After their loss in Wednesday’s Mexican team challenge, the red team of Georgia, Jessie, Ava, Jacqui, John, Sara, Stephen and Jessica were up for an elimination challenge.
Delighted to discover that popular season one contestant Justine Schofield was back in the kitchen as a guest judge, the contestants prepared themselves for a French-flavoured showdown.
Given the challenge of re-inventing a classic French dish, Ava stepped up to the knife block and choose duck a l’orange. With only 90 minutes on the clock, the pressure was on. Ava, unfamiliar with duck a l’orange, did not understand the flavour profile but was determined to impress the judges with her inventiveness. She decided on a duck breast with a goat’s cheese, fig and caramelised orange salad, with a sauce.
Georgia, also nervous cooking with duck, planned to prepare a consommé while Jessica opted for Asian-inspired duck pancakes. Jacqui focused on a duck and orange hotpot, topped with crispy duck-fat potatoes. Justine questioned Ava’s flavour combinations, specifically the goat’s cheese and duck, but Ava stuck with her plan. Georgia achieved a clear broth but was worried about the flavour while Jacqui was concerned about drying out her duck. Jessica struck disaster with five minutes to go, forcing her to rework her dish into a simple duck salad.
During the tasting, the judges loved Jessie’s pan-seared duck breast with orange and pumpkin puree, carrots and pickle; Stephen’s duck breast with braised celery heart, carrots and orange sauce; and Jessica’s Asian dish, despite the lack of pancakes. Georgia’s consommé was clear, but tasted more like lemon than orange.
It came down to Jacqui and Ava. Jacqui’s questionable flavour pairing of potato and orange was noted, along with her dry sauce. The dish did, however, have a strong orange flavour.Ava’s duck was cooked perfectly, but her sauce was bitter, thin and lacked both duck and orange flavours. The use of goat cheese also left the judges divided.
The lack of orange in Ava’s dish meant it did not meet the brief and she was sent home from the MasterChef Australia kitchen. Ava is now working full-time in the kitchen at Sydney’s Hotel Centennial, under executive chef Justin North.