There wasn’t a dry eye in the kitchen during Tuesday’s emotional MasterChef elimination.
After capturing the nation’s heart in season four, paediatric nurse Amina Elshafei has hung up her apron.
In one of the most intense pressure tests the MasterChef kitchen has seen, “twist week” saw the contestants’ recipe sheets snatched from their workspaces as they completed a fiddly dessert challenge set by British pastry chef Darren Purchese of Melbourne’s Burch & Purchese.
While Laura, Reynold and Jess dished up versions of Purchese’s fruity, multi-layered dessert that impressed judges Jock, Melissa and Andy, Amina, Poh and Hayden struggled to pull through amid the nasty twist.
Hayden served up an upside down cake to the judges, while Poh’s elements were problematic on every layer and missing the finishing glaze completely.
But it was Amina who was sent home after struggling to produce a meringue that wouldn’t crack under the weight of the cream, admitting she found it difficult to multi-task after having her recipe sheet stripped.
When Amina’s name was called, silence fell among the group.
Judge Melissa had tears in her eyes, as others gasped and openly wept over the announcement.
“Amina, today is a sad day for you, but it’s also a really sad day for us,” Melissa said.
“All of us in this room will remember the way the crowd at that live show chanted your name, b ut by far your biggest legacy is your wonderful presence, that’s what we’ll miss the most,” she said, before pulling Amina into a long hug.
“I’m really really going to miss you. Thank you for every ounce of energy you give this place,” she whispered.
The author of Amina’s Home Cooking went back to her career as a paediatric nurse after her first MasterChef appearance in 2013.
When she first appeared on the competition, Melbourne’s Herald Sun described her as “perhaps the most generously supportive, calm and optimistic contestant, always pitching in on team challenges” and The Australian Women’s Weekly said she was “everyone’s best friend”.
If tonight’s emotional farewell was anything to go by, those statements still ring true.
Meanwhile, fans and other ex-MasterChef contestants watching along were shocked by tonight’s twist, calling it “cruel” and even “pure evil”:
MasterChef continues Wednesday night from 7.30 on Channel 10.