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Master Chef Australia Starts May 5th

I can not wait. Just finishing My Kitchen Rules right now and MC NZ final is next week. The Au show has the highest production budget and is a huge hit: I hope it does not change the feel of the show this year. The judges are solid though, so I'm pretty confident it will stay true to past seasons.

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  1. Not back in Sydney until June - but assume they will still be doing the elimination rounds by then....?

    1. Yeah! I'm happy to see Kylie Kwong get a larger role on the show this year.

      After MC NZ did the pairs this year, I'm not 100% sure that I'd want to see that every season - but I have really enjoyed it. Not sure I'd necessarily want to see MC AU do the pairs....but I like it a lot more than ideas regarding battle of the sexes or what not.

      1. I just finished up MKR and was waiting for this season of MC AU to hit. I hope Matt Moran still has a prominent role.

        1. The first week of MC Aus just finished airing, so still early, but so far things are looking positive for this season after last year's abomination.

          Back to more of a focus on food rather than personalities and silliness like 'boys-versus-girls.'

          Top 50 elimination is back (though shortened to two episodes) but Matt Moran does not have a role.

          4 Replies
          1. re: jimonyc

            Very happy to see the silliness of boys-versus girls gone. While I've always enjoyed Masterchef AU's lack of super aggressive personalities, they seem to be tipping a bit far over into the weepy characters. I don't think it needs to be balanced out by villains, but for some reason stories of "food dreams" and folks doing this inspired due to personal illness or an ill family member feel a bit heavier this year.

            One of the great things of Masterchef NZ this year with partners is that the personal stories were far less weepy or mopey.

            1. re: cresyd

              Agree with all of that. Once it dwindles down to the top 10 or so it should calm down a bit as they can only tell their story so many times.

              1. re: chris2269

                Yeah - I think also that because I just finished Masterchef NZ, going back to the weepy intros is always a tiresome transition.

            2. re: jimonyc

              And just when you thought it was safe - Thursday is a special that will focus on the contestant profiles - expect extra helping of weepy back-stories and less about food.

            3. I don't know about you, but I was kind of turned off by the 'new format' that they appear to have adapted from Masterchef US...i.e. the auditions. I don't recall seeing auditions in the previous seasons of this show.

              Usually it just starts off with the Top 50 and straight to skills/invention tests to whittle out the moops.

              But past that now, I'm hoping it will liven up.

              Mark my words, watch Ben Macdonald FTW.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Novelli

                Last season there was no top 50 or audition to the best of my recollection, so if anything this audition (which was similar to how Masterchef NZ did the auditions this year) was a bit of a hybrid of Top 50 week and nothing.

                1. re: Novelli

                  Still early days (we're only up to ep. 7, after all), so not a large sample size of dishes cooked by the contestants, but Ben is showing some of the intangibles that may help him navigate the competition successfully. Some clues:

                  Adam Liaw's observation that he couldn't tell what Ben was cooking in the first mystery box because Ben's bench was so clean and organized as he was cooking.

                  Ben's intelligent running commentary on how to get through the 'name that Chinese ingredient' challenge unscathed.

                  I would throw Emelia (the panna cotta queen) into the mix.

                  But again, early days.

                2. Spoilers on Episode 7

                  I guess that a major point of the challenge was essentially to test the contestants fish butchery and fish knowledge (being able to use the non-fillet cuts and cutting the fish to make lots of it usable). This would up the drama if by round 3 you had someone who still had a whole fillet left and someone else was making a fume/broth out of bones/scraps. However, the fact that Nicole was able to just use the entire fish made the episode really anticlimactic because as soon as you realized "with this editing there's no way to have 3 rounds" - you knew she was going home. Next year, any similar kind of challenge - blanket statement "you can't cook the whole fish/fowl/etc"

                  I appreciate how they tried to make her seem gutsy - but even though I don't believe that being on Masterchef is the be all and end all - it was hard not to think her choice was just a bit dumb. Especially when she probably could have used the same technique but just on half the fish.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: cresyd

                    In fact, Gary Mehigan explicitly pointed out to Nicole during the cooking that she could use the same technique for the dish without using the whole fish.

                    So I can only conclude that she felt that if she wasn't capable of coming up with a snapper dish (with an open pantry and no time limit on access) that was in the top 5 out of 11 cooks, she would just as soon go home. In a sense, I think she had given up, having at that point seen the level of talent she was up against and how stressful the whole competitive process was.

                    Just a theory.

                    1. re: jimonyc

                      Yeah - that really is the only thing that kind of adds up.

                      There was something nonsensical about this notion of "betting on myself" regarding the whole fish. If she was trying to make fresh pasta in 30 minutes or try a new technique she'd never done before - then that would make more sense. This just felt silly.

                      I think my overall suggestion/complaint is to just "forbid" a dish from including the whole animal provided (in a future similar challenge). Because from an editing/story telling perspective about 20 minutes in, as the viewer there was no drama left. A large part of the intrigue of a challenge like that is what happens when someone's left to make snapper skin chips in the third round because that's all that's left. Hinging all the interest on whether or not she'd cook the fish right just wasn't enough. And was also apparent to most viewers well before the episode ended.

                      1. re: cresyd

                        It's a shame that the challenge got undermined by Nicole because it's such an interesting test of cooking skill.

                        I can almost guarantee you that next time, the producers will impose stricter rules along the lines of what you're suggesting. I just think they were really caught off guard here because Nicole didn't disclose her intentions until the cooking was already underway. (Recall Gary's incredulous expression when he found out.)

                        1. re: jimonyc

                          Yeah - if there are no future episodes like that in this season - I think the way the show was edited also served to highlight how poor an idea it was.

                          Even though prior to tasting Nicole's dish the judges said there was still "room in the top five", the edit basically made it seem that other than a few true oopsies a lot of not top 5 dishes were high quality. Almost to emphasize anyone thinking for a future season how wild a gamble it was.

                          I think given what happened they tried to deal with it in the best ways that they could. But it really robbed the episode of what true food drama there could have been.

                  2. Well I have just started watching it - hard to miss it given it's on nearly every night and for a few hours. Starting part way through I couldn't understand why they only taste a few dishes.

                    There do seem to be some OK cooks, but I was intrigued that the focus seems to be on "Sarah, 27, Model from Queensland" and it does seem important to give all this information about any contestant.

                    I actually think the judges tend to let themselves down a bit, last night one contestant did a capsicum custard with the judge deriding it before it was tasted. IIRC it's not uncommon to make savory set custards and I have eaten a few - so I have little confidence in their worldly knowledge.

                    Product placement seems very strong - my first viewing had them all including Vegemite in their dishes which seems strange.

                    And tears, how many bloody tears do we need in a cooking show.....!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: PhilD

                      I have been watching this show since season 1 (Master Chef NZ and UK too).

                      I was worried about this season getting more commercial and as of now I kind of stand by that. Agree with the focus on Sarah (though she is a strong cook). I'm sticking with it till it dwindles down to the final 8 or so...usually picks up then.

                      Compared to this last season of MC NZ the food is not as strong at this point.

                      Compared to the current US version its so much better. I have yet to see one of the judges on AU, NZ or UK ask a contestant to talk SH%$ about another contestant. " So Susan who is the weakest competition?" now the Challenge is meatloaf! Que over top dramatic music.

                      1. re: PhilD

                        In regards to the Mystery box challenge where they only taste a certain number - my understanding is that they taste along the way. Not 100% how that works (whether it's production staff doing the tasting so it's still a surprise for the judges or the judges, but they're just tasting individual components, etc.) - but that's how I've been led to believe the top ones are chosen.

                      2. Episode 26

                        Call my cynical but the immunity pin test seemed slightly set-up.

                        I liked the look of Jock Zonfrillo's food the chef from Adelaide's Orana and I am keen to head down there and try his mix of native ingredients etc (that said its expensive with dinner starting at $155).

                        Jock cooks a "roast beef" pumpkin dish from the ingredients selected by the contestant. Great: it looked fantastic and inspired and he got great marks.

                        That said he should as it is on the menu at the restaurant....!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: PhilD

                          I'm not based in Australia - but I've been watching Masterchef Australia for a while, and I believe they've been monkeying around with the immunity pin set up for a few seasons.

                          In previous seasons, the immunity challenge had a professional team of 3 vs a MC team of 3 have to put up a multi course meal. If I recall correctly the only time the MC team won was when the restrictions were really out of the normal realm for a chef (I believe it was a raw food challenge?). However, this season I just don't think the 15 minute head start has really been enough of a boost for the MC contestants. In that time to wait, these professional cooks get to think about what they'll do while the contestant is spending a good chunk of their "advantage" having to do the same.

                          1. re: cresyd

                            Agree I thought the 15 minute delay gave little advantage - but in reality if the ingredients are there for him to deliver one of his signature dishes it smells a bit fishy.....!

                            The ingredients table included oxtail and a cheap cut of steak. Lots of drama about the impossibility of cooking either in only 45 mins. However, his "roast beef" dish only uses the fat from frying oxtail and uses the steak raw with this fat for more flavor. So 45 mins isn't an issue - lucky the table contained these two odd ingredients for a test with such a short time to complete.

                            1. re: PhilD

                              Yeah - I think the big problem with the immunity challenges all season has been that if the contestants have too much of a chance to win, they won't get chefs of a high enough caliber to agree to participate.

                              But this season, all of the challenges - even the ones that haven't played as much into the chef's hands have felt like they've been able to just play about and easily win. Perhaps had the cheese soufflé dish been without the lobster and mango (she got the hard part right!), maybe she would have had a chance for the win - but no one has felt remotely close to truly winning.

                              1. re: cresyd

                                I agree about the immunity challenges but if you think about it a Chef with that much experience (not even at his/her own starred restaurant the whole career getting there) is not going down unless way out of the comfort zone. I know it has happened before but I think it should be rare and difficult.

                                1. re: chris2269

                                  The only immunity win I can think of against a professional chef (and this is not fact checked, so I am open to being proven wrong) is when the challenge was to make a three course raw food meal.

                                  I like immunity being rare and difficult, but I think my complaints from this season may just be that the professional chefs have appeared to be SO unchallenged. I think that the challenge of "you can use only spices or only herbs" was good - and I wish the other challenges had just been a bit more restrictive in that regard.

                                  1. re: cresyd

                                    I checked wikipedia and here are the immunity pin wins against professional chefs:

                                    S02 - only one contestant won, Marion v. Frank Camorra

                                    S03 - Hayden v. Alex Keene (an apprentice chef); Dani won it twice, v. Alessandro Pavoni and Eamon Sullivan; Ellie v. Cesare Casella

                                    S04 (This season, it was the contestant with two other contestants helping them vs. a chef and two assistants.) - Mindy v. Shaun Presland; Kylie v. Tomislav Martinovic

                                    S05 - No contestant won against a professional chef. But there were only two immunity challenges v. a professional. One of the professional chefs was Heston Blumenthal. It was one (Heston) against three contestants, both sides had 90 minutes and needed to prepare a 3-course meal.

                                    1. re: jimonyc

                                      As far as immunity goes in general, I have always enjoyed that it's not as pervasive in Masterchef Australia compared to the US version where you can get it for just about anything. But as a viewer watching any given episode - I don't love how there's essentially one episode a week where I feel pretty confident in the result. In the same way that the elimination challenge this season where the contestant went to cook the whole fish - as a pure viewer (looking to be entertained and excited) it deflated the interest and drama of the episode.

                                      So if the nature of immunity in the MC Australia is for it to remain very difficult to obtain, I would almost rather those episodes be shrunk and perhaps have that episode coupled with the Masterclass episodes. But the nature of these immunity challenges has really felt a bit overly anticlimactic.

                        2. I cant believe colin got eliminated! I hate the girl who beat him she is so annoying and always crying about her children

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: kpaxonite

                            I'm with you on that. Colin's a stand-up guy. The irony is he got beat out by Renae; a few episodes ago he jumped in and butchered the whole eel for her when she panicked at the mere sight of it. During the episode when Renae cut herself badly in the middle of a cook and collapsed on the floor for what seemed like 10 minutes, Colin again jumped in and attended to her pans on the flame to make sure nothing burned.

                            On the other hand, as much as I hoped he would win, it seemed clear to me that he didn't have the skill, knowldege or versatility of some of the other contestants. (He was decidedly weak on desserts, and couldn't identify Pad Thai in the 'name-that-classic-dish' challenge, though the fact that Sarah, the self-proclaimed French food expert, couldn't identify coq au vin was even more surprising.)

                            My early pick for the eventual winner was Emelia - as of Episode 43 I see no reason to change my mind. At the ripe old age of 24, she seems to have a great command of both savory and sweet and has that creative touch.

                            The judges probably want Laura (the 18 year old expert on classic Italian) to win, but not likely.

                            1. re: jimonyc

                              I also didnt like that the judge specifically told renae to put waxpaper or something inside her mold after she has already put them in the oven...we had never seen them go as far as telling the contestants what to do before

                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                Worse still she won with a chocolate fondant -in the UK series that is first round sort of stuff not really a high standard this far through the contest.

                            2. I must say that this series of Masterchef seems to have moved from a cooking contest to more of a game show which is a shame. The eliminations and the immunity competitions seem to be very staged and set up and the "ham" acting of the judges really grates. I used to think the Australian format wuss an improvement on the UK one, but I am reconsidering that as I think the simple UK format really tests the cooking skills and creativity of the contestants. The Australian one is more about playing the game with fairly basic cooking challenges. It will be interesting to see how the final contestants start to show their skills - hopefully the top five will show talent.

                              The Marco Pierre White week when the chef failed to plate up in time thus allowing the contestant to win was so obviously scripted and the judges reactions were so cheesy it was bad.

                              Then we have the contestants who cooked all his "elements" (I hate that term) cooked perfectly but he failed to put on enough sauce lose out to a teary girl who stuffed up most of her "elements" including the pasta but got through because the other guy didn't have enough bloody sauce!

                              In a more recent challenge a chef produces a intricate and complex dish, whilst the contestant cooks som beef cheeks in a pressure cooker and make gnocchi - she only used the pressure cooker after Kylie Kwong suggested it - she won. Weird.

                              However, at least Sarah, model, 28 from Queensland is back - I am grateful for the Australian press sharing some of her modeling work....shall we say it's not high fashion catwalk stuff.

                              1. Is season 6 the current season or is it season 7? I see season 7 marked all stars so I am confused

                                I saw a note that Kylie Kwong is a mentor - Love her!


                                3 Replies
                                1. re: madeliner

                                  Season 6 is being broadcast at the moment (I am in aus), episode 47 tonight (Sunday).

                                  The "season 7” is the UK "Master-chef Professionals" which hasn't started broadcast yet - this is the one Marcus Wareing will front instead of Michel Roux.

                                  1. re: PhilD

                                    So sad I have a man crush on Michel roux Jr. and a regular one on on his sous chef Monica. i'll get over it though I love the UK version as much as the AU one.I hope they do another Master Chef Professionals AU. That was my favorite series out of all of them.

                                  2. Last nights was another travesty. Laura, 18, Health Sciences student, South Australia, lost her way and was on the verge of delivering a pretty bad Apricot Chicken until the judges coached her just before the end to change the dish and just about led her to the solution.

                                    I really don't think the judges should coach or critic during a test - last night Laura missed an elimination test putting more accomplished cooks (Emelia, 24, Marketing Coordinator, Victoria) at risk. After all it's TV so we need the drama....!

                                    Interestingly last night really demonstrated that four of them are pretty good - the others really making up numbers. I wonder if they will be the final four - I suspect they won't as they are a bit too obvious. At least Sarah, 28, Model, Queensland is in the bottom 3 again.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: PhilD

                                      Yeah seriously!!!Ijust watched it and was about topost something similar...Garreth (the judge) helped rene too much last week and Laura too much today. I like that they give a little bit of input and a few suggestions but they were way too forceful with laura and with the model too....I think garreth really wants to scream 'our youngest masterchef winner EVER'
                                      Im also pretty sure they forced people trade ingredients with for rene's sage when she didnt get anything since no one else used it.

                                      btw phil it wasnt episode 47 it was episode 44 (i think?)

                                      1. re: PhilD

                                        I've long since given up thinking that MC-AU is a true cooking competition in the sense that the goal is to end up with the most talented cook. For that we have to look to MC-UK. I accept MC-AU for what it is (a game show, as you put it), and enjoy watching it.

                                        Not only is there a lot of coaching by the judges but they allow contestants up in the gantry to coach during eliminations. (And remember Gary and George practically making Jaime's creme pat for him during the croquembouche elimination challenge?)

                                        1. re: jimonyc

                                          Jim - so true and a little sad. The early series did seem to get some good cooking in the end. Maybe once we hat down to the wire the cooking will come to the fore - but I am not holding my breath.

                                      2. I watched a few episodes of this. I have a lump of dark black coal where my heart should be, so there was much eyerolling and fastforwarding during the episodes I did watch. So much melodrama, so many ... pauses. And such bad cooking. Don't serve raw meat, don't serve burnt food. I'll skip forward and see if it gets better, but Masterchef Pro is the only one of these shows that I enjoy.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: joycebre

                                          The show has many elements, and they focus on all the elements repeatedly to ensure we don't miss any of the elements.

                                          Every dish needs lots of elements and it's interesting to see the contestants tackle each element, understand the challenges of each element and see if they deliver the element perfectly or the element imperfectly.

                                          The whole show revolves around how the elements are addressed and how artfully they make each element work with another element. At the end of the day the judges assess each element and direct the dish to ensure each element is cooked just as that element should be cooked. The visual presentation of each element, especially the spacial relationship to another element is critical to how the elements come together as a dish.

                                          Without all these elements the program would not be the same. And of course if a contestant doesn't conquer all the elements it will end in tears........

                                          I am scared to fast forward in case I miss an element.