Aspiring chef Steve and his sous chef Will out-cook Ash and Camilla by just four points to win the first semi-final.
My Kitchen Rules’ hosts Pete Evans and Manu Feildel couldn't choose a clear winner in tonight's first semi-final and instead left it up to the guest judges to make the final call on who would go through to the 2015 grand-final.
Both scored the cooking teams eight for their three-course efforts, leaving their fate in the hands of Colin Fassnidge, Karen Martini, Guy Grossi and Liz Egan, all whom rated Will and Steve's menu over Ash and Camilla's for a final score of 48 to 44.
“I’m honoured to be going into the grand-final,” said Will. “We are going to do everything we can to win it.” On potentially being the first all-male team to take the title, Will added: “There’s always a first. We are determined, so determined to do it.”
Ever stoic, the French loving girls surprised even themselves when they shed a few tears on their departure from the competition. “It is upsetting but at the end of the day I can’t believe we came this far,” said Ash. “Our experience has been divine. It really is crazy.”
Added Camilla: “We thought we were close. But now we really are like sisters.”
During the cook off both teams underestimated how much they had to do during entrée time. Will’s smoked trout caught on fire; Camilla’s artichokes were undercooked and she had to snip off the leaves; and Ash had to abandon her knife and snap the Moreton Bay bugs in half with her hands as the clock ticked faster than she anticipated.
“This last minute has become feral,” said Ash of the plating of their Moreton Bay bugs with artichoke veloute. “We might as well be standing where the other contestants are and throwing food on from there.”
But the judges only had eyes for her perfectly cooked bugs. Liz said: “Whilst not technically a veloute, the puree is lovely. Silky smooth. And they’ve really respected the bugs. My bugs are cooked perfectly.”
Despite the trout fire, Steve was happy with the presentation of their smoked trout with apple, fennel and celery salad. Colin agreed. “It’s a strong start; it’s a refreshing dish and it’s pleasing to the eye.” But a giant steak, although cooked perfectly, was a bit of a letdown for the judges.
The ever-persistent sauce nut, Manu, felt the jus was lost on the plate of their rib eye with root vegetable gallete and port jus main. “Even though it was a good dish, I was expecting a lot more. The jus has disappeared,” said ‘where’s the sauce’ Manu.
But there were also small criticisms of the girls veal loin with pumpkin beurre noisette puree and gnocchi, namely with the gnocchi. Their biggest stress during the main cook was when Ash attempted to make gnocchi with undercooked potatoes, resulting in lumpy pillows. With little time left, she whipped up a batch of ricotta gnocchi – sans measuring - just in time to save their butt. Or so she thought.
“There’s too much flour in that gnocchi and it’s been overworked,” explained Liz when Colin admits he loves everything on the plate except “the gnocchi I can give or take”. “Everything else for me makes sense,” said Manu.
While Ash and Camilla's beautifully presented deconstructed rocky road for dessert had Karen thrilled, Guy questioned the abundance of gelatin in the dish. “Flavour-wise it works really well, but I’m finding it hard just to push past the use of gelatin in this dessert.”
While Steve was gutted the Italian meringue he'd carefully prepared for his blackberry lime and elderflower tart turned out "grainy", his decision to take it off was probably what propelled them over the finish line. “I’m glad that meringue didn’t make it because it would’ve been too sweet,” said Pete.
On Sunday night, semi-final two will pit Jac and Shaz against Eva and Debra. Both teams have had a very different run throughout the competition – Mt Isa mums Jac and Shaz have won two People’s Choices and they’ve never found themselves in the bottom two.
In comparison, WA workmates Eva and Debra have endured the redemption round and survived two sudden deaths. They’ve also impressed with the highest-ever instant restaurant score and won a People’s Choice.
My Kitchen Rules airs:
Sunday, May 3 at 7.00pm - 2nd semi-final
Monday, May 4 at 7.30pm - MKR 2015 Grand Final