MasterChef NZ recap: ‘Looks like you grabbed it from a buffet’
Another night, another test of invention, another episode without Sam because he’s in the gods after winning the challenge the night before.
Tonight is a playoff round, and I think we all know who’s going home today, bless them. (Hint: it’s not Elliot.)
The five cooking tonight are Hana, Naomi, Elliot, Jason, and Alice, who arrive at the MasterChef Kitchen to find coffee machines and pods on their stations. Guess what the hero ingredient is tonight? !
“Keep sipping, keep tasting, and keep savoring this coffee,” Judge Michael Dearth told the fateful five. “Your task today is to create a dish by extracting coffee from your coffee machine.”
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Mmmm, savor the aroma. This blend has hints of oak, hazelnut, and frazzled production assistants desperately trying to set up a Lor coffee machine product in an episode.
For the record: I’m from Wellington. Alone among my own, I drink instant decaf, and I don’t care who knows.
Either way, Naomi isn’t quite sure how to proceed. She thinks of coffee rubs, coffee syrups, coffee plates, whatever the cafe makes and maybe even pouring things right on herself and saying it’s a job done.
She settles on a spiced orange coffee-glazed venison, which — not going to lie — sounds revolting.
Alice says she’ll stick to sweet dishes from now on if she can, as desserts and baking are her wheelhouse. She settles on a Vietnamese coffee dessert. YUSS! And decides to add soy sauce. Oh nooooo.
The layer cake she’s planning is the most ambitious she’s ever made, and I can see what she means. It’s super ambitious to do something that looks gross, give it to the judges, and hope to win.
At Elegant Elliot’s post, everything is under control.
“I love black coffee,” says Elliot. “Short and sharp is my cup of tea.” Chur, brother, I see what you did there.
However, the old mate is a bit dark all over the coffee as a savory thing. He is right. The only acceptable non-potable form of coffee is coffee ice cream. It’s not just my opinion, it’s science.
However, he ends up opting for a dirty curry chai latte, which frankly sounds terrifying because of it, including coffee-flavored chicken, sous vide in butter. Even writing that felt like an offense before God.
Hana does something Ethiopian because “coffee originated in Africa” so I felt my own back burst. Luck is on his side as Judge Vaughan Mabee loves Ethiopian cuisine.
Jason, God forbid, talks about smoked cauliflower and coffee beef mash. Her face, voice and demeanor are calm, but her hands are screaming, “Oh my God, oh my God, why did I put myself in this situation?”
Now he makes shibari on his beef shank. Jeeze Jason, come on, there are kids watching.
He gives himself a lot of options and saves through the cook, including one item that I think actually looks edible, which is a coffee-glazed eggplant. I might be ready to taste that.
Alice misjudged the smallness of her cake pans, which, considering she puts soy sauce in her cake, sounds like a recipe to take home.
Naomi just mixed condensed milk with vinegar, Elliot made onion skin ash, and Hana made crispy coffee noodles. I wasn’t prepared to be traumatized by the food tonight.
Good luck to the judges, I will support you.
Seriously, so close to the end of the series, we have some great chefs left, and they’re giving it their all tonight. If anyone can make coffee-flavored chicken, game, and noodles, this is the one.
Mabee says it’s exciting to see how chefs have changed and evolved. The planning has accelerated and that can only mean good things for the foodie. As he speaks, however, there are some strange screams in the kitchen that they claim didn’t happen. Could this be the unintended result of Jason searing his beef with popcorn in the pan “to keep people on their toes”?
Ten minutes from the end, Elliot is in crisis. He put the tray of roasted vegetables on the induction hob, and now they’re all burnt. He thinks he’s going home, but still manages to put together a really nice plate. It’s meant to suggest a splash of coffee on a counter, and it gets me to my $29 Kmart steam cleaner, so I think that’s a win.
Inspired by her time in Amisfield, Naomi takes it up a notch by pulling out the stone she found to use as a decorative veneer option.
Alice’s cupcakes look utterly divine sprinkled with little flowers – more of that Amisfield influence?
Jason’s dish looks like the sort of thing you’d get at the Spud and Lettuce pub on a bad night. He seems resigned to his fate.
Hana’s dish looks like it was made for a New World Meal In a Minute campaign. Veggie looks so… veg.
Elliot’s dish is ready for the close-up, Mr De Mille.
The last 10 minutes fly away and it’s time for the judgement.
Alice is the first. Judge Nadia Lim wonders if the cake can be inventive, Alice proves it.
Naomi and her stone plate are next. Sounds great, but how does it taste? “A little too sweet,” says Dearth.
Hana’s deconstructed curry follows and right off the bat, Lim loves the dynamism and plating. Dearth calls him a “clever chef”, which is the culinary equivalent of telling someone who just invited you over that he has “a great personality”.
Elliot is next. Mabee and Dearth don’t like the tackle at all, which seems unfair considering they’ve all been thrilled with his elegant tackle all season so far. Dearth calls the dish “too esoteric”. If anyone knows what this means, please let me know.
Elliot looks dejected. He’s sure he’s going home, but we’ve all seen what Jason did tonight, so we know he’s not.
As Jase puts the dish in front of the judges and Dearth is bewildered. “Looks like you grabbed it from a buffet,” Mabee says, expressing what everyone is thinking. And There you go.
In the final moments, it’s clear that they all love Jason and are hesitant to break the bad news, but that’s what we’re all here for: weeding the culinary wheat from the chaff. Tonight, Jason is that jester.