After weeks of wildly impressive cooking, MasterChef Australia’s grand finale is here.
The winner of the shiny trophy and a quarter-of-a-million dollars will be unveiled on Tuesday night after a series of challenges set by judges Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen.
This year, the finale is set over two nights, with top three Kishwar, Justin and Pete competing through gruelling tasks until one is announced victorious with the most points.
Tonight, the three nervous cooks were first thrown a mystery box with a second kitchen mission set with the help of their families.
But for one hopeful kitchen whiz — this season’s pick to take out top prize, Pete Campbell — it looked close to all crumbling down thanks to a raw segment of quail dished up to Melissa.
Cutting into the pink, uncooked meat, the beloved foodie admitted she was “heartbroken” to judge the dish.
In round one, some of Australia’s best-known chefs and restaurant owners each selected an ingredient for the mystery box, leaving the contestants with the choice to cook either King George Whiting or duck breast with a range of other weird and wonderful elements.
Pete cooked whiting with kohlrabi, pine mushrooms and Geraldton wax, which was a hit.
Jock gushed over the cook of the fish and the cleverly-balanced broth, while wordsmith Mel described it as “clean, contemplative, modern, refined, sophisticated food.”
Andy labelled it perfect, and the former tattoo artist scored a massive 28/30.
RELATED: Insane kitchen move baffles judges
Kishwar dished up pandan wrapped whiting with mushrooms and kohlrabi salad, but unfortunately her fish was slightly dry. She walked away with 21 points.
For Justin, it was duck breast with passionfruit glaze – but his mushroom accompaniment just missed the mark, so he also scored 21.
In an emotional surprise for the battling chefs, their families were then brought in for support – and to help set the next task.
Their loved ones were called upon to select their round 2 dish ingredients and cooking techniques by picking golden balls out of a bowl.
Justin got ruby grapefruit and “fusion” to play with, serving up a delicate piece of poached fish with a curry broth. He scored 29 out of 30.
Kishwar was landed with white soy sauce and “smoked”, so celebrated her family’s presence by making a traditional smoked rice water with sardines and a salsa. Her creation was a knockout, and she was given three perfect tens for a score of 30.
Pete, who was leading the pack after his stellar first cook, began with quince and “steamed”, opting to serve up quail in a quince glaze with mushrooms and steamed asparagus.
He looked set to nail it once again until Mel took her first bit to realise her piece of quail was raw.
“Is that rare or raw?” she asked the others as she sliced the meat, which was clearly far underdone.
“I’m heartbroken because I love everything about this dish. Unfortunately, mine is raw,” Mel revealed during judging.
Luckily for Pete, Jock and Andy couldn’t get enough of their pieces, gushing over the sauce and complexity of the cook.
With a ten and a nine from the two judges, and a six from crestfallen Mel, he’s given 26 points and is still ahead.
But as it stands, it’s an extremely tight race, with Kishwar on 50, Justin on 51 and Pete on 53.
Tomorrow night will decipher who will take out the title.
MasterChef Australia continues Tuesday from 7.30 on Channel 10.
Originally published as ‘I’m heartbroken’: Brutal moment for star