MasterChef’s Eric Reveals What’s Really On the Recipe Cards During a Pressure Test
Eric Mao became the latest eliminated contestant on MasterChef Australia after a pressure test which saw them have to cook a dish they had only tasted while blindfolded.
For the 21-year-old medical student, it was his most emotional cook yet and he had a “gut feeling” that he was going home.
“It was definitely the most emotionally raw I had been in the competition,” Eric told POPSUGAR Australia during an interview after his elimination. “I think from the moment I started, I butchered that lamb incorrectly and that was my downfall. The wheels started falling off and I could just feel the competition slipping away from me. The burden of everything landed all at once and I was very, very emotional.”
This week’s elimination challenge saw Eric — alongside Sabina Newton, Brent Draper and Scott Bagnell — try to recreate chef Clinton McIver’s (Amaru) aged lamb with flowering legumes, however, they had to rely on their taste senses once their vision had been taken away.
“Because you can’t actually see the dish, you’re focused harder on really trying to figure out what it tastes like. The biggest challenge was that you’re not able to ascertain colour. The colour of food actually tells you a lot about how it tastes, like how deeply caramelised the lamb should be, what the colour is inside, how well cooked it should be. What’s the colour of the sauce. All of these things made it challenging to actually replicate the dish.”
During a pressure test, contestants are given a recipe card, however, for Eric, he found it “difficult to understand at some points.”
“You only get the recipe and you get the steps on how to actually cook the dish,” he said. “But in terms of plating, we really had to rely on how we felt at the beginning, so I made a little sketch before I started.
“You have to rely on your own intuition and things like that going forward.”
It’s no secret that the MasterChef judges taste the food cold, but Eric also revealed during all challenges (except a pressure test — “to make it fair”), they make extra food for the judges to try.
“There’s a long gap between the end of the cook and tasting the food. Right after the end of the cook, the judges all come and taste our food while it’s hot and while it’s fresh. Everyone makes more than what they serve up on the plates.”
Eric, who deferred medical school to appear on the show, is not done with cooking just yet — afterall, he’s always had a lifelong passion for it. While he will go back to studying (potentially to become a paediatrician), Eric is setting his sights on creating content for social media with a focus on regional chinese cuisine.
If you want to follow along, you can find him on Instagram here.
Watch MasterChef Australia on Network Ten from 7.30pm, Sunday to Wednesday nights.