Ashley says Adios to Masterchef

As the bottom three cooks in Billie McKay’s mystery box challenge, Theresa, Charlie and Ashley faced the first elimination challenge of the series: the Two Cloche Clash last night.

Each had to pick a cloche from the 12 on display and create a dish based on the ingredient that lay underneath it. If they did not like their first pick, they could choose again, but they would be stuck with the second selection.

Charlie’s choice revealed ginger, Ashley’s cloche offered mushrooms and Theresa’s contained prawns. All three elected to stick with their original cloche choices. They were given 75 minutes to create a delicious dish, with access to an open pantry.

Theresa soon realised she did not really want prawns, as she rarely cooked with them. She became nervous, until she listened to the judges’ advice and managed to strike a balance between rich oiliness and freshness.

Theresa produced tarragon butter prawns with vinaigrette and salted crisp, served with salad. She impressed the judges with her butterflied prawns, the use of prawn oil in the vinaigrette and the creation of a frozen avocado tile on which to plate her food.

Charlie had hoped for chocolate, to show off his dessert-making skills. When he received ginger instead, he knew he could still achieve his idea using chocolate from the pantry. He prepared a chocolate ginger cremeux moved onto other elements. When the judges questioned his approach, Charlie ditched his ginger caramel idea and opted for a lighter mango crème fraiche.

With 15 minutes to go, Charlie found his cremeux had split. While he whipped up a second batch in record time, he did not stop to check if it contained enough ginger flavour.

Ashley set out to make mushroom ravioli, with mushroom sauce and a slow egg to add creaminess, served with fried mushrooms and asparagus. But his first attempt at pasta dough was too dry after resting and he was forced to make a second batch. Despite having had a clear vision for his dish, Ashley found himself pushed for time.

At the eleventh hour, he decided to fry his ravioli in hot oil, making it tough.  In the tastings, the judges loved Theresa’s prawn dish and felt Charlie’s dish contained enough ginger flavour. Ashley’s slow egg was slightly overcooked and his ravioli was tough. Matt Preston said that the impact on the dish was too great and it lacked freshness and elegance. Ashley became the first to be farewelled from this year’s competition.

Now back home in Perth, Ashley is planning to open a pop up market stall with friends. He is also working on a food website featuring recipes, reviews and industry interviews.