It’s MasterChef Australia 2023 episode 22 and it’s the second round of this week’s Home Cooks vs Pro Cooks challenge.
The task has seen a different set of MC contestants cook off against a trio of pro chefs each night this week. The “Home Cooks” Grace, Rhiannon, and Antonio won the previous challenge against Nomad chefs, but can Team MasterChef clinch the victory again?
After greeting the contestants, MasterChef judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong, and Andy Allen handed out chips that determined that Ralph, Malissa, and Phil were heading into tonight’s challenge.
The contestants were informed that they were cooking off against Head Chef Nick Holloway and his team, Mel Schouten and Chris Verinder, from Nu Nu in Palm Cove. However, the challenge was slightly different from the previous one.
Even though it was technically Pressure Cook night, both teams of chefs were informed that they will be tasked with replicating meals by renowned chef Khanh Nguyen from Aru and Sunda.
When Kahn revealed his three-course menu that Ralph, Malissa, Phil, Nick, Mel, and Chris were all challenged to recreate, it was obvious that the required skill level was high.
The entree was Macadamia Tofu with Prawns, Tamarind, and Lemon Myrtyle Broth that Malissa and Nick volunteered to tackle.
For the main, Nick and Chris took on a Wagyu Rendang Pie with Vietnamese Satay and Pickled Daikon Radish.
Mel and Ralph were on Dessert, and they had to recreate Kahn’s Ice Cream Sandwich with Davidson Plum and a Salted Waffle.
At the end of the cook, each dish would be compared to its competitor, and the team that won the most courses would be victorious. For the Pro Chefs, that doesn’t mean much more than bragging rights, but for the Home Cooks, it meant that they would be safe from Sunday’s elimination.
Chris and Phil started cooking first because of the complexity of their meals. Next out of the gate was Malissa and Nick, and lastly Ralph and Mel were allowed to start on their desserts.
Shortly after everything kicked off, Phil faced his first major problem. However, he was actually oblivious to the mishap and it was fellow contestant Brent who spotted the blunder while speculating from above.
“I’m a bit worried about Phil. I think that he might have missed a step. Phil’s put all the spices straight in the mixer but he didn’t blitz them. So, I’ll tell you what, for a guy that doesn’t like spice, there’s gonna be some spice,” he said.
Meanwhile, Melissa and Nic were both aware of how important it was to nail their ingredients in order for their tofu to set like Khan’s. However, Nick did exactly what he didn’t want to do, and messed up with his setting agent.
“I’ve jumped a step, I’ve added the two thickening agents before straining,” he explained.
Nick had no choice but to start again; however, he faced another problem when there weren’t enough macadamia nuts for a remake. The head chef had to improvise and poured part of his old mixture into his new mould and hoped that the tofu wouldn’t be too stiff.
Back at the mains station, Phil was still in a bit of a tizzy over his spice mistake, and judges Kahn and Jock noticed his neglect to blitz. Phil tried to rectify his mistake by passing the curry through a sieve in an effort to remove the chunky parts and then blitzing those with a handheld blender.
“This definitely won’t fix it, but I’ve just got to get it as close as now, there’s nothing else I can do,” Phil said.
Over at desserts, Malissa had no problem pressing out a perfect waffle and popping together her parfait; however, the last few mins of the cook saw a number of disasters. Malissa’s tofu wasn’t set, Phil cooked his pie on the top shelf of the oven which caused burnt edges, and Ralph’s waffle was burnt around the edges.
First up was Malissa and Nick whose dishes looked dramatically different from one another. Malissa’s tofu was extremely soft while Nick’s was very firm.
“I think we’ve both managed to get either end of the scale, mine’s probably a little burnt and I just hope I’ve done it justice,” Nick said to Malissa in front of the judges.
Jock, Melissa, Andy, and Kahn weren’t impressed that the tofu, which was meant to be the star of Malissa’s dish, wasn’t set, while their reviews of Nick’s final product were fairly favourable.
Next, Phil and Nick presented their pies to be judged. While Phil’s looked quite presentable, Jock wasn’t impressed with the taste.
“Phil, pastry problems for him it is just really dry,” he said. “The filling itself is much more spicy than your one was.”
However, the recipe creator Khan said that he liked the extra spice.
“I’ve gotta go home and fix my recipe now,” he joked.
But, Phil’s spicy pie was clearly outshone by Chris’ dish. Kahn raved about the chef’s pastry and all three judges agreed that he did “really, really well”.
Upon first glance at Mel and Ralph’s desserts, Mel’s clearly looked far cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing. However, she started voluntarily critiquing her cook and pointing out numerous flaws to the judges.
“My Davidson plum puree. I don’t know whether I needed to blend it more or something because when I did the squiggle it sort of hit a couple of bumps and doesn’t look as good as it could,” she told the judges, for no particular reason.
She added that her waffle had a “couple of holes in it”.
Despite Mel’s harsh judgment of her own dish, the judges loved it and said that it closely resemble Kahn’s. They were disappointed in Ralph’s on the other hand and said that his waffle wasn’t as “crunchy as it should be”.
Unfortunately for Ralph, Malissa and Phil, the chefs from Nu Nu completely wiped the floor with them. They were awarded best entree, main, and dessert, and the trio of Masterchef contestants was sent through to the elimination on Sunday.
MasterChef Australia 2023 continues at 7.30pm on Tuesday, June 6 on 10 and 10Play.