MasterChef Australia elimination recap: fast food, fine dining and a forlorn farewell ahead of finals week

Seven cooks face the last challenge before finals week, bringing us delicious food before a heartbreaking goodbye

So the sands of time shift and Sunday brings us the last Sunday all-in elimination before finals week. We’ve said farewell to Depinder and welcomed Linda to the gantry after she secured the first coveted spot in the finals.

The other six march in through the garden as the music supervisor dials up the foreboding synth chords. “Seven’s never been my lucky number,” Sabina says with a strained smile. “Number one has.”

Tonight they’ll be choosing a single “hero” ingredient, which they’ll use in a round one fast-food challenge, and which the bottom three will then have to create a fine-dining dish around should they end up in round two.

The contestants head into the pantry to find their heroes. Elise chooses sardines, because they’re a Sicilian version of fast food. Pete seems to be channelling me back in my stoner days because “all I can think about is hot chips”.

‘Have you ever really just … thought about potatoes, man?’
‘Have you ever really just … thought about potatoes, man?’ Photograph: Network 10

Tommy is convinced that he’s “so” not a fine-dining guy, so he’s going hell for leather on some Vietnamese street food. Justin is doing Indian-inspired chicken tacos, putting the tip of a ghost pepper in his chicken marinade because he clearly wants to murder Andy.

The judges have a tête-à-tête about fast-food strategy that goes in one of my ears and out the other, largely because Andy has apparently come dressed as “Shades” from That Thing You Do!

‘If Jimmy’s a genius, I’m U Thant.’
‘If Jimmy’s a genius, I’m U Thant.’ Photograph: Network 10

Despite vibing on hot chips, Pete is doing the storied fast-food patatas bravas, presumably because he was the type of kid who had carrot sticks at his childhood birthday parties. Jock asks him to close his eyes and think about what the hero of patatas bravas is: the tomato and chorizo sauce, not the potatoes. “I’ll leave you with that,” Jock says as he marches away, Pete’s potato dreams suddenly feeling a whole lot less bravas.

The judges are concerned about Tommy’s salty beef mince and Elise’s sardines, because as Andy notes, “they can look like a bit of a dog’s breakfast”. As if by magic, Elise’s sardines start sticking to their skewers and the hibachi.

Kishwar’s chicken khao soi is “so luxury” (© Andy) that Jock gives 11 out of 10.

This one goes to 11.
This one goes to 11. Photograph: Network 10

Sabina’s sour kingfish curry also stuns. Justin’s Indian chicken tacos reduce Jock’s vocabulary to the word “yes”.

Andy asks Pete why he’s chosen to make patatas bravas for a fast-food challenge, and Pete says he couldn’t make hot chips, to which Jock replies “Mate! You could’ve made me hot chips” and Pete’s face looks like mine does when the hot chips are all gone.

What do you mean we ate all the wedges?
What do you mean we ate all the wedges? Photograph: Network 10

The judges praise Elise’s potato salad, which is another way of telling her that her sardines weren’t caramelised enough. Tommy introduces his bo lá lốt with trademark joy and enthusiasm, but the judges feel the beef mince is overworked.

The votes are in: Kishwar, Justin and Sabina are through to finals week! That means that Tommy, Elise and Pete have 75 minutes to take their hero ingredients to fine-dining town. Perhaps recalling last season’s “there’s no fine dining in Vietnamese cookery” colonial catastrophe, Jock is at pains to note that they’re expecting fine-dining dishes you might eat “anywhere around the world”.

Tommy is going to hero his beef (suits you, sir) by having a beautifully cooked steak on the plate then topping it with a bún bò Huế consommé.

“I’ve never been in a round two cook before,” says Elise, in the vocal tone of a student who just reminded the teacher that they said there was going to be a test.

Pete is doing his version of a Christian Puglisi dish, which he feels revved about until Jock tells him that he’s eaten that very dish and will realise if Pete hasn’t pulled it off. Pete once again looks like he’s reached the bottom of the hot chips box as he suddenly realises he’s got a hibachi covered in potato peels.

Elise is cooking her pasta with five to go, and so traumatised by her round one lack of sardine caramelisation that she decides to blowtorch the hapless fishes this time.

Elise finally gets her revenge on her enemies.
Elise finally gets her revenge on her enemies. Photograph: Network 10

Tommy’s loving his consommé sick: “Damn, son!” But his beef is quite rare, leading Linda to go full Munch’s The Scream on the gantry. Time’s up!

Pete’s fancy potato puree looks a bit like muesli with yoghurt, which evidently means “fine dining”.

Pretty sure I had this at the Holiday Inn & Suites breakfast buffet.
Pretty sure I had this at the Holiday Inn & Suites breakfast buffet. Photograph: Network 10

Elise plates up her pappardelle with sardines and the music threatens to turn into Max Richter’s Four Seasons, 1 Spring, which at least means it looks good.

Not bad for a ‘round two newbie’.
Not bad for a ‘round two newbie’. Photograph: Network 10

The judges love it, but Jock would have liked to see a thinner pasta. Could that be enough to send Elise home?

Tommy presents the fanciest bún bò huế the judges have ever seen, but Andy is worried about the rareness of the beef.

Can’t do Vietnamese fine-dining, huh?
Can’t do Vietnamese fine-dining, huh? Photograph: Network 10

“She’s blue,” Jock says as he cuts up the beef, and when it comes time to deliver the bad news, despite the fact that his BBH consommé was one of the best things the judges had ever eaten, the undercooked steak sends Tommy home.

I don’t want to talk about it!!!! ;_;

What made me cry: “Don’t discount what you have done here and what it means to people,” Mel weeps, farewelling Tommy, which then makes Elise cry “Oh, Mel!” and then everyone cries.

Tommy will live on forever in our hearts.
Tommy will live on forever in our hearts. Photograph: Network 10

Contributor

Clem Bastow

The GuardianTramp

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