Ben, Renae, Brent and Tracy faced arguably the most difficult elimination challenge ever set in the MasterChef Australia kitchen last night.
They were asked to re-create a dish by head chef Dave Verheul of The Town Mouse. But unlike any other pressure test, there was no recipe. They also did not get to see, smell or taste the dish; they weren’t even told its name. The only clues provided came from a review by one of the world’s leading food critics, MasterChef Australia’s Matt Preston.
Mesmerised by Matt’s words when he read the review out loud, the contestants’ minds went into overdrive to try to figure out what it was – with just two hours on the clock.
Dave revealed the dish to the judges: buttermilk poached pear, walnut, caramel, roast chocolate and pear sorbet. The sorbet was in a nest of piped roasted white chocolate ganache, sitting on a complex walnut crumble, with some poached pear and salted caramel underneath.
Using all of their cooks’ intuition and problem-solving skills, the contestants deciphered the clues. They poached the pears in buttermilk, made pear sorbet and roasted white chocolate for the ganache.
Busy multi-tasking, Renae burnt her roasted chocolate twice and fell behind. Frustrated, she focused hard on staying calm. Alhough she had never made sorbet before, Renae was confident she could think it through and succeed. All four were stumped by the ganache nest and how to create it. Having missed the clue of gelatin in their ingredients box, they piped the spaghetti-like ganache into oil, iced water, onto the bench and eventually onto the plate itself, with varying degrees of success.
In the tasting, Ben had captured the essence of Dave’s dish and Brent was the only one to plate the true “spaghetti” element. Tracy’s caramel flavours were good, but her ganache was sloppy and her pear was overcooked.
Renae’s pear was cooked well and her sorbet fresh, but her ganache was a pool of caramel and her
missing crumble meant the dish lacked complexity and the key salty element to balance it.
It was an incredibly tough call for the judges to make, but, in the end, Renae was eliminated for not being able to temper the sweetness of the dish enough. Renae has since begun work with charities to teach underprivileged children essential cooking skills. She is also handling brand management for a number of Sydney cafés and restaurants, including menu consultation.