The Hotplate…grand final

Nothing like a bit of dramatic music to start the show, with a red carpet entry for the two teams that are competing in the grand final.

Then a bit of a recap of all the teams and the competition so far.  Finally we hear they have 4 hours to cook the 4 courses and they’ll be judged only by Tom, Scott and Guillaume with scores out of 10.

Vanessa goes on to say that they want to win for their son, which is all good until Marie gets all teary and says she wants to win because she’s pregnant with a little girl and Vanessa all worried about Marie now and tells her to take it easy.

Emi and Marie are doing a crab chawanmushi appetiser, which is a Japanese egg custard, and a smoked eel teriyaki for entrée, for main they’re doing duck breast with kombu broth and a Bird’s nest matcha mess dish for dessert, a take on Eton mess.

Aron and Vanessa are doing smoked salmon mousse with dill for appetiser, prawn ravioli with shellfish cream and butter poached marron for entree, venison with sweetbreads for main and caramel parfait with peanut dacquoise for dessert.

The other contestants arrive all frocked up and yes Tania is wearing leopard print and then Marie tells them she’s pregnant and Phillippe asks Vanessa if she has any news and she tells him her and Aron might start practising after tonight.

They start cooking and Vanessa is struggling to use the machines and isn’t sure what she’s doing because she can’t find anything…strangely enough the butter would be in the fridge hon.  You shouldn’t need to ask your husband where it is.  Then she gets on his back because he’s taking too long, bless him for telling her that it’s her fault because he’s having to help her.

Marie gets the chawanmushi on and halfway through the cooking time they’re not set at all and doesn’t want to tell Marie, but of course Marie notices that Emi’s panicking and tries to get her to settle down and then they start talking in Japanese, thank God for subtitles!!  Then she realises she didn’t put enough eggs, there’s 30 minutes to go, get a new mixture on honey, they cook for 20 minutes, make a decision and make it now!!  Batch number 2 gets into the steamer and they’re panicking about cooking 10 at once instead of the normal 6, oh well time is of the essence.

Aron and Vanessa make a green chive oil and then get onto some fried potato bits to use as garnish.  10 minutes to go and amazingly Emi’s chawanmushi is setting.  Aron and Vanessa get on with the plating, they cut out a pretty circle of salmon mousse and then start fluffing about.  Emi and Marie top the chawanmushi with spanner crab, roe, white seaweed and some stock, then they realise they haven’t added shallots on them.

Time is up then Emi and Marie’s husbands walk through the door, followed by Aron’s mum and sister.  They run over and hug, hug, kiss, kiss and then race back to serve the food to the three judges that are sitting in their own private little room away from the others.  I think Christina’s palate was overly confused by the chawanmushi because of the crab being in the egg custard.  Tom rattles off a lot of adjectives about how great the chawanmushi is, Guillaume says how perfectly cooked it was and they set the bar high for the next dish and Scott loves it.  Phillippe enjoys the salmon mousse, Conrad thinks it is elegant, but says the chawanmushi was exquisite and is sitting on the fence.  Scott thought the mousse was fantastic, Guillaume wanted some more smokiness in the mousse and wanted his palate excited…I think he was channelling Christina.

Aron and Vanessa start on the entrée, with Aron working on a shellfish cream and poor Vanessa struggles to get the Thermomix going.  Then Aron goes on about having an Italian heritage and gets onto making a pasta which Christina and Tania love no end.  Christina is struggling that Emi and Marie are using foods that aren’t familiar with her palate, oh honey suck it up and move on.  Then she stresses because they’ve bought pre-smoked eel and they’re adding more smokiness to it.

The judges are talking about the entrees and Scott’s worried that Aron and Vanessa are using too much seafood in their dish.  Then he starts on preparing the marron and Vanessa bless her says that marron rhymes with Aron and then freaks about the poop chute while he’s pulling it out and asks what it is.  The judges talk about Emi and Marie’s entrée and wonder if it will be done over charcoal on the special grill.  Oh yes, Marie has her white charcoal and then puts the eel over the coals and next thing you know there is smoke going everywhere!!!  With a minute to go they’re plating madly and Aron is straining the shellfish cream over each plate.  Marie is sounding like a broken record repeating everything, which makes Emi notice how stressed Marie is, honestly each line is said over and over and over and over and over and over again.

They take the dishes to the judges and Marie’s not feeling confident after seeing the dish that Aron and Vanessa cooked.  Liam’s comment on Aron and Vanessa’s dish is “this selfish queen loves the shellfish queen” and Phillippe compares it to a first kiss.  Guillaume says that Aron showed technique and knowledge with how well the marron was cooked, but he wanted bread to scrape up the sauce.  Scott goes on about Aron’s “noona”…mate it’s nonna, not noona…but anyway.  The judges taste Emi and Marie’s dish and the music goes up and up.  Then we see the husbands who are over excited.  Christina thinks it’s too dry, Lozz liked the eel and now Liam is being the fence-sitter for the first time and isn’t happy about it.  Scott loved the salad and thought it cut through the eel, but his eel was overcook and a touch dry for him…only a few mere seconds though, but honestly how can you tell it’s a few seconds dry.  Tom says that the eel was great, but the ravioli was perfection.

They get onto main and poor Nols cops the wrath of the conversation as Aron and Vanessa are cooking venison rare and sweetbreads…in other words Bambi and offal…but he’s not worried about Nols.  Marie gets the duck onto the coals to grill it and says when once she starts she won’t be able to talk for a while…well that’s a bonus right now.  Then there’s smoke everywhere and Aron and Vanessa can’t even see Emi and Marie on the other side of the kitchen.  Finally they’re into the oven so the smoke settles down.  Then Aron gets onto cooking the venison and he says he’s never cooked it before…honestly why not practise before.  Emi and Marie add Japanese artichoke to their pan of vegies, but they say it looks like witchetty grubs, and they say it won’t be to Christina’s palate.  Then they add some lichen which can only picked off a cliff once a year and only grow a millimetre a year.  Aron’s trying to cook sweetbreads and oil goes everywhere, onto his face and all over Vanessa.  Then bless her she keeps saying they’re cooking veal, he keeps saying venison, but she’s too stressed to remember that it’s venison.  Marie’s cutting the duck, but her hand seizes up, she had arthritis in it and it’s making it almost impossible to cut the duck.  Vanessa’s too busy yelling at Aron to hurry up with a few minutes to go and she’s left to plating while he’s got 6 pans on the go.  She asks if it looks okay on the plate and he doesn’t even look over, she thinks it’s like when she asks him how she looks, well honey you should be used to it.

Time is up and Aron’s worried about how Emi and Marie’s dish looks.  Emi and Marie take their dish in and they feel super-confident and pleased with how they did.  Naturally enough there’s some Japanese music playing while the judges pour their broth and try their duck.  Emi and Marie’s husbands love the dish.  Nols loves the dish and Conrad is completely in awe.  As for Liam he’s lost for words, but can’t stop talking, “there’s a traffic jam of superlatives in my mouth and I can’t stop choking” and that’s just about the broth.  Scott thinks the duck was cooked perfectly, Guillaume loved the vegetables.  Tom says the first taste of the broth was too salty, then it took over his mouth and changed and it rendered his speechless, which Scott says it didn’t…he’s as speechless as Liam was.  They all try the venison and Aron’s mother comments that Vanessa has stepped up and Nols is looking for a bit of cooked venison, but her palate isn’t coping.  Scott says the venison was cooked to perfection, Guillaume said the sweetbread was missing the wow factor.

The teams get on to making dessert.  Marie gets onto making a yuzu curd for it.  As for Aron and Vanessa they’ve got it all made because Vanessa worked on it earlier, so they have to plate it up.  But then they can’t work out how to cut the parfait or the dacquoise.  Vanessa just wants Aron to hurry up and tells him to shut up…gee honey take a breath already.  Emi puts dragon fruit jam on the plate, the cream, then yuzu curd, then strawberries, then they put matcha powder and Marie keeps telling Emi to not put too much on there.  Aron decides to put chocolate on top of the dessert, he melted it and put it on acetate, but it keeps breaking while he’s getting it off after cutting it in circles, so he decides to shave it and now thinks it looks incredible and sexy…umm I like chocolate but don’t think it looks sexy on anything.

Time is up and they’re all relieved, especially Vanessa.  Emi and Marie take their dessert to the judges and are worried that their dessert is rather simple.  Aron and Vanessa take their dessert in and think it is the best dish they’ve cooked so far.  Emi and Marie’s dish is tasted first and Nols loves it and goes on about the lemon curd, Liam thinks it is elegant and loves a hot mess…oh bless him.  Tom loves the think wafers of meringue and Scott thinks it is miles ahead of some of the other desserts Emi and Marie have done, but didn’t get the jam, Guillaume wanted to see more risk.  Aron and Vanessa’s dessert is tried and personally I don’t think it looks sexy at all.  Phillippe liked the parfait, but says he won’t talk about the dacquoise after saying it’s sticky…oh Phillippe.  Christina thinks it’s like a deconstructed snickers bar and is set to inhale it.  Tom says it was on the brink of being totally sweet, Guillaume liked the dacquoise.

Scoring time…just get on with it, the show’s already been going for nearly 2 hours…but no, they start with talking about all of the dishes to the two teams first and Tom nearly gives Marie a heart attack straight up, she’s pregnant mate, settle back on the heart attack moments for her.  They speak for almost ten minutes and then go to an ad break…just give us the scores already, I’m over waiting.

After what seems like the longest ad break in history we get back to the show.  Aron and Vanessa get 7/10 from Guillaume, they get 8/10 from Tom and 9/10 from Scott giving them 24/30 and bless her Marie is the first to say well done to them.

Emi and Marie get 9/10 from Tom, they get 8/10 from Guillaume putting them on 17…they need an 8 or more to win.  They get 9/10 from Scott and win on 26/30!!!  Thank goodness for that!!!


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