Armed with a basket of surprise ingredients and only 90 minutes to use across two rounds, the contestants had their work cut out for them.
“I actually thought she was very generous with the ingredients that she gave us,” Malissa told 10 play. “However, for me, it was the time limit. Time in that kitchen is something that goes so quickly and having only 90 minutes between two rounds really got under my skin.”
In round one, Brent decided to use his immunity pin which left Malissa, Rhiannon, Declan and Cath to cook it out, ultimately sending Malissa home.
“I was very excited when I saw Kirsten walk in, but also nervous. I remember day one of MasterChef, I wanted to get better at desserts, so I went home and I signed up to Kirsten Tibballs Savour School. Before I would go to bed, I would watch one of her tutorials, or I would read one of her recipes. It was bittersweet that I ended up going home on her challenge, but I did learn so much from her.”
Malissa created a Chocolate Parfait with Raspberry Sauce and Almond Crumb in round one, followed by a Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwich with Chocolate Ganache in round two. While the judges enjoyed the flavours in each dish, they both had little mistakes.
“I was happy with the dishes that I made, and I felt so proud. There is no way I thought I'd be able to pull off two beautiful desserts in one challenge. I did make an error, but they were very small errors,” she explained.
“I’ll always remember that cook and I'll remember how hard I worked and how fast I pushed. I couldn't have asked for anything more. I would have been devastated if I went home on something like my cake that I made a few weeks ago, which was unfinished. That would have been terrible.”
Malissa reflected on her first day in the MasterChef kitchen and recognised how far she has come not just as a cook, but also in her confidence.
“No matter how many times I cooked in that kitchen, it was a pinch me moment, every single time. I love food, I love cooking and when applying, I thought, what have I got to lose? I like to challenge myself and, although I have moments of self-doubt and thinking I'm not good enough to do something, I always push myself.”
One of her favourite memories was the first time she took on a dessert and nailed it, creating a Honey Panna Cotta that not only saved her from elimination, but the judges loved it.
“I really told myself that desserts aren’t my thing. I'm a nutritionist, I don't cook much with desserts. But when I made that dish, it was so beautiful. Not only did I love the way it looked, I loved how it tasted," she said.
“It was one of those pivotal moments where I discovered another aspect of cooking that I love. Another one was my Jasmine Tea Smoked Chicken because I used a lot of Asian flavors, which was something that I wasn't familiar with. The whole technique of smoking was something that I winged on the day and that moment proved to me that if I put my mind to something, I can achieve it.”
Malissa had a “full experience of the MasterChef kitchen”, being named the eliminator by Jock for having been in almost every elimination and pressure test of the season.
“When you apply to do something like MasterChef, you do want to have the full experience. Personally, I never wanted to fly under the radar and because of that, I got better. I was able to experience every high and every low and although there were times where it was very exhausting, I look back and I'm so grateful.”
Looking ahead to her future, Malissa has a clear idea of how she’s going to combine her passion for cooking with her current career as a nutritionist.
“The MasterChef experience gave me this new fire to chase my dreams. I want to create a beautiful business around food and nutrition, marrying the two together. I want to educate people on beautiful foods, how to cook them and how they nourish your mind and your body. Finding calmness through food is something that brought me a lot of joy and I can’t wait to share that with other people.”