MasterChef Australia Recap – S12E07 – Suffer In Their Jock’s

The wages of sin are death, and the wages of poorly-prepared meat are pressure tests. Tonight, the unhappy erstwhile members of the yellow team will pay for their hubris by being forced to cook three dishes from Jock Zonfrillo’s restaurant. But the challenge is even harder than it sounds: not only will they have to cook the dishes, they’ll also have to put all the ingredients together in the right amounts before cooking them. It’s a tough ask, because Jock’s restaurant is award-winning, and apparently has three hats, left behind by cooks who Jock worked to death.

“This is really cool,” says Khanh, forgetting to pretend that he cares whether he wins or not.

“There is one thing you don’t know,” says Jock, causing sphincters to tighten across the kitchen. “It’s a two-round pressure test,” says Jock, causing a vague sense of anti-climax.

Chris says he’s not prepared for a two-round pressure test, but as we know, Chris isn’t ready to slice pork evenly, so nothing he says can be taken too seriously.

Jock presents the dishes to be cooked: a prawn thing, custard in a little pot, and crumpets. It all looks extremely easy, but I suppose we have to go along with the whole “this is super difficult” narrative they’ve got going here. “I want people to pick up that head and suck the mustard out of it,” says Jock, causing an awkward moment before the cooks realise that he means the prawns. He goes on to point out that his crumpets have “beautiful holes”, and there is no longer any doubt that Jock is committing sexual harassment in the Masterchef kitchen.

The three worst cooks will go into the second round, where they will be forced to cook something even less impressive looking.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” says Brendan, and he’s right: the pressure is so great that Reece instantly forgets how to turn on an oven. Meanwhile Courtney hasn’t done anything, and is proud of it.

Andy, thinking himself pretty clever, asks Jock whether chefs at his restaurant would find this task difficult. Jock, refusing to play his little game, tells him that no, of course they wouldn’t, this is what they do for a living, every single night, obviously they would find it incredibly easy. Andy is crushed, and makes a mental note to never go with his instincts ever again.

“Thirty minutes has evaporated,” says Melissa, using bad grammar and opaque metaphor simultaneously. Courtney, who has moved on from her early tactic of doing nothing to a new technique of doing something but very slowly, is finding it tricky to read the recipe. Literacy was always going to trip someone up this season, and Courtney could be the unlucky one.

Simon calls from the balcony to ask Jock whether the boab is dried. The more pertinent question is whether the boab is edible, and it is one Jock is utterly silent on. Anyone who’s seen a boab tree knows full well there is no food growing on it, and Jock’s con job could get somebody killed.

Chris declares he’s never had so much fun in the Masterchef kitchen, in the latest example of a contestant slipping up and failing to fake a belief that there are high stakes. Much better at this is Ice-Cream Ben, who is in a sweaty panic as always happens when he is confronted by any task that isn’t making ice-cream.

Reece believe Jock’s custard will be much more delicate than the custards he usually makes, and one does get the impression that Reece’s usual custards are not exactly the most delicate custards around. So far, though, not only is the custard he’s currently making not delicate, it’s not even custard. Jock visits his bench and informs him that he’s cooked his egg, which is apparently a terrible thing to do and ruins custard. In my heart of hearts I know full well that I could not possibly do any better, but I still feel like Reece should’ve known not to cook his damn egg, and so I judge him with some delight.

Courtney asks Laura for some deep-frying advice. Laura, like a total noob, gives it to her. Someday she will learn not to give her enemies any succour. “You should be thinking about cooking your prawns,” Jock yells, but it’s a trick: what the contestants should be doing is actually cooking their prawns; if all they do is think about cooking them they are destined for disaster.

Andy gives Courtney some advice on cooking prawns on a Hibachi, Courtney apparently being incapable of doing anything by herself. Cooking these prawns is quite a precise affair, and it is well beyond any of the contestants. Andy continues to interfere with various contestants’ processes as if he has any idea how to make these dishes either.

Ben says he’s happy with the presentation of his crumpets. Jock walks over to his bench and tells him he’s ruined them. Ben’s judgment comes under some doubt in the popular press. He briefly considers making a crumpet-flavoured ice-cream, but sanity prevails and he simply decides to start again. Meanwhile, Khanh has burnt his crumpets due to his risky strategy of not checking whether his crumpets are burning, and must also start again. As must Reece. There are so many failed attempts at acquiring crumpets it feels like a Carry On film.

Ben burns his second batch of crumpets. It’s amazing how hard making crumpets has turned out to be. Or maybe it’s just amazing how incompetent these cooks have turned out to be. “My heart is filled with pride!” Jock shouts, as if to emphasise to Ben how big a failure he is. Cook after cook gets a high five from Jock, as a token of how much more he likes them than Ben.

Time is up, and round one of the pressure test is over. Everyone joins in a big group hug to celebrate the completion of their dreadful balls-up.

“When I said my heart was full of pride, I wasn’t joking,” says Jock, apparently thinking this possibility had occurred to anyone. He gets slightly emotional about the dishes, demonstrating just how badly he needs to find some perspective.

The contestants plate up. Chris’s thingies are fine. Courtney has left the bowels of her prawns intact and must atone for the filth she has brought into this place of wholesome family fun. Also her custard is crap. Tessa’s are good. Khanh’s are good apart from his shitty crumpets. Brendan’s are OK. Laura’s are fine. Ice-cream Ben’s are disappointing, but while the judges taste them we get a close-up shot of Melissa’s cleavage, so it’s not a total loss. Reece has pulled a Courtney re: prawn intestines, and all are disgusted by him.

“What a great cook: you should all be very very proud of yourself,” says Jock, going on to say five seconds later, “There was some cooking that just really missed the mark.” By series’ end these amateurs will be driven completely mad by Jock’s cruel mind games.

The three losing cooks are Reece and Courtney, the faeces twins, and Ice-Cream Ben, who remembered to take out the intestines but forgot to not suck in general.

And so it is time for the second round, in which the three cooks who weren’t good enough to make something hard will have to make something hard. There are two dishes from Jock’s restaurant: a kohlrabi salad that looks like a higher intelligence from Star Trek, and a damper with lamb butter, whatever the hell that is.

The three losers have an hour and forty five minutes to ruin Jock’s two dishes. The worst of them will go home.

“The most important thing to bring to round two is to cook with my instincts,” says Courtney, even though she just has to follow a recipe that’s right in front of her. “I think the mistakes I made in round one were from cooking too much from the recipe,” she goes on, completely misunderstanding the nature of reality itself. Unless the recipe in round one said, “Leave the prawn’s gross poo tube inside the prawn before serving”, I really don’t think slavish adherence to the recipe was her main issue.

Ben is determined not to go home today, as his home is deeply unpleasant. He also wants to prove he can do something besides make ice-cream, which sounds like a hell of a mountain to climb. Even harder will be to prove that he wants to do something besides make ice-cream.

Reece has more modest goals. “I want to cook, and I want to be happy,” he says. You’ve come to the wrong place, Reece. Jock instructs him on the subtleties of cutting kohlrabi, and one can’t help but be struck by a poignant sense of who-gives-a-fuck.

The cooks embark on the devilishly difficult task of making, like, some kind of foam? It’s complicated and impossible to feign interest in. The cooking is always the worst part of this show.

Ben has done something wrong with his zampan, or possibly with his sampan. Or maybe his Sam Pang. I don’t know, it’s something he put in a mixer and it was wrong. He adds more of something or other, and it looks revolting, and apparently that’s how it’s supposed to look. This entire thing is baffling.

We haven’t heard from Courtney for a while, and it quickly becomes clear why: she hasn’t done anything obviously idiotic yet. But Jock observes that she’s running behind, and as she stands at her bench staring blankly at the recipe, the possibility of her running out of time is real. She observes that she cooks with her instincts, but this is a very precise recipe. The answer is simple: don’t cook with your instincts and just do what the fucking recipe says. Courtney’s answer is equally simple: don’t worry about the recipe and just do whatever because “that’s how I cook”.

Time is nearly up and Courtney has just about gotten to the bottom of the first page. As the judges count down, the three losers frantically apply the finishing touches – or rather, the not-quite-finishing touches, as this is one of those weird challenges where the cooks get extra time in front of the judges to finish everything.

Reece plates up first, carefully adorning his creepy kohlrabi-monster. He tells the judges that he’s learnt that the best way to learn is by making mistakes, and his mistakes have taught him to believe in himself, which is a confusing message but he’s probably very tired. The judges taste his dishes and his damper is good but his salad isn’t, so hooray for Reece and also boo.

Ben brings in his dishes and tries to plate up, but his foam won’t come out of the foam-shooter device. It’s an extremely awkward moment as the judges sit in silence, watching Ben bang his canister like a reluctant tomato sauce bottle. A smear of foam finally comes out, just in the nick of time, suspiciously. “That was emotional for us,” says Andy, as if anyone cares about his feelings. Ben tells the judges that he’s not a one-trick pony, but the judges reassure him that yes, he is, and they will always think so. They taste his dishes and Andy’s first comment is “Huge props for getting everything up”, so you can tell it doesn’t taste very good. “That’s a red-hot go,” says Jock, and he may as well have said it gave him instant diarrhoea.

Courtney comes in and hasn’t even rolled her cones yet, which is a thing that has to be done in this dish because it’s kind of dumb. She rushes to roll them and do all the other stupid stuff in the seven minutes allotted. She fails, because her foam won’t come out either. This foam is more trouble than it’s worth. Not that that’s a high bar. Courtney tells the judges that it’s a hard competition, and she came back to find a voice and run a kitchen and something to do with women. The judges politely pretend to know what she’s on about, and then taste her incomplete dishes. They turn out to be pretty good, in the episode’s biggest shock.

Judging time. Jock thanks all the cooks for cooking, especially the three worst ones for being terrible enough to go into the second round. He compliments all three cooks on the bits of their dishes that didn’t suck balls, and then he sends Courtney home because when you’re cooking a dish, finishing it is quite an important element. So she doesn’t get to find a voice for women or whatever she wanted to do: all she gets to do is disappear forever.

Tune in tomorrow, when Melissa reveals her box.

Support independent recapping via Ben’s Patreon. Listen to the Washing Up podcast for more Masterchef insights.