Newcastle’s Reece Hignell has been eliminated from MasterChef Australia, just shy of making the top four and Finals Week.
Forced to face three rounds against Chloe, Jess, Ben and Khanh, Reece fell at the final hurdle when he decided to make a savoury dish instead of sweet.
In round one the group battled a taste test, taking it in turns to guess ingredients in Gary’s Moroccan style tagine. The first three to guess incorrectly would head into round two, and when Ben selected pear he was first out of the game. Jess guessed sugar incorrectly, before Reece took a punt with shallots near the end, and was out. The move meant Khanh joined Sashi in the gantry, safe from another elimination.
In round two the trio were blindfolded and asked to guess what food they were being given – all shaped in a one inch cube. Jess battled early in a guess with parmesan and was knocked out, before Reece stumbled over salmon or tuna. He guessed salmon but was wrong, and was taken into the third round against Jess.
In round three Reece and Jess battled it out in a cook off, each with 60 minutes on the clock and all the ingredients successfully named in the first two rounds. Reece decided to showcase his skills and make chicken, veering away from his sweet strengths. He wanted to make a pan-roasted chicken breast with caramelised onion puree, charred onions, crispy potatoes and chicken jus. He knew his jus needed to be full of flavour and well balanced, but with no stock in the pantry he was forced to use water instead. Meanwhile Jess stuck with her strengths, and planned to make an orange and ginger ice-cream alongside quince and pear granita, dehydrated pears and crispy potato.
With minutes on the clock, Reece realised he had forgotten his chicken skin in the oven and it had become burnt and unusable. He motored on, but was concerned about the lack of textures on his plate. When they tasted his dish, George said it had flavour, and Gary agreed it all worked. Matt loved the natural onion sweetness, but admitted there was way too much oil on the dish. The butter and fat that had gone into the sauce had overloaded the palate.
Next up was Jess. Matt said her dish was clever, modern and challenging. Gary said it was a dish found in a great restaurant, and they agreed it showed sophistication beyond her years, leaving no room for error when Reece was eliminated from the kitchen.
Since leaving the competition, Reece has done work experience alongside MasterChef Australia alumni Julie Goodwin, and is hosting cooking demonstrations at The Essential Ingredient. His pop up restaurant will open very soon in Newcastle.