Sundae Roast

Hugh Sundae adds some seasoning to Masterchef New Zealand

Sundae Roast: Dropping the ball

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Josh Emett, Simon Gault and Ray McVinnie ponder Vanessa's plate.
Josh Emett, Simon Gault and Ray McVinnie ponder Vanessa's plate.

Aww so much love. Everyone is getting on so well.

"People seem in good spirits and everyone's getting along well, yeah it's a new day," says David. The inference from all this is that the bad feeling left in Raheel's suitcase. We'll see.

A fauxmance has blossomed between Michael and Dana. "He's just cool, he's a cool Asian," she says. Of course a cynic would think they're highlighting this now because one of them is going home.

But perhaps not. It was a pleasant surprise on last week's show when we didn't get pretend bad news.

"Unfortunately I've got some bad news for you with this dish," Simon Gault told Kris. I was expecting "the bad news is I can't give it back to you coz it's so amazing" or "by bad news I actually meant good news, lol". It's one of Gault's favourite tricks and Kris was probably thinking he was in the clear.

But Gault went on to list everything that was actually wrong with the dish.

Surprise!

But back to tonight. Apparently there is this really secret game that only chefs play and no one knows about it. After all the first rule about chef club is you do not talk about chef club.

It turns out the secret game we're being let in on is such a secret that millions of people who are not chefs play it every day at dinner parties and in general life. You know, it's your last meal, who what where why how etc.

It's a shame really, I was more interested in this Truth Or Dare Gault was talking about. "Ray, I dare you to use Chicken Tonight!" "Only if you cook this steak with your shirt off, Josh." And so on.

The contestants aren't just facing the three judges now, they're facing their own mortality. They've been away from home for a while and the novelty is wearing off.

"It's already quite an emotional feeling," says Aaron. Eliott reveals he has a phobia about dying. Josh name-drops Gordon Ramsay.

These challenges where memories and emotions are on par with the cooking are always a bit strange. It's never very clear what the contestants are being judged on. The judges speak a lot about 'heart on the plate' and 'show us about you' etc but surely it's about how good the dish is at the end.

Dave, who showed early promise but has had a flat few challenges, is cooking a rib roast. I'm worried. Kris is wetting himself about seafood as usual and is going with crayfish. Sushil is going for a big Indian feast.

Sushil has really grown on me. He's goofy, likeable and gaining confidence. And he's doing all this while having to share a bench with Jennis.

"Indian food is quite an aromatic food," she says. "So when I'm trying to taste my peppermint cheesecake all I can smell is Indian food!"

The Aaronator finally reveals the secret of his success. His grandmother is from northern Italy. It all makes sense now. But his dish sounds dangerously simple to me. Soup and scones. I'm worried that his dream run is coming to an end.

The thing is, it's bound to happen. Two years ago I got carried away with the dream run of Cameron Petley. Every man's everyman. Four challenges or so in and it all came crumbling down. I've been mentally preparing myself for the same thing to happen with Aaron.

Corinna is also making a soup, but in 90 minutes it will have to be the express version. She resorts to the pressure cooker because "I tasted it and it takes like nothing." In a nod to German precision she has all her ingredients lined up in little bowls. Like how I used to when I was a kid pretending I was on a cooking show, I mean how they do on cooking shows.

Meanwhile things aren't stressful enough for Raglan zen guru Aaron, so he decides to make butter. MAKE butter from scratch, turning cream into butter like some kind of culinary Jesus.

"My thing is about simple food with lots of love in it, so what better way to make something simple full of love than to make it yourself," he says. We're going to have to agree to disagree about what simple means. Perhaps it's penance for having to - wait for it - use canned vegetables. The horror.

Gault comes over to check on Sushil and finds him in his usual state. Sweaty and in good spirits.

"I know my body's just like that, sorry." Oh Sushil, you loveable shambles.

After an awkward start to their relationship, Josh and Dave's bromance is blossoming. For whatever reason they're not confusing each other with sarcasm and misunderstood jokes. In fact Dave is so relaxed around him now that when Josh asks if the meat will be cooked, he replies "I fucken hope so." Then Josh jokes that he likes his meat well done. Lol!

Jennis is up for judging first and I'm not really sold on the flowers. It's this whole emotion/memories/cooking thing again. Perhaps she'll explain my concerns away?

"I thought what a good idea to be able to not only eat the food, but kinda keep the food." You what?

Looking at Dave's beef I really wasn't sure what the judges would say, so I was relieved when Gault put us out of our misery.

"That's nothing other than perfect."

Dave needs a confidence boost, he made some exciting dishes early on so this might get him back on track. Nailing it on the challenge for his old man must have been spesh too.

Last week's confidence boost has gone well for Sushil. He leaves the judging table in tears, unaware that all three of his dishes are going to get great comments.

"He's got such a lovely level of spice in there, it's not meant to be hot it's meant to be fragrant," McVinnie says of the biryani. Before adding "it's banging." Why do the judges keep saying that?

"Outstanding, that's one of the best things I've eaten in a while," Emett says holding one of the beef pantaras. Gault thinks Indian dairies should sell them.

"I wouldn't be able to buy a bottle of milk without getting a couple of those everytime!"

Vanessa has made pretty much all my favourite desserts but they all seem a little under par. "The quality has suffered a bit, perhaps trying to do so much," McVinnie says, before showing his disgust that she made the Tiramisu with Kahlua.

"I love that," Emett adds excitedly. But McVinnie's rebuff is to the point. "Naaaa."

Dana does a good job smoking her salmon, but has a run in with Josh about the availability of Jay-Z to perform at each of their last suppers. Um, who said you were going to die on the same day?

In fact Josh "dies and goes to heaven" a few minutes later when Paula presents her ribs. McVinnie too is quite taken, "she's married isn't she?"

"So are you by the way," Gault adds. Oh vicar!

Michael's glutinous rice balls come out looking clean and sophisticated but the judges are struggling. Gault wonders why it's only done two ways and not three ways as he'd planned, only moments after suggesting Ella shouldn't have bothered with her "third" way of scallop (raw).

Not last but quite possibly least, Eliott served up a tasting plate he referred to as Sex On A Plate. I only hope he is tidier in the bedroom. A few of the components aren't so much cooked as assembled. Chocolate dipped strawberries, cured meats, caprese salad. What IS cooked isn't getting much love from McVinnie.

"The squid is very oily, I'm not getting a very clear prawn flavor in the prawns, there's nothing here that really jumps out."

I don't know about you, but I find it very hard to taste something when it's not in my mouth. So it's exceptionally frustrating to not be able to find out what is so amazing about the Aaronator's soup. It's just a soup, but listen to the judges...

"It's fantastic," McVinnie laughs, seemingly also surprised Aaron's done it again.

"This has taken it to a whole new level," says Gault. "I live for days like this," adds Emett.

What Raglan crazy-shit black magic has he got on you guys?! It doesn't make any sense. I suspect in seven years Aaron is going to be on a couch with Oprah Winfrey admitting he was on performance enhancing drugs the whole time.

It seems he has such an acute flair for flavour that I can't imagine being able to recreate any of his dishes no matter how detailed his recipe. Bugger it maybe I should try yoga too.

After a change into black elimination t-shirts (and hopefully in one case a shower), the contestants line up to hear Gault say this has been the hardest decision in MasterChef history. Maybe that's why they got it wrong.

David, Paula, Sushil, Jennis, Aaron and Dana are called forward. "I'm not sure if it's a good thing to be called up first," Sushil worries. Sushil you're standing next to Aaron. Think!

The middle pack of four get the tick leaving Kris, Michael and Eliott. It says a lot about the general quality of cooking that day that Kris' seafood extravaganza was in the bottom three. But as McVinnie pointed out about Eliott's dish, "when you sat and analyzed it some of that was good chopping not good cooking."

"What do you want me to do, cure my own pig and make prosciutto?" Once again demonstrating an inability to take any form of criticism.

I reckon it's going to be his attitude and a team challenge that gets him in the end. But at least if I'm wrong I'll admit it.

Michael's rice balls showed far more technique than anything on Eliott's platter, the judges said as much. Unlike Eliott, Michael took the news on the chin, despite having good reason to feel a bit cheated.

"You cooked glutinous rice balls three ways, but we only got them two ways."

Come on guys, you are constantly telling people not to bother putting things on the plate if they're not up to scratch. Just last week with Kelly and her salty sauce, and even tonight with Ella's scallops.

I know I haven't tasted the food, and I know I don't own any restaurants. But forget judging the result against the idea, going solely from what was said about those dishes, you ballsed that one up.

Episode 6

Best line: "I know my body's just like that, sorry." Sushil manages to bring the laughs while making his strongest dish yet.
Worst line: "What do you want me to do, cure my own pig and make prosciutto?" If you're going to serve it as a dish, Eliott, then yes pretty much.
Current favourites: Aaron, Ella

Episode 1: Fourteen Grand Up
Episode 2: A Route Of Pleasure
Episode 3: Keep Blowin' Brother
Episode 4: Wake and shake
Episode 5: True Colours

-nzherald.co.nz

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