MasterChef farewells a favorite as another returns

Masterchef last night had an elimination but also  staged a comeback for the eliminated contestants.

The six contestants from last night’s losing team challenge entered the kitchen, ready to face their challenge.

The judges revealed they would each have 45 minutes to hero prawns within a different cuisine, a cloche revealed Ben with Greek, Chloe with Mexican, Sarah with Thai, Jess with Vietnamese, Aldo with French and Gina with Spanish.

Jess decided to make her own twist on a spring roll with fish sauce, chopping up garlic, shallots and spring onion before mixing it with blitzed prawns. Ben kept it simple with a mezze plate, making a flat bread with tzatziki while Chloe planned to grill her prawns, serving them with a green tomato and coriander salsa. Gina made paella and Sarah cooked her prawns with a betel leaf. Aldo wanted to cook his prawns in a herb butter along with a fresh salad – confident French and Italian cuisines were closely related.

But when they tasted, the judges weren’t thrilled. George said the prawns in herb butter could be from anywhere and Matt’s prawn was overcooked. In a challenge to hero prawns it is announced Aldo has the least impressive dish. Before he is sent home, Aldo has one chance to redeem himself, and with that the 12 previously eliminated contestants – Brett, Metter, Denise, Adele, Tim, Michelle, Loki, Jo, Brendan, Genene, Jenny and Lisa – arrive racing through the doors.

Gary explained each of the 12, plus Aldo would have one hour to bring the judges their best dish. It could be sweet or savoury, and they would have an open pantry along with access to the garden. Time started and Genene was making a lemon merengue pie – attempting to make good on the dish that saw her eliminated at the Cube restaurant during SA Week. Aldo was excited by the chance to cook again today, and keep himself in the game by poaching a red emperor fillet in what he called crazy water – a seawater broth.

Loki created a tasting menu while Lisa prepared pan-seared crayfish, serving it in an aromatic broth with turmeric stained rice noodles. Brendan was also working with lobster, making brown butter poached lobster, serving it with a benito bavarois and a carrot dressing.

Michelle made roasted tomato and mozzarella tortellini with an eggplant sauce, keen to showcase her pasta skills after her last tortellini saw her eliminated in Gordon Ramsay’s pressure test.

When they tasted the judge’s praised Michelle’s restraint with her elegant and beautiful dish. Jenny’s burnt caramel and apple ice cream was delicious; Metter’s beef and black bean sauce fabulous; Genene’s redemption lemon merengue pie lovely and familiar; and Jo’s chocolate and peanut butter mousse with raspberry and rosemary jelly technical and delicious.

Loki’s tasting menu gets a hug from George, and Lisa’s broth was fantastic, Matt describes it as spectacular cooking.

But Brendan’s poached lobster with carrot dressing and bonito bavarois was the knockout of the day, it’s super modern and classic and Gary said it was a dream to eat, propelling the West Australian back into the MasterChef kitchen. Brendan was overwhelmed, hugged by his fellow restaurants as he returned to those still in the competition.

Aldo is expanding his skills, doing work experience at Thai restaurant Alphabet St. He is also  working on his cookbook – Cooking with My Nonna.