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My Kitchen Rules 2016 episode 23 recap: Round Two of Monique and Lauren’s showdown

Rosie and Paige have managed to get onto MKR despite apparently being nice people who other human beings might enjoy spending time with. Photo: Channel 7 Paige forces Rosie to dance her panic away, which would be irritating if Paige wasn’t so damn adorable. Photo: Channel 7
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Lauren: “I can smell a fight night.” Photo: Channel 7

Round Two of Monique and Lauren’s Showdown at MKR Corral takes place in Adelaide, best known as the city where tourists are lured to be murdered by Nick Cave. Although the centrepiece of this episode will be the vicious verbal volleys between the policewomen and Carmine and Lauren’s Team Lemonmouth, the instant restaurant itself belongs to Rosie and Paige, two women who have managed to get onto My Kitchen Rules despite apparently being nice people who other human beings might enjoy spending time with. They must’ve lied a lot at the audition.

Rosie and Paige are cooking Middle Eastern food, and why not? There are many answers to this question, but they’ve never heard any of them. Pete loves the sound of the menu, and as we all know, we eat with our ears. As Rosie and Paige shop, the Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian plays. Because it’s … it’s Middle Eastern food. And Walk Like An Egyptian is … it’s about … I guess we’ve just got to kind of let this stuff wash over us.

The instant restaurant is called “Big Grub”, in recognition that most of the guests are maggots. Rosie and Paige begin preparations by making dukkah, which is a great opportunity to break out the line, “dukkah? I hardly know her!” But nobody does, which is a bit disappointing – I really thought Paige would back me up here. Suddenly, the kitchen becomes a place of dark sorcery when Rosie finds a double-yolked egg, to which Paige responds with a brief joyous dance. It’s likely to be the highlight of the entire night.

“We have not got enough done in prep time,” says Rosie, but then I think not getting enough done in prep time is written into the contestants’ contracts. I’ve certainly never seen anyone get enough done in prep time. The guests arrive and are amazed at how short Paige is, having apparently not noticed her the last four nights. Rosie explains that the idea of the instant restaurant is “when friends become family”, which is pretty ironic given that two of the guests are about to disembowel each other.

“I can smell a fight night,” says Lauren. She doesn’t say what a fight night smells like, but I imagine a mixture of Dencorub and illegal gambling. There is definite tension at the table. Alex and Gareth have no idea what’s going on because they were in the kitchen for Monique and Lauren’s last bout, but Alex and Gareth probably don’t have much idea what’s going on at the best of times.

Lauren explains that her remarks at the last dinner were not meant as an attack on Monique. Monique interprets Lauren saying that her remarks were not an attack as an attack. Monique asks Lauren not to shout. Lauren explains that she has to shout because the table is so wide. Alex and Gareth continue to hope that if they smile broadly enough it’ll be contagious. Monique accuses Lauren of “giving her daggers”, which is a reference to Lauren’s facial expression and not to a generous gift. Lauren demands to know what Monique is talking about. Monique tells Lauren not to point at her. Alex and Gareth keep smiling. To the camera, Lauren vows revenge on Monique at her instant restaurant, apparently not realising that, as she’ll be cooking and Monique will be voting, that will actually be an opportunity for Monique to take revenge on her. “How do you like them apples?” says Lauren, who saw a movie once.

The judges arrive. The atmosphere is so tense nobody can even become sexually aroused by Manu. Sarah says you could cut the tension with a knife – “a butter knife,” she specifies, so you can assume the tension is not only thick, but tender and beautifully cooked. If Paige and Rosie cook their tension this well, the entree will be spectacular.

Oh yeah, that reminds me: food. There is some. It’s spicy but they put some yoghurt in so it’s less spicy. Then they roll some pastry up and blah blah blah cooking cooking cooking whatever. Back to the dining room, where Alex is speaking earnestly of his hopes for the meal, and nobody is listening because they’re all just waiting for Monique to pour her drink over Lauren’s head. Monique and Sarah do that passive-aggressive bitchy thing they did last night where they say that there’s no skill in the dishes unless Rosie and Paige make absolutely everything from scratch, as if any real person would ever give a crap if the yoghurt in their sauce was homemade or not. The really amazing thing is, I bet Monique and Sarah think people can’t see what they’re doing.

The entree is served. Pete tells Rosie and Paige that last time they cooked, their meal lacked “love”, a technical culinary term meaning, “I can’t be bothered thinking of something interesting to say”. Apparently tonight, they remembered to put love into their lamb rolls, which sounds a bit dodgy, in terms of potential infections, but Pete thinks it’s pretty good: I guess cavemen used a lot of love in their cooking. Rosie is so happy she starts crying, or maybe she’s just crying because such a beautiful dish is being wasted on these barbarians.

The dining room is engaged in a lively debate on how to pronounce shawarma, a shameful illustration of the fact none of these people have seen The Avengers. Everyone seems oddly proud of their ignorance, and confident that foreign-sounding words are hilarious.

Meanwhile in the kitchen Rosie is starting to lose it, having discovered that chicken shawarma contains more than two ingredients and finding this impossible to keep track of. She’s burning bed, she’s burning chicken – as Garth Brooks might say, she’s burning bridges, one by one. Paige forces her to dance her panic away, which would be irritating if Paige wasn’t so damn adorable. Hopefully Paige gets her own show after this.

The stress in the kitchen is nothing compared to the stress in the dining room, where Lauren is drawing an eye, an act which Monique interprets as intolerably hostile. Knowing that if Rosie and Paige get more than 63, she’s finished, Monique is falling prey to culinary paranoia – everywhere she looks there are enemies and haters and competent chefs.

The main course is served, and Rosie immediately announces that she is not happy with it. Manu and Pete inform her that it is actually wonderful, and Rosie bursts into tears, realising that her total inability to judge whether a dish is good or not renders her unfit for a career in food preparation.

In the kitchen Rosie and Paige pour champagne into teacups and toast various spices, planning to get so drunk that dessert will just be a frozen Mars bar dropped down each diner’s back.

Monique and Sarah don’t think much of the main, because after all basically all Rosie and Paige have done is take a bunch of “ingredients”, and “prepare” them with “flavours” in order to “serve” them to “people”. Monique and Sarah would never be so basic as to just give their guests a bunch of “food” that has been “cooked”. What is this, KFC?

Rosie and Paige work hard on dessert, but run into the one eternal problem that all chefs face: the fact that ice cream is a bitch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: anyone who makes their own ice cream is a stupid lunatic. The orange cake, however, is beautiful, and so Pete, as he always does with desserts, violates his passionately-held beliefs to eat and enjoy it. The ice cream is underwhelming, because good ice cream is only possible if you buy it from a shop, but the cake is a hit. Everyone enjoys it, except – against all expectations – Monique and Sarah. Sarah complains that it’s got “a lot of orange in it”, which sadly is a common hazard with orange cakes. Monique goes into exquisite detail about how every single part of dessert was awful, and she’s not just saying that because she’s about to get eliminated – she is a genuinely unpleasant person.

At this, Gareth snaps. He’s been the very soul of sweetness throughout the competition, but his inner Popeye bursts free, and he decides that’s all he can stands, he can’t stands no more. He can find no fault with the orange cake, and – with that boyish grin still on his face, because not smiling is simply not in his skill set – he firmly tells the table so. He doesn’t explicitly say, “Shut your stinking traps, Monique and Sarah, and crawl back under your bitter little rock”, but it’s fairly clearly implied.

Scoring time, and this is where genuine outrages against decency are committed en masse. Alex and Gareth give a ten, because the meal was fantastic. Carmine and Lauren give a seven, because the meal was fantastic but they’re not very nice. Monique and Sarah give a six, because the meal was fantastic but they’re not very nice and they’re also desperate and horribly depressed. And then … and THEN … I just want to spit as I type this … and THEN Nev and Kell give a five. A FIVE. They spend the whole bloody night talking about how much they love every single course, and then they get together, agree that everything was lovely, and give a FIVE. And they’re not even at any risk! They’re on top of the leaderboard anyway, they can’t be eliminated. But they give a FIVE. What happened to you, Nev and Kell? You used to be cool. And then Hazel and Lisa give a three, because seriously, just go to hell, Hazel and Lisa. Not that it matters, because Rosie and Paige, thanks to the judges who are actually honest, get a total of 79, and although it would be about 90 in a just world, it’s still enough to put them on top of the leaderboard, so suck it, everyone else.

Tune in Sunday night when we’ll find out which two teams – Monique and Sarah and someone else – are eliminated, and just how disappointing the big twist is. Episode 22: Vicious snipes in the dining roomEpisode 21: The police finally do something about MKREpisode 14: The one with the spaghetti in a bagEpisode 13: The not-so-shocking mystery judgeEpisode 12: The one we’ve all been waiting forEpisode 11: ‘True blue’ couple burn chancesEpisode 10: JP and Nelly do ‘tea-riffic’Episode 9: The great spice dilemmaEpisode 7: Introducing Group Two’s villainWhy Zana is Seven’s best new talentEpisode 5: Confusion about MaltaEpisode 3: Cougar couple disastrous mealEpisode 2: Dirty shows and a perfect 10Episode 1: Meet the new batch

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