Raise your glasses for the fan favorite who hasn’t made it to the final five

Six contestants have battled through to the week of the finals and, as punishment for their arrogance, are sent to Tasmania. Once upon a time this island was the destination of the worst criminals in the British Empire, but at least they didn’t have to cook oysters when they got there.

Tassie tricks Jock, Melissa, and Andy into an oyster tasting.

Tassie tricks Jock, Melissa, and Andy into an oyster tasting. Photo: Supplied

On a frozen and desolate shoreline, the judges greet the six finalists and inform them that they are here to recreate Vikings Series 6. But first, they must get out on the water and meet Giles, a local lunatic who has dedicated his life to growing aquatic ooze. Giles teaches the cooks all about oysters, and they are fascinated to learn that oysters are actually very uninteresting. The contestants must then remove six oysters from the cages where Giles is keeping them as slaves and cook them.

Julie has immunity today, so she gets the best gift any cook can get: not having to handle oysters. The other five must first present their six oysters, dressed however they like: smart casual, evening wear, bathing suit, whatever. They have half an hour to do this, and the worst three dishes will go to the second round, where they have 75 minutes to cook more oysters however they want. The worst cook in the second round will be sent home, which isn’t such a dire prospect given that they’re currently in Tasmania.

MasterChef 2022 - the album, coming soon.

MasterChef 2022 – the album, coming soon. Photo: Supplied

The challenge takes place at Devil’s Corner Winery, named for the fact that Satan lives there. They have to cook outside, which is terribly crisp and invigorating and kind of stupid because why would you? The five wannabes immediately start doing what cooks do when trying to make oysters vaguely resemble food.

Just seconds after cooking, anyone playing the MasterChef drinking game is forced to grab a drink when Sarah mentions Indian flavors. Meanwhile, Keyma is shelling an oyster for the first time and discovering that the process isn’t worth it. As the only contestant willing to tell the truth, that oysters are disgusting, Keyma is at a disadvantage, because today’s challenge focuses heavily on lying to himself and others. Everyone else, continuing to pretend that oysters are somehow good, are happy to rack their brains.

Half an hour goes by pretty quickly, though it feels a lot longer because we get to listen to Sarah talk about her growing confidence and classic French techniques, an experience that always results in enormous time dilation. However, eventually the challenge ends and the judges risk their lives by tasting the oysters.

Billie has dressed her oysters with chicken fat. They are disgusting and the judges love them. Daniel has dressed her oysters with smoked soy sauce and coconut vinaigrette. They are absolutely dirty and the judges love them. Alvin has dressed her oysters with brown butter. They’re disgustingly horrible and the judges are like, “hey, whatever.” Sarah has dressed her oysters with pretentiousness. They’re completely horrible and the judges think they’re kind of kind. Keyma has dressed her oysters with… I don’t know, something yellow? they are vile. The judges are confused. “If the passion fruit had been more tart and less shiny, that might have given us a greener base,” says Melissa, showing that she has been out in the cold too long and has become delusional.

Mel is right, you can never stop watching this.

Mel is right, you can never stop watching this. Photo: Supplied

In the end, Dan and Sarah are safe from round two, leaving Keyma, Billie, and Alvin to celebrate oysters on a plate, a task similar to celebrating woodworm in a log cabin. Keyma begins with a soft-focus flashback, in which it is revealed that in Venezuela she was an engineer, but for the sake of her family she left her job and made her ultimate sacrifice: shelling oysters.

Billie is disappointed: she expected to win in the first round, but it’s not the first time her inability to be Sarah has cost her dearly. She gets to work on an oyster custard, which is the most horrible combination of words anyone has ever heard.

“This is a very interesting cook,” says Andy, hoping to convince himself. Melissa asks the other judges what they would cook if they were in the second round. Both Andy and Jock agree that they would do something about the oysters. Melissa agrees that this would be smart.

Alvin is making an oyster omelette, which doesn’t sound as scary as oyster custard, but it comes close. “It’s so pedestrian, but tasty,” says Alvin, knowing that pedestrian food is always a crowd pleaser. Andy turns up the heat by telling Alvin that her dish is Melissa’s mother’s “death row dish”, the dish she would cook if she had to execute a criminal using food. Can Alvin make his truly lethal omelette?

Keyma is stressed as she has never made her plate with oysters before. “I have a heavy feeling in my stomach and it’s not nice,” she says, suggesting that she has actually been eating her oysters instead of cooking them. Meanwhile, the judges consult again. “You know what’s so good about this?” Jock says. “It’s oysters,” he answers to himself, summing things up pretty neatly.

Alvin has all his items perfectly set up and he’s feeling pretty good. “I’m in a good place,” he says, having forgotten that he is in Tasmania. Sudden disaster: his wok doesn’t heat up properly. This is because they are cooking in a field in the Antarctic circle, a location selected to test the contestants’ ability to handle an environment that no professional chef has to work in. Alvin may have chosen the wrong dish to make in a frozen field.

But at least he has the consolation that Keyma is panicking too. The taste of her oysters doesn’t hit her hard, which is obviously a good thing, but she’s concerned nonetheless. She begins to panic. Melissa reaches over and grabs her wrists, which some might find comforting, I suppose. “You’re a woman,” Melissa tells Keyma, and finding this impossible to argue with, Keyma moves on.

“You’re in the final stretch!” Melissa yells with ten minutes to go – a line that lacks the mischievous humor of earlier yells like “You’re coming out of your shells” and “Why don’t you all shell yourself?”

Meanwhile, Alvin appears to have made some scrambled eggs. “Everything is merging into one big mess,” he says. Fortunately, this is an oyster challenge, and oysters are inherently big disasters. What better way to celebrate disgusting grime than by mixing it up into an even bigger pile of disgusting grime?

Billie is very happy with her work. She’s almost done and her oysters smell like smoke, which is at least better than smelling like oysters. Also, unlike the other two, she hasn’t had a full-scale panic attack in the past hour, so she’s sitting pretty. She admits there’s a risk of undercooked or overcooked custard, but since this is also true of literally everything that’s ever been cooked anywhere, it’s probably not worth worrying about.

The cook is done and now it’s time for the judges to once again pretend that the oysters are food. They eat Billie’s custard, who worries that it is too firm. Jock thinks it’s fantastic. Billie’s oysters are a triumph, and everyone agrees that considering the dish’s inherent ickiness, it’s great.

Next, Alvin. He breaks down in tears when he admits that he is always surprised when the judges like his food, because he has been trying to poison them since episode one. They taste his oyster omelette. Not good: the too cold wok has dealt a terrible blow.

Finally, Keyma, who hates oysters and thus the only sane person on the show. Her dish is an oyster pisca Andina, which is Spanish for “I wish I didn’t have to put oysters in this.” She breaks down crying too, thinking of her family and how much they hate oysters too, and how much she misses being in an environment where there are no oysters. Melissa tells him that it makes her very happy to see Keyma cry. “There’s a lot that’s been put into this plate,” says Andy. Then there’s a commercial break, after which, Andy says, “There’s been a lot of stuff put on this plate.” The judges eat Keyma’s oysters and declare them wonderful beyond her wildest dreams.

Sadly, this means it’s the end of the road for Alvin, but at least he has the comfort of knowing he was only eliminated after being forced to cook something that isn’t technically food. He also has the consolation of not having to stay in Tasmania, so all in all, it could really be a win for him.

Tune in tomorrow, when hopefully we can all leave behind the memory of adults willingly ingesting invertebrate mucus.

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