Previously on Australian Survivor 24 castaways arrived on the beaches of Samoa divided into Heroes or Villains depending on either how they play the game – for our 11 returnees – or how they intended to, for our newbies. Or their profession, in the case of our journos and real estate agents. As quickly as she came back for her redemption, poor Jackie was medevaced. She was followed by a string of newbies as Anjali, Michael, Mimi, Rogue and Sarah soon followed. George then set his sights on his nemesis Simon, but after a surprise individual immunity challenge we lived through the best tribal council of all time which cost Fraser his spot.
Iconic scream queen Sharni was next to go (back to Yabbie Creek, darl) before the swap (thankfully) cost Paige her spot in the game. We then suffered the tragedy of losing sweet Jordie before my dear friend and legit hero Benjamin Law was shown the door. Internal battles between the Spice Girls caused Stevie to be blindsided just ahead of the merge, before George’s instincts proved correct as Flick turned on them while Matt stayed loyal, allowing the OG Villains to take control and boot David from the game.
For her deception, Flick became Australia’s first ever Queen of the Jury before a lack of mateship sent Sam out. George then broke our hearts by turning on Shonee before the Villains turned their attention back to eliminating Heroes in the form of Shaun and Hayley. George and Simon’s feud finally came to a head with the King booting sweet, power-bottom Simon before Nina became the first Twine to join the jury.
The final four were gagged by Jonathan when he announced that they would be eliminating a juror with Matt and Gerry pushing to get rid of Shonee, given she was 100% in Liz’s corner. Which should have been a warning to George that he would not be making it to the final tribal council again, with the final three newbies banding together to send him to the ALL RETURNEE jury. At the final tribal council Liz well and truly rose to the occasion, laying out a comprehensive, nearly watertight argument why she deserved the win. Before the jury awarded her unanimously, making her our second Olympian to take out the crown. I mean, if presenting to the jury was an Olympic sport, she would come out on top while Sharn, famed barrister and two-time runner-up wouldn’t even qualify.
While the edit may not have shoved it down our throats, there is a very clear reason why Liz was not only the final woman and villain standing, but our newly minted Sole Survivor. And that is because she not only played a hell of a social game but also knew when to make the right moves. It may not have been the most exciting television watching the newbies ride it out with George at the end, however it made the most sense to use him as a shield as he will always be easy to eliminate at the end (another reason Sandra should actually always make it to the end, but people get too excited) as their best shot was with each other.
Despite Matt opting to eliminate Shonee from the jury for being a locked in Liz vote, he clearly underestimated the bonds she made and how well she would be able to articulate her game. Which is why he landed in second and she joins our iconic pantheon of winners. As the fireworks settled, I pulled her in for a massive hug – did you know I was a champion pole vaulter and we became friends on the circuit? – and thanked her for keeping us fed this season. More important than winning the title, she also managed to put an end to the long running Survivor curse and that is worth celebrating, with a glorious Liz Parciuttov & Asparagus Pizza.
This pizza is so delicious, it is hardly a surprise it had the power to end the curse. The earthiness of the asparagus works perfectly with the salty tang of the prosciutto and the creamy ricotta to deliver a pizza fit for the newest queen.
Liz Parciuttov & Asparagus Pizza Serves: 4.
Ingredients 2 bases as per Pizsa Zsa Gabor ⅔ cup ricotta kosher salt and pepper, to taste 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into lengths 1 lemon, zested 2 tbsp chives, thinly sliced ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated 6 slices of prosciutto, roughly chopped
Method Prep the bases as per Zsa Zsa’s instructions and preheat the oven to 180°C.
Spread a thin layer of ricotta over the bases, followed by a sprinkle of salt and a good whack of pepper. Add the asparagus, lemon zest, chives and parmesan, before topping with the prosciutto. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
Serve and devour triumphantly, knowing you’re the one person great enough to break an epic(ish) curse.
Previously on Survivor 18 new castaways were marooned on the islands of Fiji to start the (shortened) adventure of a lifetime. After losing back to back – or it is Baka to Baka – challenges, Baka went to tribal and tragically booted sweet Morriah from the competition. That departure set off a chain reaction of females getting targeted, with Justine, Nneka and Lindsay all following her out the door.
After a brief reprieve to blindside Geo from the game, the three tribes were dissolved and we entered the earn-the-merge phase of the game. Gabler led the charge against his nemesis Elie, booting her from the game before the Gaia tribe was formed. At that point Dwight was blindsided, seemingly with Jeanine’s idol in his pocket before Jeanine was booted to become the Queen of the Jury. In a split tribal council James and Ryan were booted back-to-back before Noelle proved too great a threat to leave in the game, before Sami’s double dealing saw him joining the jury right behind her.
At the final six things got feisty as Jesse pulled out Cody’s idol and played it on Owen to spook Karla into playing hers, allowing the tribe to blindside Cody from the game in a brutal fashion. That left Karla in danger at final five after Jesse played Jeanine’s idol to save himself, sending Queen Karla to the jury. Tragically that was as far as Jesse’s journey went though, as Cassidy took out final immunity, pulled Owen to the end with her and left Gabler to eliminate the biggest threat in the fire challenge.
The jury grilled the final three to figure out who they felt was most deserving of the win and while they each argued compelling cases, it was clear they were vibing with Gabler’s charming answers. Which ultimately left Owen finishing in third place and Cassidy as a very capable runner-up.
Thankfully despite sharing his plans to donate the entire prize to charity with us earlier in the episode, Gabler kept it a surprise to the jury meaning people couldn’t use it as a way to invalidate his win. As Gabler clearly articulated throughout the season, he played a stealth game, popping up to take out his rivals when needed and dropping back down to hide when he didn’t need to make a play. And while that isn’t always exciting to watch, it is effective and add in the fact he is a fun character, he makes a worthy entrant in the winner’s circle.
Plus the way he donated the prize to Veterans in Need in his fathers name had me crying. By the time he sweetly dedicated the win to everyone in the cast and how they all gave him something to learn and grow from, which is what compelled him to give back, I was a blubbering mess as I toasted his victory with a piping out tray of Mike Gabler Cheese Balls.
Gloriously gooey mac and cheese formed into perfect balls, chilled, coated and fried until crunchy, these are the perfect dish for providing you with culinary comfort or to mark a hard fought victory.
Mike Gabler Cheese Balls Serves: 6.
Ingredients 500g macaroni pasta ¼ cup butter 2 ¼ cups flour 3 cups milk 1 cup cream 2 tbsp dijon mustard 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated ⅔ cup gruyere cheese, grated ⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated salt and pepper, to taste 3 eggs, whisked 2 cups panko breadcrumbs vegetable oil, for fryin’
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook macaroni according to packet directions. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir in ¼ cup of flour to make a roux. Remove from the heat and whisk in milk, cream and mustard before returning to the heat and simmering until thickened. Add ¾ of each of the cheeses and season to taste. Pour into a lined baking sheet and allow to cool before covering and popping in the fridge for an hour or two to firm up.
When you’re ready to go, take ¼ cup of mixture and roll into balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Roll each in the remaining flour, followed by the whisked egg and finally the breadcrumbs.
Pop about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat and once scorching, fry each ball for about five minutes or until golden and crunchy. Remove to drain on some paper towel before repeating the process until done. Then devour, greedily.
Previously on Survivor 18 new castaways were marooned on the islands of Fiji, ready to repeat all the tricks of last season. But hot damn did they have more success. Despite tragically losing Jackson before the first immunity challenge, the Ika tribe arrived at tribal council ready to play. Sadly for Zach, that was as far as his game went. More importantly, it also broke Maryanne’s heart as he was the literal embodiment of every white man she has ever loved. We then lost Marya, Jenny and Swati in quick succession, before Daniel blew up his game and set up the demise of Vati post-merge.
Speaking of which, the fake merge cost Lydia her game before Chanelle became the queen of the jury. Ika lost Rocksroy and Tori in a double tribal council before Omar took control by getting rid of Hai and Drea. In turn, that painted a target on his back and got him booted by Maryanne’s epic 3-2-2 play. This then led to Lindsay getting booted before the fire making challenge took out Jonathan, leaving Romeo, Mike and Maryanne to face the jury at final tribal council.
Despite Romeo putting in a strong showing, he came out of the experience with nary a vote while Mike’s subpar performance scored him only one as the jury gave Maryanne a resounding win for not only a game well played, but for dominating final tribal council.
After the cast finished filming the on island reunion, I quickly pulled Maryanne aside to toast her success. While she had a wild yet somehow quiet game at the start, she expertly read the room and was able to reset once she realised how she was being perceived, leading her on a path to greatness. Pulling off some epic moves at the right moments to not only get her to the end, but earn her the win. More importantly, she also was an epic and engaging character that will go down in the pantheon of legends. But for now, we’ll always have Maryanne Picoketchutney.
I always had a fear of the bright yellow pickle that lived in my fridge as a child, but thankfully with time comes wisdom and as an adult, my love affair began. Super tart, a little bit sweet and lightly spice, this is the perfect accompaniment for any occasion. Particularly a win.
Maryanne Picoketchutney Makes: 1.5L.
Ingredients 500g cauliflower, cut into small florets 200g zucchini, cut into a fine dice 100g green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced 1 onion, diced 2 tbsp sea salt 600ml malt vinegar 3 tbsp English mustard powder 1 tbsp coriander seeds 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds 2 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp turmeric ¼ cup plain flour ⅔ cup raw caster sugar 2 bay leaves
Method Combine the cauliflower, zucchini, beans and onion in a bowl with the salt. Cover and leave to steep at room temperature overnight. In the morning, rinse under cold water and drain.
Whisk 100 ml of vinegar with the mustard powder, coriander, mustard and cumin seeds, turmeric and flour to form a paste.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the mustard mixture and cook for a couple of minutes, or until starting to thicken. Add the drained vegetables and cook for a further couple of minutes.
Ladle the mixture into sterilised jars and seal immediately, storing in a cool dark place until opened. Then devour, immediately.
Previously on Australian Survivor 22 people were forced to trek their way into the Australian bush with a loved one, ready to battle in the adventure of a lifetime. Upon meeting Jonathan by a watering hole, a chopper emerged and deposited the undisputed queen of Survivor, Sandra Diaz-Twine and her daughter to join the frey. One by one, they were voted out starting with Andy, Brianna and Kate. The tribes then swapped to stop the decimation of Queenslanders, before Alex and his sister’s now-ex Jay followed back-to-back.
There was then a genuine swap which tragically culminated in my least-favourite Survivor curse having its three-peat, as Sandra was voted out on Day 16. She was then followed out the door by Sophie and Amy, before tragedy struck as Princess Nina injured her leg in a challenge and was pulled from the game. After another cheeky swap, Croc and Ben were then felled before the tribes were no more and the Lava tribe – vom – was formed.
Tragically the merge cost us Khanh, though he then became the King of the Jury, which is super important, if you ask me. He was followed by Mel, Jesse – after Sam stole his idol – Michelle and Jordan before Sam, again tragically, was blindsided from the game. With that, Dave was felled, followed by Jordie, KJ and Josh, leaving Shay, Chrissy and Mark to battle it out at tribal council.
While I wish the jury were more receptive of the game the girls played, there is no denying that Mark and Sam dominated the season from start to finish. More importantly, they came into it with a very clear plan on how to play as a duo. While I would have found Sam to be a far more exciting winner, it was clear she would have had a harder time making it to the end and winning over the male-dominated jury. As such, they cut her at the right time, reducing Mark’s threat level at a key moment to help propel him into the end game.
By the time it came to perfectly articulating his game and winning over the jury with the right mix of praise, self-awareness and confidence, there was no denying he was more than worthy of the title of Sole Survivor. And the freshly made Markscapone Wales that goes along with it.
There is nothing better than cheese. I mean, I am fairly certain I am lactose intolerant, but I will live my life in gastrointestinal distress for any and all cheese. And given how easy and tasty fresh mascarpone is, that distress will likely become my standard state. Smooth and creamy, it is, like Mark, an absolute winner.
Markscapone Wales Makes: 1.
Ingredients 450ml cream 2 tsp lemon juice
Method Stir the cream in a large-ish saucepan over medium heat with a wooden spoon until it reaches 85C on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until it drops to 60C. Return to the heat and bring it back up to 85C before stirring through the lemon juice, maintaining the temp for a few minutes. Continuing to stir, remove from the heat and bring the temperature down to 60C.
Pour the mixture into a glass bowl, cover with cling or a tightly fitted lid and insulate with a tea towel. Sit at room temp for a few hours.
Once chill, pop a sieve over a clean bowl and line with 4 layers of cheesecloth. Pour the cooled cream through the cloth and cover with plastic and a clean tea towel. Transfer to the fridge to set for at least 24 hours. Before devouring, victoriously!
Previously on Australian Survivor the final four met Jonathan on a cliff over a watering hole in the middle of the outback, ready to hang over the edge for their final immunity challenge of the season. Because surprise, as we’ve expected, there was going to be a final three this year! As everyone has speculated throughout the season, Shay took out the final endurance challenge of the season, leaving the boys and Chrissy at risk. Despite assuring Chrissy that she had her back, the boys tried to run interference and confusion. Or at least Josh did, as Mark quietly joined the girls to eliminate Josh as the final juror AND Fourth Place Robbed Goddess of the season.
The next day Chrissy was heartbroken to discover that she had burnt her socks while trying to dry them on the fire before Shay interrupted her bickering with Mark to pull them aside for a walk. Mark admitted that he is proud to have made it to the end though is super grateful to Sam, given she played a massive part in him making it all the way. And PREACH, because she was an absolute powerhouse this season. Mark then opened up about his time in the military and how tough it was and that living in the bush had reminded him of some of the situations he had encountered, leading to him breaking down.
And again, congratulations Mark. But damn, Chrissy was so sweet as she told him that he will now have memories of his time on Survivor when he sees a creek, rather than the trauma of war, and helped him process his emotions. So he can win the competition and Chrissy just gets our hearts, I guess?
The trio headed back to camp where they discovered a huge basket of food for the traditional final three feast as we heard from Shay, who was proud to show that women can be strong icons and ugh, I love her. While Chrissy was just completely shocked to have made it to the end, she reminded us that her name has never come up and that proves that she has played a strong game, though the fear is that a jury may not value it enough to reward her with a vote. Though trust and believe she was ready to tell Khanh how bloody good he has looked, rocking his fashions on the jury.
The final three arrived at tribal council where Jonathan introduced the jury and ran through how this evening’s proceedings would go. Each member of the final three would get to make their pitch, followed by the jury asking questions followed by an open forum. Oh and then they will vote for a winner.
Mark kicked things off talking about how stepping out into Samoa changed his life, though lost the game of Survivor, making him and Sam enter this game with a steely focus. He highlighted that he has been playing a strong strategic game from the very first tribal council by taking out Andy as a threat. He then chose to stay away from Sam at the swap before ruining the season for me by taking out Sandra. He then praised Khanh for playing such a strong game which is why he blindsided him at the merge before praising Jesse as one of the biggest threats, which is why he had to go. He then continued the praise game, explaining he has been pumping Josh up all season to have a meat shield at the end of the game and as such, his departure is why he is sitting there.
Shay meanwhile spoke about how she has fought hard throughout the entire season, losing her allies before merge came and at her lowest after being sent to Purgatory. She then fought her way back and has pushed herself all season. Oh and she also won the most immunities throughout the season. Chrissy went a different route, telling the jury that she has played a far stronger game than any of them even realised, relying on her biggest strength, her personality. One by one she formed bonds with everyone in the tribe, before she went against Croc to save Jesse post-swap which ultimately cost him his place in the game, leading to her taking out Ben. She then said that while she loves Josh and sees him as her family, getting rid of him was her big move.
She then finished it off by praising the jury for being icons that taught her a bunch too, just for good measure. And damn, may she will actually take it?
Jonathan then opened the floor to the jury with Khanh questioning Mark over how he felt about screwing his wife over to get to the end with him admitting that they were always playing the game for one of them to win and they had to do what they had to do. Jordie jumped in to question why he made Jordie feel like shit for sending Jesse from the game when he did the same thing, which led to Mark apologising for making him feel a bit shit to get himself further. KJ meanwhile asked Chrissy whether putting the needs of those she loves in the game ahead of herself ruined her game with Chrissy explaining she did end up turning on Josh. In no small part thanks to her kids.
Michelle asked Shay how she would rate her game with Shay giving herself a solid 8 – no 8.5 – explaining that she always played from the minority and as such, she couldn’t pull the big moves like everyone else but she fought tooth and nail to get to the end. Josh meanwhile cussed out Chrissy for voting him out despite the fact he voted against her too. She explained that things felt off with him after the immunity challenge and as such, she knew he was making a move against her. He then asked Mark why he also turned on him with Mark essentially giving him the, too bad so sad, it was what I had to do to give myself the best shot at the win. Since that is why he is here, for his family.
Speaking of family, Sam was up next, who spoke about how much the jury loves the game and while it is obvious she is voting Mark, she wants to know what winning would mean to Chrissy. She opened up about coming into the game having zero clue about the journey she was signing up to and well, yeah, the jury didn’t like it. Jesse followed it up asking Mark how managing his threat level got him to the end, with Mark opening up about trying to make as many friends as possible and then essentially laying as low as possible. And then when Jordie identified him as a threat, he just agreed that he was so that it kind of disarms the issue. Leading to Jordie praising him for being a role model to him and his brother and damn, they really are telegraphing this win, no?
With that the jury voted before Jonathan wheeled out a TV to Skype with their loved ones with poor tired little Harry just wanting to go to sleep while Sam and Mark held back tears over how much they missed their son. Jonathan then wheeled out his dad and stepmother in the flesh before the tears really started flowing. Shay’s parents and Ben arrived on the scene with her mum rocking pink hair like an icon and well, her dad is adorbs, so I love them too. Chrissy’s daughters were then wheeled out and once again, I am crying. I’m also crying to see Croc again, given he was the iconic alpha male winner that we deserve. Most importantly, her daughter Lulu is a Jonathan stan too and well, I love her. Particularly since she felt sad for Chrissy having to sleep in the dirt for almost 50 days.
Chrissy admitted that it is what it is at this point, while Mark was grateful to have his parents here while Shay would be honoured for the jury to crown her as their winner. Sadly for her though, they did not, as the votes all piled up on Mark and handed him the win.
As soon as she wandered out of tribal council, I pulled Shay in for a massive hug and congratulated her on a job well done. While the jury clearly didn’t appreciate her gameplay, there is no denying that she dominated physically and when nobody is willing to play with you on a strategic level, what else do you do? As such, I toasted her success and celebrated her with a piping out Shayelle Larbjoie.
Piping hot and packed with flavour, there is nothing quite like a perfectly cooked larb. And while I may not be perfect (at cooking larb, at least), this is still a glorious punch of flavour. Hot, salty and sweet, it fills your palette with joy. Basically.
Shayelle Larbjoie Serves: 4.
Ingredients ¼ cup jasmine rice 2 tbsp vegetable oil 6 shallots, sliced 500g chicken mince 1 tsp muscovado sugar 2 tbsp fish sauce 2 limes, zested and juiced 1 tsp lemongrass 2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced ¼ cup coriander, roughly chopped ½ cup mint, roughly chopped salt, to taste
Method Place a wok over low heat and toast the dry grains, stirring frequently, for about five minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, grind and set aside to cool. Add the oil to the wok and fry half the shallots until crisp. Scoop out and transfer to a sheet of paper towel.
Crank the heat to medium and once scorching, add the chicken and cook until browned and crisp. Add in the sugar, fish sauce and lime zest and juice and stir until sticky. Add the ground rice, raw shallots and herbs and cook for a further minute before seasoning to taste.
Serve immediately, with a sprinkling of fried shallots and then devour.
Previously on Australian Survivor Sophie was feeling her oats as the cockroach of the season, despite the fact she only miraculously dodged the boot twice in a row due to a twist and Alex quitting rather than skill or gameplay. Identifying Khanh as a big threat, she realised aligning with him could be mutually beneficial and approached him about aligning. Which he sadly had zero interest in. With Sophie gone from the tribe, the alphas were outnumbered on Blood, though after losing the immunity challenge miraculously were able to make some new friends. After Amy found an idol, she was ready to make a strike on Sandra and take control, however the Queen had already sadly scooped them up as they banded together to boot Amy’s bestie Jay.
The next day things were very zen over at the Water tribe as Nina shared how well positioned she was in the tribe and how she was excelling at the game. While I would have loved to hear more from Nina, I was just as distracted as the cameraperson was when her ally Jordie started to repeatedly flash his bum. And just like that, I was back to stanning our overall king. Despite the excitement and the joy of hearing how well Nina is playing, I couldn’t help but become filled with dread as she opened up about being confident in her chances of making it to the end.
The two tribes reconvened with Jonathan where Sam spoke about how united their tribe was, which perfectly cued up JLP to tell them to drop their buffs. Yep, it’s tribe swap time! Given there were 19 people remaining, Sandra, Amy, Dave and Jordan were joined by Shay, Nina, Jordie, Josh and Mel on Blood, while Khanh, Chrissy, KJ and Sophie welcomed Sam, Michelle, Croc, Ben and Jesse on Water, leaving poor Mark tribeless. Well, for a moment, as he was given the right to choose which tribe to join, ultimately selecting to join Blood. Much to the absolute rage of his wife Sam, who was SO ready to play with him. Not wanting to play with their loved one however was Nina, who was heartbroken to be on a tribe with her mother given she now has a huge target on her back. And once again, dread.
Before we could enjoy any drama, Jonathan explained that to take out the reward four people at a time from each tribe would battle in a boat tug-o-war competition to capture a flag, with the first new tribe to three scoring a reward of hot dogs and soda, so you know I would have died to win if I was out there. First up Ben, Croc, Chrissy and Sophie faced off against Mark, Jordan, Mel and Sandra, with the new Water tribe quickly scoring the first point. Josh, Mark, David and Jordie methodically then worked together to tie things up over Croc, Khanh, Jesse and Ben. Sandra, Mel, Shay and Nina worked hard on the third round though were eventually overpowered by Sophie, Sam, KJ and Michelle who scored the second point. Oh and then Ben, Sophie, Croc and Chrissy blitzed through the next round, jagging reward for their tribe. And most importantly, we got to see Ben cheering in his speedo, so everyone is truly a winner.
Back at camp the new Water tribe were delighted to find their hot dog cart, quickly getting to work smashing their snacks and soft drinks. While Sam was thrilled they proved themselves as a new tribe, Chrissy was just thrilled to finally have Croc by her side before talk turned to the fact that Mark was given a choice to join the tribe with Sam and instead opted to keep themselves separated a little longer. Which Sam admitted was a strong strategic decision, despite it hurting. After Croc spoke about feeling bad for those that couldn’t reunite with their pair, Sam and Sophie went for a walk to clear the air and while Sophie promised there were no hard feelings, Sam was very sure that she couldn’t be trusted.
Chrissy interrupted the calm celebrations when she noticed a clue hidden in the side of the cart, quickly rushing to it to snatch it without anyone noticing as she shoved it up her pants. Successfully managing to keep it there, unlike Sharn. Well, until she and Croc awkwardly hugged and she handed it off to him. Back at camp, they went for a walk together where they read their clue and upon Chrissy figuring out where their idol would be, darted off to the river to jag it without anyone noticing. With Croc planning to keep it secret, given that is the advice Sandra gave him and ugh, I now love Croc.
We finally checked in on the new Blood tribe where Jordie was thrilled by how the swap played out for him, keeping him with all of his closest allies and in the majority on the new tribe. And well, to say he was confident is an understatement. Jordie immediately identified Sandra as the biggest threat and vowed to get rid of her ASAP. Essentially. Mark opened up about deciding to stay away from Sam, knowing it was the safest option for them, despite it not being what he truly wanted. As everyone washed off in the water and formed quick bonds, poor Sandra was left alone with Dave back at camp and attempted to try and start over with him, given it is her only option. While she was hopeful Nina’s strong bonds and likability would be able to help her out, she was still very nervous.
Speaking of Nina, she was thrilled to still be on a tribe with all of her allies but sadly – though wisely for her – she approached them to assure them that should they want to vote out her mum, she will be ok with it. While she quietly wondered to us whether she could really bring herself to break her mum’s trust, she also felt it would be hard to cross her allies too.
The tribes reconvened for the immunity challenge where Jonathan explained they would chop through a rope to release a net, climb said net to cross a tower, collect some boxes on balance beams, climb up another tower where they would drop the boxes over the side in an attempt to release a ball. And then use said ball to solve a table maze. Josh got Blood out to the earliest of leads, though they were quickly overtaken by Water who whipped up the nets. After Michelle fell on the balance beams, Blood managed to pull ahead again. Well until they struggled to smash their boxes, giving Water a huge lead while solving their table maze. Sadly, they couldn’t get it together as Nina started to talk her tribe through the puzzle. Though not quickly enough, as Water narrowly took out immunity.
And left Sandra to contend with her Day 16 curse. Much to my mildly simmering rage.
Back at camp Nina quickly apologised for choking while calling the challenge while the rest of the tribe tried to rally and raise her up. Sandra meanwhile stressed about having to go to tribal council on Day 16, though she was hopeful Nina’s connections may be able to keep around for another few days and break said curse. Not wanting to rest on her laurels though, Sandra caught up with Mark and pointed out she has issues with Dave should they be looking for a target, while Dave, Jordie and the cousins hung out to lock in the vote for Mel. Nina went for a walk with Shay and Josh with them filling Nina in on the plan to get rid of Mel, given she is clumsy and may be a liability in future challenges. Which was music to Nina’s, and importantly my ears.
Sandra meanwhile was back in the water with Jordan, Dave and Amy, with them shocked by the fact Water are willing to get rid of one of their own despite being in the minority. Sadly it was at that moment that Jordie decided they really should have some fun with the vote and instead take out one of the weaker OG Blood women in the form of Sandra, and then at a whisper, Amy.
Jordie, Josh and Mark giddily locked in the vote for Sandra given she is not only weaker and from the rival tribe but most importantly, a massive threat. While Jordie and Josh wanted to give Nina a heads up, Mark assured them it was too dangerous given she could get Shay to play her idol to save her mother and ruin not only their plans but their alliance. Speaking of which, Nina, Sandra and Shay were catching up and well, this better end with an idol play otherwise I’ll be heartbroken. While the trio felt the vote was still going Mel’s way, Sandra worried about what would happen after that given there is nowhere else for her to hide. Even though she isn’t even hiding anymore.
Mark, Jordie and Josh caught up with the other former OG Blood members and Mel to float the Sandra plan and tragically everyone seemed thrilled to jump on board. Thankfully though Nina could tell that Mark and Mel were acting weird with her and as such, felt like something was up. While Jordie caught up with Sandra and assured him the plan was still on Mel, desperate to claim the scalp of Sandra in a blindside.
At tribal council Sandra spoke about being happy with the new tribe, reiterating how proud she is to still be in the game. Mel opened up about being nervous about the upcoming vote, while Mark tried to downplay the fact the original Water tribe hold the majority in this new tribe. Which Jordie reiterated, though far less eloquently. Shay mentioned that she would be voting on strength, given she is desperate for some food and to get another win. This got Sandra fired up, announcing that is not how Survivor works or how it is played, given one person is not a deciding factor in losing a challenge. Sandra then doubled down and pointed out that alliances are more important because come merge, the weak will outnumber the strong and once the strong people start losing immunity, they are immediately booted. Unless they have allies willing to protect them.
This speech spooked Shay, given she thought she knew what would be playing out while Jordie spoke about every season being a clean slate and kinda pretending like Sandra isn’t a damn icon that could wash each and every one of them any day of the week. And well, he better moon us tomorrow if he gets his way tonight because I am growing tired. Nina admitted she is nervous about the upcoming vote, with Jordie pretty much saying he isn’t looking forward to facing a loved one back at camp which narrows down the boot to one of four people, but really only Sandra. Speaking of the Queen, she admitted that she is definitely expecting to receive a couple of votes at tribal council, though continued to speak strongly, reiterating that being a pair is strong and as such, made Josh and Jordan nervous about potentially being the only pair left in the tribe.
Jonathan then asked Nina whether she felt being a pair was important and when Sandra tried to look her in the eye, she told her to look at Jonathan instead as her eyes welled up. This well and truly got Sandra nervous as she spoke about knowing what she signed up for, though she still looked gutted. Before reminding us that the queen stays queen.
With that the tribe voted and tragically, there were no miracles as Shay played her idol for herself – not sure why, though – and Queen Sandra was unanimously booted from the tribe. Once again swap-screwed on Day 16. Which is why I threw the most epic tantrum Charters Towers had ever seen when I got word that Sandra’s curse had completed its hat trick before she claimed her triple crown.
My tantrum wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t nice and it wasn’t cute, though I would argue it was completely justified.
Sandra is a complete and utter icon and if her new tribes would only stop losing the first challenge after a swap, she should be a lock for the merge after enough time to endear herself with her new people. Instead, we’re left with the brutal tragedy that one again, Sandra is not on a jury at the worst but more ideally addressing one.
While I was heartbroken by her placement on paper, her run on Australian Survivor has only managed to cement her status as the best to ever play the game. Her strategy is simple and logical, but one that not many people could pull off season after season with her finesse.
As soon as I saw her enter the Pre-Jury Villa – no Loser Lodge for MY queen – I immediately started sobbing and ran into her arms. While she wasn’t receptive to my ideas for her to disown Nina and adopt me in her place, or to find Jonathan and production and force them to re-shoot tribal council, or even add a new version of Redemption Rock where Sandra is automatically given the win; she was grateful for my enduring love and support and glad that I was once again by her side on Day 16 to eat our feelings, this time with a Triple Pork, Corndra Cheeaz-Twine. A meal I had tragically thought would manifest the third win, rather than enacting her curse for a third time.
Now I can not take ownership of this recipe – that is Jock Zonfrillo, with some minor tweaks for my preferences – I knew Sandra’s return from retirement needed to be marked with something decadent and regal, worthy of her legacy. This very baconny, very cheesy number is near perfection – smokey and umami, sweet and salty, it is the only glorious meal worthy of someone as glorious as the Survivor GOAT.
Ingredients 50g thinly sliced smoked pancetta 25g smoked salt 25g dark muscovado sugar 10g ground black pepper, to season 10g hot smoked paprika 10g ground star anise 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1.2kg pork belly 1 cup cloudy apple juice 150g sourdough, blitzed to form crumbs 230g sharp aged smoked cheddar, coarsely grated ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped 120g unsalted butter, diced 60g flour 2 ½ cups milk 130g blue cheese, diced 130g Fontina, coarsely grated 130g Talleggio, coarsely grated salt and white pepper, to taste 400g smoked bacon lardons 1 bunch shallots, thinly sliced 4 garlic cloves, minced 5 sprigs thyme, leaves removed 3 x 400g cans sweetcorn, drained ¼ cup sour cream
Method Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Start by working on your bacon rub by placing the pancetta on a lined baking sheet and cooking in the oven for fifteen minutes, or until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to remove grease and allow it to cool. Once chill, combine the pancetta with the smoked salt, muscovado sugar, black pepper, paprika and star anise in a food processor or blender and blitz until crumbed.
Next, score the skin of your pork belly and rub it with oil followed by all but 2 tbsp of the bacon rub, getting it on the meat and skin until it is gorgeously marooned. Pop the pork belly on a rack in a baking dish, skin side up, and pour the apple juice into the dish. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15 minutes, before reducing the heat to 180C and cooking for a further hour. Keeping an eye on the apple juice in the pan and topping up with more, or water, should it run dry. Remove from the oven and leave to rest.
While the pork is getting gorgeously browned, combine the bread crumbs, 100g of the smoked cheddar, parsley and the remaining bacon rub in a bowl until combined.
Next step – FYI, there are a lot of steps and it is what Sandra deserves, so deal – melt half the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add the flour, whisk and cook for a minute or so. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk to combine before returning to the heat and bringing to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining cheeses and cooking for a further couple of minutes, or until well combined. Season and keep warm.
In another saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat and cook the lardons for five minutes or until starting to caramelise. Add the shallots, garlic and thyme and cook for further five minutes, or until soft and sweet. Add the corn and stir until warmed through.
When the smells have you more than ready to eat, cut the pork belly into a dice, reserving the crackling for a side or to top. Combine the corn and lardon mixture with the cheese sauce, before folding through the pork belly and sour cream.
Transfer to a baking dish, top with the crumb and pop in the oven to cook for 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Serve immediately and devour, eating all your feelings away before the next episode.
And remember, the Queen will always stay Queen. Day 16 curse be damned!
Previously on Australian Survivor 24 castaways were dropped in the outback, far from the tropical islands we’ve grown accustomed to – thanks COVID! One by one they were felled as – yep, doing it – Phil, Janelle, Gavin, Benny, Mitch, Joey, Daini, Shannon, Georgia, Rachel and Simon headed home before the two tribes merged and formed the Fire tribe.
Instead of the Beauty tribe, which will always be a sore point to me.
Kez was the first victim of the new tribe before Chelsea was medevaced, leaving Baden to become the King of the Jury. He was quickly joined by Gerald, Laura, Emmett, Andrew, Dani, Wai and Cara, leaving Flick as the lone Brawn standing against George and Cara.
And by standing, I mean hunching painfully in a brutal final immunity challenge where the trio faced off for over five hours before Hayley took out victory and gave her the power to eliminate the final juror. Which obviously became Flick.
After a hard fought final tribal council where both George and Hayley clearly articulated their games, proving just how good they both were, the jury favoured Hayley’s more well rounded approach and awarded her the title of Sole Survivor. And, you know, the half mill.
As you can imagine, Hayley was buzzing as I sidled on to set to congratulate her, pulling me in for a massive hug. You see, Hayley and I are former colleagues and dear friends – you know how painful I can be, which is an asset to a researcher – so I was so excited to be there to share in her win.
Hayley dominated the game and made massive moves throughout the season, and while she was briefly voted out, she used that to her advantage, expertly adapting her play to make it to the end and rightfully take out the game. The only way I could truly do justice to such an epic, entertaining and at times chaotic run was gifting her a triumphant Haylal Snack Peake.
While I was late to the party when it came to the majesty of the HSP, I have well and truly made up for lost time when it came to the holy grail of food. The chips are crispy, the chicken is packing a punch, a little charred and oh so juicy that by the time you get to the garlicky sauce and gooey cheese, there is no denying this is made for winners.
Haylal Snack Peake Serves: 4.
Ingredients 1 cup Greek yoghurt 6 garlic cloves, minced 1 tsp ground coriander 2 tsp ground cumin 2 tsp paprika 1 tsp cayenne pepper 2 tsp tsp onion powder ½ tsp black pepper 3 tbsp tomato paste 2 tsp salt 1 lemon, zested and juiced 3 tbsp olive oil 1kg chicken thighs, no skin, no bones (no jokes about me normally loving a bone) 1 batch Jud Beerza Battered Fries 2 cups grated cheddar ¼ cup smokey BBQ sauce ¼ cup garlic sauce ¼ cup sriracha small handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Method Start by mixing up the yoghurt through olive oil together in a large bowl until well combined. Add the chicken and toss with your hands, making sure that every piece is sopping with the marinade. Cover and pop in the fridge for six hours. Overnight is ideal, but like you, I don’t have time for that so six will do, ok?
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Grab a bunch of metal skewers and a baking dish that they can precariously balance either side on so they are elevated. I’m not the best at explaining, but it will make sense in a bit. Remove the chicken from the fridge and thread on to two parallel skewers, jamming the thighs close together so they look like baby kebab sticks (I obviously couldn’t be bothered to Google it).
Once they’re all on skewers, line the baking dish and balance the ends of the skewers on the sides of the dish so the chicken is elevated from the base. Pop the dish in the oven and bake for half an hour, or until brown and glorious. Remove from the oven, baste with the juices and return to the oven for twenty minutes. Remove from the oven again when it is charred, baste and leave to rest for five minutes.
While you work on the fries, stand the skewers upright and carve the chicken from them like the do at a kebab shop (side note: how hypnotic was watching that, drunk at 2am?) and leave to rest in their juices.
To assemble, pop your chips in a bowl, top with the cheese and follow with a generous helping of the chicken. Drizzle with the sauces, add a bit more cheese and a sprinkle of parsley to feel healthy.
Then devour like you haven’t had a decent meal in 48 days but are also thrilled to be victorious.
Previously on Australian Survivor, 24 players returned to the game looking for revenge, redemption or both. Or in Shane and Jericho’s case, to prove they’re the Sandra Diaz-Twine of Australian Survivor. Sadly neither earned the title this go around as Shane and Jericho went out back-to-back, echoing the US All Stars. Once the former winners were out of the way, Daisy was the first to be brutally blindsided from the game with an epic play between David and Mat. She was then followed by Season 2(/4) icons Michelle and Henry.
After those tragic eliminations, Shonee kicked off an epic revenge arc, destroying all the people that thought she was weak, starting with Lydia followed by Abbey and my love John. After that arc finished, Mat fell followed by Phoebe, Flick and Nick, who narrowly missed becoming the first juror for a second time.
Once the tribes came together, David pretended to be on the outs with his swap tribe before blindsiding Locky and taking control post merge. While Harry was the next to go, the game took a heartbreaking turn as Lee was pulled due to a family emergency. His exit was followed by the most overly-complicated non-eliminations before Zach was officially (eventually) felled. Jacqui was then cut for turning on her allies, followed by the tragic exit of our Queen Shonee. A.K. was the next to exit before Brooke’s immunity run cost Tarzan his place before Queen Brookewas also cut.
After winning the final immunity challenge, David eliminated his biggest competitor Moana, setting the stage for him to battle against former runner-up Sharn. While she improved on her previous performance in front of the jury, Sharn’s messier game wasn’t respected as everyone but her bestie Moana joined together to crown David the Sole Survivor.
Which given he managed to play one of the most dominant, American-series-esque games of Australian Survivor with a massive target on his back, it is what he deserves. David came in with his loss and Pia’s subsequent win fresh in his mind, with him clearly learning from her game to perfect his own. Not just a showy gamer this time, David worked on perfecting his social game which ultimately protected him and made the jury want to award him the prize. And me, some Fried Davioli Genat.
The only thing I love more than a Golden God nude scene is fried food, so these little morsels were the perfect way to honour his victory. Glorious cheesy pasta, coated in crumb and fried until the inside is gooey? Sign. Me. Up.
Fried Davioli Genat Serves: 4.
Ingredients 1 cup buttermilk 1 tsp freshly ground pepper 2 cups panko breadcrumbs 500g packet cheese ravioli vegetable oil, to shallow-fry 1 cup Spicy TomaJones Sauce, to serve ½ cup freshly chopped parsley, to serve ¼ cup grated parmesan, to serve
Method Place the buttermilk in a bowl and the breadcrumbs and pepper in another. Dip each ravioli in the buttermilk, followed by the peppered crumb. Transfer to a lined plate and repeat the process until they’re all good to go.
Pour about 3cm deep worth of oil in a dutch oven oven medium heat until nice and hot. Working a few at a time, add the ravioli and cook for a couple of minutes each side, or until golden (god) and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and repeat the process until done.
Serve immediately with some Spicy TomaJones Sauce by its side, covered with a winning sprinkle of parsley and parmesan. Then devour, victoriously.