Sundae Roast

Hugh Sundae adds some seasoning to Masterchef New Zealand

Sundae Roast: Second wind

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'TLee' thought the other team's food was a sea of brown and beige. Photo / Supplied
'TLee' thought the other team's food was a sea of brown and beige. Photo / Supplied

It could be argued that last week's blog was weak.

In my mind I figured because Cameron had an off day, so would I. That was my excuse anyway. The truth is, even as I typed I wasn't, you know, feeling it.

Still wasn't my fault though, aye. For whatever reason my attention was waning.

Perhaps it was the seven-episode itch. Maybe Cameron's utter dominance had led me to believe the remaining episodes were just a formality, or was I simply growing tired of competing with someone who essentially does exactly the same thing as me for the same organisation.

Thank god Greg Dixon didn't write his column outlining why Masterchef isn't actually food television last week - I'd have been a wreck.

But just when I was thinking I was going to have to inject some spice into my relationship with Masterchef - like organise another canape competition with friends or something - along comes tonight's episode.

It wasn't so much the journey, but the result. Tonight, a real contender - and one of my favourites - was given the boot. By kids no less.

The writing was on the wall before they even left the studio kitchen.

Something didn't make sense. Team leader Tracey Lee's first pick for her team wasn't Cameron. She made it a battle of the sexes.

Usually the contestants do quite a good job of not giving anything anyway during the interviews that narrate each episode. The ones with various kitchen implements hanging in the background, just out of focus. Tonight though, both Nadia and Fiona gave cause for concern.

"I rather like the idea of an all female team," said Fiona. "I think we'll be fierce competitors."

The normally evenly tempered Fiona sounded a little too much like she was trying to throw us off the scent. But the real giveaway, was Nadia.

"Considering it was a boys birthday challenge, I would have maybe mixed it up boys and girls,' she said, noting that Stu was also a school teacher.

Good point, I thought. But more telling was the look of panic in Nadia's eyes. She's a top cook our Nadia, but completely bonkers at the best of times. Doesn't seem to be aware of what she's giving out or what is coming back in. My wife thinks I have a similar condition.

Like many challenges, we've seen this one before in the Australian version of the show, although this time the party was for twins. Each guest got a vote and the winning birthday cake got a few extra, with Fiona baking the girl's cake, and Michael the boy's.

"I don't know too much about kids party food but I'm pretty much just, you know, a kid trapped in a grown up's body," said Michael, who is seven years older than the twins. I still can't decide if that was an advantage or not.

Aside from just generally being awesome, Cameron also had an advantage. Five kids, all boys. I think this was the point I decided it was defo going to be a win for the boys, and Tracey Lee's next comment was the nail in the coffin.

"As long as he's a kid that can communicate, what he wants, then, we're going to be home and hosed."

Oh so it's the eleven-year-old's fault is it?

That night the boys were in prep mode. Anthony was frothing milk for a latte and Michael was checking Bebo. Maybe they weren't prepping after all.

While Fiona and Michael were at the swanky cakery all the others were getting ingredients at a supermarket. You'll never guess which one.

Luckily if you couldn't guess, they happened to be pushing the only supermarket shopping trolley ever in the history of the whole world to have the supermarket's name on large signage on all four sides.

Speaking of product placement, the birthday was being held at _________ _____, which as Josh informed us, had attractions such as tropical _________ to giant __________. Really guys, the shots of the signage and all the attractions wasn't enough?

Each team member looked after a different dish, with debt collector Anthony taking care of the pizza. Having learned from the birthday boys that they were not interested in vegetables, coupled with some common sense, it was a surprise that he chose to "hide" some capsicum under the child-friendly toppings.

"If I die for my belief that I should be trying to get some sort of vegetable into a kid then I'm happy to live with that," he preached.

I'm more inclined to believe it was a cheap attempt to appeal to the judges and/or mothers rather than a sudden bout of conciousness. But then as my wife tells me, I tend to see the worst in people. She thought it was nice that he was trying to give the kids some vegetables. Anthony - mission accomplished.

Then of course there was the plaster. The less said about that sorry affair the better. You don't have to be a debt-collection scientist to know you wear a glove over any hand that has a plaster. Anthony, I hope when you left your job to enter Masterchef you did so on good terms.

Nadia was getting tetchy about Michael's use of ready-made meringues, which he was using to crush up and add flavour and texture to his Eton mess.

"It would have never even crossed my mind that we could buy something like that," she said.

Really? Not even standing next to Fiona as she crushed up ready-made biscuits for her ill-fated sports balls? Not even after you crushed ready-made Oreo biscuits for your own dish? Not even after last week when you chose ready-made tortillas for the Spanish challenge?

Nadia did raise a good point though, kids were taking multiple meringues, and if the kids can't try them they can't vote for them. If there was any sort of rule about trying each dish, it wasn't being followed. As Tracey Lee stated dramatically, "these kids just don't know what's at stake."

TLee, as I've heard people refer to her lately, kept serving up the goods back at the elimination. "I don't think I've ever been so proud... of a team. Of. People. And women before, ever," she stumbled.

Once the boys were crowned winners and told of their prize ( I was expecting it to be a McDonalds kids party, it wasn't) poor Fiona must have known she was for the chop.

While some use the interviews in front of the hanging kitchen implements to stick the knife in (Anthony: Ray McVinnie can have his opinion, blah blah blah...), I thought it was fair enough that Fiona mentioned the balls weren't her idea. Team player and all that. It's one thing to be turfed out, but in a situation when it's not the trained judges' call, that must grate.

So a contender goes, and my mojo for Masterchef has returned.

Assuming (a better word would be "hoping" - I never watch more than one ahead, so I'm in the dark as you are) that Anthony is the next to go, we're up for a real competition in the coming weeks.

It's at this point in the series where we get to see more of the cooking, simply because there aren't as many cooks to follow in each episode.

I hope when the judges bother the contestants while they cook, there is more quizzing them about techniques and giving suggestions rather than coming up with tiresome puns.

I better start booking in some more canapé competitions among similarly obsessed friends, there will be much to chat about over the next few episodes, methinks. I hope Greg Dixon gives Masterchef another try.

Episode 7

Best Line: "I voted for the spring roll, I liked that because it contains quite a lot of... stuff." A young birthday guest gives last season's judge Ross Burden a run for his money.
Worst line: "Come and get your balls, who likes rugby, who likes table tennis?" Nadia Lim sounds like she's on a sinking ship.
Current favourite: Cameron Petley

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