The pressure in the kitchen hit an all-time high on Thursday night on MasterChef Australia as the third elimination was creeping closer with every minute that passed.
And one person who struggled to keep his jittery hands in check was Kha Nguyen as he failed to impress with his pan-fried quail with Vietnamese caramel and was axed from the competition.
The 25-year-old sales assistant got off to a good start but his lack of knowledge of quail let him down as he served up judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan under-cooked meat.
Gary kicked off the feedback and said: ‘It’s a little bit too cooked down one end and little bit too raw down the other.’
And he wasn’t the only one who was disappointed by the under-cooked meat as George added: ‘My honest truth… I don’t like the dish. I like this [quail] rare but that’s a bit too rare for me.’
But sweet tooth Matt had other things on his mind and was quick to comment on the lack of caramel drizzled over the quail.
He explained: ‘Where’s the caramel? Caramel is meant to be sticky and finger-licking and soaking in to the underside of that quail and there’s just not a lot there.’
Kha took the elimination news on his chin and admitted afterwards that he knew his dish wasn’t his best and was ‘sad’ to be leaving the Channel Ten show.
He told the camera: ‘I’m sad but deep down inside I knew my dish wasn’t perfect.’
The wannabe chef was certainly given a run for his money as he went head-to-head with Rose Adam, Amy Webster and Sara Oteri after the foursome failed to dazzle the judges in the first round.
The group were initially asked to come up with a ‘uber salad’ and Rose, Amy, Kha and Sara came out the weakest and were told they would battle it out in the second round.
The hopefuls were told to come up with a Vietnamese dish, using quail and other ingredients from the pantry, in just 45 minutes with a cook top.
Sara impressed judges with her marinated and charred quail with a noodle salad and had Gary begging for more as he told his fellow panelists, ‘I don’t want it to stop.’
George added: ‘It’s quite a balanced dish. I think she’s done a great job.’
Amy also avoided elimination by the skin of her teeth with her spiced barbecue quail with Nước chấm dipping sauce; the judges told the ladies they’d ‘nailed the dish.’
Rose’s heart was left pounding in her chest after her poached quail was a little too overcooked.
The 37-year-old workplace trainer was reduced to tears a number of times because of her steamed meat and was convinced she hadn’t done a good enough job to keep her in the competition.
But she managed to claw herself back with her delicious Vietnamese salad.
MasterChef Australia will continue on Friday at 7:30pm on Channel Ten.