Melissa, Andy, Alf - sorry - Rick, and Jock do their thang.

MasterChef Summary: It’s Rick Stein Time! And 10 (or so) years later we finally get our top 10

The sun shines brightly on the MasterChef kitchen as the contestants arrive, ignoring the stench of death that clings to them. It’s elimination day, and only Dan, who successfully created an abomination last week, is safe from the jury’s deadly barbs.

Melissa, Andy, Alf – sorry – Rick and Jock are doing their best. Photo: Network Ten

The judges introduce tonight’s guest chef, one of Australia’s most beloved personalities: it’s Alf from Home and Away! Everyone is thrilled to see him. For contractual reasons, as Home and Away is on a different channel, Alf uses a pseudonym and calls himself “Rick Stein”, but it’s a real pleasure to have him here, whatever he calls himself.

Today’s challenge is to prepare a dish that transports the judges and guest chef to a special destination. In other words, the participants have to cook some kind of ship or airplane. But before that happens, “Rick” is going to cook a Madras Fish Curry, or as it’s been officially called since 1996, a Chennai Fish Curry. He asks Montana to help him, and she is overjoyed, as he is the chef who, more than anyone else, first inspired her to monetize a social media presence.

Alf cooks the curry while telling a long and mildly interesting story about how he once met a man who had some fish. Everyone is enthralled, because the show doesn’t allow them to use phones in the kitchen, so they have nothing better to do.

A dramatic turn of events occurs when Sarah, against all odds, reveals that she is preparing an Indian dish.

Then the challenge starts right away! Keyma decides to make pasta, transport the judges to Italy, which scares everyone because she is Venezuelan and in general MasterChef’s iron law is that if you have a foreign accent you cook food from where your accent comes from . The producers frantically check her contract to see if a Venezuelan cooking pasta is even allowed.

Meanwhile, Michael makes a San Francisco fish stew to commemorate his time in Alcatraz and his daring escape. Jock and Andy stop by to remind Michael that he failed the last time he made fish stew, and that he came second the last time he was on MasterChef, so wouldn’t it be incredibly embarrassing to fail today? It sure would! After delivering this helpful reminder, they leave.

Julie makes coq au vin, hoping it will bring to mind a trip to Paris, where she first learned the joys of coq. “Rick” drops by to engage in sexy banter with Julie, who quickly builds a reputation as the ultimate temptress of guest chefs. He points out that the other name of coq au vin is “love in a truck”, which leads to great glee because hey, we’ve all been there.

A dramatic turn of events occurs when Sarah, against all odds, reveals that she is preparing an Indian dish. Apparently – and kudos to her for keeping this so quiet all along – she spent some time in India. It is therefore a huge honor to be able to cook for Alf from Home and Away, whose restaurant is known for its Indian cuisine.

Montana is thinking about Christmas in New York. She had turkey, but there’s no turkey in the pantry. Why is there no turkey in the pantry? What kind of crippled pantry is this that doesn’t have a turkey? Poor Montana is forced to cook chicken instead, her only consolation is that chicken is objectively better than turkey.

Hi Rick Stein.

Hi Rick Stein. Photo: Network Ten

With half an hour to go, the pressure starts to mount on some participants. Julie sweats into her mashed potatoes, afraid she won’t have time to properly cook her chicken. It’s an exciting time: she knows how much this coq is riding.

Sarah feels much more relaxed: her gravy is making her cough, which is exactly what she’s looking at. She gets more nervous when Andy comes over to tell her that her crab has to be perfect – an obvious lie, given that all her crab has to be is slightly less bad than anyone’s dish is worse. Nevertheless, the thought of inappropriate crab begins to haunt her.

The judges come together to discuss the dishes of the contestants. They all agree that every participant takes the risk that if they cook poorly, their cooking will not be good. Melissa asks “Rick” if there is anything bothering him. Other than the occasional appearance of Ailsa’s ghost, he seems fine.

Montana is having a hard time. Her chicken doesn’t look like she expected: it looks a bit like a pavlova. Her pumpkin has been steamed and has made her goosebumps soggy, so she takes the skin off to serve on the side. This is unnecessarily impractical: best to change the destination to a country where soggy goosebumps is a traditional delicacy. There must be one somewhere.

Meanwhile, “I’m feeling pretty good,” Julie says, before remembering she’s on MasterChef. Next to her on the couch, Michael is nervous because his fish is overcooked, although that seems quite appropriate for prison food.

With thirty seconds to go, Michael’s fish is still worthless, but what the hell is he supposed to be doing in thirty seconds, right? Meanwhile, Montana has successfully spawned some huge grease stains, so her confidence is skyrocketing.

It’s time for the moment all judges fear: food. Billie serves her Spanish seafood stew (why are MasterChef contestants so obsessed with putting fish in broth? Perverse if you ask me). “Stone the flaming crows, that’s damn wonderful”, says Alf enthusiastically. “I haven’t tasted such a good Spanish fish stew since it was filmed in Spain,” he adds, while bossing us all about how he’s been in Spain and on TV.

Next: Aldo, whose homesickness becomes one of the show’s most disturbing elements. However, the judges find nourishment in his pain. “I need Aldo,” Alf says, before accusing Melissa of inventing eggplants, while the other judges begin to fear for his well-being.

Then there’s Tommy, who’s okay. Then there’s Alvin, who is equally good.

Dan Keyma, who is nervous about bringing Italian food to Jock because he is half Italian and knows how Italian food should be. Unlike the other judges who have never eaten Italian before. Like Alex Gaudino, her destination is Calabria, but Jock calms her nerves. “You could line up a hundred Italians and have them make a tomato sauce with pasta,” he says, and it’s true, you can. Something to think about when deciding how to spend your next vacation. Anyway, Keyma’s pasta is, by all means, food, so that’s good.

It’s now time for Julie to get out her coq au vin. She tells the poignant story of how it rained all week while she was in Paris with her husband, so the coq was her only solace. “This is flaming excellent!” Alf cries, before bragging some more about being a big TV star, then remarking that compared to Julie Goodwin, the French are absolutely crappy at cooking.

Stepping up to Michael, who feels he’s “thought too much,” which is a technical culinary term meaning “fish badly cooked.” But today, after getting so worked up about overcooking his fish, he actually overcooked his fish. The music takes on a sad tone as Michael’s fate is at stake.

Sarah enters, who, as you may have heard, has restaurants in India, and for whom, as always, it is an incredible honor. Her dish is a huge crab that explodes and goes everywhere, but apparently tastes good. “She’s been brave,” Alf says incorrectly. “I don’t think we’ve ever been this happy,” Andy says depressingly.

Montana’s turn and her New York Christmas dinner without a turkey because MasterChef is shockingly ill-prepared. Whatever happens, she’s checked “cooking for Rick Stein” off her bucket list. She also checked “Disappoint Rick Stein” so it was a productive day. However, the judges are unnecessarily harsh: who can deny that a disappointing meal will effectively take you to a Christmas dinner with the family?

When it comes to the sticking point, rotten chicken beats it to fish, so Michael has to go home, dreams are shattered a second time. He says he is happy that he has made so many friends and that he has not been able to convince anyone. Unlike most eliminations, this one seems really sad, but the silver lining is that Michael will now have more time to learn how to cook fish.

Tune in tomorrow, when Keyma shakes her maracas.

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