They have received praise from the first lady of home cooking, Nigella Lawson. They cooked for the kings and queens of cuisine in Legends Week. They proved some secrets are too big to keep as they navigated a surprise around every corner in Secrets Week. They went in search of sun and sand in Queensland, and now the sweetest treat of all is earning their place in the Top 10 at the conclusion of Sweet Week.
With the tasty title of MasterChef 2019 within reach, the temperature in the kitchen is heating up.
Let's take a look at what our Top 10 have achieved so far!
Anushka Zargaryan, 49, Optical Dispenser (VIC)
Anushka has consistently impressed the judges with her sweet treats and desserts. She has been tasted in three mystery boxes and twice been named top of the pack in invention tests – taking home honours at the Brisbane food truck challenge and for her cereal dish for Heston Blumenthal. While she’s only survived one pressure test, nailing a paella, she has battled through five elimination cooks. Her winning streak in QLD saw her take on the professional chef in the immunity challenge, but while her layer cake didn’t score her the coveted pin, she’s proving age is no barrier in the fight to Finals Week.
Ben Trobbiani, 24, Pharmacist (SA)
Ben’s standout performance in eliminations has seen him referred to as the eliminator in the house – after successfully surviving five close calls with the surprise mystery box elimination, at Yotam Ottolenghi’s deli, the blind taste test, Montrachet pressure test and the seafood platter at Rick Shores. But his experience in blacks has given him more time in the kitchen, and he’s thrived of late, taking home Top 3 honours in both the whole invention test and Heston Blumenthal’s cereal challenge. One to watch, Ben has developed a fan base online for his love of quirky shirts on camera.
Christina Laker, 29, Naturopathy Student (QLD)
Mum of two, Christina been a consistent and quiet achiever in the MasterChef kitchen. She’s never found herself in a pressure test, and her run of bad luck in team challenges may now be over – after six straight losses she won the twins team challenge with Nicole this week, keeping her safe from another day in blacks. But finding herself so regularly in the elimination cooks has been a blessing, as Christina has methodically proved she can compete and cook with the very best, safe each week as one by one her fellow contestants fall.
Derek Lau, 26, Financial Analyst (WA)
The man with the muscles, fan favourite Derek, has enjoyed a run of impressive cooking in the MasterChef kitchen. He’s been tasted three times in mystery box challenges, winning two. He’s claimed Top 3 honours in both Nigella Lawson’s invention test and the Brisbane food truck challenge, meaning he’s now battled for an immunity pin four times. While he hasn’t scored the coveted pin yet, with every cook he inches closer. He’s not just survived but thrived in four eliminations and two pressure tests, with Clare Smyth naming his version of her complex dessert most like hers.
Larissa Takchi, 22, Restaurant Manager (NSW)
When Larissa first cooked for the judges at auditions, she was asked to cook again, her dish not deemed worthy of an initial apron. Committed to showing she deserves her place in the competition, Larissa has claimed victory with two mystery box wins with Rick Stein and Heston Blumenthal, and been named Top 3 in the secret invention test. She’s survived six elimination cooks including pressure tests for Nigella Lawson and at Montrachet, where she was awarded dish of the day. A thrice challenger in immunity cooks, Larissa has secured four team challenge victories and three losses, and stands poised to run all the way to Finals Week.
Nicole Scott, 24, HR Associate (QLD)
With five team challenge wins under her belt and just two losses, Nicole is the contestant you want on your team - quiet, committed and cooking up a bevy of incredible dishes. She’s been tasted in two mystery boxes – one for Nigella Lawson and the other at home in QLD. Alongside Anushka she made the most money in the Brisbane food truck challenge, and has survived five big eliminations, including Darren Purchese’s Bombe Alaska, Rick Shores elimination, and the two cloche clash which saw her almost eliminated with a disappointing rabbit dish.
Simon Toohey, 32, Cocktail Barman (VIC)
Simon might know how to whip up a cocktail, but he’s whipping up a storm in the kitchen, regularly finding himself in the judge’s sites. He’s had three mystery box tastings, claiming victory twice. He’s battled for immunity three times, and while he lost to professional chef Coskun Uysal, he was awarded George Calombaris’ coveted tweezers for his incredible custard dish. With a run of bad luck in team challenges – losing every single week except for Nigella Lawson, Simon has then rallied in the elimination cooks, managing to keep himself safe seven times. And when he battled to recreate Kate Reid’s Lune black forest croissant, he was awarded dish of the day.
Tati Carlin, 49, Receptionist (VIC)
Tati’s impressive penchant for beautiful Indonesian cooking has wowed not only the judges but our esteemed guest judges too. She was named Top 3 in Rick Stein’s invention test and has been tasted twice in mystery box cooks. She hasn’t yet battled a pressure test, but has found herself in five elimination cooks, surviving in cooks for Yotam Ottolenghi and Maggie Beer. She hasn’t yet captained a team, but has won three times including the Nonna secret weapon challenge and at the Noosa Surf Life Saving Club.
Tessa Boersma, 27, Criminal Statistician (QLD)
The firm favourite to take top honours in this competition, Tessa survived another elimination this week by playing her second immunity pin, proving why she’s one to watch. Consistently putting up delicious and beautiful food, she’s only the second contestant in MasterChef history to win two pins after Sashi Cheliah in Season 10, who went on to win the trophy. Tessa has been tasted four times in mystery box cooks, and while she hasn’t scored a win she’s enjoyed three invention test victories including a whole chilli crab dish which floored George Calombaris. But while her cooking is stellar, she has little elimination experience, not having cooked in a pressure test and only cooking twice in blacks – once in the surprise mystery box elimination and at Rick Shores during QLD Week.
Tim Bone, 33, Cooking & Garden Educator (VIC)
Firm fan favourite Tim Bone has returned in fine form to the MasterChef kitchen following his impressive win back into the competition. Devastated to be eliminated during the Montrachet pressure test in Brisbane, Tim rallied at home before his steak dish won him back his apron the following week. Since then he’s showed incredible form, winning last week’s team challenge with Maggie Beer, his fifth straight team challenge victory, and this week was awarded top honours in Heston Blumenthal’s cereal invention test. The cook propelled him into the immunity challenge where he battled Alice Wright.