MasterChef’s oldest contestant out after prawn dish disaster
BENITA Orwell is the latest to be eliminated from MasterChef Australia in the most emotional exit so far this season.
The 57-year-old Brisbane mother-of-two stumbled in a challenge against Arum Nixon, Nicole Stevenson, Pete Morgan and Ben Ungermann last night.
Orwell's elimination had 18-year-old Callan Smith as well as Stevenson in tears. The end was a blow for Orwell who had auditioned four times to be on the Channel 10 cooking show.
"I'm really upset and absolutely gutted," Orwell said. "I don't want to go home. I'm cranky with myself."
The elimination cook-off was set for 90 minutes but contestants had to sacrifice time to buy ingredients.
Chocolate, prawns, john dory, duck and lamb backstraps cost 20 minutes. Artichokes, coriander, ginger, cherries, lemongrass and chillis cost 10 minutes.
Other ingredients including vanilla, pistachios, sugar and chardonnay cost five minutes.
Nixon was first to choose and he picked ginger, sugar and pistachios for 20 minutes. That left him 70 minutes on the clock.
Stevenson was next and selected the same ingredients. Ungermann chose john dory, artichokes and vanilla beans which meant a 55 minute cook.
Morgan selected cherries, vanilla beans, sugar and pistachios and had 65 minutes.
Orwell had to spend a whopping 45 minutes on the sidelines by choosing prawns, ginger, coriander and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce). That decision proved costly.
Nixon's cook went seamlessly.
Judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan thought the 34-year-old advertising strategist's ginger caramel cake with ginger ice cream was delicious.
"I might even ask him for the recipe," Mehigan said.
Morgan had less luck with his vanilla cherry layer cake with Greek yoghurt mousse and pistachio praline. The yoghurt didn't set properly and the cake collapsed.
Preston was baffled why Morgan didn't create a lamb dish and play to his strengths. Fortunately the flavour was there.
"It ain't a cake," Preston said. "Call it a Greek cherry trifle and you've got an absolute smash on your hands."
Orwell's biggest error came late in her cook of prawn wontons with prawn broth. Orwell took her eye off the broth and it burnt. She quickly had to create a sauce.
The judges praised Orwell's ability to think on her feet but the dish was underwhelming. Preston couldn't taste the kecap manis.
Ungermann's dory fillet, crispy skin shards, artichoke three ways and vanilla bean hollandaise was a hit.
Stevenson's ginger steamed pudding, Greek yoghurt sorbet and pistachio praline was a fail. The syrup had soaked into the top of the pudding leaving the rest dry.
"You can taste cake batter," Calombaris said.
It was clear that Nixon had created the best dish of the night. Orwell and Stevenson had plated up the two worst.
In the end, the judges sent Orwell packing, saying "your emergency replacement sauce showed great initiative but on a day with some really good cooking it just didn't cut it."
Smith was clearly upset by Orwell's exit. The tears started flowing and he said he had a lot of laughs with the former Qantas customer service supervisor.
Since her elimination, Orwell has done work experience at the Putia Pure Food Kitchen in Brisbane. Her food dream is to create a Ladies Long Lunch event business.
"Don't think that you're too old," Orwell told the contestants as she departed. "If you've always had a dream and you still haven't achieved it, go and do it."