'I Was Terrified': The Famous Dish That Decided Leah's 'MasterChef' Fate
Dessert whiz Leah Milburn-Clark wasn't exactly thrilled when she discovered this week's pressure test.
The challenge was revealed as chef Leno Lattarulo entered the 'MasterChef' kitchen, escorted by two men in black who carried between them a huge pan of Spain's most famous, and most unpronounceable, dish -- paella.
Leno's paella has travelled all the way to the International Paella Competition in Valencia and has twice been awarded the best paella outside of Spain -- which had bottom three Kyle, Anushka and Leah quaking in their culinary boots.
"Seeing that paella loaded with seafood arrive in the kitchen, I was terrified!" Leah told 10 daily following her elimination.
"Me and fish don’t have the best relationship as, unfortunately, I displayed for Rick Stein last week," Leah continued, describing her attempt to impress the legendary seafood king.
The contestants were thrown in the deep end of the paella pan, and were challenged to recreate Leno's version of the dish without a recipe. The trio had to rely on their tastebuds and their ~chef's intution~ to get through the stressful pressure test.
Leah told 10 daily that after her third time donning a black apron for an elimination challenge, she actually got used to the high-intensity cooks.
"I loved the pressure of elimination challenges!" said Leah. "I think dressed in black and up against a select group, the reality hits home and fight or flight kicks in. Fortunately, I’m a fighter."
And although she bravely fought all the way to the end and her paella looked exquisite -- its charred bottom permeated the dish with a decidedly burnt flavour.
"Fair to say, I haven’t cooked paella since!" Leah told 10 daily.
Although seafood wasn't Leah's strong point, she always managed to bring the enthusiasm and passion from her theatre background and inject it into whatever recipe she was working on.
"I love the theatre because it brings people joy, it sparks conversation and takes people to places they might not otherwise go," Leah told 10 daily.
"While it might sound wanky, I absolutely believe food has the same power, so all my dishes were inspired by a little bit of theatre magic, in the hope I could evoke similar reactions," she said.
Which is exactly what the 22-year-old did when she mastered Clare Smyth's insanely tricky pear and lemon verbena vacherin, a dish that takes over four hours to complete and was served up at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding last year.
"Cooking a dish served at the royal wedding and having it look pretty close to Clare’s was a massive confidence boost -- I honestly have never even seen a 12-page recipe before, let alone had to follow one!" Leah told us of the moment that let her leave the competition with her head held high.
Since leaving the competition, Leah has been working on her own gourmet grazing table business -- Tables and Cheese -- that will feature local Yarra Valley produce, homemade dips, lavosh and fruit plates.
Leah's also working on her dream of opening a theatre restaurant, where she'll pair "top class theatre with top class food".
"The idea of watching a show, seated around a table with a glass of wine in hand and an exciting plate of food arriving in front of you sounds like the perfect night out to me!" she told 10 daily.
"My slightly wanky theatre restaurant is part of my ten-year plan -- so keep your eyes peeled in the years ahead!"
MasterChef Australia airs Sunday to Thursday nights at 7.30pm. Only On 10 And WIN Network. Missed an episode? Catch up on 10 Play or 10 All Access!
Main Image: Network 10.