It is Finals Week on MasterChef Australia and Ben, Brent, Emelia, Jamie, Laura and Tracy faced off last night to secure a place in the Top 5.
Kicking off a two-round challenge, the contestants were greeted by mystery boxes, each containing different ingredients and a letter from a loved one at home. Emelia’s mum had prepared a box featuring snapper, while Laura’s dad chose duck. Tracy’s husband selected chicken, while Brent’s girlfriend gave him an all sweets box. Jamie’s fiancée created a box featuring quail, while Ben’s girlfriend chose duck, red wine, beetroot, thyme, polenta, cinnamon and goji berries.
Ben pan-fried the duck and served it with fried polenta, fennel, beetroot and a red wine sauce. He struggled with presentation and the judges criticised the dish’s fatty consistency and flavour. Brent won the challenge.
Ben, Laura and Jamie, as the bottom three, went into round two.
Guest chefs Darren Purchese, Christy Tania and Nick Palumbo entered the kitchen to introduce the pressure test dish. The three dessert chefs conceived a devilishly difficult interpretation of banana split, designed to push the contestants to their limits. They had just two hours to cook.
Darren created the yellow banana and coffee parfait; Christy the smoked coconut and cinnamon foam, the amaretto cherry spheres and the almond pistachio nougatine; and Nick the spiced and roasted banana gelato with his chocolate and peanut sauce. Ben cruised through the first few processes before the pressure started to get to him. Having to re-do his curdled custard for the parfait took time.
The clock was fast running down when he decided to cook his chocolate and peanut sauce on a high heat, causing the oil in the peanut butter to split.
Jamie was largely in control, although he had to hand-churn his ice cream every 10 minutes because he over froze it. Laura made mistakes with her foam and ice cream, but improvised to get back on track.
Ben’s ice cream was smashing but his sauce had split. His tuile wasn’t great and while his parfait had flavour, the texture was off. Laura’s coconut foam lacked punch, but her cherry was great, as was her parfait. Her rich, dark sauce was a stand out and the component that made her safe, sending Ben home.
Since leaving the MasterChef Australia kitchen, Ben is doing work experience at Brisbane’s Stokehouse Restaurant. He’s also preparing to launch The Hard To Find Supper Club, an innovative dining experience with matched wines, and plans to launch a website.