'Finesse Personified': Amina, Emelia And Tracy Rise To The Top In Mystery Box Challenge
In the third Mystery Box challenge this season of MasterChef three quiet achievers showed the judges that they are indeed, back to win.
oAfter last night's elimination at EnterViaLaundry, the contestants found themselves in the outer suburbs of Melbourne once more, this time discovering they'd be cooking with an abundance of backyard produce from local growers.
Mel, Jock and Andy introduced the friendly bunch of Victorian providores who brought with them armfuls of yellow zucchini, bunches of basil, wheels of blue cheese, Shiitake mushrooms, brown rice miso and crunchy Gravenstein apples.
After popping over to Coles to collect a protein or ingredient of their choice, the cooks got started on some ambitious projects with the majority pushing themselves to their culinary limits and dipping their toes into some experimentation.
The eventual top three -- Amina, Emelia and Tracy have had a very solid season thus far plating up delights like these Dondurma semolina biscuits, this pistachio and strawberry eclair and more recently, potato and chicken skins with fried shallot.
But when you're not winning the weekly immunity or getting involved in a spectacular disaster, you tend to avoid the spotlight on MasterChef.
The top three tonight made a clear decision to use the advice they've gathered in the last few weeks and their hunger for a 'wow' moment to create something that would show off their skills and knack for flavour to the judges.
Working beside her Season 6 pal Laura, Emelia was slightly concerned that they were both going to be using quail -- particularly because Emelia is usually more of a dessert cook and she knew Laura's strengths in plating up savoury dishes.
Meanwhile, Amina had chosen lobster tails at Coles but admitted, while she loves eating the crustacean, she hasn't really cooked with it much.
"This is an opportunity for me to prove that I'm evolving as a home cook," Amina said as she prepped her lobster tortelloni.
"I'm only just getting [into] my groove," she added.
Over at Tracy's bench, the Barossa-based Season 6 cook was delighted to be cooking with ingredients that spoke to her culinary identity the most and was getting started on a quite technical dish -- duck neck sausage.
"So far the judges haven't seen the best of my cooking," Tracy said.
"I think I've fallen short in areas or had my wobbly boots on so I need to be more focused and I kind of feel like I'm putting on my old shoes of creativity and all the skills that I know that I have but just haven't used in a while.
I really want to tap into my potential and really bring it forward today, I want to show the judges that I can bring that technique, I can bring that flavour and I can bring in some beautiful plating.
Despite stiff competition, the judges named Amina, Emelia and Tracy's dishes as the most outstanding and applauded their creativity, technique and flavour combinations.
Amina's pasta filling was "beautiful" with a buttery, bisquey "sexy" sauce while Emelia's quail, apple and shiitake was described as "finesse personified" and even scored a series of "wows" from Jock -- high praise indeed.
And Tracy was applauded for nailing the "very tricky" duck sausage with Andy announcing it was her best dish yet in the competition.
"I am absolutely thrilled that the judges love this, I am taking on board everything that they're saying to me and I am growing in this competition," said Tracy.
It shows that, while the contestants hit the ground running right from the beginning, this competition is a marathon, not a sprint -- and the most important skill a MasterChef contestant can have is the ability to keep learning, growing and evolving with every cook and every piece of feedback.
Tomorrow night, Amina, Emelia and Tracy will go head to head to battle for this week's immunity -- and we just know they're going to crush it.