MasterChef recap: A burnt bottom sends a MasterChef legend pack up, pass the tissues

The top five chefs arrive on the banks of the Derwent River, knowing that since this is an elimination day, one of them will soon be thrown in. Keyma is naturally immune thanks to her magic truffles, meaning it’s Dan v Sarah v Billie v Julie for elimination. Therefore, as the ads say, ONE OF YOUR FAVORITES WILL GO HOME. Unless, of course, it’s actually one of those you hate who’s been driving dead since day one.

It’s a service challenge at Lawrenny Distillery, makers of award-winning whiskey and gin and one of Tasmania’s key drivers of Tasmanians trying to forget they live in Tasmania. “Interestingly, Tasmanian distillation is celebrating 30 years of fine whiskey production this year,” says Melissa, eager to emphasize that she doesn’t know what the word “interesting” means.

The judges wrestle for some apples. Photo: Delivered

The challenge works like this: the four chefs draw chips to decide who cooks which of the four possible courses: vegetable, fish, meat or sweet. In each course, the cook must present one of the distillery’s spirits. The alcoholic drinks, yes. They don’t cook with ghosts. Thought that would be good. Anyway. Today’s worst cook will go home, if they can find their own way back from Tassie, as Channel Ten has slashed its travel budget. After drawing chips, Dan gets fish, Sarah vegetables, Billie meat and Julie gets dessert.

As the challenge begins, Sarah delivers a sudden curveball by declaring that she loves Japanese flavors. What? Japanese? Like in… the country that isn’t India? Well, this is going to be an adventure. Meanwhile, Dan has chosen to prepare a salmon, which, along with grief and painful memories, he will brine with gin.

Jock and Andy begin to undermine their ritualistic trust. Jock questions Dan about his plans to remove the bones from his salmon. He tells Dan that it will take ages to prepare all his servings, and that only a complete maniac would attempt it. Dan decides he should probably change direction instead of spending the rest of his life in Tasmania sorting out fish bones. Suddenly he has a brainwave: instead of brining the salmon, he will confit it! Naturally! That will work! Or maybe not! I do not really know! I barely know the meaning of these words!

“There’s a lot going on, isn’t it,” Andy says, reading the paper while he eats.

Billie gets to work with her lamb, which she will soak in whiskey even if it is underage. Then Julie starts the dessert course, where she makes a sugar syrup with whiskey, but boils the alcohol out, but makes up for the lack of heat by putting chili in it, then she makes up for the chili by making ice cream, then makes up for that with remorse and confession to God.

Sarah struggles with the vegetable course, especially since she has to cook vegetables to make it. It’s a challenge to celebrate whiskey under these circumstances, except by simply serving a plate of carrots next to a bottle of whiskey and saying go for it. Meanwhile, Billie has fallen behind as she spent most of her time slaughtering the lamb, as her bloodlust begins to cloud her judgment. Elsewhere, Julie infuses her dates with whiskey, which is generally the best way to handle a date.

Dans salmon is cooking, so he has a whole hour to run like crazy around the kitchen looking for sugar. Sarah only has five minutes, however, as the guests arrive at the distillery with high hopes of how free their meals will be.

There’s sudden drama as Billie’s hot oil boils over, spills over the couch and repels the besieging army below. She tries to stop the oil bubbling but there is hot oil everywhere and she must now finish the meat course with a Worksafe persecution over her head.

Service time, and as Sarah says “this is the most fun part of the whole challenge” – yes, even more fun than pickling mushrooms! She sends her vegetable course to the diners, whose opinions, as always, are worthless. Only three plates matter: the plates served to the judges. And so the judges taste Sarah’s mushroom and whiskey stock. “There’s a lot going on, isn’t it,” Andy says, reading the paper while he eats. The judges enjoy the mushrooms, but have a problem with the togarashi, which is a… type of food. The togarashi has negatively affected the dish and proves once again that you should always stick to Indian.

Judges in Tasmania or crime drama in Scotland?

Judges in Tasmania or crime drama in Scotland? Photo: Delivered

Back in the kitchen, Sarah’s failed togarashi pales in comparison to Dan, who forgot to reject his fish and now finds it’s way too loud. It’s almost service time and he can’t serve overcooked fish. He runs to the pantry and finds a squid, hoping to strangle himself with it. Failing that, he decides to try cooking it. Julie helps him by telling him to breathe and smile, both essential components of proper squid preparation. In a frenzy, he cooks the squid, drinks it on gin, and shoves it into the judges’ mouths. “It would have been nice with the salmon,” says Jock, “but it’s better with the calamari.” The judges agree: It’s a great dish, and Dan is a complete idiot to make it with salmon at all. “I can’t believe he did that,” Andy says, boiling with anger.

In the kitchen, Julie hugs Dan, who will likely soon be revealed as her long-lost son. Then Billie pulls out her lamb. She’s a little concerned about the cook of the lamb – or to put it more normally, she’s a little concerned about how the lamb is cooked. She is relieved that the lamb is blushing: her decision to expose it to frontal nudity has paid off. The judges drop out. “Lovely cook on the lamb,” says Andy, meaning, “the lamb is beautifully cooked.” Everything about the dish is good except for the texture, which Andy says is “too tight.” What this means, no one will ever know. Jock doesn’t like the crumb. “Will that get her in trouble today?” he asks. “Maybe,” he replies. “Maybe we’re really that petty.”

The moment of truth has arrived for Julie’s sticky date pudding. Her cakes are quite dark on the bottom, but who hasn’t been? There’s no time to make more pies, so she runs to the pantry and grabs a squid and…

No, really she’s just trying to use the best bits of cake and crossing her fingers. As her dessert ships, she engages in an emotional monologue about how proud she is of what she’s done and how far she’s come, whether she’s been eliminated or not. The recording of this speech, of course, means that she is about to be eliminated. Unless there’s a surprise – no.

The judges eat the sticky date pudding. The bottom of the cake is burnt. “We all have sunburnt bottoms,” Andy says, and no one even giggles because it’s so sad. Julie made a beautiful sauce and delicious ice cream, but the cake is burnt and she’s completely screwed.

And so, in the most heartbreaking moment MasterChef has seen since Matt Preston spilled hot minestrone on his naked crotch, Julie — the OG, the GOAT, Australia’s lover, the woman who taught us all to love things to eat — becomes cast into darkness, doomed to wander the Tasmanian wilderness, living solely on wild apples and contemporary art. Never before has an elimination kicked the guts so hard, especially considering – let’s face it – the state of what has somehow managed to still be in the league.

Tune in tomorrow, if there’s any more meaning to it.

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