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‘I Can Still Smell It’: The Elimination Dishes That Haunt MasterChef Contestants

Every MasterChef contestant has at least one moment in the competition that they look back on and think about the myriad mistakes they wish they hadn’t made.

With the gift of hindsight, it’s easy to pinpoint the moment something was about to burn or the second it was too late to whack a panna cotta in the blast chiller or change a recipe idea completely.

With the upcoming MasterChef: Back To Win series, 24 contestants have the chance to re-write history and get their hands on $250,000 and their name engraved on the show’s glorious plate.

And unlike any season in the past eleven years, the cooks have the advantage of their first experience in the competition under their belts and a clear idea of the mistakes they want to avoid.

We asked a few of the returning cooks about their elimination dishes -- and the important lessons they learned from the pressure tests that sent them home.

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Chris Badenoch - Season 1

Image: Network 10.

"What Donna Hay cookbook challenge? I don't remember that!" Chris laughed when we asked him about his 2009 elimination in a cook with the eventual top two -- Julie Goodwin and Poh Ling Yeow.

"That challenge was annoying because I was trying to do too many 'out there' things and not just cook good, simple food," Chris told 10 daily.

The former beer merchant, current graphic illustrator and lover of nose-to-tail cooking said getting bogged down with ideas is an easy trap to fall into on the show.

"That’s the way it goes, you try and push yourself too far sometimes and try and get too creative, too crazy when you should just concentrate on good, simple things."

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Rose Adam - Season 7

Image: Network 10.

"Gee, I hardly remember!" Rose jokingly told 10 daily of the Janice Wong Cassis Plum dessert that sent her home.

"I remember the entire thing, the recipe what it looks like, I can still smell it," she added.

Rose described the dessert, which included yuzu caviar, a cassis sphere, yuzu rubies, and blackcurrant pastilles (to name just a few elements) as "a lot".

"We had to make our own jubes and pebbles and it was really intense, and there was a lot of purple," she said.

"Yeah, purple used to be my favorite color."

Sarah Tiong - Season 9

"The dish I got knocked down on was the Pearl on the Ocean Floor by Shaun Quade from Lûmé," Sarah told 10 daily.

"And it was an absolutely stunning dish, it was seafood-based, and that's my thing -- I love seafood," she added.

If you take a peep at the dish, you'll agree it looks a lot like a prize-winning diorama of a magical prehistoric oceanscape, built up with sea bream, miso and pine nut ice-cream, mussel foam, bonito fluid gel and a carefully constructed pearl.

"Being in that situation, you second guess a lot of things," Sarah explained.

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"I made the decision to redo the pearl quite a few times and  I lost so much time doing that when it really, really did not work in my favour," she said.

But the technical seafood dish taught Sarah about the importance of giving each element in a dish equal priority.

"I should have focused on getting everything up to scratch but you know, every element on that dish was just as important as the others and I think that's a point I missed."

Brendan Pang - Season 10

Image: Network 10.

"My last time on MasterChef, my elimination dish kind of showed where I think I was a bit weaker in my thought process," Brendan told 10 daily.

The talented chef started off with a recipe he knew well to impress guest judge Curtis Stone but ended up making adjustments he wouldn't have if he was at home, plating up a steak with rougaille, roti and coriander chutney.

"I cooked a traditional Mauritian dish, which is where my family is from, but I didn’t do it the way my family would so… I think, looking back on that, I’d stay true to how I’d cook and how we eat," he said.

The returning MasterChef Australia contestants walk back through those kitchen doors with a promise to stay true to their identities and to not take a cheeky peek at what everyone else is doing -- lessons learned that mean that any one of the top 24 could be back to win.

MasterChef: Back To Win Premieres On Easter Monday, April 13 at 7.30 pm. Only On 10 and WIN Network.