On Tuesday night, in the first Pressure Test of Fans & Faves, the MasterChef kitchen welcomed back one of the most notorious guest chefs, Adriano Zumbo. Many of the Faves have had their own run-ins with the complex challenges set by the ‘Sweet Assassin’ and king of desserts.
For Julie and Alvin, the memories came rushing back as they, alongside Dulan and Max, were tasked with recreating Zumbo’s Polly Wanna Waffle recipe.
GET THE RECIPE: Polly Wanna Waffle
The complex reimagining of the classic Pollywaffle saw all four chefs struggling with the technically challenging recipe, but for Alvin it was also a moment where his own self-doubt almost saw him struggle to complete the dish at all.
Early in the challenge, while tempering his chocolate, Alvin appeared to be fighting back a wave of emotions, comparing himself to some of the other Faves who had returned to the competition after working in the industry.
“As much as I still do the occasional cooking demonstration, I just feel inadequate and it rattles me,” he later explained.
“All the negative thoughts come flowing back in that you’re not good enough… you can’t compete, what are you doing here?”
Clearly distressed, Alvin struggled to catch his breath as the entire gantry began to call down to support him.
“As I’m panicking I hear this uproar of cheer from the gantry and that means so much,” Alvin said. “It’s a sign that they believe in me, and it’s just enough catalyst for me to sort of say, do you know what? Get your s**t together.”
Pushing ahead, Alvin seemed to be sailing through the challenge but when it came time to unmould his ‘waffle’ chocolates the fear crept back in. Again, tearfully, Alvin spoke about feeling inadequate in the kitchen.
It was a heartbreaking moment when, once again, Alvin’s own self-doubt began to make him question if he even truly belonged back in the kitchen, questioning if he even could finish the dish at all.
Alvin is just one of many Faves who has voiced a feeling of imposter syndrome having returned to the kitchen after so many years. As he was comforted by Melissa Leong, Alvin had to once again find the strength to put those negative thoughts aside.
“I just have to take a deep breath and continue on,” he said before revealing three perfect chocolate waffles.
Plating up his dish to the judges, Alvin explained that those feelings of self-doubt had been ‘percolating for a while’, and the stress of the challenge just saw it all erupt to the surface.
“Coming in here and seeing the standards… for a self-doubting person to begin with, it’s something I need to get over,” he explained.
Having pushed through, Alvin’s dish not only saw him avoid elimination but was deemed dish of the day by the judges.
MasterChef Australia Fans & Favourites airs Sunday - Thursday at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 play on demand