Previously on Drag Race UK after the top four slayed the final challenge by putting on an epic show with their eliminated sisters. You know, Just May, Starlet, Copper, Sminty, Baby, Le Fil, Dakota and Pixie! They stomped the runway in Grand Finale Eleganza and despite everyone nailing the assignment, only two were able to continue on in the competition as the four badge queens stuck around, eliminating Jonbers and Peppa to watch on from the back of the stage.
Danny and Cheddar took their places to lip sync for the crown to Dame Shrley Bassey’s This is My Life and well, the entire performance was an absolute slay. Cheddar leant into the emotion, was dainty and ethereal while Danny gave bold, brassy and all the fire to snatch the crown. Both of the queens were in the pocket from start to finish, well and truly proving why this is the strongest top two in any franchise of Drag Race. Ever. And while it should have been a double crowning, sadly Ru opted to stick with only one winner, handing the crown to Danny Beard and relegating Cheddar to the hall of four badge runner-ups alongside the icons Bimini and Ella.
Which honestly, is pretty damn good company.
While Cheddar was disappointed as she found me backstage, she held her head up high reminding me that as she said to Ru and Michelle, she is a star. And the win wouldn’t change that. Which TBH, made me feel a little bit better.
Like many a UK finalist before her Cheddar never really put a foot wrong, giving a collection of perfect runways that always had a message, bringing humour and charm to all that she did and well, to quote Ru, always being so damned polished. As such, I was thrilled to honour her win-worthy run with a big fat bowl of Bacon Cheddar Gorgeous Dip to help dull the disappointment.
This copycat of my favourite dip growing up may not be as classy as Cheds, but it sure as hell is just as delicious. Rich, salty and smacking you in the face with all the flavour, you could eat the entire vat and never regret it.
Previously on Survivor 18 new castaways were marooned on the lush islands of Fiji where one by one they were eliminated, starting with the tragic loss of Jackson and Zach within the first few days. They were followed out the door – yes, this is happening – Marya, Jenny, Swati and Daniel before three became one as the tribes merged, or so they thought, as once again, the merge was a bit of a gag. That cost Lydia her game before the official merge saw Chanelle ascend to the throne as Queen of the jury. She was soon joined by Rocksroy, Tori, Hai, Drea and Omar before the final five were sent to a new beach to start over. Despite winning an advantage for the challenge, Lindsay couldn’t take out victory and landed on the jury bench before Romeo narrowly snatched final immunity and took Maryanne to final tribal council with him, leaving Mike to earn his place and sending Jonathan from the game to become the final juror.
The final three awoke on Day 26 to watch the sunrise, proud to have made it all the way to the end and to get the chance to argue their case. Though Mike was worried about how he would be able to convince the jury of his game, despite all of them giving confessionals about really needing him to own the fact he is the biggest snake left in the game. Romeo meanwhile was proud of playing from the bottom the entire game, with the jury admitting that his ability to persevere and outlast everyone has been very impressive. Maryanne meanwhile was readying herself to scream all of her achievements from the rooftops and while the jury were thrilled to see Maryanne make it to the end, they worried about her ability to articulate her superior game. And TBH, focus on the task at hand.
With that, the final three arrived at the final tribal council where Probst quickly explained the proceedings for the evening. Omar kicked off the discussion about their social games, praising all of them for making it to the end and encouraged everyone to outline what they did to deserve the win. Tori spoke about Mike’s passion for trust and integrity, while Maryanne was charming and fun while Romeo was quiet, asking how accurate her read was and whether she missed anything. Mike leant straight into his love of trust, while Maryanne countered that she has always taken the game seriously, desperately trying to downplay her threat level as all the young people kept getting voted out when they tried to make a move. While Romeo just agreed that yes he was paranoid, but that he kept throwing hinky votes out to keep people riled up.
That sadly upset Hai, who accused him of gaslighting him and ugh, Hai destroyed him. Despite his attempts to apologise and them ultimately moving on, I still worry for Romeo in this final tribal. Giving him hope, Omar asked Mike about some of the other times he lied that he hadn’t copped to, including the blindside of Drea. While Mike tried to talk around things, Chanelle jumped in to call bullshit on the situation, leading to Mike getting more and more desperate as he tried to explain that he only crossed people that crossed him. Which Hai pointed out was mainly Omar feeding him lies. Jonathan tried to get Mike to fight before Drea cooled things down and reminded everyone that they all lied, but the fact of the matter is that Mike’s social game was just on point.
Talk turned to Maryanne’s sloppy social game pre-merge, with Maryanne admitting she hadn’t realised how much her tribe hated her before the merge but once she realised, she rightly course corrected. Lindsay then gave Maryanne the chance to explain who she pulled in herself, with her highlighting her skills in taking out Omar. And while Jonathan tried to take ownership of the move, she slapped him down and rightly took credit. Because trust and believe, it was her moment.
Rocksroy kicked off the physical portion of the game, with Maryanne talking about her contribution around camp, weaving fronds and prepping the fish. Mike meanwhile highlighted his work ethic, powering along all season to look after his tribe. While Romeo admitted he has never camped and just learnt to swim, and as such, he is proud of himself for persevering and finally snatching immunity at the final four.
Drea kicked off the strategic portion, telling the final three that this is what will decide her vote. She asked each of them to outline their biggest move with Romeo talking about his fake immunity idol and winning the final challenge. Oh and that he took Maryanne because she didn’t have a strategy. Mike meanwhile spoke about orchestrating the blindside on Hai, with him admitting that sometimes his emotions got the best of him before he realised mid-sentence that he wasn’t as honest as he thought. Maryanne meanwhile shut it down, explaining that getting rid of Omar set her up with a bunch of final three combinations she could navigate. She then outed her idol, impressing everyone by keeping the secret and clearly articulating how removing Omar is the thing that took her to the end.
Romeo meanwhile broke down, disappointed to have had to play the game from the bottom and to not show his real self throughout the game. Though he was proud to have never given up and make it to the end, and to finally be able to live his life as a proud gay man. Mike spoke about being proud of himself for overcoming the generational barriers, competing with the younger kids and making the bonds to get to the end. While Maryanne once again dominated, sharing how she learnt to stand up for herself and to not self-sabotage, which is why she voted out Lindsay. She cried about having to turn on a friend, though finally knew that she had to take the risk of getting rid of her, to give herself the best shot at winning.
With that the jury voted and once again, everyone was gagged to discover that Jeff would be reading the votes right then and there in the middle of Fiji. Sadly for Romeo, none of them were for him as he found himself becoming the second runner-up of the season.
As Jeffy pop and co reset to film the reunion, I pulled Romeo aside and gave him a massive hug for all that he achieved throughout the season. And for giving a surprisingly dominant performance in the final tribal council. Romeo perfectly articulated how he managed to navigate the game despite being on the bottom the entire time, while also going on a massive journey to self-acceptance. Which is not bad for 26 days of work! And while it didn’t jag him the win, it was more than enough to win him my heart and a big ol’ ramekin of Romesco Saucobar.
A little bit tangy with a touch of earthiness and punch of sweetness, this Spanish sauce is the perfect accompaniment for pretty much anything. Make it a bit thicker and you’ve got a punchy dip, thinner and it works perfectly with some charred chicken.
Romesco Saucobar Serves: 4-6.
Ingredients 150g chargrilled capsicum, drained well ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika ¼ tsp chilli powder 20g flaked almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan 1 lemon, zested and juiced 5 large garlic cloves, crushed 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp kosher salt ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Method Pop everything into the blender and blitz until smooth.
Decant and either down, dip or drizzle on something and devour – your choice!
Previously on Survivor, the Vati, Ika and Taku’s were dismantled however like last year, Jeffrey wanted to play things a little coy and delayed the merge. Through the power of a terrible twist that was once again trying to masquerade as time travel. After Jonathan doomed his group by leading them to victory, Rocksroy went to hourglass island where he rightly opted to give himself immunity. After Tori cussed him out for stripping her of her immunity, she then went and won it back in the first individual immunity. Which doomed everyone’s plans as she was public enemy number one, meaning out of nowhere, Lydia found herself felled and just missed the jury.
The tribe returned from tribal council, grateful to have officially made the merge and to be a part of the jury. Though according to Mike, that is as far as Romeo, Chanelle, Tori and Maryanne will go since they are left right out. Chanelle caught up with Hai, heartbroken to realise she hasn’t played the killer game she thinks she has after being left out of the last vote. Drea meanwhile was ready to drop Romeo like a newborn giraffe due to his growing shiftiness, while Lindsay was assuring Maryanne that they are still aligned and she will look out for her. Despite that assurance, Maryanne was still gutted to be on the bottom of the tribe and opened up about how it reminded her of being left out in school as a weirdo.
The next day Mike was working hard to get to know his fellow tribemates, knowing that as the old guy of the tribe, he needs to make sure people like him. And given he kindly sat and learnt about religion from Omar as he prayed and instantly made him fall in love with him, I think he’s going to be ok. At the very least, he warmed my cold dead heart.
My love Probst appeared to hide a little beware advantage on the sit out bench as the Kula Kula tribe arrived for the reward challenge. After telling us he’d be disappointed if the advantage went unfound like it did last season, he explained to the tribe that in teams of two they would swim out and retrieve five buoys in an obstacle course and then shoot them into a basket. Oh and the winners get PB&J and chips. And while Drea was chosen on one of the teams, she shared that she hates PB&J and as such, she was offered to tap out with Maryanne. Obviously Drea quickly snatched another advantage while Maryanne obviously lost the reward given she went to Drea’s former team which was decidedly lacking in Jonathan’s, who quickly got his team out to a lead. While Omar quickly shot four of the five baskets in a row, he then missed while Joanthan tagged out with Rocksroy and quickly shot all of their baskets in a row.
Meaning Maryanne shoulda just sat out and at least got an advantage.
Back at camp the victors were thrilled to discover their sandwiches and quickly smashed them, while the losers bonded over how much fun they had in the challenge. And how damn close it was. The groups combined and rehashed the order they wanted to take the outsiders out before Omar shared with us that he was also keeping said outsiders happy, pretending to try and keep them safe so he always has options should the alliance break.
Drea meanwhile was going hunting for her advantage, which was five paces away from the well hidden under a coconut. And that she needed to cover her tracks or get caught red handed. Which is what happened, since the producers hid the damn advantage in a pot of red paint like icons. While she desperately tried to clean her hands, she learnt that her latest haul is the Knowledge is Power advantage, which would grant her the power to steal one of the other idols – or any old advantage – in the game. As she returned to camp, Tori was worried she was bleeding when she saw the red on her hands. And while she lied and said she was painting something, the fact that their tribe flag was yet to be touched and all the paints were sealed, she knew there was something dodgy going on.
The tribe met up with Probst for the latest immunity challenge where they would each balance on a narrow perch and hold a buoy between sticks. Well, everyone that chose to compete because Probst was willing to give them a bag of rice if enough people were willing to sit out of the challenge. The tribe offered two people, which annoyed Probst who then offered nine. Lindsay and Drea said they were happy to sit out, with Maryanne agreeing that she would also be willing to sit out, leading to Jonathan getting Probst to offer the big bag of rice if four people sit out. Which was enough to get Maryanne crying and make people feel bad about her choosing to sit out when she is on the bottom, leading to Omar agreeing to forgo the challenge too. And damn, she is going to emotionally blackmail herself to victory, isn’t she?
Turns out Hai should have been one of the people sitting out given he dropped within a second, quickly followed by Rocksroy and Mike. Romeo soon followed while the remaining trio made it to ten minutes. Tori and Jonathan started to wobble though managed to save themselves before Chanelle dropped out of nowhere. While Jonathan saved himself multiple more times, he eventually dropped and handed Tori her second immunity in as many episodes. Once again throwing the majority’s plans into chaos.
Back at camp Hai was thrilled to have jagged the rice without having to sit out and gladly started locking in the vote against Chanelle, since Tori had immunity. He and Mike went person to person while telling Chanelle that the actual plan was Romeo, in the hope she wouldn’t play her Shot in the Dark. While Mike assured him it was all a ruse, Romeo started to get nervous and checked in with Drea to find out why things changed between them since the merge. Tori told him that Rocks told her that his name was floating around, leading to him telling Rocks what she said and well, his paranoia started to drive everyone insane. As such, Hai tried to flip the vote on him and while everyone was keen, Mike was very against it and desperate to keep the target on Chanelle. Since she has been nothing but shady to him all game.
At tribal council Jonathan spoke about the fact he was very firm about the people sitting out of the challenge being off limits in the vote. Tori mentioned that while she is safe, it is always hard to not be in the majority since they want to focus on making unified choices. Romeo told everyone they need to stop deluding themselves before Hai clapped back and spoke about not wanting to align with paranoid people. Like Romeo. Drea talked about how aligning with people is dangerous given their bad moves can reflect on you too, before Chanelle and Mike spoke about being unsure who they can trust and what is the right choice to make.
Talk then turned to being in a car and well, it was wild and confusing, though I live for Maryanne talking about holding on to the little middle seat to try and stay in the game. But yeah, who cares about cars, you know they are cursed in Survivor like pizza is on this blog. In any event, the tribe put the car talk into park and voted, with Romeo narrowly avoiding the boot as Chanelle was sent out of the game to become the Queen of the Jury.
As she arrived in the empty Ponderosa, I quickly congratulated her on a game well played. I mean, sure, she tanked it a little after her trip to ship-wheel island, but she still managed to navigate to the jury and most importantly, rule over it as the Queen. With that, I toasted to her success and filled up our royal cups with a fresh batch of Trufelle Howaioli.
At this point in my life, my mantra could easily be, if there is truffle in it, it is in me. Does it make sense? Not so much. But given how good this truffle aioli is, who cares? Creamy and packing a beautiful punch of truffle, I’m in heaven.
Trufelle Howaioli Makes: 1-2 cups.
Ingredients ½ cup Shayonnaise Swain ½ cup sour cream 1 tbsp white truffle oil, plus more for drizzlin’ 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 lemon, zested salt and pepper, to taste ½ cup parsley, roughly chopped ¼ cup rosemary, finely chopped
Method Pop everything in a jug or bowl. Stir until well combined. Adjust seasoning according to taste.\
Previously on Australian Survivor the tribes battled it out in a dusty immunity challenge with Simon narrowly besting his former tribemate Emmett. While Simon was supported by the rest of his tribe to get to the end and score the win, it was truly a one man show on Brains. Speaking of Emmett, he wasn’t too bothered to lose the challenge given he was leading the Brains tribe’s majority alliance. With an iron fist, if you ask the Brains trio. Speaking of them, they decided their best hope was to woo Kez to their side, given she desperately wants Cara out and Emmett isn’t listening to her. While she vowed to go to rocks to get what she wanted, she ultimately stayed with the alliance and joined them to boot Georgia from the game.
The peace of the outback was disturbed the next day as Gerald snored by the fire as George wandered around wide eyed, glad to still be in the game. Though he admitted that it isn’t luck that got him this far, it was his hard work to finally win some people over. On the outside are his remaining nemesis, Laura and Rachel. And frankly, he doesn’t care who goes next out of the pair of them.
Rachel meanwhile was collecting a tonne of wood despite being tired and on the outs. While Laura was sleeping. We then finally got an intro package for Queen Rach, who was Queenslander of the Year last year and is essentially an icon. She then took that positive attitude to the billabong, teaching Cara how to fish and damn, is this what hope feels like?
Meanwhile over at Brawn Hayley was feeling her oats, in charge and generally living the dream, forming a tight bond with the girls and generally being the boss. They were fishing, tending the fire and making friendship bracelets and honestly, I am just as jealous as Simon to be missing out on the experience. Speaking of Simon, Hayley can see how large his target is and as such, got to work finding cracks to get him out before they get to merge. While Dani and the boys bonded in the shallows – Simon in his speedos, swoon – Hayley realised building a relationship with her would be critical to her long term game and as such, got to work bonding with Dani.
The duo caught up and went fishing, while Hayley started soft, asking about the Brawns on the other tribe, she then got straight to the point, asking Dani when she thinks would be a good time to get rid of Simon. With Dani straight up spilling her entire strategy to align with the alpha and then cut them from the game. A move that she called ‘The Sandra Bullock’, which is as iconic as her asking Hayley if she’d be interested in helping to pull off the move. Which Hayley giddily responded by announcing that blindsides are even sweeter when the person thinks they’re in control.
Iconic, brutal, stunning. I love them.
Hayley then went for a cheeky little wander, lamenting about the pain of not seeing or hearing from their loved ones. And right on cue, she discovered letters from home in treemail, instantly reducing everyone to tears. We learnt about Hayley’s beautiful boyfriend Jimmy who was ready to propose when she returned home. Andrew meanwhile got a cute painting from his nephew, Wai heard about her cat, Dani’s partner roasted her for being stubborn and then Baden sobbed over missing his daughters and ugh, I’m not crying. You’re crying. I mean, one of them sees his face in the moon each night AND HOPES HE CAN SEE HERS.
It. Is. Too. Damn. Precious.
Over at the Brains, we learnt about George’s beautiful bond with his dog, Emmett missing his fiance and well Rach, she finally had her fire back. Ready to fight for her wife back at home. As such, she pulled Cara and George aside to talk. But sadly, we weren’t privy to that as Emmett, Gerald and Kez realised that losing challenges isn’t the worst thing right now and as such, they should consider throwing a challenge to get rid of another Brain or two.
My love Jonathan finally returned for the immunity challenge where the tribes would face off sliding a series of blocks to untangle ropes and releasing a key. These tribes would then traverse a series of obstacles, collect some balls, wade through a mud pit and then slide some balls down a ramp to land in a dish. Queen Wai obviously directed the Brawn tribe to quickly untangle the ropes and release the key while the Brains grew more and more confused. Even without Emmett trying to throw the challenge, the Brawns tribe powered all the way to the end of the course and landed their balls in arguably the biggest blowout of all time.
As the tribes celebrated together everyone tried to whisper to each other with Andrew telling Laura to just get to merge while Hayley encouraged Rach to throw all the mud around and make a mess. While Emmett and Kez could barely hide their excitement to be going back to tribal council. So, maybe they did throw it?
Back at camp Emmett was pumped to continue the decimation of the Brains before firing up some rice and relaxing. Despite knowing full well that the Brains still have enough people to take control of the tribe if they put their differences aside. That being a pretty bloody big if. After quickly locking in Rachel as the bigger target, with the girls loading their votes on Laura as a back-up. Emmett then shifted his focus to the next step once Cara and George left, that being to flip Laura and then take out Cara and George.
Knowing that she is screwed, Rachel opted to put her emotional feelings about George and Cara aside and instead try and work with them to make a big move against Emmett and weaken the Brawn tribe at large. Obviously Laura was on board, so wIth that, Rachel powered off to find George and pitch him the plan with him calmly agreeing that he knows what happens next if they don’t mix things up. George then shared that he wanted to split the vote the way the majority did so that he could ultimately make the decision to flip on someone like Emmett without anyone knowing it was coming. And buy him more time to figure out which option is best for his game, with or without Cara’s support.
At tribal council Gerald admitted that nothing has really changed with the power dynamics of the tribe, with Rachel agreeing that she and Laura are definitely the dead women walking. George meanwhile spoke in political speak, confusing Rachel and Laura about whether he would flip. Emmett admitted he is just wanting to get to the merge and take control, though also alluded to the fact that he is always going to put Brawns first. Rachel pointed out that Brains currently have the majority if they were merging and coming back together is better for all of them. While George agreed that Laura and Rachel made some valid points, Emmett and more so Gerald, made some very complimentary arguments to bring them together.
Laura called it out for what it is, blowing smoke up Cara and George’s arse leading to Kez needing to step in and point out that Brawn is also a fractured tribe and they actually need some Brains to help get further as they navigate their own complex dynamics come merge. Aka the Simon and Emmett faction versus her, Flick and Gerald. With that the tribe voted and despite the promise that big things were happening this week – SuE’s bIG mOvE, right? – the majority held together and Rach was tragically booted from the game.
As soon as I saw her turn the corner into Loser Lodge, I burst into tears, heartbroken to see my fellow Queenslander of the Year booted from the game. And by fellow, it happens in like a decade, remembering I invented time travel. That is not what I win for either. But anyway, Rach and I are dear friends and I was so disappointed that she couldn’t turn things around, particularly since we’re so close to the merge.
Given Rach is an absolute delight however, she took it in her stride and calmly held me until I stopped crying. After that, we did the usual laugh, cry and reconnect before I searched the fridge and found enough ingredients to whip her up a Chipotle Ranchel Dipnie.
I know ranch is often looked at as a pretty basic dip/dressing/condiment – at least by me and my paranoia, I guess – but I am basic and proud. Add in a little chipotle, however, and you elevate it into the stratosphere. Fresh and tart, but packing a good whack of heat, this delight will have you slathering it on anything. Or gulping down like water.
Chipotle Ranchel Dipnie Makes: 1 cup
Ingredients 2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped ⅔ cup Shayonnaise Swain ¼ cup buttermilk 2 tbsp champagne vinegar 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1 tbsp chives, thinly sliced ½ tsp paprika salt and pepper, to taste
Method Now try and keep up because this is tough. Place everything in a jar.
Or refrigerate until ready to serve with something else. But, why?
Previously on Australian Survivor the Brawns continued their reward streak and to make matters worse for Andrew, he got whacked in the nads while losing another challenge. Meanwhile Simon found not one but two idols in the space of mere minutes and obviously grew in confidence. Shocking everyone Brawn turned things around, bucking tradition and winning their second immunity challenge. Back at camp George decided his best chance of survival was to target Laura while Joey locked the alliance’s vote on George. Until, you know, he walked into camp wearing an idol, and as such, Joey flipped things on Mitch instead, booting him from the game and flushing George’s idol with it.
We first checked in with the Brawns tribe where spiders were nesting in Shannon’s knickers. While that alone is concerning, the scariest part is the fact they were holding their own shape. Before we could explore that further, Flick explained that the tribe were living their best lives, focused on training to keep their winning streak up. Speaking of winning, Simon was thrilled to secure himself a path to the endgame with his two idols. That being said, Gerald knew about the idols and was extremely focused on getting him out toot suite. Gerald checked in with my Queens Kez and Flick, spilling all the deets on the idol. And just like that, the trio got to work planning to raise Simon up so that he was so confident that they could blindside him.
Over at Brains the tribe were soberly eating their prison food, with Rachel only happy with the fact she drew a line in the sand with George at the last tribal council. And well, let’s just say that George now had Rachel in his sights. His first move was to confront her in front of everyone and when she was unapologetic, they fought. With Laura and Rachel then muttering about him. It was a move, but I never said it was a wise one. We finally go to learn more about Cara, who in addition to real estate and her empathic abilities, is an expert in meteorology. And well, she and George have really been vibing and she is confident in her abilities to temper his worst impulses and keep things tight, hopefully going to the end together.
Joey meanwhile was growing cocky, catching up with Laura and Andrew to laugh about how screwed the minority are now that they’ve taken control. Which is never an endearing look.
Jonathan made his triumphant return to our screen for the reward challenge where the tribes would weave through a series of obstacles while tethered to a rope before digging up sandbags and tossing them to smash six targets. For choccy milk and lamingtons, which again, bloody iconic combo from the reward team. Brains quickly got out to an early lead, given their smaller bodies made it easier to work through the obstacles. Sadly Cara started to struggle, tying things up for the tribes. And well, then George and Wai literally tied themselves into a knot and well, all appeared to be lost for the Brains. As Rachel screamed at George from the side of the course, Emmett started to taste the chocolate milk in his mind. Then Joey and Andrew happened, smashing target after target in quick succession before Brawns had a last minute surge, stealing victory out from underneath the Brains.
Wanting to create some drama, Jonathan offered the Brawns the chance to invite one of the Brains over to share the reward with the Brawns opting for Joey, hoping his big mouth will give them enough information to create drama post swap.
The Brawns and Joey arrived at their bush cafe, with Joey continuing to be loud and energetic, unaware that they invited him over solely because of that. As everyone smashed their lamingtons and milk, Simon asked the obvious question, how in the hell did he land on the Brains tribe? While Simon softened him up with compliments, the girls went in for the kill, asking what happened at the previous tribal council and why George didn’t go since he clearly hates him. And well, once he popped he didn’t stop. Making Flick a very happy girl with all the free flowing information.
Back at Camp Brains, the tribe were heartbroken to have come so close to winning again with Wai promising to try her best in the next challenge. As everyone assured her that she is valued, Rachel opened up and said that George bitching about the tribe in front of the Brawns isn’t helpful before a challenge and creates disharmony, distracting from the task at hand. This obviously pissed off George, who stormed off with Georgia sent to follow him and try to keep him in check. The one positive of the scene is that we then finally learnt more about Georgia, who was using her forensic psychologist background to try and understand George a bit better. Sadly for her, all it did was piss him off, making her the new biggest target in his eyes.
Jonathan returned for the immunity challenge where the Brains were delighted to see a puzzle was in the mix, while the Brawns were obviously terrified. For the challenge, the tribe would paddle a boogie board out to an apparatus to release five keys before getting wheeled back in, one at a time. They would then use the keys to release puzzle pieces and then, you know, solve the puzzle. Importantly, Simon is in his speedo. As is oft the case, the Brawns got out to a sizable lead at the start of the challenge, powering through the physical side of things. While George reminded the Brains not to worry, given they have a puzzle to sort things out again. Sadly with Wai on the bench they had no real leader in the puzzle which allowed Simon to direct his tribe to yet another victory.
Back at camp the tribe joined together to lament their loss, while George knew that his luck was about to run out. Joey meanwhile was feeling super confident, joyfully swimming in the billabong with Georgia and Laura, talking about how much better things will be once George is gone. That being said, this is Survivor and when people’s backs are against the wall, they get crafty. George joined with Cara, Baden and Wai, identifying Georgia as their best chance to get out. But to do that, he needs some luck. As such, he and Cara went hunting for idols and while the cool kids mocked them from the billabong, Queen Cara took the throne, finding her first idol. And you best believe she was ready to do whatever necessary to keep her alliance safe.
Cara, George, Wai and Baden caught up again, with George quickly suggesting she play the idol for him given he is their only target and as such, they can take out Georgia instead. That however made Cara nervous that the other alliance could opt to change the vote to her and as such, she wasn’t sure whether it was worth the risk.
Laura meanwhile started to grow suspicious about George or Cara finding the idol, rallying the troops to float the idea of splitting the vote JIC. That being said, there is no way they can do that without flipping someone over. And instead of getting Baden or Cara, Joey decided the Wai was the best idea, given she is logical. He, Cara and Hayley pulled her aside and while they were confident they did enough to charm her over to their side, she wasn’t sure who to go with. You know, since the person that saved her on day two is also the most volatile person in the game.
She took the information to George and admitted she was thinking about flipping and as such, he emotionally begged her to cast him aside after this tribal council, not before. With that Cara, Baden and George got together, with George assuring her that he wants her to play the idol for herself and only herself. Before they decided the wisest move was to put on a massive display of pass-the-parcel with the idol and once they’re all confused, hope Wai is spooked back to their side.
At tribal council Cara kicked off the proceedings by wearing her hidden immunity idol, with George suggesting he may have something up his sleeve too. Joey wasn’t sure what the plan was with Cara’s idol, though he desperately just wanted to get rid of George. Aka the bad egg. Cara then continued to earn her Queen crown, admitting the tribe have nothing in common and as such, she is struggling to deal with the people that aren’t wanting to work together to let people flourish. As Wai started talking, the theatre commenced, with Cara whispering in Baden’s ear before passing the idol over to him.
While Hayley admitted their game was making her nervous, her alliance have definitely come up with a couple of different plans to counteract whatever they’re doing. George admitted that while he desperately wants to win the game, when watching Wai struggle on day two, he realised that winning at all costs was not him and as such, he is happy to exit the game with his head held high. George admitted there is no hope for him before Wai and Rachel admitted that there is a lot of tension in the tribe, but more importantly, Baden passed the idol off to Geroge. Wai spoke about the alliances changing day by day, admitting it has definitely changed for her from day two to now. This elicited more compliments from George, successfully guilting the hell out of Wai.
With that the tribe voted – Wai for George, calling him out for holding the day two stuff over her head like parents that tell their kids they should be grateful they have a roof over their head – before Cara played her idol for George. And oh God, Queen Cara, no. The votes rolled in for Cara and Georgia, ending in a 3-3 tie. As such, the tribe revoted and poor Queen Cara found her torch being snuffed. But gagatondra, all was not as it seemed, as she found a Brawn buff on her way out the door, directing her to head over to Brawn and join the new tribe.
As she stumbled through the bush in absolute darkness, she eventually arrived at her new camp and proceeded to dive on to her campmates. Startling them awake, either delighting or enraging them. Or potentially a bit of both.
We checked in with team Brains the next day, where George suggested that putting snake skin on a tree was the cause of all of their misfortune. As such, he removed it and tried to stay quiet while the majority rejoiced in their growing power. Joey spoke about the excitement of the last tribal council, despite the fact George was still in the tribe. Joey went to Laura and Andrew, pledging his undying allegiance to them and Georgia, meaning Hayley, Rachel and Wai were just numbers waiting around to be picked off after George and Baden. Speaking of George, he was heartbroken to have lost his best friend Cara, however was immensely grateful that she gave up her game for his.
Oh and now George was over Wai, given she betrayed the good guys.
Despite not being able to look at her for hours and hours, he eventually pulled Wai aside to find out why she turned on him. Wai called him out for being volatile and how it is hard to be around and as such, she opted for the more peaceful path. While George argued that he was iced out by Joey from day one, Wai still couldn’t see the value of realigning with him. Particularly because she doesn’t like to feel indebted to him for the entire game because she is playing her own, damnit. Like a queen.
The next morning Cara was getting a deep dive on the Brawn tribe as Simon sexily walked out of the billabong in a speedo and the rest worked out. Oh and then she got food with flavour, and ate off crockery. There were blankets, dance class and well, the Brains are dead to her. Officially. And she looks forward to spilling the tea on Joey and Laura’s bullshit to everyone that will listen.
With that, she pulled all the Brawns around to talk about how awful they are, while playing up how loyal George is. As she continued to talk smack, Simon quickly deduced that she has no intention of aligning with any Brains and as such, he can pull her in and take control of the tribe. Particularly since she just wants to raise people up. Sadly for him, Shannon also identified her as a priority ally and quickly went walking for firewood for her to bond.
The tribes reconvened to meet Jonathan where the Brains were gagged to see that Cara was still in the game, none more delighted to see her than George. Meanwhile Joey looked ready to kill and Rache continued to try in vain to get George to stop talking shit about the tribe. Cara meanwhile said that she was thrilled to finally be on a tribe with heart, while Simon agreed that she was a very welcome addition. In any event, this week’s reward challenge would require everyone to hold a barrel of water up with a tribe out if any person drops their bucket. Though they can pass their bucket off to others. Oh AND it was for BBQ. As you can imagine, this challenge isn’t overly exciting to write about however after Wai and Shannon tapped out, the latter used it as a chance to woo Cara who was sitting out of the challenge. Sadly for her though, Simon was watching the entire interaction.
Just as I say it isn’t exciting to write about, Chelsea accidently took her hand off a ring while passing one along and got herself eliminated from the challenge. And just like that, Brains were well positioned for victory. She was followed out by Dani before Gerald started to struggle under the weight of two buckets, as did Daini and Flick. After what felt like an eternity of struggle, poor Gerald couldn’t hold on any longer, dropping the buckets and handing Brains their first ever reward. Leaving Cara to once again starve.
Oh and was the snake skin actually cursed? I don’t want to say George was right, but George is probably right.
Back at camp Brains, the tribe were delighted to see their abundant feast awaiting them, quickly firing up the barbie and smashing everything in sight. We then learnt Laura is into angel golden showers, while George was just thrilled by how great he did in the reward. Talk soon turned to Cara surviving the previous tribal council and joining Brawn, with Joey disappointed to not be able to take out another target. As such, Joey followed Baden into the water and quickly got to work teeing up a new alliance. Tragically for the former though, it was right in front of Hayley who decided now was the time to make a move and take control of the tribe.
Slay Queen Hayley.
Over at the Brawn camp, the tribe lamented their loss while Kez encouraged everyone to just keep going. Gerald on the other hand was heartbroken to have lost the challenge for the tribe and as such, felt like a target. Cara tried to rally everyone around, putting her empath powers to use. She then straight up identified Daini’s broken jaw and Shannon’s reproductive concerns and damn, she is a witch. While everyone else was crying, moved by the experience, Simon was more focused on trying to build his own bond with her before they go to the next challenge.
As such, he asked when older women go through menopause, implying she is old and just, no. Simon, no.
My love Jonathan returned for the next immunity challenge where the tribes would race up a ramp to collect ropes, build a bridge with them, cross said bridge, climb a tower and retrieve an idol and then work through obstacles before untying a platform which they need to use to lift the idol up and hook it in a cage. Oh and in addition to the challenge, Jonathan announced that a hidden immunity idol is at the end of the course and if they want it, they can go for it. Though risk annoying their tribe, obvi.
While Brains started strong, the Brawns quickly pulled away before George disappeared to make a snatch for the idol. Sadly for him, Hayley and Gerald quickly joined him, with Queen Hayley snatching it and returning everyone’s focus back to the challenge. While Brawn was still out in front, Hayley worked furiously to make up for slowing them down. Again both tribes somehow caught up at the end, but they were no match for Cara who played a calm, critical role in helping Brawn secure another immunity win.
Back at camp Joey was very blasé about the loss before Rachel encouraged everyone to go for a swim to get all the dust off themselves. As she and the alliance of four caught up, Joey obviously suggested they finally get rid of George. As everyone agreed the tribe will be so much calmer without him, Joey suggested that they split the vote between George and Wai just in case he has an idol. Everyone joined back up at camp, with George congratulating Hayley on snagging the idol and cheekily asking if she would play it for him. Which Joey felt was insufferable, though Hayley did slyly suggest that anything is possible.
Preparing for his inevitable boot, George once again wandered around looking for a miracle. He first tried for the boldest, pulling Joey and Laura aside to float other names that would be decent targets given there are weaker people in the tribe. Like say, Wai or Rachel. Joey and Laura caught up with Hayley to reiterate his pleas fell on deaf ears, however that made her frustrated given the hierarchy of the tribe is blatantly obvious and frankly, boring, if someone doesn’t step up with a big move.
As such Hayley approached Baden, suggesting that instead of following along with orders they instead take control and flip the vote on Joey. While Baden felt it was a bold choice, he was also keen to stir up some drama and force the other group into playing. Next up in her plot was talking to Rachel, who felt it was too risky a move to make. Hayley then went to Wai and knowing that she would be a tough sell, told her about the plan to split the vote on her. As such, she wanted to vote for Joey instead. While Wai was scared about burning more bridges, Hayley pointed out that if George goes, she is clearly next and as such, they will just get picked off one by one. But Wai just wanted a little time to figure out her options.
By the fire George made things awkward, asking Wai if she reflected on the last tribal council and how horrible she made him feel. And ugh, that may have been enough to turn her off joining Hayley, isn’t it? And given Hayley didn’t even get a chance to talk to George, there is no way this plan will come together, is there?
At tribal council Hayley spoke about voting Cara out to try and improve the mood in camp, with Rachel agreeing it definitely improved things as they enjoyed their feast. Georgia spoke about it being hard to vote people out, while Baden shared that he wasn’t concerned about being voted out yet and is doing what he is told. That is, until he needs to turn the tables on someone. Joey admitted to having a solid alliance, while Hayley said that pecking orders always change but she hopes her relationships will make the difference.
Laura spoke about not having a pecking order within the alliance, while Jonathan pointed out that that is what the people on the top say. Wai admitted that there is a plan at this tribal council, while Andrew agreed that something can always happen and people can pull something out of their hats. Hayley shared that she believes the tribe will be united after this vote, before George reiterated that he is an asset to the tribe and he doesn’t believe that would be the case if he goes.
This made Laura smirk and while she agreed that he was good in the reward challenge, he doesn’t contribute much in camp. As George told everyone to look forward, Georgia reiterated past behaviour is the best indicator for where things are going. That being said, Hayley tapped George on the elbow and mouthed to vote for Joey, giving him a cheeky grin, while Hayley said that everyone has had the discussions they needed to to make their decision.
With that, the tribe voted, Hayley stood firm and held on to her idol while the cool kids split the votes on Wai and George, before the votes piled up on Joey and he was booted from the game. As Hayley ascended the throne and George dodged yet another bullet.
Joey being the most eager, upbeat and energetic person on the season, he was still peppy and positive by the time we caught up in Loser Lodge. Pulling me in for a hug and ready to celebrate his entertaining, albeit short run. Emphasis on run, which is how we first met. You see, I was formerly a champion marathon runner and had a startling rivalry before my career was derailed by a hit and run – the car hit and I ran away because I wanted to watch TV, true story.
Despite the rivalry, Joey took me under his wing and nursed me back to health to the point I can now go for a bit of huffy puffy at the speed of Kath Day-Knight. Needless to say, that kindness is something I have never forgotten and as such, I was thrilled to be able to celebrate his game with some velvety Nachoey Cheese McCann.
I know American food often gets a lot of shit, but if you’ve read more than five recipes on this patch of cyberspace, you know that I passionately love it. And this gooey cheese is no different! Spicy, creamy and oh so moreish, there is nothing better to eat when you’re down.
Nachoey Cheese McCann Makes: 2 cups.
Ingredients 2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp flour ¼ tsp smoked paprika 1 cup milk 1 cup vintage cheddar cheese, grated 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste
Method In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk until fragrant, 1 minute.
Slowly add milk, whisking until no lumps remain. Add cheese and cook until melted, 5 minutes, then stir in salt and a pinch of cayenne. Serve immediately.
Previously on Australian Survivor we finished out All Stars on a bit of a whimper. I mean, sure, David played a dominant game and well and truly earnt victory, but it all ended in the midst of our first lockdown in Australia and well, if JLP isn’t reading the votes, I don’t want a bar of it. So needless to say, I’m thrilled that Osher is fiddler-ing on the roof and JLP’s gunshow is back front and centre for the new season.
Speaking of which, we kicked things off with snapshots of beaches, oceans and belly flops from the days of yore before venturing to the outback for this year’s season where the cast entered Mad Max style, though tragically without a flaming guitar or my dear friend Tina Turner in sight.
We first met Dani, my first queen, who works in a prison and is ready to take on everyone and everything. She was joined by AFL legend Gavin Wanganeen who is a total zaddy and won the Brownlow, so I love him too, even though I don’t know what a Brownlow is. But he can definitely get low on my brown, you know? Next up was Flick, a pro big wave surfer who is bound to be a star if she lives up to my dear friend and fellow big waver Ross’ iconic ways.
In the Brains fleet of cars we were first introduced to George the Labor staffer and honestly, despite myself, I love him already. He is awkward, super upbeat and said ‘putting lipstick on a pig’ so, slay queen. He was joined by Cara the real estate tycoon slash empath which is a combination I am pumped to see playout. And rounding out the little intros was Baden, former cyclist and um, did he get dumped in the wrong tribe? The man has a Commonwealth Games medal!
Finally the tribes met up in the middle of nowhere before drag racing in to find my love JLP by a croc infested stream for the very first challenge of the season. But first, we heard from brainy Rach who felt their strategic prowess will take them far, while Wai was just glad to be around like-minded peers. Simon spoke for the Brawns, calling out the Brains for struggling to walk through the water to meet Jonathan which if true, really doesn’t bode well for their chances. We then met the most adorable person to grace the planet, Gerald, who literally tipped his hat to Jonathan and told everyone that the bush is tough but they’ve all got this. Basically, I think. I was too busy swooning over his sweetness.
I mean, he howdy ma’am’ed Zaddy JLP?!
But enough about that, the tribes would be facing off against each other to release a key by either chopping a log or solving a puzzle before one person ascended a tower to direct their tribe to solve a spinning puzzle which spells their tribe name. Oh and to make things super interesting, they could either select an outback survival kit or a flint. Immediately Gerald, the professional wood chopper, released his key while poor Queen Cara struggled to solve the puzzle. Simon and his nip-slip quickly got to work directing his tribe on the puzzle, though given JLP was already reading them for filth, me thinks this isn’t going to be the blowout we’re expecting given the lead. Cara then tapped out of the puzzle and after a couple of minutes, Dr. Mitch opted that he too was stumped and as such opted to chop through the stump instead while the Brawns solved two of their five puzzle arms.
So basically, I jinxed them, right?
Wai and her delightful quoka T was the caller and screamed at her tribe, telling them to cut the crap and listen to her – essentially – before they closed the gap. Why? Because Wai is my queen and I love her. Brawn then solved another arm and took the lead back, before Brains once again tied things up. It went back and forth until both tribes desperately tried to spell their final arm, until Brawn finally solved their last word and took out the first victory of the season.
We followed Brawn back to camp where we learnt that they opted for the survival kit rather than fire, and by they I mean Simon, who was thrilled to have won the kit for the tribe. The group quickly got to know each other, celebrating their success and for Gavin, downplaying his sporting past. Something he can’t deny? The fact he is an active babe. In any event, given the tribe is made up of an MMA fighter, bodybuilders and a pro surfer, he should just lean into it. Sticking out a little bit, we met model Shannon and I love her already, because she gives zero fucks that she is half the size of the rest of the tribe. Like a bloody icon. As the groups split up to set-up camp, Shannon shared that she wished the tribe chose the fire in the reward challenge as all the boys sat around rubbing their sticks together. Which isn’t the dream I just described.
Meanwhile the Brains were gagged to arrive at camp with next to nothing before everyone introduced themselves, with Hayley thrilled to wind up on such a diverse tribe. As a Pain Researcher, she did a bunch of spreadsheets to analyse past seasons’ gameplay and well, she had me at spreadsheet, so in my eyes, she is the winner. Shut it down right now. Not-Tommy Little who I didn’t catch the name of quickly advised the tribe how to build the shelter as everyone split up and got to work.
Back with the Brawns, the boys were still rubbing their sticks, with the girls quickly growing more and more frustrated with Simon as the one who promised he’d be able to get one going. As the sun went down so did everyone’s mood, as they settled in for a long, cold night shivering under the stars. The one thing providing everyone but Simon comfort no doubt being the fact that his choice put a massive target on his back.
The next day the tribe slowly thawed out, with Kez pissed at herself for not bringing a jacket to the outback. I love her. Over it, Flick quickly directed the tribe to reinforce the walls of the shelter, while the boys tried to mentally get themselves ready to attack the fire again. Oh and we then met Daini, or Big D, who was ready to prove himself because as a bodybuilder, when he is pushed to the limit his brain is at its best. And honestly, I thought I wouldn’t vibe with him but ugh, I love him too.
Over at Brains, Phil was living their best life as they woke up refreshed after fully slotting into bush living. Meanwhile Dr Mitch was quickly finding himself as somebody that the tribe looked up to as he directed them with what jobs they could do to help him set up the camp. On the flipside, he was feeling that Wai was out of her depth and unlikely to last long. Speaking of Wai, she was trying her best to work through her nerves and feeling uncomfortable in her surroundings and I relate to it on the deepest of levels, so I love her even more.
She and George caught up by the well, with George pointing out that Mitch is being a bit of a know-it-all and was dictating rather than helping, all while an idol, clue or some sort of advantage sat behind them both. They returned to camp with George shadily reading Mitch as he quietly worked away, before George was dismissively sent away to get sticks. Though instead, he circled back to the well where he finally noticed an advantage, which he learnt gave him the power to save half the tribe from their first tribal council. Which is huge and ugh, I’m scared for Dr Zaddy.
The tribes reconvened with Jonathan for the first immunity challenge of the season where they had to race over a ramp, across a net, untie a ladder, climb up to a deck, ride a cart down the other side – which looked bloody fun – release balls and then shoot some hoops. Both tribes were neck and neck over the first two obstacles, though poor Wai appeared to be struggling at every step. Everyone arrived at the deck together with the Brains first to have a fun ride down while Brawn got their cart off the track, giving Brains a decent lead retrieving their balls. Eventually both tribes started shooting their balls, but Joey quickly got his eye in and scored the first point for the Brains as George barked at him to trade out. Sadly that meant that not-Tommy Little had to go through the learning curve to get his eye in, which was enough for Simon to get his head in the game and shoot ball after ball, redeeming his fire decision and handing Brawns immunity.
Back at camp Mitch was disappointed to have lost, though tried to use the loss as a teachable moment so the tribe could learn from their mistakes and do better in their future endeavours. He then went for a walk with Cara and Georgia, calling George out for being the know-it-all while Cara wanted to take out Phil – no Cara, no – and Georgia felt Wai was the weakest. They returned to camp to get Baden on board to take out Wai, before Mitch went person to person to spread the word. Though Phil was not loving it, given they could quickly become a target themself if Wai is gone.
Wai thankfully wasn’t taking it lying down, catching up with Hayley and suggesting that maybe they should take out the dominant personalities like say, Mitch. Which Hayley agreed wasn’t the worst idea. George quickly took this spark and ran with it, as he tried to identify who would be the best group to leave behind with Mitch to get rid of him or risk sticking it out at tribal council to get rid of him himself.
At tribal council – which as an aside, is a damn work of art – Joey spoke about how great everyone was, with Phil agreeing that they absolutely froth the tribe. Which is honestly more Australiana than something even Art would say on Drag Race Down Under. Wai meanwhile was nervous about first impressions, though wanted everyone to look beyond that and focus on those that had the best intentions for the tribe. This made Mitch raise an eyebrow, wanting the tribe to stay as strong as possible to avoid coming back, despite the joy of kikiing with JLP obvi. This pissed off George who was annoyed about how focusing on strength would set up a society he doesn’t want to be a part of. And he wanted to give everyone enough time to shine, which Baden said was not what the game was about.
Baden and George then argued back and forth, with George pointing out that the tribe has a dictatorship and he wanted to make decisions that give everyone the chance to shine. This irked Mitch who felt like Geroge was out to get him – which he is – while Wai agreed with JLP that winning challenges isn’t the way to win the game and instead, they needed to be smart. Mitch started to stew about George coming for him, with the latter starting to fire up and really throw down. All with a smile on his face.
Just before everyone went off to vote, George stopped the proceedings to play his advantage, saving himself and taking Rachel, Baden, Cara, Georgia and Wai back with him to camp, leaving Micth at the mercy of Phil, Joey, Hayley, Laura and not-Tommy Little. And well, Mitch was straight up pissed because both of his targets just went back to camp. The remaining six agreed that George just blew up his entire game with literally everyone, while Phil was nervous that they could become collateral damage for the decision. Hayley reminded her tribe that she is an asset to them, while Joey admitted that he was just going to vote for whoever he thinks everyone else will vote for. Which is something Hayley quickly agreed with, I assume because she didn’t feel like the obvious target.
With that, the half-tribe voted and my dear friend Phil found themselves becoming the first boot of the season. And well, let’s just say, I was not bloody happy about it.
Not. At. ALL.
I mean, go on Tenplay, rewatch the episode and as the fourth Phil vote popped up you can hear an odd chop in the audio. That was where they had to cut around my screams from the heart of Cloncurry, enraged at the thought that an easily mid-Jury player and icon was felled by the same stinking twist that robbed us of Michelle Yi in the original Fiji.
As Phil made it back to town, they quickly found me in the kitchen as a small army of locals had corralled around to see what was causing the scene. Phil pushed his way into the kitchen, took me in their arms and wrapped me in a blanket that was freshly crocheted on the drive from tribal council to town. You see, as fellow social media sensations, Phil and I have been the best of friends for years now and they knew that the only thing worse than me playing Survivor and getting booted immediately, was me having to watch it happen to them.
As such, they held my hand as I shakily got to work, while still sobbing, plating up some comforting and brand appropriate Sweet Chili Philly Ferguson.
Given I was so grief stricken, I was thrilled that this dish was so simple. But despite the minimal effort, this one still packs a glorious punch! The tang of the cream cheese and the hit of chilli are the perfect duo for a nostalgic little snack while trying to distract from your heartache.
Sweet Chili Philly Ferguson Serves: 2 dear friends. Inspired by the delightful pre-tubbed dip birthed in the mid-00s & was absolutely ‘uuuge in Tweed.
Ingredients 250g Philadelphia cream cheese, or you know any brand but for the name alone, I was loyal ⅓ cup sweet chilli sauce Jatz to serve, because this is a nostalgic trip and I’d have nothing else
Method Now strap yourself in because this is a tough one, ok?
First, dollop some cream cheese on a plate and then pour over sweet chilli.
Then devour, still raging that George heroically saving Wai burnt my love Phil.
It really is true what they say about when it rains, it pours – not the famous Survivor challenge which Shi-Ann won in All Stars, upsetting the apple cart – as no sooner had Keke Palmer left my apartment, was my phone ringing again with Michelle Branch inviting herself over to join the fun.
While I am ashamed to admit that I oft get her and my other friend Vanessa Carlton mixed up, I was happy to oblige and welcome her to this ‘ere patch of cyberspace.
I first met Michelle almost two decades ago when she did a set visit to American Pie 2 to sell her hit song Everywhere. While my dearest Tara and Eugene weren’t sold on it fitting the narrative flow of the movie, I soon convinced them it would work perfectly during the scene where Jason Biggs superglues his hand to his dick.
And the rest, as they also say, is history.
Given I am the one that pushed to get her big break, Michelle trusted my judgement and agreed to fall under my tutelage. That lent to a couple of more singles, a Grammy winning collab with Santana and you could say, I was successful.
We tragically haven’t caught up in the last few years, given she has been busy with a wee bebe at home, so it was a treat to catch up, share a few laughs and jug vats of Michelle Branch Dressing. Which is weird but totally our thing, you know.
A little sweet, kinda tart and silky smooth, ranch is the perfect accompaniment to any salad, hot wings or anything spicy, TBH. Or, you can drink it like nectar. No judgement.
Michelle Branch Dressing Makes: 1 cup.
Ingredients ⅔ cup Shayonnaise Swain ¼ cup buttermilk 2 tbsp champagne vinegar 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1 tbsp chives, thinly sliced ½ tsp paprika salt and pepper, to taste
Method Place everything in a jar. Shake well. And down.
Or refrigerate until ready to serve with something else. Though it doesn’t really need it, you know.
I don’t want to make this year’s Oscar Gold celebration – Call Me By Your Gold – about A Star is Born but to be honest, it and Bohemian Rhapsody did inspire me to reach out to today’s guest. Eternally delightful, America’s Sweetheart and Oscar winning musical performer Reese Witherspoon.
I’ve known Reese since the mid-90s after meeting on the set of Fear – I was dating Markie Mark at the time – but it wasn’t until a few years later that our friendship blossomed. I went from introducing her to my fluffee Ryan Phillippe on the Cruel Intentions set before helping her to play a character based off my high school years in a little known movie called Election.
Given one gave her her two eldest children and the other launched her into serious actress category, it goes without saying she is grateful for my love and support.
While we’ve tragically been separated by our busy schedules, it was such a treat to be able to get together and honour the Oscars and catch-up. Given her star turn in Monsters vs. Aliens, I kicked off running the odds with Best Animated Feature which Reese thinks will surprise for Incredibles 2 while I can’t go past Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse as much as my puppy thinks Isle of Dogs has it in the bag. When it comes to lead performances we agree that my dearest Rami Malek needs to win Best Actor if there’s any justice in the world, while we’re both backing Glenn Close for being an icon, I believe that Melissa McCarthy is the truly deserving person in the category. Sorry Gaga.
We may not have agreed much on victors this date, but there was no denying how glorious the piping hot Capreese Dip Witherspoon was.
Gooey and sweet, this is quite possibly one of my favourite warm dips. I mean take a salad that proves you can make friends with salad, then chuck it in the oven and spread it on crackers? Iconic.
Capreese Dip Witherspoon Serves: 2 chatty friends. Or 6 reg peeps, I guess?
Ingredients 200g bocconcini, drained 200g roma tomatoes, roughly chopped ½ cup grated mozzarella ⅓ cup basil, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 tbsp olive oil
Method Preheat an oven to 180C.
Combine everything in a large bowl and transfer into a baking dish. Place in the oven and cook for twenty minutes, or until bubbly and hot.
Despite the fact that she is slaying the award season game with her film debut, my dear friend Lady Gaga will always be the scrappy little recording artist that could. While I irrationally hated Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta from the first moment I saw her, I am so grateful that Tony Bennett was able to talk sense into me and allow the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
I mean, 100 of my fellow celebrities had told me that I would love Gaga’s sweet, creative soul but it took just one to get through to me and for that, I will always be grateful to Tone.
But enough about Tone, this is about thrice Academy and Emmy Award nominated, six time Grammy winning and my dear friend, Gaga. As I said, my own stupidity kept me from years of friendship with Ga – as only her best friends call her – and while that often wakes me in a cold sweat, I am glad at how quickly we developed the beautiful friendship we have.
Given she is busy residenc-ing and attendee literally every single award show on the planet, I decided to swing by for a post Oscar-nominees luncheon date and, you guessed it, run the odds for the Grammys.
Given she has made a splash in the film world I bequeathed her the honour of helping me pick who will take out Best Music Film and while I see merits in Whitney winning like Ga thinks, I can’t go past Quincy. While I am a dear friend of both Jay and Bey, neither of us can see them beating Childish Gambino’s This Is America.
Obviously I couldn’t bet against Gaga for Best Pop Solo Performance or Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, so we focused on me betting the house on Tony Bennett and Diana Krall’s Love Is Here to Stay for BEst Traditional Pop Vocal Album – though Babs is my most likely spoiler – and my love for Kelly Clarkson isn’t enough to make me bet against Camila Cabello’s creatively titled Camila taking out Best Pop Vocal Album.
While running all those odds can be hungry work, I know that the Academy serves calorie rich food at the nominees luncheon – checky during awards season, no? – so I opted to keep it light with a delicious Lady Gaugamole.
Nobody loves avocados more than I – excluding Queer Eye’s Antony, obviously – however I had never tasted guac perfection until I encountered Chipotle. Oh Chipotle, how I love you so! The spicy, glorious guac bursting from a burrito and washed down with some Pibb Extreme is my idea of heaven. But this is not an add, focus on their guac – fresh and zingy, it is perfect all by itself.
Lady Gaugamole Serves: 4.
Ingredients 2 ripe avocados
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tbsp coriander
1 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
¼ tsp kosher salt Tortea Leoni Chips, to serve
Method Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and mash the flesh.
I’ve been feeling super rundown and sad after returning to work, so I reached out to my dear friend Carole Radziwill – or Radzi as Countess LuAnn and I call her – and thankfully she was free to drop by.
Obviously I met Carole and her late husband Anthony in the ‘90s when I interned at ABC to try and woo Anthony in the hope of marrying into the wider Kennedy family. While he only had eyes for Carole, I was immediately taken by her down to earth nature and the love they shared and bowed out with dignity for once.
Watching their love grow and becoming such dear friends was a true blessing, however the tragic way it came to a close was painful to watch and I am glad I was able to support Caz through the horrible period she lived through in ‘99.
Oh and fun fact: our closeness if what made Aviva accuse her of using a ghostwriter. Which she didn’t do as she is an award winning journalist, damnit.
Thankfully our life is a bit less traumatic now – Caz’s even more so after bowing out of RHONY and leaving Dorinda as my sole fave – so it was such a delight to just sit, gossip and on my part, try and convince her to return to The Housewives if I can convince Andy to get rid of The B.
While she didn’t appear open to it, she was thrilled to open her mouth and smash a vat of my Carole Radtzikiwill.
As a child, I hated the entire concept of tzatziki. I don’t know if it is the general vibe of dodgy 90s or my irrational rage against cucumber, but I couldn’t stomach it. Until I had a really good one and I fell in love. Fresh, zingy and packing a punch, it is beautiful on its own or perfect slathered on a yiro or souvlaki.
Carole Radtzikiwill Serves: 4-6.
Ingredients 1 ½ cups greek yoghurt.
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste