Carmine and Lauren to face sisters Tasia and Gracia in MKR Finale tonight

Self-confessed ‘comeback kids’ Carmine and Lauren face off against sisters Tasia and Gracia in tonights My Kitchen Rules grand final.

Carmine and Lauren proved they have what it takes to be serious MKR title contenders, defeating mother and son team Anna and Jordan by 10 points in tonight’s second semi-final.

From the moment they stepped into Kitchen HQ, Carmine and Lauren were focused on eliminating a fourth team from the competition and taking another step closer to the $250,000 in prize money.

“Just mind-blowing,” said an elated Lauren, describing how she felt when their score of 46 out of 60 confirmed their place in the grand final. “I’ve never wanted anything more in my life, ever,” she continued.

Anna and Jordan scored 36 out of 60 and were eliminated off the back of a lack-lustre entrée and main. An emotional Jordan said leaving the competition was a “bittersweet” moment. Despite their run in the competition ending, he said it was incredible to be able to watch Lauren and Carmine continue to chase their dream.

“Our experience on My Kitchen Rules has been once in a lifetime,” he said through tears. “I loved doing the challenges, cooking in Colin’s restaurant; I mean this has been a dream.”

But it was mum Anna who had the last word: “I’m so proud we’ve done this together, it will be something I will always cherish.”

Keen to demonstrate different cooking techniques to judges Pete Evans, Manu Feildel, Colin Fassnidge, Guy Grossi, Karen Martini and Liz Egan, Carmine and Lauren strayed from their Italian roots featuring a menu of classics. In contrast, Anna and Jordan chose to push the boundaries with their menu choosing invention over convention.

Carmine and Lauren’s entrée of seared scallops with pea cream and speck was well received by the judges. “It’s old school, it’s classic, this is done well,” said Pete of the colourful dish. Liz agreed saying there was nothing wrong with classics and that the dish looked “gorgeous on the plate, vibrant and inviting.” Colin admitted the team’s entrée had good flavour and was well cooked, but thought it was too safe for this point in the competition.   

Anna and Jordan presented an entrée of lightly poached oysters with fennel and apple. The judges agreed it was “interesting looking” but were not completely sold on Jordan’s vision of the plate resembling an ocean scape.

While Karen acknowledged the team’s effort, she thought they had missed the mark, saying: “I think their creativity is a little out of whack.”  Liz agreed: “It just doesn’t come together for me, there’s too much juice and I find the oyster cream slightly unpleasant.”  The dish then became a complete write-off for Liz when she discovered oyster shell in her mouth during the tasting.

Carmine and Lauren chose another classic with their main of sous vide chicken with smoked potato purée and brussels sprouts. Despite being a simple dish, Karen was impressed with the chicken, noting the team had been able to beautifully crisp the skin yet leave the protein “melt in the mouth” tender.

Colin agreed it was a good dish, but questioned the ratios on the plate saying he thought there was too much potato compared with the chicken.  But for Manu, it was all about the sauce. “This is probably the best jus we have had in the competition so far.  It’s glossy, it’s thick, it’s perfect.”

Anna and Jordan struggled with their main of chilli angel hair pasta with crab and pippies with their pasta clumping just moments before plating. The judges agreed it had a great flavour and the seafood had been cooked well, but the team’s presentation and consistency in plating had let them down.

Karen thought the team could have squashed the cherry tomatoes through the dish more adding a level of sweetness, but as Manu noted, some of the judge’s plates didn’t even have tomatoes on them. “It’s a beautiful dish, but it seems like they’ve rushed it at the end and kind of lost a bit of care,” he added.

Anna and Jordan’s dessert of cannoli with orange mascarpone ice cream was a hit with the judges. “It takes me back to my childhood,” said Guy. “It’s one of those desserts in the Italian kitchen that is just ever present. It’s a really refined cannoli.”

Karen agreed, saying they had nailed the dessert: “That cannoli pastry is textbook perfect. It’s so fragile and crisp. They’re so tiny and every single one of them is the same size.” Manu concurred: “I think it is the best dish they have done.”

Like their main, Carmine and Lauren were working up against the clock plating their dessert of grilled peach with yoghurt mousse and peach sorbet.

“It’s a sunshine dish, it’s a happy dish and I liked the texture of the nuts and the salt,” Colin said. “I love the yoghurt, the yoghurt actually cuts through everything, cuts through the sweetness, because I think the sorbet is a touch sweet.”

Karen said Carmine and Lauren had created “great things with simple ingredients” and applied great technique through all three courses.

MY KITCHEN RULES 2016 GRAND FINAL – TUESDAY, APRIL 26 at 7.30p