Sundae Roast
Hugh Sundae adds some seasoning to Masterchef New Zealand

Sundae Roast: Argy bhaji

Cameron Petley (right) again found himself in the bottom two, but it was Anthony McEntee who went home.
Cameron Petley (right) again found himself in the bottom two, but it was Anthony McEntee who went home.

Jax surprised me tonight. Twice.

"My main competition at this stage is Nadia," she revealed. I guess gone are the days when everyone feared Cameron. But then again perhaps he wasn't thought of as the major threat we all assumed he was, looking from the outside.

Then came the real surprise. "Ground cumin, ground coriander, you know they all look the same."

I don't want to come across like a food snob, well actually I'm not particularly bothered either way, but you mean to tell me you don't toast and grind your spices from scratch?

I know, it's a fast-paced lifestyle these days. Ready-made this, online that. But we're talking top seven here, you'd think these guys have a mortar and pestle on the kitchen bench as standard issue.

I remember the very recipe I was using when I fell in love with toasting spices. It was a meatball recipe by - and there will be no chance of sounding like a food snob now - Jamie Oliver.

Alongside the dried oregano, fresh chopped rosemary, breadcrumbs and ground meats, I was to toast a teaspoon each of cumin and coriander seeds before grinding them up.

The aroma was like nothing I'd experienced. I was so amazed I had to shove the bowl in my flatmate's face so she too could understand the life-changing moment I was going through.

But it's one thing to chuck in two of the most widely used spices for some flavour, quite another to be able to find that delicate balance of spices that is the base of most Thai and Indian cooking.

Michael was confident. Not only had he heard of India, he'd been there. Twice! Plus he was sure he knew what all the spices were despite them not being in (ridiculously over-priced) labelled jars. Let's not forget, this is a guy who knows what baba ghanoush is. What else, pesto?

Josh asked Nadia if she'd ever cooked goat before, and once again she kept her confidence under wraps.

"Once, yep, and it was delicious. I like it more than lamb and beef actually."

Stu on the other hand looked broken. He thought he was out of his depth even before he forgot half of his pantry wish-list.

Unlike Stu, the colour hadn't drained from Cameron's face, but he wasn't overly confident either, revealing "I've never really cooked beef in a curry, I work with a lot of Hindus." The man just gets more and more intriguing.

At this point Simon and Ray have a bit of a rant about, well pretty much what I've just been saying. Michael's confident, Stu isn't. They're both not sure about Jax, and Cameron cooks for Hindus, blah blah blah. But nothing about the cooking - all about the drama.

These are the moments when Masterchef Australia judges excel. Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris use these opportunities to impart their knowledge, and it's a pity that with our lot moments like that are few and far between.

Whose spice combinations look promising, and why? What is Michael doing with that sieve? What do you need to know when cooking goat? Prove to us you're more than just presenters.

Traceylee (as her apron says, although when they key her name on screen it's Tracey Lee, check the TVNZ site and you get TraceyLee) once again puts in an entry for line of the week. "Ahh you know an artist works with a palette, that doesn't look the same as the painting."

Gault suggests she needs a stage. "My life is a stage, Simon."

Make it stop!

"Well let's hope you're centre stage with your curry." By this stage I needed a drink.

Recent weeks have seen contestants like Stu and Anthony get a telling off for bad seasoning, but the show never really says what the problem is. Not enough? Wrong time? I'd love it if they spent an entire Masterclass on it. I've never been sure how to handle salt, or if you even use pepper when it comes to curries. Anthony stops sounding so confident and admits it's something he has a problem with.

Skip ahead to the judging and things get pretty uncomfortable for Anthony during a bizarre exchange between him and Josh.

"If you knew that why is there no salt?"

"That's what I meant by falling of the ladder."

"I thought you just told me falling off the ladder was not browning your potatoes, now you're telling me it's not seasoning things enough."

"That's the foot slipping on the ladder."

Oh man, I'm glad it went to the ad break, that was getting uncomfortable. Back from the break though and things were getting worse.

"Did you forget to put your underwear on this morning when you got out of bed?"

Josh, clearly agitated by all this, was sharpening the knives. I know this because that was the moment there was a sound effect of knives sharpening.

Stu's judging also had a few uncomfortable moments. Not because of any dressing down, but those bloody 'I'm going to make it sound really bad and then say it's really good' trick moments.

Ray did it. Josh did it. Surely not Simon?

"I don't really agree with these guys that say it's a good curry," said Gault. Let me guess, it's a great curry?

"I reckon it's an unbelievably sensational curry!"

Good on Stu though. I've considered him a floater for most of the time, staying out of trouble but not pushing any boundaries either. Lately he's started rising to the top, and that can only give him confidence going into the business end.

Anthony though? Meh. I never really got over the whole duck incident in the Euro episode, so I'm pretty happy with the final six.

I just hope it IS a final six, if they do that old trick of bringing a few people back to fight for a second chance, I'm going to buy a frozen ready-meal in protest.

Episode 8

Best line: "Anthony, your dish was violent." Josh Emett isn't feeling the love for the debt collector.
Worst line: "If you're running behind it's time for the world's fastest Indian." Come up with that on your own did you Simon?
Current favourites: Cameron Petley, Nadia Lim

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