It was the service challenge to end all service challenges this evening.,
With the dining tables set and past contestants cheering from the gantry, Billie, Daniel and Sarah arrived for the semi final, desperate to fight for one of two coveted spots in tomorrow’s grand finale.
The three finalists had the task of cooking an entrée, main and dessert for 20 diners plus the judges, and had four hours until their entrées needed to leave the pass. From there they had 45 minutes per course to send out all their plates. With pressure at an all-time high, the judges invited back, friend and mentor, Shannon Bennett to run the kitchen and offer his guidance to the top three.
First to have their entrée dish tasted was Daniel, and he was proud to be sending out his lemon myrtle cured kingfish, coconut emulsion, charred and pickled red onion and paperbark oil. The judges agreed that the presentation was fantastic, and the dish was a real triumph.
Billie was up next and while she was happy with her flavours, she was worried about her plating. When the judges tasted her mussels with pea and horseradish soup, Andy said he was on the fence and Melissa agreed that Billie hadn’t knocked it out of the park.
Finally it was time to taste Sarah’s scampi with curry and salsa, and Jock was mystified as to how she had managed to pull it all together, especially when result was absolutely stunning and full flavoured.
Billie was first to serve her main, and sadly the judges could see there wasn’t a medium cook on her apricot duck, but thankfully the rest of her elements came together wonderfully, with the judges calling it a perfect plate of food except for the overcooked duck.
Sarah and Daniel’s main courses were delayed and Shannon demanded that they leave the pass. Daniel was upset when his trout skin stuck to the hibachi because there was too much moisture in the fish. The judges found his barbecued coral trout with coastal curry sauce was nicely cooked, but the skin hadn’t had time to crisp up, Jock added that it reeked of a dish made in haste.
Sarah was happy with the flavours of her lamb saag and spiced jus, and she plated it up quickly as her dishes headed out to the dining room. The judges agreed that the dish was very tasty and cooked well, and the only fault was that it wasn’t served on time.
Billie was ready to send out her dessert, thrilled to see her semi final journey nearing its end. The judges dove into her lamington and were blown away by the flawless dish.
Sarah sliced the pears for her dessert and discovered that they were undercooked, and was devastated to send out not only her main course late but also her dessert. When the judges tasted her masala spiced pears, Jock said he loved the spice combination but the pears were definitely undercooked.
Daniel was ready to send out his desserts, and received applause from the gantry when he perfectly flipped his tarte tatin, but as he went to grab his coconut sorbet from the freezer he was devastated to realise he’d put it in the blast chiller, leaving it completely frozen. He fell behind quickly trying to find a solution, but in the end had no option but to send out the rum and pineapple tarte tatin without the sorbet. The judges said it was a dessert that exemplified his cook, great on paper but the execution wasn’t there.
In delivering their verdict, Jock said the lateness of mains and desserts from Sarah and Daniel couldn’t be overlooked, and with two courses late and a poorly executed dessert, Daniel was eliminated just shy of the MasterChef Australia: Fans & Favourites grand finale.