Masterchef Australia S12 E12 Recap – How Soon Is Wow?

It’s Pressure Test time, which is always exciting because we know someone is going to end the night miserable, whether it be because they’ve been eliminated, or because they’re Poh and their attempt to get off the show has been foiled yet again.

Last night’s losers arrive at the kitchen with books in hand: within their books are written the recipes they’ve created to cook in the pressure test. “We asked you to write a recipe for a dish that would blow our minds,” says Jock, but this is not a very clear instruction. You could blow the judges’ minds in all sorts of ways: by hollowing out a human corpse, for example, or by leaving a series of clues that lead to the location of Lord Lucan inside a flan. However, today they want their minds to be blown in the ordinary, boring way: with food that they like.

The challenge begins. Poh puts her recipe down on her bench and runs to the pantry, then remembers the recipe says what ingredients she needs, goes back, gets the recipe again, and runs to the pantry. She’s cooking a recipe she has cooked many times before, but previously it’s taken four hours, and today she only has two. She’s hoping this is the decision that will finally make her dream of going home come true.

Asian Sarah thinks that people believe “wow” means something complex and sophisticated, but she disagrees because she doesn’t know how to do that, so she’s decided that “wow” means something boring and predictable, which is handy. Jock and Andy visit her bench and ask for a peek at her pork. She tells them she’s making sweet and sour pork. They could not be less impressed if she was Rose. “I’m a little bit concerned that the dish I’ve designed today is a little bit too simple,” says Sarah, spinning on a dime.

Laura is cooking kangaroo tail, hoping to amaze the judges with her disrespect for native wildlife. From the balcony Ginger Sarah declares this to be “awesome”, but that’s easy for her to say.

The judges gather to discuss the meaning of “wow”. Melissa believes “wow” is when something looks rubbish but then it tastes good. Jock thinks “wow” is quite difficult. All three agree that “wow” is a word they should say as often as possible in the hopes that repetition will fool the viewer into thinking it means something.

Hayden backs them up by saying “wow” fifteen times in a minute without ever once sounding coherent. Melissa comes over to mock him for making a dessert. Hayden says he’s trying to impress himself. Melissa says she finds this impressive. Melissa is, frankly, very easily impressed.

“The pressure is definitely on today,” says Reynold, reading off a card. “I’m kind of envious, to be honest,” he adds, which is exactly the kind of thing a man who knows there is no chance of him ever losing would say.

“I’m really confident,” says Poh, before adding that she thinks what she’s doing is incredibly risky and there’s a good chance she’ll fail. She tells Jock and Andy that she’s making a pie. They are stunned by the sheer audacity of the idea. “Time is not your friend today,” says Jock in an unnecessarily misogynistic comment on the nature of the ageing process. Poh takes it in her stride and gets stoically on with the task of messing everything up.

“I’m really really worried for Poh,” says Chris, but this is only because he assumes everyone is as inept as he is with meat. Poh has given herself ten minutes to caramelise her steak, but surprise surprise this is not long enough. She is forced to put the meat in the pressure cooker prematurely, betraying everything she stands for.

Harry is making what he’s calling a rock pool, but what everyone else is calling “a bunch of gross pickled garbage”. Andy and Jock are incredibly impressed. They make fun of Harry for having turned up dressed as Hayden, but it’s understandable that Harry, as a big Masterchef fan, would want to come to the pressure test dressed as someone who’s been on the show before.

Suddenly Jock does a weird thing with his body that I can’t really describe, but I don’t like it. Best move on.

Laura is concentrating hard as she meticulously scoops the lumps out of her pot of unnameable terrors. She promises Jock and Andy three ravioli each: a rash promise, as they will be ruthless should they receive only two.

Sarah is determined to elevate classic Chinese takeout into South-East Asian elegance. Who knows what this means? Who cares? “This has to be the best dish that I cook in the competition,” she says, weirdly deciding ahead of time to tank it in the final. She declares that her competition in the pressure test are “legends”, but those of us who’ve watched this show know exactly who Hayden and Amina are, and have no idea who Harry is, and Sarah is not fooling anybody.

Everyone on the balcony starts shouting to Poh about her smells. Concerned at their enthusiasm, Poh casts around for something gross to put in. She declares that she can make her pastry with her eyes closed, so she does it with her eyes open to make sure it’s done wrong.

Hayden has his honeycomb on the bubble. It was one of the first things that his mum let him do on his own, in her ongoing efforts to give her children severe burns. It was honeycomb that got him interested in cooking and in science, but not, judging by his physique, in eating it. Emelia is horrified at Hayden flattening his honeycomb, as she believes honeycomb must be aerated as the Bible specifies. If Hayden is wise he will heed Emelia’s counsel, because let’s face it: she’s better at this than him. Unfortunately, heeding her counsel could prove tricky as he can’t hear it.

Jock and Andy visit Poh and discuss how badly she’s doing. Poh is in a great mood. She reckons she can cook the pie in forty minutes. There are forty-five minutes to go. Jock and Andy turn their backs on Poh, disgusted. On the balcony, Dani is getting stressed. “Poh, please put your pie in the oven,” she pleads to nobody, as if it’s any of her business what Poh does with her pie.

The judges convene. Jock doubts whether Amina is capable of plating up anything that doesn’t look like the floor of a barn. Melissa thinks it’s good that Amina has ideas above her station. Andy says “wow” again.

Poh is making a pile of meat and sticking it into her pie. This is exactly how a pie is made, and shows she knows what a pie is. She carefully decorates the pie crust as time ticks away. She’s so panicked she’s put her oven on 190, attracting criticism from those who object to her playing God.

Harry continues to make his rock pool if you’re interested. “Elements, I want to hear about them,” says Andy, fairly rudely. Harry tells him about his elements. Andy nods along with a look of pure hatred on his face: he despises Harry and wants him to know it. Jock and Andy go back to talk to Melissa, who says “wow” some more.

With half an hour to go, the judges leave the kitchen to purge. They will not return, and won’t see the contestants’ dishes until they are plated. This really puts the pressure on, apparently, according to Sarah.

Hayden is cutting up his honeycomb. It’s extremely thin. Dani is getting very worried, as she continues to stick her nose into everything. The honeycomb is breaking up into little pieces, forcing him to place the fragments like tiles on his parfait. “Desserts aren’t my thing,” he says, reminding us of just how baffling his decision to make on in an elimination challenge was.

Laura is double filling her double-filled ravioli. It looks good and will probably turn out great and is consequently very uninteresting. Meanwhile, Harry feels good.

Time is almost up. “This is the moment of truth,” says Sarah, correctly noting that if her dish is not cooked correctly it will be bad. Chris observes that her pork smells great. “I want to try that dish,” he says, but he won’t get to, so he can shut his bloody whining up.

Poh is working on her sides, the part of the dish that doesn’t matter. “The carrots need to be perfectly tender,” she says, without conviction. She talks at length about how important the sides are, but she’s not fooling anybody, least of all herself.

“How long for pasta?” Reece calls from the balcony. “None of your fucking business,” Laura replies, in a more satisfying version of the show. Everyone is yelling at Laura to cook her pasta, and getting right on Laura’s wick. She’s insulted they question her knowledge of pasta, but to be fair there’s a reason she’s in the pressure test and they’re not.

Meanwhile Hayden’s dessert hasn’t fallen apart and he’s as surprised as anyone.

“ONLY TWO MINUTES TO GO!” Ginger Sarah screams, eyes wide with terror. She seems to be genuinely fearing for her life. Down on the floor, Poh stares into her oven, begging for release from this nightmare.

As the seconds slip away, the cooks apply the finishing touches and Poh pulls out her pie to general approval. Time is up and everyone is allowed to sit down.

Meanwhile, the judges, who have been smoking weed for half an hour to work up an appetite, prepare to taste the sweaty fruits of the cooks’ labours. Melissa says “wow”, signalling the beginning of service.

Laura is first, with her ravioli. She hasn’t given them three each, making her a big fat liar. But the meagre, unsatisfying portion that is there is apparently pretty good. Melissa takes one bite and immediately climaxes. “The kangaroo is perfect,” says Jock, affirming the beauty of evolution.

Harry is next, with his “rock pool”, AKA bits of lobster and a mess of random pickled scraps. “Top points for theatrics,” says Melissa, admiring how the dish makes you really feel like you’re dying in a swamp. Tasting the pickled cornucopia, the judges agree that it’s as delicious as a real rock pool would be. Melissa doesn’t believe it to be a “wow” dish. Jock considers it a triumph of style over content, which is rich coming from him.

Next is Amina and her non-rustic dondurma, which is a…food. Of some kind. Melissa gazes at it uncomprehendingly. “Wow,” says Jock, which should be game over right there. They eat. Oh, it’s an ice cream of some kind. “That’s something else,” says Jock, but he’s wrong, it’s exactly what Amina said it was. It made Jock smile. “It’s really well done,” says Andy, sounding shocked as he has always held Amina in total contempt.

Sarah is next. She repeats that line about classic Chinese takeout and South-East Asian elegance, and it’s still confusing. She plates up her sweet and sour pork. The judges eat it, in what has become a predictable routine. “I’m so disappointed,” says Andy, “…that that’s my last mouthful.” Ahhhhh Andy! You pulled a Preston on us! How annoying of you! “This dish is wow,” says Melissa, refusing to be outdone in the annoying stakes.

Hayden brings in the violet crumble that everyone including him knows he shouldn’t have made. The judges are stunned that he hasn’t brought them an overcooked steak. They eat and find it really cute that Hayden tried so hard, but also they hated it.

Poh brings her pie. “I could be going home,” she says, with powerful longing in her voice. “I’ve eaten a lot of pies,” Jock boasts. Poh’s pie is perfect. She’s been thwarted again.

The judges gather the contestants to tell them that four of them are “wow” and two of them are “fucken gross”. The latter are Harry and Hayden. Both of their dishes looked great, but when placed in the mouth caused the judges to lose faith in the possibility of a benevolent god. However, when it came to the crunch, Hayden’s had chocolate in it, so Harry loses. He’s going home.

“We’re going to remember you for a very long time,” says Melissa with wicked irony, referencing the fact that nobody remembered him when he showed up in the first place. And so Harry leaves the show, and our consciousness.

Tune in tomorrow, when Ginger Sarah does something revolting.

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