The final shakedown
Survival is the vital ingredient for last three in MasterChef mix
EMELIA Jackson, Laura Cassai and Brent Owens are about to hit the wall.
The three have endured six months of non-stop 14-hour days as they fight it out to get into tomorrow night’s grand final of reinvigorated reality cooking show MasterChef.
All admit they seriously underestimated the mental, physical and emotional toll of plating up extraordinary dishes episode after episode for judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan.
They survived the tough Heston Blumenthal week, when Amy Shields was eliminated, and finals week, which saw the exits of Ben MacDonald, Tracy Collins, and Jamie Fleming.
Tonight is sudden death. The trio face off in a service challenge creating dishes they would serve in their dream restaurant, each preparing a main and a dessert for 20 diners and the judges.
The contestant with the least impressive dishes is eliminated, and the remaining two are through to the grand final. “I really expected
MasterChef to be easier than it is,” Jackson, 24, says.
“I never considered how exhausting, mentally draining and emotionally charged the experience would be.”
Some of that emotion extended to the MasterChef house – a multimillion-dollar property in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Brighton.
Eliminated contestant Tash Shan accused her fellow competitors of making her feel marginalised and lonely in the house.
Last ones standing: MasterChef’s final three contestants Laura Cassai, Brent Owens and Emelia Jackson.
But Owens says the biggest surprise was how well he got on with contestants outside the competition.
“A majority of them have helped me get through this in their unique ways and I hope I did the same for them,” Owens, 24, says.
Until now, Callum Hann is the youngest contestant to make the MasterChef grand final. Hann was 20 when runner-up to then-31-year-old Adam Liaw in 2010.
Cassai, 19, hopes to be the first teenager to compete in the grand final.
She has been a standout from the start.
“To make the top three is just insane,” Cassai says.
“One of my biggest strengths is extracting flavour out of minimal ingredients.
“The downside is that I can sometimes get really flustered when things go wrong. I’m going to have to work to keep my cool.”
Marketing co-ordinator Jackson – aka the dessert queen – plans to open a cafe in the future.
“My strengths are my ability to be really organised and efficient,” Jackson says.
“My weakness is probably over-complicating things.”
Owens lives with his girlfriend of six years, Madison, and works as a bobcat driver for her father Laurence’s excavation business. After MasterChef, he has television in his sights, wanting to make his own foodie travel series.
“As the competition has progressed, my plating has continued to improve,” Owens says.
“My weaknesses are following recipes and getting ingredient anxiety. When there is an open pantry, I man-scan with no ideas.”
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