We’ve seen plenty of twists before on MasterChef Australia — but nothing could have prepared the contestants for the culinary curve balls they had thrown at them during Monday night’s team challenge.
Twist Week might as well have been called I’d Like To Speak To The Manager Week because judges Melissa, Andy and Jock dropped the kind of last minute bombshells an indecisive customer might surprise a fancy restaurant with mid-service.
While last year the contestants had to endure Secrets Week, which contained plenty of twists, Back To Win has again ramped things up with challenges that are pushing the cooks to their absolute limits.
The Twist Week team challenge started off simply enough with the contestants told they’d be splitting into two groups to create a three-course menu for 50 diners — using any ingredients from the pantry.
But the Orange and Grey teams were warned that, at some point during their cook, they’d get hit with a twist and that’s where things got interesting.
Hayden Gets Stitched Up By Rock, Paper, Scissors
After Mel split the teams up into a group of eight and a group of nine it became apparent that someone was going to have to sit out.
The rules this season with an uneven number in team challenges mean the contestant who sits on the sidelines will be safe from elimination if their team is victorious but will end up in a Pressure Test if their team fails.
But because everyone on this show loves cooking and is extremely talented and motivated, sitting out isn’t the same kind of relaxing reward as it is in Australian Survivor.
For some reason, Hayden and Tracy were chosen to compete in a MasterChef version of Scissors, Paper, Rock and the loser (Hayden) was sent to the gantry, forced to helplessly watch his team work their butts off for more than three hours.
The Grey Team Spend Way Too Long In The Pantry
While the Orange team got started with military precision, the Grey team spent a little longer deciding on their captain (Poh) and then figuring out what they should put on their menu — an excruciating scene to watch as the minutes ticked by.
They eventually got started on a menu that Jock noted was definitely adventurous — prawn and scallops tortellini, a kingfish main and a lemon myrtle sorbet and foam with a jaconde sponge for dessert.
Jock noted that the Grey team were playing it safe to mitigate any upcoming twist risks with a menu of seared tuna with shiso and fresh plums, sous vide chicken and mushrooms, and choux buns with craquelin.
“That is called playing it as safe as you can possibly play it so that when this twist happens, they feel like they’re ahead of the game,” noted Andy.
Jock Pulls Out A Sous-Vide Zinger
When Jock left the kitchen and rejoined Melissa and Andy, he gave them the lowdown on what the contestants were up to and let rip with a very niche dining scene zinger.
“2002 rang and they want their sous-vide chicken dish back!” he said.
The Judges Announce The First Twist — And It’s Awful
While the Brown team tried to anticipate the looming twist by being extremely organised and planning a straightforward menu, their hard work was about to be poured down the drain, so to speak.
Andy instructed everyone to stop what they were doing, turn their burners off because it was “time to switch kitchens”, a statement that took a good few moments to sink in.
Even though Jock announced that both teams could alter their inherited dishes, or scrap them altogether, neither team was pleased by the thought of moving onto someone else’s chaotic workbench.
“It’s a bit chaotic, it’s like a treasure hunt trying to find out what is happening right now,” said Reynold.
The swap made both teams cranky with Poh noting that her team had just come up with a beautifully creative menu, only for team Brown to inherit it.
But the Orange gang could only see plenty of mess and unfinished elements.
“We are literally walking away from our almost complete three-course menu and now we have to take theirs,” Brown captain Sarah Tiong said, later asking, “Have they cooked anything?”
Emelia’s Beautiful Choux Buns Are Discarded
Which led to a twist we did not want to witness, Emelia’s perfect choux buns were SCRAPPED from the menu with Poh telling Andy and Jock, “Yeah, we’re not using them at all”.
“Wait til Emelia hears this!” Andy exclaimed, nearly falling to his knees before dobbing on Poh for discarding the delicate pastries.
Hopefully Emelia got to take them home with her?
The Second Twist Is A Waste Of Fish
Just because there wasn’t enough chaos swirling around the kitchen, the team captains were summoned to receive another awful piece of twist-related news.
“Ten of your diners on both teams are… vegetarian,” revealed Melissa.
A very cool and not at all stressful note for two teams with a whole lot of seafood and chicken on their menus.
Luckily for Sarah’s Brown team, they had Vegetable King Simon on their side who sprung into action, ready to address their veg-related emergency with some cauliflower with agrodolce sauce and a cashew cream.
Emelia Puts The Kibosh On Brendan’s Pasta Dish
After Tessa announced that the Brown team would be making a goats cheese tortellini with burnt butter, raisins and almonds as their vegetarian entree, Emelia stopped by to share her thoughts.
“Are you doing goats cheese? Because I had a goats cheese and prawn tortellini on the weekend and it was disgusting,” she told her team mates.
Poor, sweet Brendan, already feeling crushed by the twisty pressure looked Emelia dead in the eye requested she “Walk away” because he did not need that kind of negativity on his bench.
The Judges Announce That The Teams Are Equal — Then Double Back
After three hours of pure kitchen nightmares followed by an equally hectic start to service, the judges were ready to announce which team had won and which team would be heading to tomorrow’s Pressure Test.
With both sides plating up an equal amount of impressive and mediocre entrees and mains, Melissa, Jock, and Andy said this meant it was down to the dessert.
That is, until they said both desserts were so perfect, they couldn’t split the difference and so they had to revisit the first two courses — a twist our hearts weren’t ready for.
Hayden Has Witnessed His Own Team’s Failure From His Lonely Balcony
Poor old Hayden, done in, not by his lack of culinary skills but his inability to psych someone out in a game of Rock, Paper Scissors was cursed with watching every move during the challenge.
Instead of being down in the trenches, Hayden just had to watch and then take the bad news on the chin when he learnt that he and his team would be cooking to avoid elimination the following night.
Did we mention there’s still three more nights of twists to come?
MasterChef: Back To Win Airs Sunday-Thursday at 7.30 pm. Only On 10, 10 Play and WIN Network.