Silly error sends MasterChef star packing
A decade on from her MasterChef debut, season 2's Courtney Roulston has been booted from the MasterChef: Back To Win kitchen at the hands of a rogue prawn intestinal tract.
But in a cruel twist of fate, Roulston revealed it was prawning with her family as a young girl that helped kickstart her love of food all those years ago, illustrating just how high-pressure MasterChef's elimination challenges are.
Speaking to news.com.au ahead of Tuesday's MasterChef: Back To Win elimination, which saw contestants Reece, Courtney and Ben Ungermann tasked with re-creating not one, but five of three hatted-chef Jock Zonfrillo's delicate yet complex Orana dishes, Roulston admitted she "felt sick" having to relive the competition's first ever double pressure test.
Reflecting on the epic two-staged challenge - which from the sofa looked frenzied and stressful enough for every contestant involved - she said it was even harder than it looked.
"If anything, they've made it look friendlier in the episode. I think at one stage I was nattering on to myself like a mad woman … I needed a triple gin and tonic at the end of the first one," Roulston said with a laugh.
"There was pretty much no break though. Me, Reece and Ben got thrown in to the next one after about 20 minutes.
"All I had time to do was go outside and put Tina Turner on my headphones to try and calm myself down," she said.
Trying to make sense of where she felt she went wrong in the tough challenge, Roulston said her return to the MasterChef kitchen proved "just how much things had changed" in the 10 years since her first stint, particularly due to the modern kitchen gadgets dotting the workspaces.
"I joked (earlier in the season) to Gordon Ramsay that I'm one of the fossils of the show," she said.
"But I really felt like a fossil standing in front of all the equipment. There were like siphon guns and these pressure machines and it just sunk in how much has changed.
"I desperately wanted to be in the competition, I gave the cook my everything, but I was just so panicked, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. The food was the opposite end of the spectrum to the food that I cooked."
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Looks like dumplings are on the menu (& in my belly😁) on today’s @farmtoforkau . These pork & prawn dumplings are a fantastic recipe to make at home with the kids during the Easter Holidays. You can make a big batch & freeze some for down the track. Tune in at 3.30pm on @channel10au 👩🏼🌾 #farmtofork #recipe #dumplings #homecooking #stayhome #coles
It was round one's scarlett prawns with boab - served along with chawanmushi and ryeberry crumpets with sugar bay honey and whipped butter - that saw Roulston's first undoing.
The Farm to Fork star's face when Zonfrillo pulled a remaining intestinal tract from one of the prawns said it all.
"Do you know how many prawns I've peeled and eaten in my life?," she said, laughing.
"I grew up prawning, from the age I could walk my five siblings and I would prawn in the river out the front of our holiday house. We would catch kilos of prawns and cook them hot and eat them at midnight sitting around our little bench in our house.
"So it was just so ironic to be standing there with Jock with a poo shoot dangling in front of his glasses, I just kind of stood there and was like 'of all the bloody things,'" she said.
Rattled by the silly error - but admitting she's "probably not the first chef to be taken down by a prawn poo shoot" - the second course of damper with lamb fat butter and pickled kohlrabi salad was served up with a missing element, the nail in the coffin in sending the star packing.
But while Roulston was disappointed to be sent home early, she said her return to the show was a positive experience all round thanks in part to the new judging panel of food critic Melissa Leong, former contestant Andy Allen and Scottish celebrity chef Jock Zonfrillo.
"I don't know if you noticed from the show, but they're a bit lighter," she said, adding "not in terms of weight," with a laugh.
"They're lighter hearted."
She went on: "I guess Melissa (Leong) really does add that kind of feminine touch to the show.
"She is really lovely and bubbly, she tries to keep things really fun behind the scenes, and she treats everyone very equally, which was a nice feeling. No one wants to feel like the judges have favourites, and Melissa was really good at that.
"She even messaged me a few times after she identified my disappointed with the show. It's really nice to think that someone cares," she recalled, concluding: "change is good," of the departure of Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris.
But like every competitive reality show judging panel, there has to be a "bad cop".
"Jock is definitely the tough one," Roulston shared.
"I think he deserves to be the tough one because he's lived through it, he's done all the hard yards. He's worked under Marco Pierre White, he's worked in hotels in London and he knows what he's talking about, so he also has the respect of the contestants when it comes to being tough."
While Zonfrillo may be taking the reins as MasterChef Australia's hardest to impress, chefs don't come firier than last week's guest judge, the acclaimed Gordon Ramsay.
"He has a softness to him," Roulston said of the iconic food figure with the most colourful vocabulary in the business.
"In the challenges, us contestants were probably just staring at him getting bollocked the whole time, but when the cameras were off, he was very helpful.
"He didn't just tell us a problem, he would tell you the problem and then give you a solution.
"He kept calling me darling and I was just like 'OMG, Gordon Ramsay is calling me darling'," she said, adding that he had a killer sense of humour and displayed sheer professionalism during filming.
"He was bloody awesome. I have a whole new respect for him," she said.
As for which returning chef she thinks will take out the MasterChef 2020 crown?
"If I was to pick a dark horse, I reckon Emelia Jackson.
"But Reynold may dip Poh in nitrogen and that could be the winning formula," she cheekily jibed of the clear season favourites.
MasterChef Australia continues tonight at 7.30 on Ten.
Originally published as Silly error sends MasterChef star packing