It seems as though it's been going forever, but it looks as though next week it's all going to wrap up - Australian Masterchef.
I watch it religiously - I use the T-box (it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how) and record it each day, and watch it each night when I get home. I think it effortlessly shades its New Zealand rival - obviously a much bigger-budget production, but also an infinitely higher standard of cooking.
For the most part I find watching amateur cooks quite stressful, but the cooking has been so good and so confident here that it has been hugely enjoyable. They have had guests of the calibre of Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White. The judges are nice, and clever, and charming, and well-informed (pronunciation of "olive orl" and "preformance" notwithstanding). They all just had a lovely trip to Italy. Their masterclasses are interesting and informative and packed with handy tips. I really enjoy it, and reckon I have learnt a lot just by watching.
But now it's crunch time - time to see who is going to win. Now, I realise that anyone with an internet connection or who has been in Australia recently will already know - so please, no spoilers! And, with apologies to Chris Philpott, who does a marvellous job of describing what is On the Box here on Stuff, I thought I'd cast a discerning eye over the remaining contenders, to see who we think might just edge out the others. So - here goes...
1) Mindy - such a hot favourite, she must be almost unbackable. She has won rather too many challenges, and has an immunity pin. She is a very good cook, but also has an irritating habit of calling everyone "darlin'" in a way that comes over as patronising. She's a bit smug. I am willing her to lose.
2) Kylie - Kylie (such a great Australian name!) is a bit of a fave of mine. She has also been turning out some consistently excellent food, and seems to be getting better. She also has an immunity pin, she seems thoroughly nice, and I would like her to win, but I'm not sure she is quite ruthless enough.
3) Audra - also turns out some superb dishes, I love her Asian fusion vibe, her resourcefulness and determination. Seems to get very emotional, and constantly seems to be on the brink of tears. Which is also sort of curiously appealing - at least she cares.
4) Beau - fair dinkum Aussie bloke; he's a builder, who can cook. Seems to be coasting a little which means either a) he's not taking it all that seriously or b) he's holding quite a bit back. I'm suspecting the former.
5) Andy - the ladies' fave: a bloke who can cook, and being a sparkie has to be useful if, say, the oven goes on the blink. Bit of a dark horse. Could be a contender.
6) Julia - a bit of a dessert queen, but also a bit anal-retentive. Reasonably annoying. I have a feeling she's going to self-combust. She will make an imperfect cupcake, and become so distressed she can't continue. That's what I reckon.
7) Alice - I started out finding her really annoying as well (especially the self-consciously "wacky" brightly coloured framed glasses), but she's really grown on me. Again, she seems really, really nice, and quite genuine. I will be sad to see her go, but, again, I don't see her winning.
8) Ben - I am kind of surprised he's still there. Seemed to be only capable of making Mexican food, but he did step it up in last night's elimination challenge. Has an awful lot of tattoos for a schoolteacher - wouldn't they scare the kids?! Again - I don't think he will win.
So, that's what I think of the final eight. I think the most likely to win are Mindy and Audra, while I would most like to see Andy or Kylie take it out.
But - what do you think? Who do you want to win? Who do you think will win - and please, if you know, no spoilers! Are you enjoying the show? Would you like to enter?
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