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Pop CultureNovember 5, 2015

Television: My Kitchen Rules NZ Power Rankings, Week Four – Have You Ever Grabbed a Cactus?

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Alex Casey delivers her power rankings for week four of My Kitchen Rules NZ, including the villainous rise of the Aucklanders and their Spongebob-inspired polenta.

What an excellent week, full of interesting knives, warm biscuits and province-based barbs. But something isn’t sitting right with me. Ever since Group Two have made a huge hoopla out of the “Battle of the Regions” element of MKRNZ, I’ve felt a very deep embarrassment to be from Auckland. I can’t make eye contact with the Skytower anymore, and feel an overwhelming urge to take the back streets as to not be seen on Ponsonby Road.

Please know, us Aucklanders aren’t all Skytower wall decals and stemless wine glasses, snarky comments and shortbread-making child prodigies. I would like to formally apologise on behalf of Auckland to the Manawatu region, and I hope these rankings can play even a small part in rebuilding the now broken provincial bonds.

1) Kimberley and Brooke

Yes, I know it is absolutely bananas to put one of the only teams that haven’t cooked yet at the top of the rankings. Yes, the teaser makes it looks like they might cook something akin to a Pam’s ham steak next week. But they are just the best. The complete antithesis to Natasha and Katrina’s well-contoured, bought-this-at-Smith-and-Caughey’s-and-not-even-on-sale vibe.

Chuckling their way through each course like a pair of shaggy blonde hens, Kimberley and Brooke have charmed me right to my very core. “A bit of free advertising” Kimberley laughed, as she flaunted Brooke’s single status on national television. This is old school, true blue, Kiwi banter.

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What I also am loving about these two is that they get starving and wolf down every course, only to realise that the other picky members in their group have only prodded at their meat and scraped 1cm from their polenta blob. “I thought it was nice” is Brooke’s #1 catch-phrase which, although not necessarily constructive in a competitive cooking environment, shows a ‘just happy to be here’ attitude. When you hungry: you eat. Ain’t nothing wrong with that logic.

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2) Lauren and Simon

“Did you wash your hands?!” Lauren asks kind-of-brother-in-law Simon every five seconds, as he throws himself wholly into breaking down entrenched societal stereotypes. “People see a mechanic and they think: chuck a pizza in the oven and it will be fine.” No way. More like chuck some bloody sumac on your lamb whilst you prep the cacao.

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Lauren and Simon nailed it this week with their inclusion of a polaroid camera and props on their instant restaurant table. Nothing brings strangers together like a cardboard moustache. Overall, their meal went pretty well – delicious pasta, kind of fine main and an EXCEPTIONAL shortbread finish. Who would have thought a simple biscuit would make Gareth’s head spin? I’m taking a bag of Farmbake to Soul bar in my lunch break.

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Where these larrikins really soared is the following night, when faced with the aggressive and slightly phallic Skytower-themed restaurant. “It’s like being smacked in the face by the Skytower” Simon quipped, later asking guests “have you ever grabbed a cactus?” Great dinner table talk, I reckon these two can totally Hackett.

3) Jay and Sarah

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They are precariously placed at the bottom of the leaderboard, but these two high school sweethearts continue to gather my all-important “cool” points. Together since the age of 16, that they are both 100% okay with using the cutlery however the F they feel like. Both using their forks back to front, Jay was also publicly shamed for not knowing what a fish knife was. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

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The judges snorted in their face for this display of knife ignorance. Earth to judges, have you met a piece of fish before? That shit is softer than a damn yoghurt. Give them a fish spoon, if anything. Finally, Jay was the only one smart enough to mention a dish scoring criteria that has been criminally omitted from the show – “would this look good on instagram?” There’s a lot of social media savvy going on inside that tiny man bun, and I am chucking a big ‘like’ on these two still.

4) William and Zoe

Part of my heavy Aucklander shame means I’m going to bury the Auckland teams last, even though we all know they are probably both going to win the competition in a draw, and go on to eat many oysters outside SPQR whilst talking loudly to Colin Mathura-Jeffree. William and Zoe cooked this week, but not before taking us to some classic AKL locations. Ellen Melville Square, watering hole of many a 15 year-old:

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And Vulcan Lane, where they ignored some charity workers:

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They embodied the Auckland hustle (not a thing) particularly well in their exceptionally ham-fisted shout out to Nosh, which is sure to keep them in meat packs for the rest of their lives.

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Wills and Zozo plated up some flash celeriac mash, Spongebob polenta and crazy mousse with flowers on it. They can clearly cook, but I’m just so depressed they wouldn’t let anyone forget Auckland for one second of their miserable lives:

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They came away with a whopper score of 80, probably all thanks to their ornament-based mantra:

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I also give William ten extra “cool” points for stabbing himself in the mouth by accident:

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5) Natasha and Katrina

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our villains of the show – and I couldn’t be happier. These two Auckland sisters really came into their own this week, first by slamming Palmerston North – and therefore two of the teams – square between in the eyes. Explaining that their grandfather put the clock in the Palmerston North town square and then moved to Auckland for “bigger and better things”, these two are just extraordinary reality talent.

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This week we also found out that Natasha hates cream, which is not only a massive buzzkill but, in my opinion, should render her exempt from any cat mask-wearing:

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Katrina dropped some luxury bombs that gave us even more of an insight into their fancy lives. For example, she scoffed at chocolate mousse on the menu as it was “what me and my partner eat on the couch when we watch a DVD.” Sorry, WHAT?! She then revealed that shortbread is something “my daughter makes at daycare.” The final straw for me was when she ragged on the big Lone Star ribs, making a caveman face and chewing down on an invisible hunk of meat. Let it be known in future weeks, any bad word about Lone Star will send you straight into the depths of ranking hell.

Honourable mentions:

The ghosts of Laurence and Paul

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Gone too soon, but forever immortalised in jovial Jetstar advertorials

This traumatised bell thing

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Click here to watch My Kitchen Rules NZ on TVNZ Ondemand

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