What better way to celebrate making the Top 10 of MasterChef 2012 than with a week taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of Italy?
The contestants were unsurprisingly elated as Gary announced they were headed for the culinary experience of a lifetime, and the reality of Italy Week exceeded expectations.
Making their first stop in Rome, the excited hopefuls formed pairs and hit the streets seeking inspiration for their dishes. Excelling in this ‘Rome on a Plate’ Challenge, Alice and Wade with their Squid Ink Gnocchi shared top spot with Mindy and Julia and their Roman Seafood Stew.
The four amateur cooks then competed against each other in a Pizza and Pasta Challenge, with 120 ravenous Romans to impress. While Wade struggled, Mindy and Alice won through to an Immunity Challenge, with the latter’s Quattro Formaggi Pizza a particular hit with the judges.
Italian cooking legend Antonio Carluccio set the dishes for Alice and Mindy’s Immunity Challenge: Artichoke Stew with Chicken Dumplings; Stuffed Squid Piazzaiola Style and Rabbit with Artichokes. Denying her rival a second pin on her chef whites, Alice triumphed and claimed some gold of her own.
Mid-week saw MasterChef’s notorious ‘Death Dish’ make an appearance, with the contestants trying to recreate a stunning risotto courtesy of Maestro Gualtiero Marchesi. The best attempts belonged to Wade, Audra, Mindy, Kylie and Beau, who formed the Red Team for the following Barilla Pasta Challenge.
Red and Green Teams had to prepare dishes for 500 staff at the famous Barilla factory in Parma, with the Reds getting first pick of the pastas to work with as their reward for the Risotto Challenge. Both gave admirable performances, but on the strength of Audra’s Pork Lasagne the Red Team secured the win.
For the Green Team’s Elimination Challenge, the contestants each had to cook a dish for a Tuscan village feast. Deb, landed with the unenviable task of preparing and spit roasting a pig, failed to impress the diners and exited the competition.
Finishing the week with an Italian MasterClass, Neil Perry dropped by to cook a Vegetable Lasagne with Roasted Tomato Sauce, Massimo Spigaroli made a Clay Baked Guinea Fowl, George concocted a Parmesan Risotto with Poached Egg and in a sweet online-exclusive treat, Gary’s prepared a Chocolate Semifreddo with Chestnut Cream and Orange Caramel.