It was the end of Home Cooks versus Pro Cooks week and after success against the pros, Rhiannon and Antonio were safe from elimination. The remaining contestants were met with a two-round elimination set by the final pro, Rick Stein.
TV icon, restauranteur, author and globetrotting cooking legend, Rick Stein kicked off round one by tasking contestants to prepare a dish to hero fresh squid in 45 minutes. The bottom four dishes would send their makers to round two.
Ralph and Malissa played it safe with salt and pepper calamari, Cath made a tropical ceviche while Rue made a prawn stew to cook her squid in. Theo cooked whole squid with peri-peri sauce, Grace made an Ajvar sauce to compliment her dish, Brent opted for a Sri Lankan curry, Adi created a Maharashtrian curry and Phil chose to confit the squid with scallops.
Well-known for his fish game, Declan was confident and eager to impress his idol, Rick Stein. Equipped with his immunity pin, he felt self-assured he wouldn’t have to draw on it with this challenge, but Declan became overwhelmed, leading him into round two with Phil, Malissa and Ralph.
In round two, contestants had to choose from five of Rick’s favourite food destinations: France, Spain, UK, Mexico or Italy. They had 75 minutes to create a dish that would transport the judges to their chosen location, with the bottom dish sending its cook home.
Phil chose to take the judges to Italy, inspired by a dish he ate while living in Vicenza last year, spaghetti con anatra, a pasta dish with duck. Malissa drew on her Italian heritage to make a honey and olive oil panna cotta with lemon crumb and the pressure grew when Rick revealed himself as a big panna cotta fan. Ralph was inspired by a recent trip to France, choosing to make a deconstructed croque madame with breadcrumbs, bacon, a potato foam to mimic the bechamel sauce, and a perfectly cooked egg.
Declan drew on his past trips to Mexico as inspiration and set out to make a beer battered flathead with salsa and pickled vegetables. Unable to shake the disappointment from round one, Declan’s attention to detail suffered and he decided to play his immunity pin and head to the safety of the gantry.
Malissa’s cook was relatively calm and on tasting her panna cotta, the judges agreed it was a triumph, praising it as her best dish yet. Ralph’s croque madame was a bold concept, and while the judges could piece the flavours together, it didn’t transport them to France.
Ultimately, Phil’s spaghetti con anatra failed to hit the mark. It was not the dish to cook in only 75 minutes and the rush resulted in dry duck and pasta that wasn’t up to scratch.
As the seventh contestant to say goodbye, Phil said he’ll be forever grateful and thanked the judges for filling him with purpose again after feeling lost in his career.