'I Just Lost All Confidence': Amina Exits MasterChef With The Most Emotional Farewell This Season
Fan favourite Amina Elshafei has been eliminated from MasterChef: Back To Win after what was, undoubtedly, the toughest Pressure Test in the show's history.
The contestants who narrowly missed out on winning the previous night's team service challenge knew they were in for a hellish cook when a familiar face -- Darren Purchese -- entered the kitchen holding an ominous black cloche.
The famed pastry chef, who has set plenty of Pressure Tests in past seasons, revealed that the contestants (Amina, Poh, Callum, Hayden, Tracy, Jess, Reynold, Sarah Clare and Laura) would be replicating his pavlova.
But the humble Australian dessert was not the kind that you'll find at a backyard BBQ with Darren revealing the dish had it's own meringue cloche hiding a delicate dome created using mango mousse, tempered white chocolate, coconut dacqoise, passionfruit curd, salted caramel cream, and a vanilla panna cotta.
Speaking to 10 daily via phone after her elimination, Amina said she was already "pretty nerve-wracked" by the nature of Twists Week.
"It really put me on edge because you just don’t know what to expect," she said.
"I hate surprises, ask my husband! Every time he says, 'I’ll buy you something', a gift that he’s prepared, I’ll say, 'No, tell me what it is!" she laughed.
After seeing Darren walk into the kitchen, Amina knew the cook was going to be challenging, but she couldn't anticipate how torturous the Pressure Test was going to get when the judges revealed their evil twist -- snatching the very complex recipe pages away from the contestants mid-cook.
"I speculated about what the twist could be but I did not expect the recipe to be taken away," she said.
"I just did the best I could but I stumbled quite badly," Amina said of trying to remember pages of detailed instructions and plate up Darren's masterpiece.
Amina told 10 daily that in the final hour of the challenge, things started to fall apart for her.
"I felt… I just lost all confidence," she said. " First of all, these kinds of desserts are not my forte whatsoever, there are elements in that dish that I’ve never done in my life."
Amina, who is known for her generous, wholesome style of cooking that takes inspiration from her Korean and Egyptian heritage wasn't alone -- with even the professional pastry chefs in the group including Poh and Reynold struggling with the challenge.
"I think everyone was just on edge, and tense. Even everyone up on the gantry, they were edgy too because there was just this empathetic feeling of, 'What if that was us? That’s just not on!'
"It was just… not a fun environment to be in. Normally in other challenges or even other Pressure Test, yes there’s pressure but there’s a little bit of fun, a bit of joy -- I just didn’t feel that at all in that room."
For viewers, it was tough to watch the woman who has been the effervescent heart and soul of this season -- who never gives up -- wiping away tears as the three hours they'd been given for the cook slipping away.
In a particularly heart-wrenching moment, pastry queen Jess approached Amina with the measurements needed for the mango mousse and while it was an incredibly generous gesture, Amina said she was past the point of being able to process information.
"I was incredibly appreciative, I gave her a big hug at the end of the whole thing. I owe her a lot for trying to help me," Amina told 10 daily.
"I don’t know if I was completely switched on at that point to absorb everything she told me but the notion itself was just admirable."
The Pressure Test pushed a number of talented cooks to their limits, and even past that point, which Amina explained, is part of a natural process that recurs on MasterChef.
"This happened in Season 4 where there’s almost a release of emotions and the tension and that nervousness.
"We get to a point in the competition where that has to happen, it almost feels like everyone has to have a breaking point, get over it and keep pushing -- I think Twists Week did that," she said.
Unfortunately for Amina, the dessert spelled the end of her time in the competition, after she landed in the bottom three along with Hayden and Poh.
"I think it was just a combination of not knowing what the twist would be and also, I was missing home a lot.
"I was really homesick that day and I just couldn't focus either, so there were just a couple of things that threw me off," she said.
The announcement was tough for everyone in the room, including Melissa who choked up speaking about the contributions Amina has brought through her cooking and her presence in the kitchen before giving her a huge hug.
"I don’t know if I can watch that because I think I’m just going to be a blubbering mess!" said Amina.
Although she had hoped to stay in the competition longer, it meant that Amina could come back full time to her family, including her now 13-month-old daughter Aya -- who has already knows what it means when she hears the Katy Perry theme song.
"When the 'Hot N Cold' song comes on, she’ll like look, it’s so funny, and I think it’s because of my husband because he’ll say, ‘There’s mummy!’
"Then she’ll look and as soon as she sees me she’ll go, ‘Okay done!’ and keep moving on," Amina laughed.
Following Back To Win, Amina will be returning to her work as a nurse -- but with some important changes to accommodate her other passion, food.
"Nursing for me is an absolute joy, I love my job but doing it part time is going to give me the availability and the time to do something in the food world long term," said Amina.
"For me, food education I think is the most important part in this industry. I want to go back to cooking classes and teaching people about the cultural food that I grew up with so Korean and Middle Eastern food," she said.