Masterchef loses a favourite in heartbreaking elimination

The top 10 became 9 tonight when we lost another Masterchef.

Pressure Tests are always difficult, but after presenting the least impressive dishes in last night’s twin challenge, Brendan, Reece, Poh and Sarah had to replicate a celebrated chef’s dish – with no recipe.

Enter modern Thai cuisine legend Benjamin Cooper from Melbourne’s Chin Chin who challenged the four contestants to make his jungle curry, a dish he’s been cooking for close to 20 years. With somewhere between 30 and 40 chillies included, it’s up there with one of the hottest curries he cooks – he described it as spicy, and a bit feral.

The contestants had 90 minutes to make a curry as close as possible to Benjamin’s and needed to rely on all their experience and instincts. They each had the opportunity to taste their own serve of Benjamin’s curry, rice and roti and were very relieved to learn they could keep it on their benches to refer to during the cook.

When the 90 minutes started Sarah and Poh were the hot favourites. Brendan and, in particular, Reece were feeling a little out of their league.

Brendan relied heavily on his instinct and senses in order to balance the flavours while Reece trusted his gut. As the others cooked their curry paste, he held off recognising it didn’t need as long to cook.

Poh realised too late that she hadn’t added any aromats to her broth leaving her to work even harder to develop flavour. She knew her broth wasn’t like Benjamin’s, but was hoping if she could balance it out, it might get closer.

Sarah was daunted and was not thinking as clearly as she’d like. After a chat with Benjamin she realised that she should cook off her curry paste in pork fat so jumped to it. But disaster came knocking when her curry paste overcooked and she had no choice but to start again.

With 10 minutes to go, Benjamin dropped a bombshell. In the restaurant, it’s only now at this stage that the cooking of the curry would begin. A collective sigh was heard across the kitchen, but Reece was feeling ok as he was on the right track.

The judges soon announced that it was Reece who put up the dish of the day – and no one was more surprised than Reece. Brendan too was commended for his standout effort.

It came down to Sarah and Poh.

Where Poh’s dish was too heavy, Sarah’s was too thin, a result perhaps of having to scrap her first lot of curry paste. The difference being that Poh’s dish was in fact balanced and punchy, but Sarah’s had no opportunity to hold onto the flavours of the dish.

This meant that Sarah’s jungle curry was the least like Benjamin’s and sadly, she left the competition.