Food fight


The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

MASTERCHEF AUS­TRALIA Tonight, 7.30pm, Ten

TWO dishes, worlds apart, sum up MasterChef judge Gary Me­hi­gan’s fifth sea­son on the food re­al­ity show.

The first took him to the depths of de­spair. The sec­ond re­minded him why he loved the show.

‘‘It was one of the very worst dishes on the show for all sea­sons,’’ says Me­hi­gan of 2013 con­tes­tant Noe­lene’s stir fry, plated up when the show filmed for a week in the Barossa Val­ley.

‘‘It looked like a caul­dron of puppy dogs’ tails. It was aw­ful, this mish-mash of strange flavours, and I told her, too.

‘‘I re­mem­ber look­ing at (fel­low judges) Ge­orge (Calom­baris) and Matt (Pre­ston) and think­ing, ‘What are we do­ing? This is ter­ri­ble’.

‘‘Then, at the other end of the spec­trum, you hit the fi­nal, where they are all just putting up amaz­ing dishes and you’re think­ing: ‘There it is, bang’. You can never have 24 su­per­stars but you can have three.’’

Me­hi­gan’s good-dish-ap­palling-dish mo­ments pretty much en­cap­su­late

MasterChef’s lat­est sea­son.

The rat­ings for what was once a Chan­nel 10 jug­ger­naut have far from set the world on fire. And in early episodes, many fans de­spaired at a crop of hope­fuls who seemed, as the food fail­ures mounted up, barely able to boil an egg.

It was more mas­ter-mess, than


Me­hi­gan blames a high-qual­ity crop of con­tes­tants in sea­son four.

‘‘We’d been spoiled by this bril­liant tal­ent that came through fairly well-formed at the start of that sea­son, and sud­denly, we had this new crop of prep­pies,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s like be­ing a teacher. The new crop comes in and some can spell their name, and oth­ers can barely write one let­ter.

‘‘But that’s what has al­ways been at the core of the show – watch­ing peo­ple with po­ten­tial de­velop into some­thing ex­cep­tional by the end of the sea­son.

‘‘So to give Noe­lene some credit, she did a dish of dumplings in the Top 10 – and it was chalk and cheese.

‘‘Go­ing from a dish that was ill-con­ceived to a so­phis­ti­cated, well thought-out, beau­ti­fully pre­sented dish you’d be happy to eat in a restau­rant – that’s what this show is about.’’

As tonight’s grand fi­nal looms, Me­hi­gan says the cream has again risen to the top, with the fi­nal three – Samira El Khafir, Lyn­ton Tapp and Emma Dean – more than pass­ing the taste test.

Me­hi­gan was happy to be proven wrong by cow­boy Tapp, who went to school in Toowoomba, the only male among the fi­nal­ists.

‘‘ You can never have 24 su­per­stars but you can have three’’

SUM­MING UP: Gary Me­hi­gan.

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