Masterchef…The Press Club challenge.

Now I’ll start this by saying I was out for dinner at the local pub while this was on and watching it there, so I’ve re-watched it as we were talking the whole way through it, but there were some interesting comments made while we were watching it that I will add during this, admittedly we really started paying attention when the food was being served.

So the contestants arrive at The Press Club Projects, which is where George tests ideas for his restaurant The Press Club before they go onto the menu and he says that he’s handing the keys to The Press Club over to the four contestants and Georgia wants to faint and is terrified.  They’re cooking George’s food, in George’s kitchen for 35 of the best chefs and restaurateurs from Australia, but George will be in the kitchen with them.

The person who makes the best dish is straight into the semi-final, the other three are through to elimination.  They’re cooking a four course menu of dishes that are currently on The Press Club menu and they’ll do a course each.  Course 1 is a green Greek salad and they have to make one of the breads.  Course 2 is whiting cooked in lamb fat and they’ll make the second bread.  Course 3 is an onion and leek dish that is served with lamb skewer.  Course 4 is dessert and is George’s version of a crème brulee served with a snow made in liquid nitrogen.

Jessica’s advantage is to pick which course she wants to do.  She decides on course 3, the lamb dish.  The other three decide through a knife pull.  Georgia picks first, then Billie, then Reynold last.  Georgia chooses the salad, Billie chooses the dessert, leaving Reynold with the fish course.  Billie says she chose the dessert because of how hard it was when she did it in the Marco service challenge.

There are 4½ hours of prep time before service starts.  George takes them into The Press Club kitchen and they each have the dish they’re cooking in front of them and the recipe and he tells them they have to go like the clappers.

Jessica starts on the lamb belly.  Reynold’s feeling under pressure about cooking the fish and George says it is the day for Reynold to prove something.  Reynold gets the treacle bread dough on, then gets on to the whiting.  Georgia gets on to her Easter bread dough.  Billie gets on to making tuile, she has them ready, but the tray is too big for the oven…oh well, time to do them again.

God love George in the kitchen, yelling and screaming and a lot of “Yes George” being said.  Reynold’s working rather slowly on the fish, he has to gut, scale and pin bone the fish.  Georgia starts on kale puree but it’s just water coming through the sieve, so she blends it more and it works.

Two hours down and Reynold is still working on the fish.  Jessica’s up to step 10 out of 53 and she’s starting to freak out.  Billie’s made ganache and starts whipping it, but is splits.  So she has to make another one, but it has to be in the fridge for an hour.

90 minutes to go and finally Reynold’s gutted and scaled the 20 fish, but he hasn’t filleted or pin-boned them.  George tells him not to worry about falling behind and to move and gives him a pep talk.  He starts making the black garlic puree.  Jessica starts on the fondant potatoes as well as the leek cannelloni which are filled with chicken mousse.  She has to do 40 cannelloni, but she only has enough mousse to do about 30, so George tells her to make more mousse.

One hour until service and Georgia has to go and get the herbs for her salad and goes over to the community garden at Federation Square and she runs there and back.  Reynold’s back to his fish and he’s struggling to fillet it.

Guests start to arrive upstairs and George says there are 15 minutes to go until service starts.  The contestants freak when they see who some of the guests are.  Somehow Jessica manages to scrape out chicken mousse enough to fill 37 cannelloni which is enough for the 35 diners and the 2 judges.

George says that when the dockets come in he wants Georgia to get the salad to the pass in four minutes.  Service starts plating the first of the salads.  George tells her that they look spectacular and if they all look like that he will love her.  Georgia is loving the pressure.

Billie goes back to her second lot of ganache and starts whipping it and it has worked this time.

Georgia’s dish is taken to the judges “monokhromos’ green Greek salad with kale puree…I’ll say our comments when watching it was that it looked pretty good and we would want to try it.  Gary says it looks beautiful and it is almost identical to George’s.  Gary thinks she has done well.  The guests all love it as well.

Georgia also made tsoureki.

George tells Reynold that it’s time for the fish soon and George says that Reynold may need to ask for some help from one of the others and Billie starts to help him with pin boning the fish then gets back to her dessert.  Jessica is also stressing about not having enough time and is starting to get overwhelmed.

Reynold is plating up the first of his whiting.  The fish is covered with lamb fat on both sides before cooking and Reynold’s stressing about cooking the fish perfectly.  The first plates go out and oh dear one of the guests sends his back because the fish is undercooked.  George just says to get another one and fix the problem.  The judges get the dish, ‘the whiting that wants to be lamb tzatzizi’…our comments were along the lines of what the heck and that it looked pretty good and when the first one went out raw one of the comments was “brother boy there better keep a better eye on that damn fish, he can’t be sending it out like that”.  Gary says it’s not as sharp, clean and shiny as George’s dish.  Matt says the finer details aren’t perfect.  Gary loves the black garlic and the yoghurt together and there isn’t enough lamb fat on it.

Reynold also made treacle bread.

Time for Jessica to start service and she’s having a teary.  Georgia says she’ll help her once she’s cleaned up.  She starts freaking out completely and says she can’t cook everything and plate everything.  One of our comments at the time was “gee sister girl’s already crying, just cook the damn food already girl”.  George says there are smiles from the customers and that’s what it’s about and she’s still having a moment while cooking and George and Georgia are helping her with George doing all the plating.  Then two of the leek cannelloni end up on the floor and she doesn’t have any spare…oh heck!!  We were saying that we knew she needed extras.  She tells George she doesn’t have any spare, he tell her to make the decision of what to do, cut them in half or not serve them, but she has to explain to the customers.  So off she goes to tell them that they have half leek cannelloni on their plate and amazingly she doesn’t cry in front of them.  George is proud because she stood up to them and tells her that she picked the hardest dish.  She gets back to the last of the dishes and Georgia keeps supporting her and plating up and George is still on his little pep rally.  The judges get the dish ‘the devil’s footsteps’ lamb with potato and leeks.  Gary says the onion is delicious as it the lamb, but he’s not keen on the fondant potato which needed another 15-20 minutes.  Matt loves the lamb and the onion puree and thinks if there were one or two less elements she would have done an amazing job.

Billie’s time to step up and she’s already plating the first desserts before George calls for them.  Then she asks for the liquid nitrogen and she’s worried because she’s never used it before.  She puts on the goggles and gloves and starts making the snow.  She gets through service quite easily.  The judges get the dish, crème brulee a la grecque with commandaria snow.  While we were watching one of the others was all over the joint about the liquid nitrogen as they’d never seen it used with food before, but they were quickly impressed.  Then when they saw the tuile melted at the table we were all excited about the dish.  Matts says it looks amazing and Gary says he had no problem finishing it at all.  Gary says the only thing was the mascarpone cream was slightly heavy, but that’s a small thing.

Service is over and George gives all the contestants a beer and that even though he doesn’t drink beer he’s having one with them because he needs it as well.

Decision time…Gary says it was an unforgettable experience for all four of the contestants.  George says about how great it was to see Georgia and Billie help Jessica.  Matt says that Reynold and Jessica are into the elimination…our comments at the time were along the lines of “f… me dead, sister girl’s crying again, she’s got to stop that crying already”.  Then says that every table said the entrée and dessert were the stand out dishes of the day.  Matt says they loved one dish slightly more than the other, it was sweet, salty, a little acidic, but it was also still very very green and Georgia’s in shock when he says that Georgia has won the challenge and is through to the semi final.


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