Masterchef has issued a real challenge to the contestants this week. They have to cook with the things that REAL people have in their kitchens. So gone are all the fancy schmancy gadgets like the Thermomixes and the blast chillers and the ice-cream churners. The chefs have locked them all away in a giant cage in the middle of the kitchen, taunting all the cooks.
Wunderkind Callum is particularly lost. He’s used to pureeing everything, mixing in it with gelatin and syringing the mix into cold water so that it forms little green and orange balls, then spraying it with a semi transluscent foam from a soda syphon. It’s called molecular gastronomy, but it looks like a plate full of frog vomit.
But no syringes nor soda syphons for Callum tonight, nor a blast chiller to cool Michelle’s pastry, so all the poor little chefs are all in a quandry. One poor lass is so distracted by the lack of gadgets that she forgets to turn on one she does have – the oven.
They have curiously been allowed to keep their mix masters. Well lucky them. I suppose I’m one of those “real people” they are trying to stoop down to, but I don’t have a mix master. Actually, I lie. I do have a mix master. I inherited it from my mother-in-law, it’s nearly sixty years old, and every time I turn it on it shorts out the television. I can’t bear to throw it out because of how I acquired it, and it’s got those great white glass bowls that are truly classic. But I can’t cook with it, and at five hundred dollars upwards, I won’t be replacing it too soon either. I suffice with an electric hand mixer I bought at Woolies for fourteen bucks.
So it got me thinking that Masterchef producers haven’t really thought about this challenge too much. How about setting them a challenge where they really are using things that real people have in their kitchens? Here’s a few more items from mine to get them started:
- A warped spring form pan. It usually goes down something like this. You are cooking for some sort of special occasion. You have bought ingredients that have cost a monthly mortgage payment. You do all your mise en place and all you have to do is “grease and line a spring form pan”. And it is then that you find that while the base is still perfectly circular, the wall (aka the bit that keeps the cake in) looks like it has been run over by a bus and no coaxing, adding extra baking paper lining or pressing it back into shape will ever make the damned thing latch on to the base. So it’s down to the shop to buy a new spring form pan, but do you ever throw out the old one? Oh no. It always seems to make its way back into the cupboard so that it will be the one you pull out next time.
- A non-stick frying pan that everything sticks to.
- Six loose-based tartlet tins, but only five loose bases.
- A saucepan that was a gift from your parents when you first moved out of home, the handle of which is constantly loose despite any attempt to tighten it.
- A favourite knife with the tip missing from that time you tried to wrench it out of a particularly obstinate Queensland Blue pumpkin.
- An entire cupboard full of Tupperware without a single matching lid.
- A zester that always has a bit of pith from whenever you last zested stuck to it. Probably a bit of knuckle-skin as well.
- A pyrex measuring jug that you have had for so long that most of the measuring marks have worn off it.
- A pasta maker which is missing the assembly instructions.
- A set of battery operated kitchen scales that always has flat batteries when you actually need to weigh something.
So come on Masterchef. Let’s have a REAL challenge. It could just be the thing that would reduce Callum to gelatinous little tears.
And if you’re after an ideas person for Season 2018, I’m open to all offers.