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Gordon Ramsay at MasterChef Australia talking to a contestant

MasterChef Australia Recap – S12E03 – No I In Team

Having discovered just how hollow last night’s victory was, the briefly-triumphant green team show up to Masterchef HQ ready to turn on each other like common weasels.

Only one member of the team will get immunity, under this season’s innovative “stupid format” format. To do so, they must first endure some banter between Rose and Gordon that comes close to breaking everyone’s spirit. After this, Jock explains that this year, all but one contestant will be up for elimination every week: a massive change that would greatly elevate the tension if it weren’t for the fact that nobody is really that fussed.

The contestants will be cooking in teams of three. The winning team will cook off in tomorrow’s immunity challenge, an incredibly long-winded way of doing things, but nobody said Masterchef was supposed to be succinct.

Melissa explains the pointless complexity of the challenge: the three members of the team will cook in a relay, wherein each starts on one course, and after twenty and forty minutes they rotate onto each other’s stations. “The secret ingredient here is your voice,” says Gordon, implying a Little Mermaid-esque dystopia. No time to digest the surreal horror of his words, as the time as started and the teams must sprint to their tasks.

Immediately Ice-Cream Ben declares he will make ice-cream. Asian Sarah agrees that he should probably do that, as if he tries anything else he’ll kill someone.

In the pantry Tessa grabs a fish, while Amina gets a box of cornflakes as she hasn’t had breakfast yet. Khanh explains that his team’s theme is a no-brainer, as indeed is Khanh. He is on a team with Poh and Tessa, so Poh is in for a grating day.

Callum is going to make calamari, because it sounds a bit like “Callum” and that makes him proud of himself. He is on a team with Lynton and Sarah, so it has a definite attractiveness advantage. Their theme is Australian indigenous ingredients, apart from the capsicum and tomato and most what’s in it.

Melissa demands that Rose explain herself. Rose says that she, Amina and Simon are doing a Middle-Eastern inspired meal that, if all goes well, will be just dreadful.

The theme of Hayden, Ben and Asian Sarah’s meal is “honey”. Hayden admits that he would’ve preferred a theme that somehow meant something, but compromises must be made when you’re working with someone like Ben.

As the first change looms, Khanh fires questions at Poh regarding what dessert is and how one makes one. Poh is beginning to doubt the wisdom of Khanh being allowed to start dessert, or indeed handle sharp objects.

Ginger Sarah explains, “Our strategy is we all know how to cook each course.” This is, of course, not a strategy, and she is exposed as a fraud and a charlatan. Up on the balcony Chris says it’s like “insane musical chairs”, not stopping to consider that musical chairs is, in itself, insane, when you think about it. I mean, what are they doing there?

Tessa asks Poh if she wants something reduced more. Poh, increasingly nervous about her teammates’ utter incompetence, says no. Tessa says she has to taste it, and runs away. When she returns, she tells Poh she’s going to put lime in it. Poh tells her to check herself before she wrecks herself. “The most important thing is communication,” says Poh, but communication is difficult for her because the people she has to communicate with are Khanh and Tessa, a challenge none of us would like to take on.

Meanwhile, Lynton, Callum and Sarah are cruising like an enormous clockwork spaceship, while everyone else does a slow-motion collapse. “The smells coming out of there are insane,” says Jock, pointing to Rose. Typical.

Amina asks Rose if her custard looks OK. Rose stares blankly at her and tells her it’s fine, because why not.

Up on the balcony, someone tells Tessa, “You’re nuts”, which I think is a pun, and not an endearing one.

Down below, Andy asks Asian Sarah how she’s going. Asian Sarah replies that her team is pouring several hundred litres of honey over everything. Andy tells her that maybe it would be a good idea if their meal has maybe one or two non-honey flavours in it too. She tells Ice-Cream Ben to chuck some vinegar in. Meanwhile Hayden doesn’t know how to put the lid on the ice-cream maker, and it’s causing Ben physical pain. Hayden takes some time out to do a monologue on the shape of Ben’s head that smacks powerfully of illicit substances.

Gordon asks Callum how he’s feeling. Big mistake. Callum starts telling him about his feelings in detail. Gordon awkwardly extricates himself from the conversation. Callum rues his poor people skills.

Rose asks Simon to talk about the flavour profile he wants for the dessert. It’s a weird request and Simon does not take well to it. He has his own problems, he doesn’t need Rose making baffling demands. Rose, concerned that the entree might turn out edible, adds lemon juice to the burnt butter sauce and immediately splits it. Jock comes over and tastes it, because apparently the fact that there’s a saucepan full of baby vomit wasn’t enough to tip him off that something was wrong.

The final changeover arrives, and Amina is left to clean up Rose’s mess. By an immense effort of will, she holds herself back from hurling the curdled sauce in Rose’s face, and quietly gets on with her hopeless task. “I’m going in the cupboard, does anyone want anything?” Simon calls. Rose and Amina, lost in their own depressing worlds, ignore him completely.

Meanwhile, despite Poh spending the last forty minutes telling Tessa and Khanh to add more coconut to her dessert, there’s not enough coconut in her dessert. Tessa is finished, having neatly worked it out so that the entree was a raw dish, meaning she could stop early.

Ice-Cream Ben asks Hayden how he’s doing. Hayden is worried about the asparagus, which is quite reasonable, as asparagus makes any dish taste horrible. Ben reassures him that the asparagus will make a nice counterpoint to the pleasant taste of the rest of the meal.

Gordon makes a quick circuit of the kitchen. Amina has fixed the burnt butter sauce even though Rose never did anything for her. Callum’s spatchcock looks good, if you know what I mean. Ben is shoving his saucepan in Hayden’s face, and whatever they’re doing seems to be going OK. The problem lies with Khanh, whose duck is far too cold and has withdrawn emotionally.

Ginger Sarah is feeling very confident, and why wouldn’t you, after an hour standing next to Lynton? I’d feel invincible. She feels they will get everything on the plate, and experience has taught her that that is an excellent start.

Time grows short. “Every table is down to the line,” says Jock unnecessarily. “I think it’s done,” says Rose, inexplicably then leaving her fish on the grill. Classic Rose. Melissa starts jumping up and down. Gordon mocks her size. The judges cover the tension with insincere mirth, but the hatred hangs thick in the air.

One minute to go. Tessa tells Khanh he needs to plate his undercooked duck. Khanh begins laughing hysterically at the terrible place his life choices have led him to. He slices the duck. It looks perfect, which seems a bit frigging convenient, narratively speaking.

Fifteen minutes after it was one minute to go, time is up. “Look at their faces,” says Gordon, disgusted at their sheer ugliness. The teams hug each other. Hayden thanks Ben for teaching him how to put a lid on an ice-cream maker. “I think that was one of the best sixty minutes this kitchen has ever witnessed,” says Gordon, as if he’d have any damn idea. He does some more excruciating banter with Rose and everyone’s day is ruined.

Judging time. First to serve are Tessa, Khanh and Poh — Team Tension — with their Asian-inspired menu. “This looks fantastic, smells amazing,” says Melissa, referring to Khanh. She goes on to say that she loves the meal. She goes into detail, but I’m not sure what she says as I tune her out every time she talks for more than five seconds. Gordon is so impressed that he makes weird little hand movements. Everyone is overjoyed.

Next, Team Honey — Hayden, Ben and Asian Sarah — bring up their three courses of honey-soaked everything. Hayden is concerned that there might be too much honey, but he should be more concerned that the entree is asparagus, and there may not be enough honey in the world to make that good. Gordon declares that the asparagus is fit for a queen, though he’s going only on looks and may mean as some kind of headwear for the races. After tasting the three courses, the judges declare that everything is basically fine and Hayden doesn’t have to take Ben outside. Gordon tells Hayden that he’s not a honey guy, which is kind of hurtful.

Up step Simon, Amina and Rose, Team Clusterfuck. Have they come out against the odds with something tasty, or will their meal be the culinary equivalent of Rose’s banter? Melissa goes on and on about how vibrant it looks, and the suspicion that Melissa has no taste buds is becoming overwhelming. The judges declare the meal to be basically edible. “This was joyous to consume,” says Melissa, without specifying whether this was due to the taste or just because she enjoys destroying things. Gordon says that the fish is very unforgiving, so he’s impressed that Rose convinced it to let her sauce fuck-up slide.

Last but not least, Team Sexy: Lynton, Ginger Sarah and Callum. As they step up, Jock gives them a weird look, as if asking them why they just urinated on his feet. Upon tasting their indigenous-and-lots-of-other-stuff menu, the judges are blown away by the team’s ability to combine ingredients in such a way as to generate a pleasurable sensation upon placing the resultant combinations into the human mouth. “Forget food trends and flower cooking,” says Melissa. Done. “This is food you want to eat,” she goes on, and you can sense how regretful she is at having to admit that this matters.

The judges deliberate and announce that obviously Lynton, Ginger Sarah and Callum have won because compared to their dishes everyone else was essentially serving up burnt goat shit. Sarah, Lynton and Callum will now cook off for immunity, as the whole process gets well beyond a joke.

Tune in tomorrow, when all three contestants self-immolate.

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