MasterChef 2020 recap: A saucy failure brings the ride to an end for a fan favourite

Callum prays for Poh to bring out her signature chaos so he can survive this cook.
Callum prays for Poh to bring out her signature chaos so he can survive this cook. Photo: NETWORK 10

Andy says today's elimination is going to be a "doozy", which is Andy speak for a "challenge". Andy is also wearing a suit with no socks today, so clearly this episode is a challenge from the get go.

Melissa announces that the first round will be a pressure test from one of Victoria's best chefs, Phil Wood, from two-hatted Laura and one-hat Point Leo Estate. Phil reveals his "doozy" of a dish, a potato duchess with shiitakes and cauliflower. Reece says, "what is going on there?" and look I'm not saying it looks like a melted snowman, but I'm also not not saying that.

Phil says he loves classic French cooking, and this dish has lots of classic technique. Poh says it is perfectly balanced, but wonders if her technique will suffice. Her technique of staring at kitchen appliances and leaving everything to the last minute? I'm going to say no.

Time starts and Callum begins by chucking his potatoes in the water bath. He says this is a "fun recipe" and he also says "giddy up", so possibly he's had too many aperitivos tonight.

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Emelia, who seems to be looking more French by the day, says that classic French cooking is her thing. She thinks the dish is like a savoury choux pastry and we all know how much Emelia loves a choux.

Andy asks what Reece's strategy will be if "the wheels start to fall off"? Reece says his strategy is not to have the wheels falling off, so kindly wheel your negativity away from the bench, Andy. We get a sad throwback to Reece with hair, who was knocked out of the competition at this point in his last season.

Forty five minutes to go and Callum is starting on his sauce. Jock and Phil wander over and Phil is slightly horrified that Callum has his sauce on such a large flame. He says if the sauce isn't right, nothing else matters. Jock tells Callum he needs to read his recipe, because I'm sure he has not done that already.

Callum tries to bluff them by saying he is really happy with the flavour and Jock says "well if you think it's good then" and walks off. Callum says there is "no room for error" because an episode without someone saying that would be like an episode without someone using the hibachi.

Meanwhile, grade A student Emelia recites the recipe perfectly from her memory like she's Eminem in 8 Mile. Phil gives her a gold star. Emelia tells us how she is making her potato duchess, which will be a good base to compare how everyone else stuffs theirs up.

We get a throwback to Emelia making a cake at home. She says she has "lost her spark" because she turned doing what she loved into work. This is the first time in the whole season that we have found out that Emelia is bored of making cakes. But she says MasterChef has reignited her passion and she's back in love with food. There is nothing quite like stressful cooking competitions and people critiquing everything you do and competing against your friends to make you fall in love again, eh?

Reynold has become the overseer of the kitchen and relays that Emelia is "so chill". She's the first to pipe her potatoes and they are looking about as good as a swirl of mash potatoes can look, really.

Phil quietly whispers that there is 20 minutes to go because he has an indoor voice.

Callum is happy with his sauce, but his potato mixture is too wet and when he pipes it onto the tray it just slumps into a puddle. He tries to use a circular mould to keep it in shape but that just makes it look even worse. I will say he is nailing the melted snowman brief, though.

Jock yells that if their potato is not in the oven by now it won't cook in time. Callum's potato is, of course, not in the oven. Jock clutches his boho bracelet like a nonna clutches her rosary beads.

Phil says if the potato mixture is too soft there is nothing that can fix it. Callum says it's too late to start again. Callum says he has achieved a lot in his time since MasterChef and somehow manages to segue this into a flashback of his baby daughter. He says that he is so thankful his wife has been able to look after the baby while he is on the show. He wants to show his respect to her by "giving it his all". What a man.

We haven't seen much of Laura, which means she is just casually killing it as per usual. She says she makes beurre blanc every day at her restaurant so she'd be pretty disappointed if she stuffed it up today. No big deal.

Five minutes to go and Poh is making her sauce and frying her potato at the same time, because if there is one thing Poh likes to do, it is to cook two crucial elements at the same time.

Poh says she knows the butter emulsion needs to be cooked "low and slow", but thinks it's too slow for the five minutes she has left, so speeds it up on a high heat and adds in all her butter to get it melting fast. This was a big fail, because when she tries to blend her sauce, it splits. Reece's sauce splits too.

Callum has emulsified his sauce nicely, but seemingly has the bench space of an inner city apartment and so has for some reason put his water bath on the floor, which does not seem like it is ticking any OHS guidelines, Network 10. He puts his sauce in the bath to keep it warm, but the container accidentally slips into the bath and some of the water spills into the sauce. He says it's now "going to taste like insipid bath water sauce" mmm, just what Phil always wanted.

Meanwhile star student Emelia is choosing which of her perfect potato shells is the most perfect to plate with her extra perfect emulsion. Laura's also looks really good, but we can only assume this as she doesn't get to say anything all episode.

Time to plate and Callum has to serve his dish without his bathwater sauce and says he wants to fall into a hole in the floor. Think of the baby, Callum! The baby!

Emelia is the first to serve her duchess. Phil says it's a really good effort and the sauce was balanced. Melissa says it was "the business" and Jock says it was really close to Phil's. Andy says she should take confidence from it into future cooks. Jock ask Phil if Emelia could be a future employee, and Phil says "potentially" in an awkward way like Jock doesn't know he had to close his restaurant during the pandemic and probably lose some of his staff members, but sure I'll just hire this cake-baker because she cooked a "good effort" potato duchess.

Reece knows that his sauce has split and that he's probably going into round two. Phil is like, yeah, pretty much.

Laura says she's not one to follow recipes, but is feeling confident. Phil says that the sauce was slightly over-caramelised, but he would still be happy with that if he put it up at his restaurant.

Poh is feeling really embarrassed. She says she "didn't watch her timings as per usual". Ya think? Jock says it was a mess – the sauce was split and under-seasoned. Phil says it was a "decent effort", which is polite guest-judge speak for "massive fail".

Callum says this is his worst cook so far in the competition and the judges don't even bother critiquing it. Andy just tells him to shrug it off and move on to thinking about round two.

So in a judgment that surprises no one, Emelia and Laura win top two and join Reynold in the gantry. Reynold is grateful not to be "lonely" and looks like Hugh Hefner for about two seconds until the girls walk straight past him to the other side of the gantry.

In what is the least inventive and zero per cent creative idea ever, round two challenge is all about what the contestants can make with potatoes, mushroom or cauliflower – the ingredients Phil used in his dish and also ingredients that are most likely on sale now at Coles.

Reece says that potato, cauliflower and mushrooms are "not his wheelhouse" but was "drawn to the potato" and has decided to do a savoury dessert with it. I am often "drawn to the potato" but it is usually in bag form and covered in sea salt.

Reece says he wants to elevate the humble potato in a stunning dessert so is making a "crispy potato stack" with potato creme, beetroot and raspberry granita and smoked chocolate ice-cream. Unfortunately they seem to only stock dirty potatoes at Coles, so Reece has to spend about 20 minutes scrubbing them like a dish pig.

Reece says he needs to "infuse the potato flavour into the cream". If there's one thing I like about cream on a dessert, it's subtle potato flavour.

The judges gather for their little debrief. Melissa asks what Phil would do and he says he would do a "cauliflower royale" with pickled mushrooms. I have no idea what a "cauliflower royale" is, but it sounds 100 per cent not royal.

Jock says he would use the potatoes in some poorly described Italian dish I can't be bothered trying to decipher. Andy is enamoured with the "mushies", which Mel says look like "coral". Callum awkwardly interrupts the judges' gossip session and says sorry to bother you but can he please grab some 'shrooms.

Callum feels awful that he served Phil such a poor version of his own dish, so wants to do it right this time. He starts by writing a list because he is going to get organised! Reynold comments that lists really help! Thanks Reynold!

Callum is going to cook buckwheat noodles with a mushroom bonito broth and a soy-cured egg yolk. He says this is his comfort food and something he would make for his wife at home, because did you know Callum has a wife and baby?

Poh is tossing up between making a redemption dish or a Chinese dish she is comfortable with. She wants to recreate a dish she failed in a previous cook, curlugiones, an Italian potato-filled dumpling. She thinks if she serves it with the butter emulsion she stuffed up in round one, she can kill two redemption birds with one stone. Because apparently Poh has only just discovered efficiency.

Poh is clouded with confusion, standard day in the office really, and thinks that maybe she should make a Chinese mushroom dish instead. She thinks doing this might be too easy and not worthy of MasterChef. Her head tells her to go with the Chinese mushroom dish, but her chaotic Poh heart tells her to stick with the redemption cook. Of course she follows that damn heart.

She says she is going to fancy up this dish by making them two-toned, one side will be white, one will be green. Phil likes the idea of her trying to fix her mistake, because he says he is also obsessive. Not sure if he knows Poh and the level of obsession we are talking about here. Jock requests four dumplings each because he is a man! and is hungry! and bring me my dinner, woman!

Committed to this damn redemption dish, Poh starts on the potato filling. She then works on the semolina dough, with one portion made green using parsley. Laura the resident pasta queen shows her approval from the gantry.

Phil tells Callum he loves buckwheat noodles and is "quite passionate about the texture of noodles". Wow, this guy seems to love noodles more than me, and I named my cat after them. Not to worry though, Cal, because Reynold calls out from the gantry that his noodles are "sexy".

Melissa knows where the fun is at this party, and it sure ain't with all the white dudes at the front of the kitchen. She teeters up the spiral staircase to go be with her people, Reynold, Laura and Emelia. She asks Reynold what he thinks about Reece's potato dessert. Reynold says that he would be worried that the granita and chocolate ice-cream will overpower the potato. I would also agree, especially since potato has LITTLE TO NO FLAVOUR AT ALL.

At 20 minutes to go, Andy swings by Poh's busy station literally just to say that "someone is going home today". Thanks Andy, always so constructive.

Reece is shocked that his potato creme tastes so good. I am also shocked. Reece plates up a test dessert to see how the flavours worked. He notes that the smoked chocolate ice-cream is indeed a little overpowering. He wonders if he should ditch it because there is "No! Room! For! Error!"

Reece is conflicted because "chocolate and potato go so well together". Um, since when? Phil is like, "oh absolutely" and have I missed the chocolate potato trend or something? Is this a thing?

Reece says he doesn't want potato not being the hero to be the reason he goes home, but also really loves the flavour of his chocolate ice-cream. He decides to leave it on the plate but in a smaller portion to balance the flavours better.

There's 10 minutes to go, and Poh is still crimping her dumplings and hasn't even started her burnt butter emulsion yet! Wow, this is about as classic Poh as classic Poh gets. She says this is a "complete echo of round one" and has found herself in exactly the same position as she was with her failed butter sauce before (and pretty much every cook this season).

Callum cooks his buckwheat noodles for one minute then throws them in a ginger and spring onion oil (which I am very much into). He says his "MasterChef dreams have come true" because he has time to plate up a test version before time is up. I would have thought his MasterChef dreams were to be finally winning that stupid trophy, but apparently Callum is just a humble man with humble dreams.

Poh says she is "not feeling amazing". Her emulsion is not thickening, so she decides to throw the frozen brown butter into a pan so she has a back up sauce if she needs it.

Reece plates up his crisp potato chips on top of the potato creme. He decides to only serve a tiny dollop of the beetroot and raspberry granita and a half quenelle of the smoked chocolate ice-cream, to make that potato "flavour" shine.

Poh abandons her emulsion with 60 seconds to go. Everyone looks extremely worried. The background music is straight out of a bloody battle scene where everyone dies. Poh looks really upset and says she thinks she might be going home.

Time for judging. Reece brings over his "potato stack" with potato creme, raspberry and beetroot granita and smoked chocolate ice-cream. Andy wants to tell Reece something "just before you bounce". Melissa laughs at this like the rest of Australia laughs at Andy every episode. But seriously, Andy wants to tell Reece that he thinks he has grown up. Reece thanks Andy and then tries his best to bounce out of the room but possibly puts his hip out in the process.

They each make themselves a little dippity bic of potato chip, potato creme, granita and ice-cream. Andy says it's an "interesting plate of food". Phil says he wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as he did. Melissa says it was elegant restraint and had consideration. Jock says it was very clever and if he ate that dessert in any restaurant, he would be impressed. Wow, all that from a very boring looking waste of potato chips - impressive!

Callum proves again that he is a dad, by saying the best dad joke of the season: "There's not mushroom for error!" He tells the judges that the only time he's ever felt embarrassed on this show was just then in round one. But turns out Callum was doing the redemption cook today because Phil says the noodles were great and he nailed the brief. He seems to be very impressed that this is something Callum would serve his family.

Poh says her gut tells her she hasn't made the right decision cooking this dish. My gut tells me I had too much dairy last night. She tells the judges that she "is frustrated with her own personality" and that she was trying to prove too much. Oh, Poh.

Phil says the sauce is just basic burnt butter and that his dumpling dough was raw on the bottom. Andy says his was also raw. Jock says he can see where she was going, but the only thing that got in the way of Poh was Poh. Wiser words have never been said by Jock, except for whenever he says an overcooked steak was so well done it could pat itself on the back. That's my favourite.

Andy gives it to them straight – Poh is going home. The other contestants are shocked. Twitter is shocked because all the conspiracy theories about the show being rigged so that Poh gets in the final have been proven wrong.

Melissa says Poh is a national treasure, which is true although slightly concerning that Australia's treasure is also incredibly self destructive. Poh says she is a risk-taker and she finally met her demise.

Melissa asks Callum to give a heartfelt eulogy and says he is "feeling emotional" and wipes away a single tear to prove it. Melissa says that Poh has won our hearts all over again, which is true, but she also caused a lot of cardiac arrests, too. Poh-bot, Poh-nado, Poh-llercoaster, thank you, but we need to go on a break.

Read more of our MasterChef recaps here and follow Eloise Basuki on Twitter @eloise_baz.