MasterChef Australia, Season 4, Episode 70 Recap - Grand Finale
In the epic two and a half hour season finale, we open with a tribute to those that have fallen over the past twelve weeks. The final three, Audra, Andy and Cupcake Barbie spend the entire first ten minutes of the episode with their backstories and a montage of how far they’ve come.
A roar from the balcony filled with the eliminated contestants greet them as they step into the MasterChef kitchen for one last time.
There will be three rounds in this finale. Round 1 will have them cooking hot entrées for 35 people each. These people know their food intimately. It’s not their families again. This time they’re going feed MasterChef fans.
They will have three hours of mise en plus and thirty minutes for service. To help them plate up during service, they get to pick two eliminated contestants. Cupcake Barbie makes a couple of solid choices in Mindy and Kylie. Audra picks Amina and TK, a weak plating team, given Amina’s poor presentation skills and TK’s early exit. She’s obviously gone with her friends. Andy picks his friends as well, Ben and Beau, but he’s an excellent leader and at least they can plate, especially Beau. He says he would’ve chosen Emma but the smart player in him says she’d be an emotional mess.
The judges will score their dishes and the lowest score is out of the first round and out of contention for the title. Matt Moran will be keeping an eye on things.
Andy’s cooking seared tuna, confit fennel and squid ink & cauliflower purée. Moran likes his concept but the squid ink purée is iffy. The flavours may not gel.
Audra’s entree is a Thai egg net ma hor salad and sambal prawns. Ma hor is a minced pork and peanut salad.
CB is cooking beef with parsley purée, horseradish cream and sweet potato crisps. The judges say it sounds like a main course. She’s adamant that it’ll be presented as an entrée.
Audra struggles to produce egg nets that hold their shape. When they come out the pan they break apart. She eventually manages to have enough prepped.
The guests arrive. There’s over one hundred of them, so it’s a never ending procession that drift past the finalists as they’re still cooking.
CB’s biggest concern is her beef being overcooked. When she slices into it, it’s perfectly pink.
Audra’s plating her complex starter and the only hot element is her prawns. As predicted in my last post, Audra’s cracking under the pressure. Amina and TK fumble their way through the plating.
The judges taste CB’s starter. They’re wowed by its appearance. Their initial worries about it being a main disappear. The beef is juicy and pink and the other elements work great with it. The only thing missing is a bit more seasoning.
Next is Andy’s. Again, he’s nailed presentation. The issue with it is there’s a very big slab of tuna on the plate which throws off the balance of the other smaller elements. The squid ink & cauliflower purée is a hit.
Audra’s egg net with ma hor and prawns arrive. It’s fresh and smells great. Preston immediately questions whether it’s a hot entrée or not. It does, however, taste fantastic.
Time for results.
Audra’s dish gets loads of praise for it’s complexity of flavours. However it wasn’t a hot entrée like the brief. Her score is 22 points. Her shoulders slump in disappointment.
Cupcake Barbie earns a 7 from Gary and couple of 9s from George and Matt, with a total of 25.
Andy gets a 7 from Gary and two 8s, giving him 23 points. Andy and CB are the 2012 finalists!
Audra’s the first to congratulate him. Bowing out, Gary says what a great cook she is and how consistent she’s been throughout the competition. She gushes loads of love and gratitude, ending with a leaping hug into the arms of Preston, with legs wrapped around him.
Round 2 will see them cooking mains in an Invention Test. Their brief is to cook Australia’s national dish with a strong story backing it. Their ninety minutes kick off.
Andy’s cooking a modern seafood basket while CB is making roast rack of lamb with lemon myrtle fondant potatoes and grilled vegetables.
Smoking meat for the first time, CB says she doesn’t belong there if she doesn’t even try. Kylie says that Ben’s more stressed than Andy. He wants so badly to leap over and help his bromantic partner.
Gary tells CB that she should’ve rendered the fat off her lamb before encrusting it in macadamias. She’ll have to live with it. She takes her lamb from the oven with ten minutes left to rest it but it’s still undercooked, so it goes back in.
With five minutes left, plating starts. CB’s lamb is out resting. Andy is second guessing his plating.
Time to taste.
CB brings her lamb to the table. Her story is about growing up on her mum’s property surrounded by lemon myrtle and other native plants, eating meat and three veg. They notice the lamb is undercooked and the fat hasn’t rendered down. Her potatoes are excellent but it’s not an inventive dish.
Andy’s story is about his fishing with his dad as a child. He also acknowledges that his plating isn’t up to his standard. All the elements are delicious and perfectly cooked. The crumbed abalone and oyster emulsion is the stand-out.
At the end of Round 2, CB scores 21 points. Andy gets two 9s and a perfect 10 from Gary, earning 28. He keeps Gary’s scorecard as a souvenir. That gives CB a total of 46 points and Andy 51.
Since they cooked entrée and main already, Andy jokingly yearns for a cheese platter to finish off. But of course it’s not that simple. Round 3 will be a dessert. And they’re told it’s on par with the Snow Egg.
It’s a Pressure Test set by Christine Manfield. The cloche comes off and it’s a Gaytime Goes Nuts. It’s two layers of ice cream, served on a crumbed biscuit bed, surrounded by a delicate tuille and topped with caramelised nuts and hazelnut mousse.
They get three hours to prepare the elements. After the clock stops, they get additional time to plate up.
Andy’s got the disadvantage against the Dessert Queen. He’s never made ice cream, honeycomb or caramel before. He says he’ll have to follow the recipe to the tee.
Andy realises that he left gelatine out of his hazelnut mousse and has to redo it. CB’s mousse is lumpy so she needs to redo hers also.
Now onto the most difficult part, the tuille. It’s very technical and involved. He nails his first one as Gary stands by, observing. He gets the hang of it and pumps out more perfect shells.
CB nails her first one. She struggles with the remaining ones, not maintaining the perfect temperature, so they crack.
With five minutes left, Andy finds his caramel has split. He quickly fixes it using Ben’s advice by adding some water to re-emulsify it.
Time’s up. The two MasterChef titans embrace. They don’t have to cook any more.
CB addresses the judges. She acknowledges that only two of her four tuilles worked out. When they taste, they note that the ice cream is smooth and light but the caramel isn’t as good as Christine’s.
Andy enters with a confident swagger. Gary asks what he’ll do now the competition is over. He says he has a long way to go still but can’t wait to continue his learning. He also says in his video diary that not having a background in desserts has been an advantage. He’s distanced from it and just followed the recipe instead of second guessing his instincts.
When the dessert arrives, the judges love the consistency. All are perfectly presented. It looks just like Christine’s. They taste. The caramel ice cream is delicious and the tuille is perfect. The mousse is slightly dense, though, and the caramel on the nuts isn’t quite right.
Final results! Before they crown the winner, Gary welcomes the chefs and past MasterChef winners that have inspired and mentored them throughout the season. Then, their families enter, led by Julia’s sweet little sister, Katie.
Andy’s mum is back and cute as ever. She’s full of pride and joy. We also get to see his dad and, I’m assuming, his sister.
Julia’s joined by her husband, mum and sister. She tells a story of how excited her little sister has been about coming for the final. Katie was looking forward to meeting Gary, George, Matt and Matt “Meringue”. The crowd burst into laughter, including Moran himself. George says they’ve wanted to call him that since forever.
We get to see how much Julia loves her sister and how protective she is. She then genuinely wishes Andy luck and gives him another hug. Why did the producers wait until this long for her to reveal this side of her? I’m sure she would’ve been way more popular had we seen other moments of the “nice” Julia.
Now it’s time to finally reveal. Julia scores 22 points for the dessert. Her grand total is 68/90. Andy needs only 18 points to win. He earns a 9 from Matt. George stretches out the tension and says he needs 9 to win and gives him an 8. Gary immediately reveals he gave an 8 also. That’s 76/90. He’s won it! Andy Allen is the MasterChef for 2012!
He has won $100,000, a book deal and work experience at some of Australia’s top restaurants.
He’s speechless for a few moments but goes on to thank the judges, chefs and the contestants, he then takes it back. They’re not contestants, they’re friends. Aw, shucks.
Preston says that Julia has always excelled in the commercial kitchens and proven herself as one of the most generous team players ever on the show. Again, aside from sharing her sauce with Wade, the producers didn’t show much of her generous side during the show. Matt continues, saying she’s won $15,000. She’s shocked. Then Adriano Zumbo has a little something to add. The crowd hush, excited for the inevitable. Our favourite introverted pastry maestro offers her a paid apprenticeship at a Zumbo kitchen. Luckily, there’s one in Brisbane.
The love continues. Audra wins $5,000.
With one final drop of confetti, MasterChef 2012 comes to a close. Christine’s parting words to Andy, “Any time you’re free, come and make some Gaytime.” I couldn’t have thought for a more fitting ending.