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Posted 05 May 2012 - 11:08 PM
MasterChef Australia returns for the fourth season in 2012, and this time it faces a huge challenge like never before: to regain viewer's trust.
After MC posted impressive ratings in 2009 and 2010 (the finale attracting more than 3.7 million viewers in both years), in 2011 the show received a battering. Boring personalities, impossible dishes, appearances from unusual guests such as Dalai Lama plus increased competition from other programs (namely The Block on Channel Nine) all took their toll on the reality cooking competition. MC averaged 1.5 million viewers per episode in 2011, down from 1.8 million in 2010.
The producers had obviously listened to viewer feedback and made a few changes to season 4, which began filming in November last year. It will be "back to basics" with the focus back on the food. We will grow to know and love the contestants through the food they cook and the stories their dishes will tell – it will make us laugh and cry when we feel their losses and celebrate their triumphs – from Mystery Boxes to Invention Tests, MasterClasses, Team Challenges and Pressure Tests and an exciting new take on the Immunity Challenge, where the contestant with two of his/her teammates will compete with a celebrity chef with two assistants of his/her own.
Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston return as judges while Aria restaurant head chef Matt Moran, who was a part-time judge last year, will return as a mentor. Guest chefs will include Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein and Bartolo "Buddy" Valestro from American reality TV show Cake Boss.
For the first time in MasterChef history, the show began in Melbourne, where the top 50 amateur cooks from around Australia converged to compete a series of challenges in order to receive a coveted MC apron, symbolising a place in the top 24. The top 40 week included cooking challenges at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Buildings, Montsalvat artist colony in the northeastern Melbourne suburb of Eltham, the Mornington Peninsula, plus MasterClasses in Daylesford.
The top 24 will then take on the most exciting months of their lives – a food lover's trip to Tasmania (filmed in February this year), catering a Sri Lankan wedding for 450 people, running the kitchen in one of Australia's most revered hotels, and challenges in Kangaroo Island in South Australia (filmed on the weekend of April 22/23). Later in the season the remaining contestants will travel to Italy as well.
MasterChef Australia season 4 premieres Sunday May 6 at 7.30pm. It airs at 7.30pm Sundays and 7pm weeknights where the first season was broadcast in 2009. This time around MC will clash directly with The Block which had a three-week head start. Last year when the two shows overlapped from 7.30pm to 8pm, The Block beat MC in all but one occasion, so Ten will be keen to turn around the table. MC will also be made by production company Shine (the MC rights holder) for the first time, after FremantleMedia Australia produced the first four seasons.
Who will follow the footsteps of Julie Goodwin, Adam Liaw and Kate Bracks to become Australia's next MasterChef?
Top 24 contestants
Alice Zaslavsky, 26 VIC, secondary school teacher
Amina Elshafei, 27 NSW, nurse, Westmead Children's Hospital
Andrew Strickland, 48 NSW, hairdresser
Andy Allen, 23 NSW, apprentice electrician
Audra Morrice, 41 NSW, account manager
Beau Cook, 27 VIC, construction worker
Ben Milbourne, 30, Burnie TAS, former secondary school teacher
Dalvinder Dhami, 35 NSW, public servant ELIMINATED 11/6
Debra Sederlan, 50 VIC, senior account manager
Emma O'Shaughnessy, 19 SA, former student ELIMINATED 21/6
Filippo Silvestro, 38 Cairns, QLD, financial planner ELIMINATED 18/6
Julia 'Jules' Pike, 28, NT, customer service officer
Julia Taylor, 25 QLD, legal secretary
Kath von Witt, 38 NSW, art gallery director ELIMINATED 28/5
Kevin Perry, 34 Sydney, NSW, casino marketer and part-time rugby player ELIMINATED 17/5
Kylie Millar, 24 NSW, masters student
Lydia Guerrini, 38 WA, PhD student ELIMINATED 21/5
Mario Morhorko, 40 Melbourne VIC, automotive dealer ELIMINATED 14/6
Matt Howell, 18 VIC, university student ELIMINATED 24/5
Mindy Woods, 30 QLD, physiotherapist
Sam Davis, 34, WA, private banker ELIMINATED 25/6
Tran Kim 'TK' Nguyen, 22, VIC, law student ELIMINATED 31/5
Tregan Borg, 25, VIC, social worker ELIMINATED 28/6
Wade Drummond, 28, WA, commercial labourer
This post updates.
Posted 05 May 2012 - 11:10 PM
THE search for Australia's next MasterChef debuts tomorrow night with 14 Queenslanders vying to become the next Julie Goodwin, Adam Liaw or Kate Bracks.
Four hail from the Gold Coast, among them nurse Tracey Clark, a nurse unit manager for nine busy operating theatres which deal with all sorts of specialist surgery at Pindara Hospital.
Clark also has a a passion for cooking.
"I believe I could make a difference in the system I have firm ideas about hospital food and food delivery,'' she says.
"My dream is to write a cookbook of basic recipes with modifications for people who have different ailments.''
Clark developed her theories over 29 years working in hospitals. She has no beef with Pindara Hospital food.
"We have a chef here to cook for patients. I've developed my ideas working as nurse, many in the public system.
"The truth is we pay out so much for health care. Patients order meals, the tray arrives, they lift the lid and can't face what they find there. If you go out to dinner you expect to be served something that looks appetising and I think that's especially important for people who are unwell.''
Clark says her cookbook would feature recipes for healthy and delicious meals and snacks then explain how each could be modified for weightloss to be gluten free or for ailment including heart conditions and mature onset diabetes.
"I hope to retire on my idea for a healthy cookbook,'' she says.
MasterChef Australia debuts with contestants selected from 8,000 applicants to compete in the Judge's Audition Series for a place in the MasterChef Australia Top 24.
The episodes were filmed in Melbourne early this year (read: November 2011).
Clarke is not allowed to say how she fares, but describes her experience as "fantastic''.
"I met 70 people of all age groups. The girl I room with will be a friend for life. Competing in the challenges is stressful, emotional and tiring but I wouldn't not have done it for the world.''
UPDATE: Tracey did not make it into the top 50.
Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:55 PM
It is great to see MasterChef back for another season. The first week was much like season 1 in 2009, with a slow build. We saw the return of audition episode, then the top 50 week which was filmed around Melbourne (great way to promote the city and the state of Victoria given the series is shown in more than 40 countries around the world). The top 50 challenges, apart from the peach Melba pressure test, were all about the basic skills. Obviously the producers had listened to viewer feedback and made changes, one of them was to the Friday night MasterClass, which changed from retrospective and correcting mistakes made by contestants in the past week, to teaching contestants new cooking techniques.
Posted 14 May 2012 - 08:31 PM
Posted 20 May 2012 - 07:44 PM
The top 24 were finally decided with a French cuisine challenge at Montsalvat, an artist colony in Eltham, north east of Melbourne. The 12 contestants proved their worth cooking both sweet and savoury dishes. In the end Debra, Filippo, Mindy, Kath, Mario and Emma got the final six aprons.
When the top 24 arrived at the MC kitchen at Sydney's Alexandria in early January 2012 for their first cooking challenge, had 75 minutes to "put themselves on a plate". Ben won the challenge and had the first shot at immunity.
The immunity challenge was certainly interesting, with Ben picking Emma and Andy to help him competing against Dan Hong and two of his own assistants. Dan picked lemon as the core ingredient and both teams had to create entree, main and dessert. Ben beat Dan with the main, but Dan's team lost on entree and dessert.
Wednesday was the first team challenge of 2012. The contestants were divided into 2 teams of 12, each taking over a restaurant in Sydney's Kings Cross, on the opposing sides of Bayswater Road: Ortolan on Bayswater (red team, led by Emma) and Concrete Blonde (blue team, led by Andy). The red team struggled initially with delegation of duties, leading them to fall behind and start service late. After a shaky start, they found their rhythm and were praised for the quality of their dishes, especially with dessert made by Kylie. The blue team thrived under Andy's leadership and their ability to bring in customers. Their dishes earned praise from the judges, especially Ben's scallop main, but were criticised for their dessert. In the end it was the total money earned during 3 hours of service (6pm - 9pm) that decided the winner: blue team won by more than $500, sending the red team into elimination.
In the elimination challenge, the 12 members of the red team had to guess the correct Italian name of a store-bought pasta. with the first six contestants to wrongly identify any of the pastas on the bench going into the second round of elimination. In a strange move, first-in-line Kevin chose the lasagnotte leaves, which nobody in the line-up could identify correctly. Kevin, Jules, TK, Mindy, Emma and Kylie had to make at least 250 grams of fettuccine from scratch in the second round, with quality control from the judges. Mindy, Kylie, TK and Emma secured their places in the top 23 after this round. Kevin and Jules faced the third elimination round, in which they had to reproduce a ricotta and egg yolk raviolo with sage and burnt butter sauce (one of George Calombaris' dishes). Kevin ended up as the first eliminated contestant of the season due to lack of seasoning throughout his whole dish, even those its presentation was better than Jules' dish.
Posted 02 June 2012 - 12:12 AM
Poor TK. She was in the losing team three weeks in a row. Then she named an incorrect poultry in the elimination challenge and had to cook against Julia, Debra, Tregan and Alice by making a dish with a poultry with their choice. TK, who had never cooked with turkey before, overcooked her turkey in the steamer so had to make a quick stir-fry. Gary said the dish was "food court quality" and TK was eliminated.
Posted 11 June 2012 - 10:32 AM
MasterChef All-Stars will launch immediately after the MasterChef Australia season four finale as a three week challenge to determine which series of MasterChef delivered the best home cook.
Network Ten Chief Programming Officer, David Mott, described the all-stars show as "a fantastic example of 'event TV'. It is set to be fun, compelling and an excellent alternative for viewers."
The notional best-of-the-best set to feature in MasterChef All-Stars includes two out of the three former champions, with only season 2 winner Adam Liaw absent from the starting line.
The All-Stars set to return to the MasterChef kitchen are:
Season One: Julie Goodwin (winner), Poh-Ying Yeow, Chris Badenoch and Justine Schofield.
Season Two: Callum Hann, Marion Grasby and Aaron Harvie.
Season Three: Kate Bracks (winner), Dani Venn, Hayden Quinn and Kumar Pereira.
The All-Stars will revisit some of the best challenges from previous seasons, raise money for their favourite charities, and compete "for the title of the first MasterChef All-Star."
Posted 17 June 2012 - 10:01 PM
Posted 28 June 2012 - 10:20 PM
In tonight's elimination, contestants competed over 3 rounds, making a dish in 30 minutes, using ingredients from the bench. Once the ingredient was picked, it could not be used by another contestant or in subsequent rounds, so the contestants had to fight to grab the ingredients they wanted before someone else took it. Amina, Mindy and Andy went through in the first round, leaving five ladies in the second round. It was hard to separate them because, apart from Debra, they were all strong cooks and good friends in the house. There were few teary moments in the second and third rounds, especially from Jules and Tregan, who was undecided on what to cook in the third round. Tregan made a lamb chop dish in the third round. Gary said the potatoes were unbelievable but the lamb was on the verge of being dry. She was eliminated after losing out to Julia and Jules.
Posted 01 July 2012 - 05:49 PM
*There are around 100 aprons to wash each day.
*The mega-pantry, which can have up to $25,000 worth of food in it at any time, is stocked three times each week. Most of the food unused is donated to OzHarvest.
*The contestants go through almost 30kg of flour each week.
*Over 130 people make up the MasterChef crew, from camera operators to the many producers and editors. Two production runners clean the huge pile of dishes after each challenge and, on a big day, can take about 6 hours to complete!
*In the MC kitchen, there are more than 270 Scanpan pans and pots, 100 sets of scales, 50 stick blenders, 30 planetary mixers, 30 Mixmasters, 24 Ariston ovens (and 6 spares), 40 Dutch ovens, 16 cooktops, 12 fridges and six freezers.
Posted 17 July 2012 - 10:07 PM
When the 9 remaining contestants returned to the MasterChef kitchen, it was a shock for them to hear that there were two weeks left to the finale (in reality, it took three weeks to record the episodes). Alice, Ben and Wade were sent in to the pressure test after they produced the three least impressive dishes in the invention test, to make it to the front cover of the August issue of MasterChef magazine.
It was a brave call by Alice not to use her immunity pin in the pressure test. In the end she survived by the skin of the teeth (or should that be the scale of the fish?). Alice struggled through the cooking process and when I saw Gary pulling out the bone from his snapper and the judges saying the potatoes were overcooked, I thought she would go. By my timing, when Alice received letters from her students, they would have been watching week 4 of the series on TV (tonight's episode was recorded at the end of May) and at that time Alice was in the losing team in the team challenge and survived the elimination.
Ben was very slow during the cooking, and only picked up the pace after tough words from George. Ben's dish came up impressively and he stayed in the competition, but he forgot to thank George.
Wade was well in control in the first two hours of cooking, then he got complacent in the final 45 minutes and forgot to fry off his seared calamari. He only got to fry the calamari for 15 seconds which meant it was undercooked, and that's partly why he was eliminated.
Tonight it was another elimination challenge with Kylie Kwong as special guest. I was not surprised that Alice used her immunity pin after just surviving the pressure test. But I was shocked to see Kylie and Mindy using their pins too! I am sure either of them would have excelled in tonight's challenge. If Kylie and/or Mindy were in the losing team in tomorrow's team challenge, the pin would have come in handy.
Tonight's challenge consisted of two elimination rounds. The first round would see them match Kylie's signature dish in the same time Kylie took to make it. Two would be saved here.
They're cooking swimmer crab. Kylie cooked the crab so fast it was hard for everyone to keep up with her. Like last night Ben was slow but produced a great dish. It was surprising to see Audra in the bottom 3 (alongside Beau and Julia), because she is so experienced in Asian dishes.
In the second part, I was feeling nervous for Julia who excelled in desserts but struggled in savoury dish. I agree with Kylie Kwong that it was a brave call for Julia to poach chicken in master stock in such a short time frame, so it was very lucky that the chicken was cooked perfectly.
In the end it came down to creativity. Beau's prawn and salad dish was too simple compared with Julia and Andra's efforts, so he was eliminated. Shocked to see two guys eliminated in two nights!
Posted 26 July 2012 - 01:46 PM
*The mega-pantry, which can have up to $25,000 worth of food in it at any time, is stocked three times each week. Most of the food unused is donated to OzHarvest.
I'm so glad to hear this. I was always worried that the food would go to waste. Apparently it does not. Good on them!
Name: Kayla. Age: 26 (as at 2013). Gender: Female.
Posted 29 July 2012 - 09:57 PM
1. the 12 contestants lived in the MC house, just like what they did when they were competing to win the title. Filming on All-Stars began in mid-June, which meant the All-Stars moved in to the house days after the final 3 of season 4 (Audra, Andy and Julia) left for the filming of the finale. Julie told today's The Sun-Herald in Sydney that for this series, she and her fellow contestants had few more privileges: they could use their mobile phones and call whenever they wanted to, they had access to computers and they could go home on weekends.
(You can read the interview with Julie here: http://www.smh.com.a...0726-22s2l.html)
2. I counted there were five prompts for Twitter conversation on the bottom left of the screen. During season 4 there was only one prompt, as the contestants walked in to the kitchen.
3. In the final round, Kate asked Kumar during cooking at least twice if he had pulled the beards out of mussels and both times Kumar said yes. But during tasting Gary still managed to find beards in a mussel. Was Kumar a bit careless?
Some more MC-related news. The Sunday Telegraph says today season 4 could be the last to be filmed in Sydney with the series moving to Melbourne in 2013. Earlier this year its sister paper The Daily Telegraph reported that the building in Alexandria which housed the kitchen had been put up for sale. Maybe the production company wants to leave before it can be evicted by the new owner? The Sunday Telegraph also says Justin North, who had made guest appearances on MasterChef since it began in 2009, has his group of restaurants placed into liquidation this month. His employees have been owed $990,000 in unpaid superannuation and himself is bankrupt. So it looks like we won't see him again in the show.
Posted 20 August 2012 - 09:19 PM
MasterChef All-Stars finished last night with Chris, Kate and Callum in the final 3. Kate was eliminated in the first round. In the second round, Chris and Callum had to re-create another snow egg dessert from Peter Gilmore, head chef of Quay restaurant, but this time it had a jackfruit flavour. Callum beat Chris to win the All-Stars trophy, but in a great gesture Callum donated $10,000 from his prizemoney to Chris' designated charity (Lort Smith Animal Hospital). Callum himself raised $20,000 for his charity, Cancer Council Australia.
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