A disaster waiting to happen – Masterchef Audition Round 2

Published October 29, 2010 by Mary Jane

Okies, so continuing on from round 1. It was unfortunate that we weren’t allowed cameras into the Masterchef auditions otherwise I would have been happily snapping away, get carried away and would have remembered most of the things, peoples names and some details as you guys all know I have a fish memory. So I was told Tuesday night that I got into round 2 of Masterchef audition and I’ve got work on Wednesday so that leaves me lunch break to go and pick up some fresh ingredients to cook for my round 2 audition on Thursday and my audition time is 10am in the morning – yay I love my mornings. I was going to bring my food processor on the day but was told it needs to be tagged so I need to get there around 6.30am or something I was like what?? That’s so early, my audition time isn’t till 10am so I decided to stick to my knife skill instead of bringing any electrical appliances.

On Wednesday morning I woke up feeling extremely tired and to realised that I’ve go ‘time of the month’ NO!!!! When I get that I get extremely tired for the first few days and it has come at a bad timing…and my tummy was so sore with cramps that I couldn’t make it to work that day. Instead I decided to sleep it off for the whole day and only woke myself up and dragged myself out of bed to buy some fresh ingredients for my audition and then snuggled back to bed and slept for the whole day till 6pm cos I was hungry. Anyways, I started drawing pictures of how I would be plating up and decided to not practice my dish as I didn’t want to waste my ingredients. I’ve decided to stick to the Taiwanese root and make Taiwanese style pork belly with tofu and eggs served with some pan fried dumplings and cucumber salad. So I packed everything into my chiller bags and left some goodies in the fridge by that time it was midnight already but some how I was still extremely awake due to sleeping the whole day. It was a risky decision to cook Taiwanese cuisine as my strength is actually the Western Cuisine, but I was stubborn in trying to stick to my root. On the hind side perhaps I should have stick to one of My Jamie Oliver’s cook book challenge recipe hehehehe.

So when I stared at the clock it was 4am in the morning and I was still awake thinking I really need to get some sleep then it was around 6am that I unfortunately dosed off and the alarm woke me up around 8.30am. NO!!! I was so tired but forced myself out of bed and had a quick shower to refresh myself. In total I packed 2 full chiller bags. One for sauces and dry spices and the another was refrigeration stuff along with one plastic bag full of my basic kitchen utensils. Pandabear had that day off so he offered to drop me off at the William Angliss Institute. So I told him where to drop me off and I ended up pointing to the wrong building by the time I realised it wasn’t the right place I was too late Pandabear had already driven off 😦 So I had to cart these heavy bags worth of goodies and walk a few blocks to get to the right place. I eventually made it there huffing and puffing…what a bad start to the day…

I got there on time, there were already 3 contestants already sitting there chatting away. I sort of remembered their names. Sarah, Kirsten and Amanda cos there were only 3 people to remember 🙂 apparently they were all from the same group so I didn’t clicked on with the group straight away. Partially I was trying to reserve my energy – well, what’s left of it – coming on with some headaches due to lack of sleep. As you guys know I need at least 8 hours of sleep to function plus I was a little cranky as I had my “time of the month”. Then I saw Elisa – yay 🙂 she was my partner for the tasting of food and was from my group. So I happily went up to her and had a brief chat with her. We were waiting there for what seemed like hours. Then all the contestants have arrived. It was a All girls group – there were 6 of us. Then I met Ariana who had pink nail polish on and funky clothes as well.

So the Herald Sun mob arrived with a full on camera recording and a photographer tagging along. It was unreal, there were heaps of people around – the casting crew, the producers, the judges, the herald sun mob. The journalist started interviewing some of us and unfortunately I didn’t really get interviewed perhaps it was due to my quietness and scarily tired looking face. But I didn’t mind as I was trying hard to preserve my energy. Then as we were chatting I was starting at the girls’ equipment, my goodness nearly all of them carried a a few trolleys I was starting to feel a little unprepared and they all brought their kitchen pots and pans. I didn’t!! So I quickly asked the staff whether there were pots and pans and saucers and thank goodness there were. Phew…I initially thought we were still in the early days of competition maybe top few hundreds but to my horror this audition we were fighting for a spot in the top 50 within Australia!!

We were escorted to the commercial kitchen area. Inside this room there’s even more people. The William Angliss Institute’s own staff, the camera man, herald sun, the producers and even a paramedic too. This is my first time working at a commercial kitchen – I was so excited and I could feel my adrenaline pumping and my heart racing. We were asked to sanitised our hands and was allocated a spot on the bench and we could start unpacking our goodies. So Sarah was making duck a l’orange, Kirsten was making a Filipino dessert – Halo Halo, Ariana was making baked eggs with cherizo, Amanda was making herb crusted lamb cutlets, Elisa was making a seafood digastation (impressive) and me ofcourse sticking to my Taiwanese pork belly dish. Then the judges walked in – Gary and George and George started making a few comments, it was then I realised that this is all real and I wasn’t dreaming at all when George announced “Your 1 hour starts now!!” So frantically I started plotting what I was going to cook, soaking mushrooms for my dumplings – making my dumpling fillings first, chopping up all my vegies and decided to cook my pork belly first as it takes time for it to cook and become tender and then I’ll make my cucumber salad.

Now I was thinking to myself, 1 hour is plenty of time for my 3 dishes – but I was so wrong. I wasn’t used to the heating in the commercial kitchen and find it hard to adjust to the temperature I want and then I realised I also need to cook some rice, didn’t have any rice cooker so I had to boil my rice the western way which I’m not sure whether will turn out ok. There was a lot happening at the same time you see camera man going around filming everyone and photographer snapping pictures and then George and Gary will come around to our individual bench to talk to us or should I say to grill us. Honestly, I was frantically running around and I had like 3 pots boiling at the same time and pan going – I was busy! But for some strange reason the 1 hour went so fast, I find myself trailing behind and was starting to regret I didn’t just stick to one dish like everyone else instead pushing myself to make these 3 dishes.

The producer came to me and said “are you ready for Gary and George to come and talk to you?” I was like “um…should be ok, I just need to turn off the fire for my boiling rice” and she said that’s ok just keep doing what you’re doing I’ll tell them to interview last. So that gave me some extra time I suppose, eventually I could hear Gary & George walking towards my bench. I was still frantically running around and my goodness my benchtop had everything I was struggling to find space to put my other staff. Gary & George asked me what I was cooking and I told them about the pork belly and that it was Taiwanese style. Gary asked me “What is predominantly Taiwanese flavours?” I said we used alot of garlic, ginger, white pepper, star anise and forgot to mention five spice powder. So he started sniffling my dumpling filling and went to my pot of pork belly which was still cooking on the stove. George asked me what did I do for living and why I wanted to join Masterchef. I said I was hoping I could own a restaurant one day that will serve Taiwanese food, I wanted to stick to my root. His short reply was “Good girl!” Then when I told him I wanted to my restaurant in Perth he was like frowning then I explained I’m actually from Perth just happen to be in Melbourne during the time of audition. He saw my cucumbers and said are they from the garden. I said no! They are from the markets – on hind side maybe I would have scored a few brownie points for mentioning they were from the garden but I didn’t want to lie!

So they left me alone and eventually, the chef/producer guy come along and whisper to me I’ve got 3 minutes left. I was in high pressure and I think he thought I must be struggling cos he kept coming back and whispering to me “You can cook but you’re very messy!” and started helping me rearrange my knives to make sure I don’t cut myself and asked me whether it was ok for him to shift some bottles of sauces to the back. Which I was grateful for but it was kinda slowing me down!! Okies, series of bad things that have happened while I was cooking. I started pan frying my dumplings – I made 3 and then the skin was sticking to the pan – to my horror the kitchen didn’t have a non-stick pan I should have brought my own pan..it was too late now..I had 3 minutes left. So I fished it out with missing bottoms. For some reason, my pork belly doesn’t really look like they have caramelised enough, so I crank up the heat and didn’t have time to taste the pork belly as for my cucumber salad I suppose to marinate them in sauce first for at least 30 min but I didn’t have enough time so I quickly whipped them up, also didn’t have enough time to taste it. So seriously, when I was told I had 1 min left to plate up I was panicking!! Some of the girls have already finished plating up so they get to have their dishes tasted first. I started plating up according to how I would like it to be based on my sketch. Finally, I made it in time. After staring at my dish I was laughing inside as my dish looks like something a primary school kid would plate up – very colourful, bold and rustic..oh also I managed to burn myself and one of the chef spotted me holding a tea towel on my wrist he whispered “did you burn yourself?” I nodded and he said “did you run it under cold water?” I replied “sort of..” so he escorted me to the paramedics to get some burn cream and the paramedic lady said would you like some bandage? I’m like “Nah! That would look a little silly”

Now it’s tasting time, individually we’ll have to bring our dish to Gary and George for tasting and grilling with a camera man holding this huge camera alone with a huge microphone dangling down and they have to tell us where to stand and when they will start rolling the cameras. Ariana went first and she got through straight away, followed by Elisa with the seafood digastation which I was very impressed with she also got through. Then there was Kirsten who had a maybe, Sarah with the duck got a NO! She started balling her eyes out, I felt so sorry for her as she started crying as if her whole entire dream was shattered. She wanted to get a chef apprenticeship out of this show, and I wanted to go up to her to hug her and tell her it’s not the end of the world there’s other avenues of pursuing a chef apprenticeship but I didn’t have that time as it was my turn to present my dish.

So it was left between me and Amanda to present our dishes. I went up and try to make the whole situation seemed less tense by saying “Ta da!!!” and Gary was impressed by George wasn’t. So they started tasting my dishes and making comments. They asked me how would I organise my restaurant. I said I would probably be the head chef and would employ a sou chef. Gary asked me a very silly question – I thought “if a Taiwanese Chef was to taste your dish what do you think he would say?” I was thinking to myself, what a silly question or is it a trick question?? I simply replied I think “he would be pleased with what I have made, as I tried to make it Authentic Taiwanese style but maybe it’s more like a comfort food rather than a restaurant style food but then again I’ve never had a Taiwanese chef tasting my food” Honestly, strategically speaking I don’t think I answered his question very well. But I was struggling to remain focus as by that time I was about to faint due to exhaustion. Then George started to mock my presentation by taking out the cucumbers which I had 4 blocks sliced in an angle to form a square casing for my pork belly and took them out of the dish and said “if you were to own your own restaurant you will go bust! These cucumbers are a waste of money as a garnish” Then he was playing with my flower which I delicately plated up with spring onion as the stem and cucumbers and cherry tomatoes with coriander leaves as flower petals. Really, I didn’t have enough energy to defend myself. If it was the usual me I would have said “George, didn’t your mother tell you not to play with your food and eat your greens and forced him to eat all my cucumbers!” Personally, I thought he was rather rude and was disrespecting my food! So I kept quiet the whole time as I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself and be a bad testimony for the Lord – maybe I should have progressed on with some sort of sob stories and dramas but that’s just not me! Like I said I didn’t want them to let me through cos of my dramas of sob stories and burning my hand. on the hind side it would have been a very interesting episode of me telling them both off, after that I didn’t talk much. Then George was tasting my dumplings and he liked my spoon of chilli bean paste and soya sauce dipping but it was too spicy for him!! He also found out my dumplings had missing bottoms. He asked “were they meant to be like that?” I was laughing inside replied “nope, I didn’t know the kitchen’s pan were not non-stick pans cheekily thinking to myself toughen up George chillies are good for you”. Gary to his credit made a constructive feedback saying how I should have plated up was to keep it modern and simple like keeping pork belly inside a tea pot he said my dish was a old Taiwanese dish instead of a modern Taiwanese dish etc… hehehe I kinda thought my dish was a young dish due to it’s creative flowers and cucumber casing. But both of them didn’t even comment on the flavour of my food at all! Then the grilling session was over. I was told a “Maybe”. Honestly, I made the flowers as a remembrance to my mum as she has taught me all the Taiwanese dishes and she loves flowers also it’s spring – I wanted some flowers on my plate to represent that, but they didn’t give me the time to explain my flowers or I was too exhausted to say anything.

Then it was Amanda’s turn and she had the herb crusted lamb cutlet very nicely done, pink and tender and very nicely presented. When Gary and George tasted her food they were both happy with her lamb and asked her many questions, I was so sure she was a definite “yes” but she got a “maybe” after the grilling she was really upset and started tearing up. She should have gotten a “yes” I was starting to think both Gary and George were racist…hehehe since there were many great Asian cooks in the previous episode. I really hope her “maybe” would eventuate to a Yes as she deserve to be at the top 50.

Anyways, we were told that the “maybes” would be contacted after 2 weeks when they have done their Sydney audition which was the last state. To be honest, I have a gut feeling I haven’t got in due to my poor performance on the day. I calculated I probably had 0.001% of getting in and after reading some masterchef audition forums it kinda look like it was heading that way. Still, I guess there was still that 0.001% chance. Either way, I’m happy with the result and have never imagined myself to have gone this far and I really thank God for the opportunity of getting a taste of what’s it like working in a commercial kitchen, handling the heat, pressure and time management factor.

So last night while I was at the gym slaving away, I received a phone call from Kirsty she said “hi Maryann, how’s going?” I replied “you are here to deliver the bad news aint you?” She suddenly dropped her tone and replied “yes, sorry…but you should apply again next year” and I replied “that’s ok…” I should have asked her for some feedback and also whether Amanda or Kirsten go through..but I had hang up the phone already. Anyways, was I disappointed maybe alittle but was I upset? Not at all, I gave my best shot and unfortunately, the day I needed to impress the judges I did not do but hey, I’m proud of myself and thanks to all the people who have supported me along this short and sweet Masterchef journey. It’s unfortunately, this will be the first and last time for me to sign up with Masterchef for an audition. Even though my Masterchef journey has come to an end, I’m grateful for the opportunity that God has given me and I have no regrets now. I don’t want to wait till I’m 60 and thinking what it will be like if I have signed up for Masterchef. Now, it’s not the end to my future of potentially owning a restaurant God willing. If that day does come guess who would I invite to my restaurant? Yup, you guessed it – Gary (which I thought look like a happy buddha) and George (Pandabear thinks he’s got a ‘small man syndrome’ but I personally thinks he reminds me of Gordon Ramsay). I would serve the exact dishes which I have presented and just to rub it in I would serve George with massive cucumbers and demand he eats them all hehehehe. I’m so evil!! Muahhhhahahah (evil laughs) I rest my food case. But honestly, I’m pretty sure they are really nice people in real life but for the sake of show really they need to be rude and mean to spice up the show.

Oh, here’s my less than 1 minute of fame on Herald Sun website showing a small video clip of me in the corner looking flustered heheeh see if you can spot me! I was disappointed as after the audition, Herald Sun photographer has taken so many pictures of 6 of us and I really want to get a copy of them for my Masterchef memory…I shall see whether I can track them down. Some of the photos were hilarious!

so here’s the link showing my less than 1 minute of fame if you can even spot me at all..


4 comments on “A disaster waiting to happen – Masterchef Audition Round 2

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