If MasterChef wants to prove that it’s bigger, better and harder this year, they’ve certainly achieved that with the first top 24 elimination! In previous seasons there have been elimination challenges that simply involve a taste test and identifying ingredients; on last night’s episode, former wine merchant Tom Rutledge and design teacher Kumar Pereira had to cook the favourite dishes of three top chefs (or two chefs and one critic) — without a recipe. They were given the key ingredients for the dishes — Abla Ahmet presented pistachios so they could make a Lebanese baklava, Shaun Presland gave them tempura flour to cook an assortment of tempura vegetables and prawn, and judge Matt Preston handed them limes for a mix of different salsas and chicken wings. And they had to complete all three dishes in 90 minutes!
Tom and Kumar were given some tips from the chefs during the cooking process, but for the most part they had to work with their own food knowledge, even though neither had ever made baklava or tempura. The chefs then tasted each contestant’s version of their favourite dishes and chose their winners — Abla picked Kumar, Matt awarded his vote to Tom, and Shaun decided the elimination by choosing Kumar’s tempura over Tom’s. It was a tough first elimination and we were sad to see Tom go — but we can’t disguise the fact that we’re thrilled Kumar is still in the competition! What did you think of the cooking challenge?