After failing to impress in the invention test, Karlie, Diana and Sarah found themselves in the first elimination challenge of Finals Week.
The complicated challenge was to replicate Shaun Quade’s signature dish, Pearl on the Ocean Floor. The dish comprised sea bream with a miso and pine nut ice cream within a pearl, saltbush, Meyer lemon marmalade, mussels, mussel foam, bonito fluid gel, grilled cuttlefish, sand and a Pacific oyster.
With three-and-a-half hours to recreate Shaun’s dish, Karlie took time at the beginning of the cook to read the complex recipe thoroughly. She started by popping wood chips in the oven, as did Sarah, who had started the cook with a sketch, hoping it would help at the end with plating up.
The recipe called for the contestants to make a miso and pine nut ice cream, first making a caramel, before whisking in miso paste and milk. Sarah completed the step, but her mixture was lighter in colour than Shaun’s, which risked changing the flavour.
With less than 30 minutes to go, Diana started her mussel foam. Sarah tried the same step, but as she blitzed her mussel mixture she was concerned no foam surfaced on the dish. She set it to the side to leave it until the end of the cook, hoping a thin layer would appear.
Karlie drilled a hole in her pearl, conscious it was large enough to pipe the ice cream through. Diana nailed that step as well. Sarah drilled her hole, but Shaun was concerned her pearl was not a perfect round ball. He told her to move on and focus on other elements, but she decided to use the drill to try to reshape the ball. The pearl shell broke and there was now a huge hole in one side. Sarah was gutted and frustrated, heating up the sugar to try and redo the pearl with just 15 minutes to go. She raced to plate, but her mussel foam still was not thick enough and she could not put it on the plate.
Karlie was first to present her dish to the judges, proud she had got the dish up in her first pressure test. The flavours were beautiful and the judges agreed there was much to love about it. Diana was also praised, despite her dish missing the Meyer lemon marmalade.
Last to have her dish tasted was Sarah and she was also missing a crucial element, the foam. The pearl had a beautiful thin shell, the mussel was tender and the gel was fantastic, but the ice cream was milky and lacked intensity. The foam was also not on the plate, affecting the overall dish. In the end, that was enough to send her home from the MasterChef Australia kitchen.
Since leaving, Sarah has joined forces with Australian Pork to help promote home-grown pork products. She is planning a pop-up diner later this year, with others to follow