Who’ll get the chop?
IN a season which has seen a contestant booted for cheating, the Dalai Lama drop in for a bite, a trip to the Big Apple and claims of favouritism, tonight’s announcement of the MasterChef Australia 2011 winner could almost seem an afterthought.
But for judges Gary Mehigan and Matt Moran, it’s anything but.
Moran confesses he likes one of the final dishes so much, he has taken home the recipe.
Tonight’s MasterChef finale is an act in three challenges and two parts. The last two contestants standing hit our screens from 6.30pm to 7.30pm for two of the three final challenges. TDT will then broadcast The Renovators until 8.30pm before returning to the MasterChef kitchen for the final challenge.
Then the judges will give their verdict, bestowing $ 100,000 and a cook-book deal on the winner.
But win or lose, Mehigan and Moran say this season has been one for many of the contestants’ own bucket lists. Posing for a final verdict shot on the eve of the finale piece de resistance, the pair reflected on a season in which Matt Beyer was given the boot for having a phone in the MasterChef mansion while contestants ( and, after that particular episode, a few fearless home cooks) tackled the most difficult burger recipe ever – a Heston Blumenthal creation that required not only making your own cheese and burger bun, but triple-cooking the chips to go with it. Along the way, Moran and Mehigan met more of the world’s top chefs than they have encountered in a combined 45-plus years as chefs – the likes of Blumenthal, Nigella Lawson and David Chang. And then, there was the Dalai Lama. ‘‘ That was one of the most unbelievable experiences,’’ Mehigan says.
‘‘ I mean, when you’re asked that question about who you’d want at the table at your dream last dinner party, well, the Dalai Lama is on it for me.’’
Taking contestants to the food mecca that is New York was another season high.
‘‘ I think for anyone, any chance to spend time in that city is a highlight,’’ Mehigan says.
The pair says the hardest contestant to see exit the show was loveable lifeguard and one-time favourite Hayden Quinn, who is already in talks for his own TV show and a book deal.
‘‘ He’s a huge talent and a great bloke. He took the departure on the chin,’’ Moran says.
Mehigan predicts that Quinn ‘‘ will be an absolute star’’.
‘‘ He’s the new Jules Lund or Curtis Stone, or the Aussie Manu Feildel,’’ he says.
For Mehigan and Moran the judging role is an extension of, rather than a move away from, their careers in the food industry. Both still spend time in their restaurants. ‘‘ Kitchens are a young man’s sport. This keeps us fresh,’’ Mehigan says.
‘‘ Each year towards the end of the series the contestants delight in pitting George [ Calombaris, fellow judge] and I up against each other in a Masterclass.
‘‘ What they don’t get is that it’s what we’ve been doing for years and love doing. It’s like coming home.’’
DEBBIE SCHIPP MasterChef Australia grand final TDT, tonight 6.30pm and 8.30pm