles their stupid entrees, Gordon screams at Khanh. “He’s screaming at me, but now I understand why,” says Khanh, who has finally realised that Gordon just plain does not like him.

The potato cakes with scraps of fish arrive at the judges’ table. Andy and Melissa think it looks great. Jock, who has standards, does not. The fact they’ve placed it over to one side of the plate so it looks like the actual dish has been stolen might have something to do with it. Tasting it, the judges notice that it sucks. Melissa makes excuses by using the word “conceptually”, but she finds the task of coating the green team’s failure with bullshit overwhelming.

The entree teams are sent to the balcony for a barely-earned rest — at least, the blue one is, as the green team hasn’t finished yet. At the dessert station, Poh and Rose peer sadly at their tart shells as if examining a recently-deceased goldfish. Gordon asks Poh how long dessert will take. Poh does not know, because all her tart shells are falling apart, she doesn’t know whether the custard will cool down enough, and the only assistance she has is freaking Rose. Gordon continues to demand to see a tart, not for the first time.

There are no more tart shells. Dessert is cancelled. Poh starts making new shells, her hubris astonishing. Somehow, the green team is still making entrees. Finally they finish and Gordon sighs with relief as he tells them to go away.

It is time for mains to be served, and they must be served quickly, because there are 120 people who have just been served tiny unsatisfying entrees and are starving. As the green team rushes to serve their lamb, Lynton has a flashback to his wife and baby, both as unfeasibly attractive as he is. Lynton has taken charge, despite his lack of nursing experience.

The green team gets their mains to the judges first. Andy thinks it smells good. Jock thinks it’s cooked perfectly. Melissa is happy with the degree of doneness and is not good at talking. Andy thinks it’s a really smart dish, although these things are all relative: on average lamb backstrap isn’t particularly intelligent anyway.

The blue team begins pushing out its pork. Gordon tells Chris to use a serrated-edged knife, because Chris has never cut meat before. The pork comes to the judges. They agree that it’s a very generous piece of pork — but will the pork’s generosity outweigh the lamb’s intelligence?

Andy thinks the pork is really really yummy, but finds his potato puree stodgy. Jock agrees that the potato did not shine. It is agreed that potato is a bad ingredient and should no longer be used as food.

The blue team is struggling, as Chris continues to find the task of cutting the pork into pieces staggeringly difficult. The slices are all different sizes and Gordon is swearing at everyone. Chris reveals that there is only one pork belly left. This is enough for eight portions. There are 36 people left to serve. This may present a problem. The cause of the problem is simple: it’s a combination of not having cooked enough pork, and serving too much pork per portion, and Ben being a dick, and Chris being an idiot.

The blue team frantically works out a way to come up with 36 portions from the remaining pork belly plus the leftovers and offcuts from earlier. Ben puts Reynold on the slicing station to give Chris a hand with this extremely complex and technical task. Reynold immediately begins making pork and white chocolate ice-cream balls.

The green team has had a triumph with its main, but the looming tragedy of its dessert remains, and Poh is under serious pressure as she tries to rescue her tarts and prevent Rose from causing complete societal collapse. “You never give up in the Masterchef kitchen,” says Rose, which is pretty ironic coming from her.

The blue team finishes serving their mains. They are all depressed. But they still have Reynold’s dessert, and no meat slicing is involved.

The judges receive Reynold’s dessert: ice cream with ginger, yuzu, thyme and honey. It comes from Reynold, the golden child, so obviously they’re going to love it. Which makes for a moment of cold, savage shock when Jock puts down his spoon and announces, “I’m not a fan of that.”

Reynold’s dessert is not good. Too much thyme. Too herbaceous. Reynold has flown too close to the sun and the wax in his wings is melted to fuck.

However, the blue team still has hope, because the green team still hasn’t plated up any desserts and Poh is working with history’s most useless assistants. “Come on ladies, you’re better than this,” says Gordon inaccurately.

The judges receive the greens’ spiced ginger brulee tarts, served — cannily — without thyme. “It’s almost Christmassy,” says Melissa, meaninglessly. Jock is disappointed in the custard — which was made, unsurprisingly, by Rose — which he finds soggy. Is custard not supposed to be soggy? This is a very confusing critique.

The judges agree that it will be difficult to decide which team wins, or at least that it will be difficult to pretend that they find it difficult to decide which team wins for the camera.

It is time for judgment to be pronounced. Andy tells the blue team that their entree was perfect. Emelia is very pleased with herself, but then wouldn’t you be if you were her? He tells the green team their entree sucked. Gordon puts his face in his hands because he FUCKING TOLD THEM SO.

Jock tells the blue team their main sucked. Gordon puts his face in his hands again. He tells the green team their main was awesome. Lynton is quietly euphoric.

Melissa tells the blue team their dessert tasted like flowers instead of ginger. She tells the green team their dessert was a clusterfuck but it tasted good and after much agonising the judges had decided that tasting good is something food should do, so the green team wins. Reynold’s humiliation is complete.

Poh is thrilled. “My dream to be yelled at by Gordon Ramsay came true,” she says. Gordon looks at her intently, as if considering his revenge.

Jock now drops a bombshell, informing the green team that although they won tonight, only one of them will be safe from elimination, and that tomorrow they must cook off to decide who it will be. This means that most of the team just went through that difficult and painful service for nothing, so that’s nice.

Tune in tomorrow, when the green team is forced to endure further degradations they don’t deserve.

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