South Australian Prison officer Sashi Cheliah has become the first contestant in MasterChef Australia history to win a second coveted immunity pin. Sashi outscored QT Melbourne’s Andy Harmer in last nights immunity challenge, gaining an unprecedented advantage in the MasterChef Australia kitchen.
Round one was a classic skills test in which Sashi and fellow contestants Gina, Khanh, and Reece had to complete Shannon Bennett’s top three skills he demands of his apprentices at Vue De Monde. It was three sudden death rounds, with the three skills being a brunoise or mirepoix, a hollandaise sauce and a salted caramel sauce. Sashi was the last contestant left standing so then faced round two – the opportunity to face off against former Vue de Monde executive chef Andy Harmer, now from QT in Melbourne.
With a 15 minute head start, Sashi had the choice of ingredients to hero – he could select one ingredient from two different pantries. The first pantry included strawberries, mint, rum, cauliflower, tomatoes, pork and lamb, and in the second pantry he was faced with cream, oranges, rosemary, lemons, eggs, cheese, apples, basil, raisins and peas. Sashi selected the lamb and peas and decided to use his 75 minutes to create a simple dish; a spiced rubbed lamb using cumin, coriander and chilli alongside a pea puree.
Once Andy’s time started, he began by breaking down a chicken to make the base for his sauce, then Frenched off the lamb, rendering it while he roasted eggplant over a flame for a baba ganoush. With 30 minutes to go, the gantry was worried about the number of elements Andy had on the go, concerned he may not be able to pull it all together.
In the blind tasting Andy’s lamb and minted peas was deemed modern and elegant and showed considerable technique, and the sauce was a standout. While Gary finished off his plate, George and Matt both agreed that the lamb was slightly undercooked. Sashi’s lamb and pea puree was next and it smelt beautiful, with a nice caramelisation on the lamb. The dish had a bit of spice and was a wonderful surprise. George said it was cracking and he was thrilled with complexity of the sauce and the creaminess of the yoghurt. Gary said it was very tasty and Matt agreed, in terms of deliciousness it was an A+ dish.
The verdict was then handed down, Andy’s securing 24/30, but with an incredible dish, Sashi was ecstatic to receive 27/30. He has now made MasterChef Australia history by becoming the first contestant to win a second immunity pin. An elated Sashi is dedicating the pin to his two sons, Marcus and Ryan, who he knows will be thrilled for him.