The MasterChef Australia top two has been decided, with Ben Borsht and Sashi Cheliah to battle it out in tonight Grand Finale following the exit of Melbourne DJ Khanh Ong in the Semi- Final. Gracious in defeat, Khanh said he had loved his time with the Top 24 and the mentoring received by the judges.
Tasked with preparing a main and dessert for 20 guests, the trio cooked for none other than MasterChef Australia alumni from the previous nine seasons.
Sashi opted to make chicken lemak with jasmine rice for his main and a Malaysian pineapple tart with lime ice-cream for dessert. He was on track early but hit a hurdle when Shannon told him his portions were too small, urging him to debone additional chickens.
Ben prepared surf and turf for his main with snapper and smoked celeriac puree, with pavlova for dessert, elevating the humble classic with French meringue, berry gelato and champagne foam.
For his main, Khanh prepared a traditional Vietnamese fish dish called canh chua ca, a sweet and sour broth with pan seared fish. He planned to serve it alongside noodles with a lemongrass and garlic oil with a finish of finger limes, with the dish a nod to his Mum who had given so much up in her own life for Khanh and his sister. His crispy garlic did not work and he was forced to abandon the element, but hoped his violet ice-cream dessert with honeycomb and dark chocolate, a reflection of his love for violet crumbles, could pull him through.
With service due to kick off, Khanh popped his fish in a pan, but a piece of baking paper caught fire causing the skin to burn. Devastated he would be unable to use a single piece of fish, Khanh was emotional, with his only option to grab barramundi from the pantry and fillet and portion out fresh pieces with just five minutes to go.
When they tasted George said it smelt great and Gary admitted his fish was cooked beautifully, but he had failed to add guts to the dish and said he expected more. Matt agreed, it was a great dish but not spectacular.
Tasting Khanh’s dessert the judges found his dark chocolate mousse heavy and dense, and despite the prettiness of the dish, and the bitterness of the honeycomb, it impacted the overall lightness.
In delivering their verdict Ben was announced as first through to the Grand Finale, having plated two amazing dishes tonight. In a cook where Khanh made errors with both courses, Matt announced that in an incredibly close battle it would be Sashi taking his place next to Ben, meaning Khanh was eliminated just one cook shy of his ultimate dream.
tonight, Ben and Sashi will take part in the final battle – the Grand Finale – where one will be crowned Australian MasterChef for 2018.
Khanh is working on a cookbook featuring traditional and no so traditional Vietnamese recipes. He is hoping to kick-start his own line of Vietnamese sauces and dressings with his Mum, and still dreams of one day owning his own restaurant.