During the all-in elimination, Aldo chose to cook a dish of octopus with octopus broth, broro ‘e purpo, a winter favourite from his home of Naples.
Aldo, usually a ray of sunshine in the kitchen despite the pressures thrown at him, was uncharacteristically emotional during the challenge, admitting that the dish was hugely meaningful for him.
“It’s just bringing me back to a happy time of my life where I had a great happy family,” Aldo explained during the episode. “It’s [a] memory… going for Christmas Eve to the market with my father,” he told Jock and Andy.
Aldo explained that the last time he went home to Italy was for his wedding where he married his partner, Mark Spencer, in June of 2019.
Aldo revealed that his father had made the decision not to attend the wedding, “Because he thought that was a circus. And that’s when I cut it off - I cut him out of my life,” a tearful Aldo added.
“But I’m still going to remember that part of me being happy, and that’s why I want to cook this dish.”
Days after his wedding, on his Facebook page, Aldo wrote, “Life is a celebration of happiness, joy and #love. When you find the right person that complement you and gives you the balance in your life do never let him/her go.
“I find my soulmate in you Mark Spencer. You are my past, present and future. We always and forever be together no matter what our future has to offer to us.”
It was clearly an emotional cook for Aldo, who fought back tears several times when explaining what it meant to him, and when he finally had the opportunity to serve it up to the judges, all he could hope was that the warm memories it brought up for him were translated onto the plate.
“I don’t want to go home on this dish because it’s a piece of me,” he added before explaining to the judges why he had been so affected by the challenge, crediting his father for the dish.
“Using emotion, painful emotion and joyful emotion, using all of that in your cooking — it’s power. And it’s a way of healing as well,” Melissa said before the three judges were blown away by the perfect cook on the octopus, as well as the rich and surprising flavour of Aldo’s broth.
“I find dishes like this bold and audacious in its simplicity,” Melissa said. “These are the moments we seek as people who love food, which is very special.”
MasterChef Australia Fans & Favourites airs Sunday - Thursday at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 play on demand