They’ve survived Gordon Ramsay and the many epic challenges set by some of the country’s best chefs, and now they’ve made it to the Top 10.
But for Brendan, Callum, Emelia, Khanh, Laura, Poh, Reece, Reynold, Sarah and Tessa the competition is about to go up a notch with the judges taking it to a whole new level.
Not only will the challenges be harder, but Melissa, Jock and Andy’s expectations are higher. Good food is no longer good enough. Every dish must be exceptional.
It’s time to raise the game and prove once and for all, they’re back to win. The MasterChef Australia, Back To Win Top 10 are:
Brendan Pang, Western Australia.
Far from being just the “dumplings guy”, unassuming Western Australian contender Brendan Pang has proudly displayed a broad range of dishes and flavours from his Chinese and Mauritian heritage in the MasterChef kitchen during the Back To Win competition. Competing twice for immunity, he has wowed the judges with handmade noodles, bold flavours and his creativity and adaptability in the kitchen. His family-‐inspired Dan Dan Noodles saw him clinch a top mystery box spot with a near perfect dish, and he has also proven an accomplished pressure test performer, impressing in judge Jock’s Orana pressure test, Peter Gunn’s black box and Kirsten Tibballs’ meljito, the latter two requiring precision and finessed chocolate work. Fans have also loved seeing Brendan reunited with MasterChef bestie Reece Hignell, who joins him in 2020’s Top 10.
Callum Hann, South Australia.
Having secured the first spot in the Top 10 with his successful immunity cook last week, Adelaide’s Callum Hann is riding high. It’s familiar territory for the season two runner up who has kept his head down to wear a steady path through the Back To Win competition. As a successful business owner, husband and father this time around, he has had a steely focus on the top spot and is going after it with an honest determination. With tasty, homely food his style, Callum has brought the judges everything from more rustic seafood dishes, to refined desserts. He clinched his first immunity in a Keep Up With Gordon Ramsay challenge before grabbing his timely second immunity, and has loved pushing himself against his talented competitors. Hitting form at just the right time, Callum is impressing the judges with his depth of knowledge when it comes to flavours and combinations, vowing to go one place better in 2020.
Emelia Jackson, Victoria.
Known for her pastry prowess, this cake maker from Melbourne has returned to the MasterChef kitchen with a more relaxed attitude and a renewed confidence in her skills, the combination of which is paying dividends. Showcasing her talents across both sweet and savoury, Emelia cooked her way into an immunity battle this season with a quail dish, and pulled off a flawless recreation of chocolate queen Kirsten Tibballs’ meljito dessert to make immunity hers during week seven. An accomplished team player, Emelia has displayed her Macedonian heritage in the kitchen alongside the most delicate desserts, impressing the judges with her worldly palate and calm nature. Her quick wit has also provided plenty of laughs.
Khanh Ong, Victoria.
Fan favourite Khanh Ong has returned to the MasterChef kitchen to prove he has what it takes to go all the way this time. Impressing with a range of traditional Vietnamese dishes close to his heart, Khanh has also shown that his understanding of food knows no bounds, successfully creating Indian, Italian and vegan dishes; not to mention a range of desserts that he isn’t instantly recognised for. His flexibility in the kitchen has positioned him well to respond to any challenge thrown his way – as has his sense of humour – but it is his honesty and humility has allowed him to connect with the judges on a whole new level. Having learnt to trust his instincts and think on his feet since his previous season, Melbourne’s Khanh redeemed himself with a successful cook of his former elimination dish canh chua ca (Southern Vietnamese sour fish soup) -‐ with the monkey off his back, he is now ready to tackle whatever might lie ahead towards finale.
Laura Sharrad, South Australia.
Season six runner up Laura Sharrad has seldom set a foot wrong in the MasterChef kitchen during the Back To Win competition. Though an immunity or team challenge win still elude her, Adelaide’s Laura has consistently shown the depth of her knowledge and skills, tasting mystery box success twice and tackling pressure tests without breaking a sweat. Now owner and chef of a pasta bar, Laura has plated up mouth-‐watering pasta dishes showcasing her rich Italian heritage during the competition, but proven that she’s no one trick pony, with complex desserts, fine-‐dining dishes, seafood and beyond having been served up to the judges. Not to be underestimated, Laura’s confidence in the Back To Win kitchen may just be her secret ingredient.
Poh Ling Yeow, South Australia.
To say that Poh’s time in the MasterChef kitchen for Back To Win has been a roller coaster is putting it lightly. Adelaide’s risk-‐taker Poh has pushed herself to the limit in almost every challenge, be it with time, ingredient or flavour combinations and has taken the audience on a seat-‐of-‐your-‐pants ride along with her. She has often paid homage to her Malaysian Chinese roots with dishes like vegetarian dan dan noodles, tofu lily in a chicken and scallop broth with butter fried rice or dry duck rendang in a coconut rendang lace crepe which wowed Katy Perry and won her the coveted immunity. Equally, Poh has found success from her other love – baking – with elegant pastries, warming, comforting cakes and pies having been used at various times not only to nail a brief, but to make a connection and tell a story. Having been in battle for immunity for four weeks running, Poh’s current form is hot and as the one who has waited the longest time to do so, she is most definitely Back To Win.
Reece Hignell, NSW.
Newcastle’s Reece Hignell returned to the MasterChef kitchen in 2020 a different cook, having learnt and grown so much in the time between. With his love of sweets and cakes having since borne a cake business, accordingly it is Reece’s sweet creations that have caused a stir in the competition so far. He wowed the judges and guest chef Shannon Martinez with his vegan cake and sweet soy ice cream, recently hit another ice cream high point garnering perfect 10s across the board. He was memorably beside himself while cooking rum baba for surprise immunity guest judge Katy Perry, whose response to his dish was equally as memorable. Equal parts confident and vulnerable, the judges have urged Reece to back his savoury palate too as his talent doesn’t extend simply to sweets. Thrilled to be in the Top 10, and with best mate Brendan here too, the sky’s the limit for Reece.
Reynold Poernomo, NSW.
With the fire in his belly to take home the trophy right from the word go, Sydney’s Reynold Poernomo wasted no time showing the competition’s new judges the breadth of his skills and how he has tirelessly worked on improving since he last set foot in the MasterChef kitchen. Having impressed with a number of savoury dishes, it remains his sweet creations that have really wowed the judges and seen him awarded a top dish in mystery boxes three times, and most recently, winning immunity. His white noise, apple pie and cinnamon parfait, Bali sunrise and down the rabbit hole dishes have all been prime examples of the jaw-‐dropping masterpieces he has become so well known for, leaving the judges and fellow contestants alike in awe of how he achieves such feats in tight timeframes. Reynold shows no signs of slowing coming into the business end of the competition and definitely means business.
Sarah Tiong, NSW.
Sydney’s Sarah Tiong is known for her South East Asian flavours and for her ability to balance flavours, a skill she has enjoyed finessing even further during Back To Win. A proven mystery box performer, Sarah has had top dishes on three occasions and took out immunity once early in the competition. She had a ball when Katy Perry visited the kitchen – cooking a trademark pork dish for the megastar and enjoying her own personal time-‐ calls. Stand out dishes from Sarah include deep fried taro stuffed with whiting, pork jowl as well as duck and black rice with turnips and Worcester sauce, with some more unexpected plaudits coming from her sweet dishes. With more yet to prove, Sarah is well positioned for the home stretch as she continues to show she is Back To Win.
Tessa Boersma, Queensland.
As the most recent MasterChef alumni remaining in the competition, Queensland’s Tessa has used her highly developed skills to keep pace in the competition, impressing particularly with many of her favoured seafood dishes. From wowing Gordon Ramsay in the very first challenge, to drawing energy from a huge, cheering live audience when her confit scallop and calamari dish made her entire team safe, Tessa has been a considered performer throughout. Having successfully cooked her way out of a series of eliminations, she gains strength and confidence with every cook, comments like “there’s no real weak link on the plate” and “there’s nothing to fault on that dish” giving her renewed focus. Succeeding too at challenges like balancing odd ice-‐cream flavours and even meat-‐based desserts, Tessa will not be pigeon-‐holed and is here to show she can make it through to the end.