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The amateurs pair up to run dai pai dong, or street food stalls, serving authentic Australian reality television food to the Hong Kong locals. Will it be team steam, wok squad or the deep-fry duo for the win?

Ben Pobjie

It is the last day for MasterChef in Hong Kong before they are deported for causing a public nuisance, and the amateurs are out in the bustling, chaotic streets of the city, where every day thousands of people enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Hong Kong’s great melting pot, but today will not be able to because there’ll be a TV show in the way.

The amateurs will be running dai pai dong, or street food stalls, serving authentic Australian reality television food to the locals.

They will have to deal with noise, heat, cramped workspaces, and Andy referring to literally everything he sees as “what street food is all about”.

MasterChef judges Sofia Levin, Andy Allen, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Poh Ling Yeow on the streets of Hong Kong.
MasterChef judges Sofia Levin, Andy Allen, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Poh Ling Yeow on the streets of Hong Kong.Ten

Poh explains to them that really good street food is about texture, speed, and seasoning – she repeats “seasoning” three times, probably because of all the speed. The one thing that street food is NOT about is flavour – any amateur caught putting flavour into their dish will be severely punished.

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They will have to cook for 120 people – or more accurately, they will have to cook for four people, but there will be another 120 people standing around and if they feel like giving them something to eat, they should feel free.

The amateurs are split into three teams, which will each work with a particular method: steaming, deep-frying or wok. Nat and Darrsh get deep-fry, Mimi and Josh get wok, and Harry and Lachlan, still claiming against evidence to be two different people, get steam. The winning pair will win immunity. Nat already has immunity, so she has no real incentive to try, but a great opportunity to sabotage Darrsh in an amusing way.

Are Harry (standing, second from left) and Lachlan (standing, far right), of team steam, the same person?
Are Harry (standing, second from left) and Lachlan (standing, far right), of team steam, the same person?Ten

Mimi asks Josh what they should make. Josh suggests cutting up some meat, which is his answer to literally any question he’s ever been asked. Mimi suggests also doing a radish cake, which Josh assumes is a joke, but figures he’ll just smile and nod, given Mimi’s notoriously violent temper.

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A brawl breaks out between the fry and steam teams over who gets to cook the fish. Darrsh and Nat demand fish rights, but Harry quite reasonably points out that he doesn’t know how to cook anything that isn’t fish. Disappointingly, they agree to share the fish, when it would’ve been so easy to settle it by kickboxing.

The judges convene. Andy is excited by the idea of the amateurs getting food and then putting it on a plate, a process which he thinks is what street food is all about. The others nod at his wisdom.

Meanwhile, Mimi is really leaning into this “radish cake” gag, stringing Josh along and making him prepare as if a radish cake is a real thing.

Darrsh asks Harry how many fish he needs. Harry says as many as he can have. Darrsh suggests four. Harry, changing positions shamelessly, says he needs at least six. Darrsh says there are only five left. Harry is about to go for Darrsh’s throat but is stopped by Poh and Andy, who drop by to tell him that fish isn’t street food. Or maybe that fish is street food.

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Basically, Andy thinks Harry is making a huge mistake in preparing the fish nicely and removing the head and the fins and all the other bits that nobody wants to eat, as those are his favourite bits. For Andy, including the disgusting parts of the fish is what street food is all about. Harry and Lachlan urgently discuss whether they should follow Andy’s advice to cook garbage, but decide to stick to their original strategy of cooking something good.

Poh and Andy move on to the fry team, where Nat reveals she is paying back a blood debt to Darrsh, whose tooth she knocked out two weeks ago. It becomes clear that Nat will do anything to win this competition, and everyone is living in fear of her. Darrsh admits that he has never made fish balls in his life, and is terrified that if he does it wrong he’ll be drinking his meals through a straw. Andy is amused by the story, as knocking your friend’s teeth out is what street food is all about.

Next, the judges visit the wok team and make suggestive comments about Josh and Mimi’s relationship. “Not hot enough,” says Jean-Christophe. Josh thinks he’s talking about the wok, but he’s actually just body-shaming Josh.

Josh is struggling with the wok, which might as well be a large hadron collider for all his comprehension of it. “I am so proud of Pezza for taking charge on the wok,” says Mimi, which is a very nice way to say, “Pezza is ruining my life”.

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The pressure is building as we draw closer to service time, when 120 hungry diners, whose opinions of the food mean nothing, will have to be fed. So you can imagine the pressure.

Darrsh panics as he is forced to re-process his fish paste (euphemism?), which could be disastrous in this service challenge in which getting the food out on time is entirely unnecessary, and any delay will carry no consequences whatsoever. And after all, isn’t making people wait for their food what street food is all about?

‘I am so proud of Pezza for taking charge on the wok,’ says Mimi, which is a very nice way to say, ‘Pezza is ruining my life’.

After a brief street brawl in which the amateurs have to fight off a starving Amazing Race cast that tries to steal their food, it’s service time. The good people of Hong Kong gather round to display their world-famous love of free food, while the judges squeal orgasmically about how incredibly authentic everything is. Andy is ecstatic, declaring definitively that having food on a street is what street food is all about.

The MasterChef judges hit the streets of Hong Kong and moonlight as tram conductors.
The MasterChef judges hit the streets of Hong Kong and moonlight as tram conductors.Ten
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Mimi and Josh’s dishes – beef and eggplant stir-fry, and “radish cake” – arrive. The beef tastes OK, but the large amounts of Josh’s singed hair left in the wok has been damaging to the texture. The radish cake, too, has flaws – it is inconsistently cooked, and also, damningly, is a radish cake.

Lachie and Harry present their steamed fish, clams and a … doughnut? Huh. OK. A doughnut. Fine.

Andy declares that he is proud of the boys, even though he played no part in their achievement. Despite the fact that Harry and Lachlan didn’t serve fish with its face still on, Andy is happy, and so is Sofia, but Jean-Christophe is fuming about poorly cooked fish and Poh thinks the noodles are like straw: apparently she’s too “refined” to eat straw like a normal person.

Finally, it’s time for Darrsh and Nat’s fish balls and prawn fritters. “This has 2am written all over it,” says Sofia, noting the food’s resemblance to an infomercial. Jean-Christophe slams the table in joy at the fry team’s delicious dishes and is quickly arrested.

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When time comes to judge, the wok team is placed last due to their being very bad with a wok, the steam team is placed second due to their wanton abuse of sea creatures, and the fry team is placed first due to their having Nat.

So Nat and Darrsh are immune from elimination, when according to the voiceover, “Hong Kong Week continues back home”. This is very confusing, but I guess the fact is erroneous geography is what street food is all about.

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