It’s finals week at Kitchen HQ and first up to the chopping block are the quiet achievers, Paul and Blair, and visitors of 42 countries, Chloe and Kelly. Obviously, whoever can take the heat and/or doesn’t break down into tears will be through to the My Kitchen Rules grand final.
Pete says the cook-off will be about confidence and Kelly immediately gives herself a mental high five. “Confidence could be your biggest weapon in the kitchens today,” he says, and Kelly’s grin begins to rival that of the Cheshire Cat. “I think we’re feeling pretty confident,” Chloe reiterates.
Both teams must produce a definitive, three-course meal which will then, again, be blind tasted by the guest judges, as well as Pete and Manu. It’s been three seconds since they’ve stepped into the kitchen and Chloe and Kelly have already popped a bottle of champagne.
“We like cooking with premium produce,” they clarify. For entree they’re making lobster with smoked salmon and lotus root, pesce acqua pazza with confit tomatoes for main and strawberry champagne trifle for dessert.
“It’s not a trifle … it’s a fancy trifle...”
“You can be twinning today!” Helena and Vikki shout from the sidelines. To Paul and Blair though, obviously.
For entree they’re making pink snapper with tomato and lemongrass broth. They’re doing a kangaroo fillet with baby beetroot and blueberry sauce for main and an espresso parfait with sesame seed wafer for dessert.
Cue the first dad joke of the night: “Decimated or dessicated?” Paul asks Blair of his packet of coconut. “Decimated, mate, it’s had a hard life.”
Chloe and Kelly are throwing flathead tails into their broth to add a little bit of shine to their “crazy water”.
“I’m just so obsessed with flavour being bold and beautiful,” Kelly explains. “All this fishy business is getting annoying.” Nicely done, producers.
Once again, Blair is in charge of the desserts after doing a stellar job during their ultimate instant restaurant round. Helena and Vikki now refer to him as the “little domestic goddess”. Pete calls him the “dessert king” - Paul even crowns him with a pot.
Back in Chloe and Kelly’s kitchen, they’re yet to start on their entree. Onto the lobster they get! “It’s a premium product and we need to show it our absolute respect,” Kelly says as she decimates the crustacean.
Watching her trying to chop her way through the lobster shell is both hilarious and frustrating. How embarrassment. But who can blame her - they usually do this on a boat back home and not in a plebeian kitchen.
“We’re in a world of hurt if we don’t cook well,” Paul realises. Yes. It means you’ll go home. He’s preparing the tomato and lemongrass broth for the entree and admits it’s an easy process (but the flavours are hard to balance). “A broth can look simple but I’m pretty confident that we’ve come far enough in the kitchen where this entree and this broth are gonna taste pretty bang on.”
Onto the next step and Paul is scoring the fish so that they don’t curl up in the pan and will cook evenly. What happens? They curl up. Classic reality TV plot twist. “The fish are just curling up, it’s ridiculous.” He seems to have solved the problem by placing a pot on top of the fish to weigh it down. Practically ingenious.
As Paul and Blair begin plating their dish, Chloe and Kelly are still chopping and stirring and not plating. “They’re just standing there not really doing much,” comment Bree and Jessica. By being perfectionists and saying they need more time to plate and perfect their dish, it’s funny how they’re doing anything but. “If it was up to her we’d probably need 17 hours to put up an entree,” Chloe says of Kelly. “We’ve got to move it.”
Ten minutes to go and they’re finally starting to get something on the plate. “Oh that does look pretty,” Bree and Jessica admit reluctantly. “They do have 10 more to do. Hurry up.” While Chloe continues to plate, Kelly is thinly slicing the lotus roots for texture. They’re not working but she continues to slice them anyway.
“There’s only five minutes to go and Kelly’s still slicing … Kelly stop talking and just start working,” Bree and Jessica comment without a hint of pity.
Chloe says she’s not going to be able to plate properly if Kelly doesn’t help her and suggests that they should only put one lotus root on instead. “It’s supposed to be two so that you could use it as a cracker but,” she cries.
Somehow in all of that infinite lotus-root-slicing time, Paul and Blair still haven’t finished plating up. But who cares about them, the camera switches back to see if the lotus roots actually make the plate. They do, but just a single one per plate.
It’s tasting time and the guest judges are throwing around all sorts of Chloe and Kelly-esque words as they try their entree: confident, elegant, luxe. Guy however isn’t entirely convinced by the smoked salmon and thinks it overpowers the dish.
On to Paul and Blair’s entree and he’s happy with the way it’s cooked. Unfortunately it’s not for Colin or Manu. The seemingly simple broth goes down a treat. Overall a pretty fishy start for both teams.
Chloe says their “fish in crazy water” main was one of her favourite dishes when she was in Italy. “A dish can take you anywhere around the world and for me this just takes me to Italy,” she says.
Kelly agrees. “We love to travel and both of us have eaten at a lot of different places around the world,” she says, effortlessly reminding everyone of their globetrotter status.
Paul says he’s preparing a red wine vinegar chocolate ganache and just as everyone cringes at the thought, he clarifies: “It may look and sound strange, even a little bit crazy, but we know these flavours work together and we’re confident.”
However, just as it sounds a little bit convincing, Blair tells Pete to warn the judges the ganache should be eaten as an accompaniment and not by itself as it’d be too bitter.
“Warn the judges?” Pete asks. “Please, please,” Blair begs, not knowing why Pete had not heard his clear request.
As Kelly gets Chloe to taste her witch stew, she says it needs a little bit more craziness to it. “A bit more chilli,” Chloe clarifies. “People are gonna go crazy for this if it has the right amount of flavour,” Kelly cackles.
Fifteen minutes left and they’re out of time again. “I’ve completely underestimated how long it would take for this fish to cook.” Out comes a third pan and it’s a flatout stressful flathead situation for Chloe and Kelly. But of course everything gets plated up on time because this is a show and nothing bad happens.
Guy tastes the crazy water fish and says it takes him right back to the Amalfi Coast. If Chloe and Kelly heard that, the tasting table would probably be flipped by now. “I think this is a grand final dish,” says Liz. Tasting Paul and Blair’s kangaroo, Colin is impressed by the Willy Wonka-ness of their flavours, but others are let down by the dish’s execution and presentation.
Last course and desserts aren’t the only sweet thing on the menu as both teams gush about how they’d love to win and be $250,000 richer. Wouldn’t we all?
We discover that Kelly learnt how to quenelle from a French chef and that’s why she’s been left in charge of it. Three cutaways later and she’s still working on the same one.
Paul and Blair, although they have gotten most of their components together, start to etch what looks like a squiggly chocolate road through the middle of their plate and immediately make pastry chefs around the world shed single tears.
As suspected, though Colin loves most of the presentation, he’s not too sure about the chocolate squiggle. Taste-wise, “it’s a professionally executed dessert”, says Guy. “This is the highlight from Team 2’s menu for me,” Pete adds.
Though Chloe and Kelly’s dessert was prettier, the notion of a deconstructed trifle had many puzzled. “Perhaps a little bitsy in its presentation,” Guy suggests. Manu disagrees and it’s obvious that he’s a big fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books: “I actually enjoy this because you can choose where you go and you can add the amount that you want and you can pair the jelly with cake or the strawberry with the cream and vice versa. I think it’s playful.”
Time for the final reveal and it looks like Chloe and Kelly might just get the money shown to them as a score of 47 sends them through to the grand final. Unfortunately, beaten by only one, Paul and Blair will be heading home.
Helena and Vikki immediately burst into tears: “We wish it was Chloe and Kelly.”