'A Tragedy From The Get-Go': Alex Crisp Eliminated In Hugh Allen Pressure Test

The award-winning chef Hugh Allen returned to the MasterChef kitchen to set his 'Banksia Pod' dessert as a pressure test.

For Sav, Pezza and Alex, seeing Hugh walk into the MasterChef kitchen was a bittersweet surprise, knowing that the Australian Chef of The Year always brings a dish that is a perfect mix of technically challenging, visually beautiful, and absolutely hectic to replicate.

It wasn't her first pressure test, but Alex admitted that she was in a strange headspace after winning the very first immunity of Sweet Week last week, meaning she was on the gantry for the rest of the week.

"As much as it was cool to take a step back and not have to be under pressure every single day, it kind of played to my detriment because for so long you're in this routine of constant pressure and stress," Alex told 10 Play.

"The weight on your shoulders to perform and think creatively is constantly on... having that week off felt like a bit of a vacation.

"With that week, I think I really did take a step back," she continued. "It's like a momentum thing, you leave the comfort of your life and... to not be in that groove for a solid week is the complete contrast. You're so out of whack and that routine of being constantly switched on.  It's like a double-edged sword."

Alex's first cook back in the kitchen after her immunity break was a mystery box set by Nagi Maehashi, challenging the cooks to bring their best dinner in just 30 minutes. The judges agreed that the dish felt like a step back for Alex who had been consistently impressing them with her evolution in the kitchen.

Coming into another pressure test, Alex said she was already a bit deflated. Then, seeing Hugh lift the cloche and reveal his Banksia Pod, she was "dumbfounded".

"Like, how is that even edible? And who thinks of that? And why do I have to try and bloody cook this," she laughed.

The dish features a stem, the pod, and leaves, with elements ranging from a macadamia and wattleseed mousse, espresso gel and a chocolate and macadamia base making up the pod, all set and airbrushed. The stem was a tempered chocolate filled with a wattleseed caramel, and the leaves were fragile tuille. The recipe contains over 100 steps.

"The minute I saw the dish I was wigging myself out," Alex said. During her first element, the espresso gel, Alex's was clumping and not smooth like Hugh's, causing her to fall behind schedule.

"It was just a tragedy from the get-go," Alex laughed, "I spent so much time on the damn coffee gel that everything else after that had this roll-on effect of being a bit disastrous, everything took longer than it should have and I was playing it to the wire.

"But you know what? It all ended up on the plate and for me, that's what I set out to do," Alex said, adding that she was "proud but also disappointed in different ways".

At the beginning of the competition, Alex admitted that she wasn't the most confident in desserts, but because of that it became her focus to practice and perfect her sweets.

"One of my closest mates is Darrsh and he's obviously a dessert boy, so I learned lots through him," she said. "And because I wasn't so confident in making desserts I spent a lot of time reading and researching and practicing them. Three out of my four best cooks were desserts which is so funny."

With a solid grip on the techniques needed to finish the dish, Alex was determined to get everything on the plate, after forgetting her mustard dressing during the Curtis Stone cook-along challenge earlier in the competition.

"I was definitely proud and happy to have it all on the plate... but the fact that I came into this cook not thinking I could do any of it and actually having done it all -- subpar of course," she said with a laugh, "and still plated it up, covered in all sorts of green food dye. It was very much a proud moment.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could do anything like that, and certainly not in four hours without any experience. It was a cool, proud moment."

Unfortunately, Alex's issues with her gel were apparent in the final dish, and her tuille leaves were just underbaked enough to put her in the firing line, ending her time in the MasterChef kitchen.

"I think I had already envisioned the possibility that it was me going home," she admitted. "I feel like you can come to terms with that pretty quickly.

"I had already done what I set out to do, and that was to enjoy this competition, to make the best friends I possibly ever could have made, to test myself to be in an immunity, cook something Danish, cook something South African and make it to the top 10," Alex said.

"I was already really happy in those accomplishments that if that was my last cook then so be it. The universe knows when your time should be, and it was my time and I totally got that," she continued. "I was just really proud to be a part of it all."

Having worked as a food sales rep for the past seven years, Alex was already in the industry, but her time in the MasterChef kitchen pushed her to chase that dream even further, now working as a pastry chef as well as lining up a few demos and events in the near future.

"I wanted to learn more. I don't want to ever stop learning and I feel like, because my pastry skills weren't 100 percent there having left the show, I was hoping to maybe grow that.

"I think the beauty of this whole MasterChef experience is that it does open up doors, and can lead yourself into which door that you really want to pursue, if at all. And for me, I think right now I really want to pursue food and tourism, local community events, things like that," she said.

"That's where I kind of see myself heading. And I definitely think that MasterChef has been able to open those doors for me."

MasterChef Australia continues Sunday - Wednesday at 7.30 on 10 and 10 Play