The MasterChef Australia Back To Win top two has been decided, with Emelia and Laura set to battle it out in tomorrow’s Grand Finale following the shock exit of Sydney’s dessert king, Reynold in tonight’s Semi- Final.
Tonight’s pressure test was developed especially for the Semi-Final by three-hatted chef Martin Benn, whose toffee apple is the culmination of ten years work based on the five elements of taste; salty, sour, sweet, umami and bitter. Reynold, Laura and Emelia were wowed by the technically complex dessert that looked like a perfect apple in the midst of autumn leaves.
The contestants had three hours and forty-five minutes to recreate Martin Benn’s dish as closely as possible, in look and taste, with an additional five minutes to plate up their dessert before the judges’ taste.
The contestants began with the persimmon and pumpkin leaves – the savoury leaf on the dessert. Excited about the pressure test, Emelia knew she needed to motor along in order to get everything done, and balanced.
Laura was under pressure from the beginning, cooking such a complex dessert against pastry chefs Reynold and Emelia. It was Reynold’s first time in a Semi-Final, and he was in the zone. He was really happy that today was a Martin Benn pressure test as it’s his kind of cooking.
Next, the contestants moved on to the apple scroll, the main component of the dish. This was one of the major pressure points of the dish and the most important step to get right. Emelia managed to roll one scroll that she was happy with, and a spare for her to work with.
Reynold got his scroll right the first time with minimal cracks and rolled a second as a back-up. Laura couldn’t get her lathe to work, she just kept breaking her apples before they spun. Just when she was about to give up on the dish, Emelia helped her with the lathe, and Reynold also gave advice.
Next the contestants painted their apple with the red toffee and rolled it back up so that it looked like an apple again. Emelia rolled up one apple really well, her second apple didn’t look great, so she ditched it, and only put one apple in the oven.
Reynold made sure his apple scrolls were neat, but once he finished rolling them, they weren’t quite the right shape. He put them in the mould and into the oven, hoping they would cook into the same shape as Martin Benn’s. Laura’s didn’t achieve the right shape either, but she didn’t want to lathe another apple so she decided to run with it.
The contestants moved on to their muscovado leaves, the sweet leaf on the dessert. Once they were cooked, they had to work in the oven with the leaf moulds to shape them before they set. Emelia’s first muscovado leaf cracked, but she managed to shape her others well. Both Laura and Reynold also managed to shape the leaves.
With an hour and 45 minutes remaining, the contestants checked their apple scrolls. Emelia and Laura’s held their shape well and looked beautiful. But Reynold’s collapsed and fell flat. He didn’t have time to redo the step so he followed the recipe and put it back in the oven hoping he could reshape it later.
The contestants moved on to the raspberry leaves, the sour leaf on the dessert. These were much more delicate than the muscovado leaves and Emelia struggled to get them off the silpat mat, they just kept breaking. Laura on the other hand, managed to press them perfectly the first time. Reynold was also very happy with his leaves.
While Emelia struggled with her raspberry leaves, Reynold and Laura moved on to finish their persimmon and pumpkin leaves. It was time to cut them to shape, fry them, and press them in the moulds. Martin’s leaves were savoury and crisp. Reynold worried that his were too oily for the dessert so he decided to divert from the recipe and put them in the oven briefly to dry out the oil.
With forty-five minutes to go, Emelia was running behind the others. She had done three batches of raspberry leaves and they had all broken. She tried one last batch of leaves, with success.
Meanwhile, Reynold realised he had left his pumpkin and persimmon leaves in the oven for too long, losing their shape and he worried he had made a big mistake.
The last thirty minutes of the cook were filled with pressure as all three contestants struggled to get the last of their elements together. With only eight minutes left, Emelia began multitasking. She had her caramel for her stem on the heat and started to cut up her jelly. But her divided attention caused her caramel to burn. She refused to be rattled and put another batch of caramel on. She pushed it right to the wire, finishing her stem with only thirty seconds left.
Emelia’s dessert was tasted first. The judges were extremely impressed with the presentation of her dessert. Martin Benn praised her for an extraordinary dish, phenomenally executed.
Laura’s dish was up next. Though visually, her dessert didn’t look as good as Emelia’s, the flavours were on par.
Reynold presented his dessert last. Apart from his much smaller apple, the dish looked great. The judges praised his raspberry leaf as being the best of the day. But his caramel wasn’t bitter enough, leaving the dish overall too sweet, and his persimmon and pumpkin leaves were more like a fruit leather than a crisp.
In an emotional verdict, Reynold was bid farewell from the competition.
Monday night, Emelia and Laura will take part in the final battle – the Grand Finale – where one will be crowned Australian MasterChef for 2020.