After an epic team challenge at the MCG on Wednesday, it was a heartbreaking farewell to another cook last night.
Alongside her teammates Reece, Aldo, Lisa, Jo, Genene, Jenny, Adele, Gina, Brendan and Tim, Denise arrived at the MasterChef Australia kitchen to be told they would have 75 minutes to cook something inspired by the dish that made them fall in love with food.
The group raced to cook, Aldo combining his favourite food memories from Thailand and Italy to make a salted coconut panna cotta with mango, while Reece worked on a dessert inspired by his nanna’s lamington.
Mexican-born Denise said she knew food brought people together back home and inspired by cooking alongside her daughter, decided to make a pork trotter salad, one of her favourite dishes. Adding the pork trotters to a pressure cooker along with onions, garlic, thyme and a bay leaf, Gary was worried early on that Denise would not have enough time to beautifully break down the meat.
Adele focused on corn and jalapeño fritters with a parsley dipping sauce, while Jo also reflected on her grandmother, making her version of strawberries and cream. Brendan wanted to whip up a dim sum plate, while Tim prepared fried chicken with mash.
Genene hoped her thrice-cooked cheesecake would save her, Lisa prepped a sweet and sour fish broth, while Gina worked on pasta and Jenny made a matcha cheese sponge cake.
Denise wanted to serve her pork trotters with lettuce, potatoes and feta cheese – sautéeing the lettuce, keen to show the judges a dish she regularly cooked at home. When she took her pork trotter out of the pressure cooker, she was crushed to see it had not all broken down and she scrambled to find perfectly cooked pieces to serve.
When the judges tasted, Brendan, Reece, Genene, Aldo, Tim, Jo, Lisa and Gina received high praise. Adele’s dish was flat, her fritters were dense and like “little bullets” according to Gary, while Jenny’s sponge was not as light as it should be
Last to be tasted was Denise and the dish failed to deliver the soft deliciousness that makes a trotter unique. She had pushed herself in the cook, but 75 minutes was not enough time and the Melbourne mum was eliminated.
Since leaving MasterChef Australia, Denise has completed work experience at Cutler & Co, Supernormal and Rockpool. She has launched San Jeronimo, her own line of products celebrating Mexican cuisine.