My Kitchen Recap: Inside the mansion walls with Teal and Sophie

They’re renowned hairdressers and A+ reality TV talent, but are Wellington couple Teal and Sophie any good at cooking? This week on My Kitchen Rules NZ, we find out.

From Jaryd and Ben’s art deco-inspired Auckland instant restaurant we head to Wellington for the third meal of the series at Teal and Sophie’s Wellington… mansion? If any other MKRNZ contestant had purported to live in a literal mansion it would have seemed like an egregious case of reality smoke and mirrors, but anything is within the realms of possibility when it comes to this enigmatic hairdressing power couple. Of course they live in a mansion.

Somewhere within this vast estate sits their instant restaurant, Saigon Salon, tastefully decorated with flowers and candles and old family photographs to evoke Teal’s South East Asian heritage. “We’re hairdressers, but also the word salon means a beautiful room full of interesting people having amazing conversations,” Sophie explains of the name’s double meaning, one which is very generous to her fellow contestants. “It’s not as good as I thought it was going to be,” sighs Heather on arrival. “Underwhelmed.”

What’s for tea?

Teal and Sophie have, by word count, the shortest menu in the competition by far. Their entree is the wordiest thing on the page – mini banh xeo with Teal’s mum’s secret recipe sauce, a crispy Vietnamese pancake with bits of delicious pork belly. “It’s quite weird,” remarks Heather. “Why is it so yellow?” She wants more chilli, more seasoning, more fish sauce; without these ingredients, the dish is merely “underwhelming.”

Approximately one litre of Teal’s mum’s secret recipe sauce gushes down Pete’s arm on his first bite. ”I’m usually a fan of this dish,” he declares before pausing for three and a half tension-filled minutes, during which time a lot of ads play. “……And yours was bloody good,” he winks. Manu agrees with Pete: ”You can cook and you can cook very well,” he purrs.

Teal has taken off his glasses to cook, bearing no resemblance to Johnny Depp whatsoever. He meticulously prepares the bowls for the main course, beef pho, but in the process misses a vital step. “It looked good,” says Manu, “it had all the ingredients to be a beautiful pho, but two mistakes.” Teal and Sophie have forgotten to taste their pho before serving, and as a result have failed to season it properly. A bit of salt “would have made this broth shine big time,” he says. Heather’s face twitches with the telltale signs of someone trying to suppress an enormous grin; like the judges, she is “underwhelmed” by her pho.

Teal and Sophie’s shocking pho pas has left them rattled, but fortunately, unlike the previous two teams, they have left themselves a relatively simple dessert to finish on. Their tapioca delight with banana (“I always get a bit concerned when I see that word ‘delight’ on the menu,” Pete earlier joked when reading the menu) quickly wins over a sceptical table, with the judges praising Teal’s exquisite caramelisation of the bananas. “Looks simple,” scoffs Heather, but the older, wiser Manu knows better. “Simple has to be done well,” he pontificates, “and this has been done well.”

Banter watch

Teal and Sophie’s main course provides the most insight yet into the personalities of each MKR participant based on how they pronounce the word ‘pho’. Pete, for example, confidently says it the ‘correct’ way (‘fuh’), as do foodies Heather and Mitch. The chefs themselves pronounce it the ‘incorrect’ way (‘foe’), while perhaps most revealingly Charlotte and Maddie pronounce it ‘foe’ at the instant restaurant but ‘fuh’ in their pieces to camera. Manu’s heavy French accent makes it sound more like ‘fur’, which is either more accurate than everyone else or the worst of the lot.

Chris mercifully doesn’t mention Wanaka once this week, and manages to land a rhyming, Gowerian burn on Heather and Mitch when he describes their foodie opinions as “strong and wrong.” There is an unexpected and unconvincing attempt to create a romance storyline between Jaryd (handsome, vain) and Charlotte (young, pretty) who apparently spend the entire evening making outrageously suggestive eyes at each other across the instant restaurant table. Heather uses the word ‘underwhelmed’ three times in this episode.

The scores

For the second week in a row, Heather and Mitch’s relentlessly negative appraisals of their hosts’ cooking give way to relatively generous scores – they are the living, breathing embodiment of ‘harsh but fair’. The real snakes in the grass are Tash and Hera, who, also for the second week in a row, short-change their hosts. They give Teal and Sophie a paltry 5 compared to everyone else’s 7.

From each of the judges, the pair’s entree receives an 8, but the lack of salt in the broth means their pho only gets a 4 from Manu and a 5 from Pete. It all hinges on the dessert, and Pete and Manu are still buzzing out over the caramelisation on the banana. Manu gives it a 9; Pete says it was the competition’s first perfect dish and scores it a 10. A total of 77/110 puts Teal and Sophie at the top of the leaderboard halfway through the instant restaurants. “Now we become very cocky,” threatens Teal.

Next week: Back to Auckland, where Charlotte and Maddie will launch their bid to become the youngest MKR winners of all time. I dreamed I saw the final instant restaurant leaderboard last week, and these two were at the top with a score in the 90s.

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