The MasterChef Australia Back To Win top two has been decided, with Emelia and Laura set to battle it out in the Grand Finale following the exit of Sydney’s dessert king, Reynold in the semi-final. The Grand Finale will air on Monday night at 7:30 pm on 10 and 10 Play.
MasterChef Australia. Back To Win. Elimination #21. Reynold Poernomo, NSW, 27.
The penultimate episode of MasterChef Back to Win started with three contestants and ended with two left to battle it out in the Monday night Grand Final. The episode started with a profiles of the final three – starting with Reynold and what the pandemic had meant for his retail businesses. Laura noted she had been in nearly every single elimination. “I know today will be the hardest challenge they have ever set us, but this is everything I have ever wanted and I cannot let it slip away.” Emelia then said: “For the last six years I have been baking cakes.” A clip package showed the emotional cook going beyond her comfort zone with some amazing dishes. “I am one cook away from the finale and this is not the time to hold back.” The penultimate challenge – a pressure test created by Sydney chef Martin Benn especially for this episode – was to recreate Benn’s toffee apple. The time allowed was 3 hours and 45 minutes for 113 steps. The two best dishes got through to the Grand Finale. “Do not fall at the final hurdle,” said judge Andy.
The contestants began with the persimmon and pumpkin leaves – the savoury leaf on the dessert.
Excited about the pressure test, Emelia knew she needed to motor along in order to get everything done, and balanced.
Laura was under pressure from the beginning, cooking such a complex dessert against pastry chefs Reynold and Emelia.
It was Reynold’s first time in a Semi-Final, and he was in the zone. He was really happy that today was a Martin Benn pressure test as it’s his kind of cooking.
Next, the contestants moved on to the apple scroll, the main component of the dish. This was one of the major pressure points of the dish and the most important step to get right. Emelia managed to roll one scroll that she was happy with, and a spare for her to work with. Reynold got his scroll right the first time with minimal cracks and rolled a second as a back-up. Laura couldn’t get her lathe to work, she just kept breaking her apples before they spun. Just when she was about to give up on the dish, Emelia helped her with the lathe, and Reynold also gave advice.
Next the contestants painted their apple with the red toffee and rolled it back up so that it looked like an apple again. Emelia rolled up one apple really well, her second apple didn’t look great, so she ditched it, and only put one apple in the oven. Reynold made sure his apple scrolls were neat, but once he finished rolling them, they weren’t quite the right shape. He put them in the mould and into the oven, hoping they would cook into the same shape as Martin Benn’s. Laura’s didn’t achieve the right shape either, but she didn’t want to lathe another apple so she decided to run with it.
The contestants moved on to their muscovado leaves, the sweet leaf on the dessert. Once they were cooked, they had to work in the oven with the leaf moulds to shape them before they set. Emelia’s first muscovado leaf cracked, but she managed to shape her others well. Both Laura and Reynold also managed to shape the leaves.
With an hour and 45 minutes remaining, the contestants checked their apple scrolls. Emelia and Laura’s held their shape well and looked beautiful. But Reynold’s collapsed and fell flat. He didn’t have time to redo the step so he followed the recipe and put it back in the oven hoping he could reshape it later.
The contestants moved on to the raspberry leaves, the sour leaf on the dessert. These were much more delicate than the muscovado leaves and Emelia struggled to get them off the silpat mat, they just kept breaking. Laura on the other hand, managed to press them perfectly the first time. Reynold was also very happy with his leaves.
While Emelia struggled with her raspberry leaves, Reynold and Laura moved on to finish their persimmon and pumpkin leaves. It was time to cut them to shape, fry them, and press them in the moulds. Martin’s leaves were savoury and crisp. Reynold worried that his were too oily for the dessert so he decided to divert from the recipe and put them in the oven briefly to dry out the oil.
With forty-five minutes to go, Emelia was running behind the others. She had done three batches of raspberry leaves and they had all broken. She tried one last batch of leaves, with success.
Meanwhile, Reynold realised he had left his pumpkin and persimmon leaves in the oven for too long, losing their shape and he worried he had made a big mistake.
The last thirty minutes of the cook were filled with pressure as all three contestants struggled to get the last of their elements together. With only eight minutes left, Emelia began multitasking. She had her caramel for her stem on the heat and started to cut up her jelly. But her divided attention caused her caramel to burn. She refused to be rattled and put another batch of caramel on. She pushed it right to the wire, finishing her stem with only thirty seconds left.
Emilia seemed the most comfortable through the marathon challenge despite a few hiccups. She was then the first chosen for the final. It looked early on that the unthinkable might happen and Reynold would not make the final two. And so it was as Laura was named as the other grand finalist. Reynold usually keeps his cool, but he broke down after learning of his elimination and it looked like a few deft edits stopped us having to watch all his pain.
The episode did 1,151,000 which was the biggest penultimate episode since 2016. It was also the second-biggest audience this year after the 2020 launch crowd of 1.228m. The Sunday episode won all the key demos and steered 10 to a win under 50 and in key demos for the network and the primary channel.