MasterChef Australia Recap – S12E06 – Shooting Their Bolt

Despite the pall of gloom hanging over all after the tragic departure of Lynton, the Masterchef crew decides, against all available evidence, that life must go on. The contestants are taken outdoors, where lethal insects, deadly pollution, and skin cancer lurk around every corner. Even worse, they’re in St Kilda.

There are tents set up and a full kitchen. It’s just like being in Masterchef HQ, only less convenient. Andy begins by informing them that though they might think they’re hot shit, they ain’t all that. Today’s task will be to cook a barbecue for 1200 people. This sounds difficult, but will be made easier by the fact that it’s St Kilda, so nobody will be expecting anything good.

Melissa, who has stolen a hat from the set of Anne of Green Gables, splits the cooks into three teams: orange, purple and yellow. Simon is made captain of the orange team in recognition of his experience captaining a team to a humiliating defeat in his previous appearance on the show. Captain of the purple team is a woman called Tracy, who just arrived on the show that morning. Seriously: do you remember anyone called Tracy? Exactly.

Jock lays down the rules: they must make two savoury dishes and one dessert, and they must include a barbecued element – this is probably why they’re calling it a “barbecue”.

The challenge begins. “We all turn into Usain Bolt running up to the coolroom to check out the proteins,” says Courtney. There was a Usain Bolt reference in yesterday’s episode too. Are these people incapable of thinking of any other way to describe the act of running?

On the purple team, Jess begins making donuts. “You are the queen of the donuts!” Ginger Sarah cries aloud. “No I’m not,” Jess demurs, much preferring her traditional nickname, “the Usain Bolt of donuts”.

We are now subjected to some slow motion hometown footage of Harry, who reminisces about his time on the season of Masterchef that never went to air. Meanwhile, Andy forces the plucky schoolgirl Laura to tell him what the yellow team is playing at. He gives her the valuable advice that when it comes to cooking, how they cook will be quite important. Having given freely of his accumulated wisdom, he wanders off somewhere.

Chris is working on chickens, having horrible flashbacks to the time he couldn’t cut pork properly in front of Gordon Ramsay. If he messes up the chickens the same way, his reputation as a man who has some vague idea of how to cut meat will take a severe hit.

Meanwhile Andy has stumbled upon the orange team, whose menu does not impress him in the slightest. He tells Simon that “everyone’s seen” prawns and baba ghanoush before. He urges the orange team to come up with a food hitherto unknown to mankind. In a panic, Simon suggests making a cabbage salad. Dani suggests that Simon is a dickhead. Simon begins to break down. Harry calms everyone by pointing out that even food that everyone has seen before will still be good if it is good. The orange team relaxes and adopts the team motto: “Fuck Andy”.

At the purple team, Andy demands to know who Tracy is and how she got onto the set. Tracy points out that Ben is mucking around with fire, terrifying Andy who fears an accident robbing him of ever seeing Ben’s sweet face ever again. But Ben fears no disfigurement: all he cares about is making sure his meat tastes like coal.

At Yellow HQ, Chris disdains the concept of marinades, as he believes nothing ruins meat like putting flavour into it. “I want the meat to sing,” he says, further stoking fears for his sanity.

The judges convene to discuss the menus and awkwardly ignore the elephant in the room: Melissa’s hat. “Here’s hoping it’ll be a fiesta and not a fail,” she says, willing to spout any kind of nonsense to avoid explaining why it’s on her head.

Reece is making donuts as well. “Jess and I might be really good friends, but we’re at war today,” he says. Note that he says they MIGHT be really good friends – it’s entirely possible they’re not, and in fact that is very much the horse I’m backing.

On the orange team, Amina walks into the tent with a huge pile of horrible blackened lumps that have been salvaged from the scene of some terrible disaster. Apparently these are eggplants, and they are supposed to look like that. Amina is making baba ghanoush, which I can only assume is a dish created by survivors of a petrochemical plant fire.

Over on Yellow, Laura tells her team to hurry up, a la Usain Bolt, but they ignore her because she’s six years old and who cares what she thinks. The yellow team decides to go for a smoke.

Speaking of smoke, orange captain Simon tells Dani to take her bananas to the smoker to grill them. When she does so, Jock points out that the smoker is not a grill, it’s a smoker. Dani explains that what she wants is sweet sticky bananas. Jock explains that she’s a damn fool. Dani begins to lose all confidence in her ability to grill bananas, not to mention in Simon’s ability to captain a team.

Meanwhile the yellow team’s Chris is spatchcocking chickens, in clear violation of the Animal Cruelty Act. He and Laura decide that they will get ten portions out of each chicken, which based on Chris’s track record probably means they’ll get three and the chickens will run out fifteen minutes into service.

A huge crowd has gathered at St Kilda, COVID-19’s patient zero among them. Lured by the promise of free food and the illusory hope that it might taste good, they watch with interest as Dani pokes sadly at a single banana, all sense of reality lost.

Andy has little confidence in the orange team, having decided that he’s going to spend the whole day busting their chops for his own amusement. He tells them that it’s nearly time for service and that ideally when service starts they should have some food to serve. Luckily, Dani has finished cooking her banana and is now fondling a lettuce and remembering better times.

The yellow team is bursting with confidence, as Chris, the Usain Bolt of protein, surveys his array of unflavoured meats with pride and Laura screams at them about how great they are.

“Three minutes till D-Day!” Melissa yells, disrespecting our veterans with her flippant metaphors. What’s more, she still refuses to explain her hat. Jock visits Simon to tell him that he sucks and the other teams are better than him. Simon agrees to do better in future.

Service begins and the greedy cheapskates of St Kilda begin stuffing their fat faces. Jock tells Simon that the orange team is too slow, unlike Usain Bolt, who is fast. “I warned you about this,” he snipes. Simon doesn’t punch him even though he wants to and we want him to and he has every right to. The orange team, as it happens, has one less member than the other teams, yet it is the one that the judges have chosen to be really nasty to. Chefs are nature’s bullies. Who knows why it even matters if they’re slow: these are people getting free food in a park, they have no right to demand speed.

“Is there anything more Australian than a beautiful barbecue with your friends?” Melissa asks. Yes, there is: racism.

Andy’s friend Ben is happy with the smoked porterhouse, and so is the producer: the same shot of him cutting it has been shown about eight times now. He’s definitely earned his title of the Usain Bolt of smoked porterhouse.

The judges sit down to eat the purple team’s efforts. Andy believes their corn is nice and juicy, but you can say that about anyone. He believes the corn needs a bit more “get up and go”, but will not elaborate. The smoked porterhouse is declared worthy of its repeated showings, and the donuts are almost entirely donut-like.

Andy strolls over to the yellow tent to tell them they’re wonderful and much better than the orange team, which smells and is ugly. Yet the oranges keep on keeping on, refusing to give up in spite of their clear inferiority as cooks and as moral actors. A woman lining up to eat their food says they’re a good team, but it’s only out of pity.

The judges sit down to endure the orange team’s dishes. “You couldn’t get more Australian than this – lamb, prawns, banana” says Melissa. Does this mean that lamb, prawns and banana are more Australian than a beautiful barbecue with your friends, or is it that a beautiful barbecue with your friends only reaches peak Australianness when it includes lamb, prawn and banana? Sadly, she does not expand on the point.

Eating the orange team’s menu, which they’ve spent the whole episode slagging off, the judges find themselves feeling chastened and looking like wankers when, guess what, it’s bloody great. Unable to find fault with the food, despite having found fault with the people who cooked it for the last few hours, they backpedal faster than Usain Bolt.

In all the commotion it’s easy to forget the yellow team, but sadly, not easy enough, as here they are again. For the fifteenth time, Chris reminds us that he’s seasoning the beef with salt and pepper and nothing else goddammit. If Chris dies tomorrow, he is determined that the world will remember one thing about him: that he put salt and pepper on his beef.

The judges eat the yellow team’s dishes. The chicken is very tasty, but Jock notes that the portions are inconsistent: Chris has repeated his past sins. If serving inconsistent portions was running, he’d be Usain Bolt. Also, his beef doesn’t have enough flavour in it – in fact it just tastes like beef with salt and pepper for some reason. Luckily the donuts are good, but that’s small consolation after the disappointment of various meats.

The judges spend a few hours informing each other of how great everything is and how hard it will be to pick a winner, but the other side of that is that they’re vastly overpaid and don’t have to do much actual work, so they can probably manage it. And indeed they do, and the winner is the orange team, so take THAT.

Now comes the naming of the losers. Naturally it’s the yellow team, because they let Chris take charge of the meat again. When will they LEARN? This means the yellow team is in the pressure test tomorrow and one of them will go home to their families and friends, if you can imagine anything so awful.

Tune in tomorrow when Jock makes them cook something pointlessly complicated and stupid.

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