A stunned silence fell across the entire kitchen as the contestants watched the judges deliver the news that Therese’s time in the MasterChef kitchen had come to an end.
“I feel so numb right now,” Therese said following the judges’ decision, calling her own decision not to play the Immunity Pin as “so stupid”.
In the Pressure Test alongside Justin, Dan and Brent, Therese felt extremely comfortable knowing renowned chocolatier Kirsten Tibballs had set the challenge for the day.
Revealing three desserts the contestants had to replicate — an exotique mousse cake, style rebellion lollipops and a ruby financier — Kirsten also showcased several methods of chocolate work they would have to successfully master in the time allotted.
Almost immediately Therese began the cook strong. Her competence in dessert gave her an advantage. But things began to fall apart when the contestants were required to temper four kinds of chocolate at the same time.
“I knew that tempering chocolate would be my pressure point,” Therese told 10 play following her elimination. “The way that the chocolate is tempered is literally just stirring like 1.5kgs of chocolate. Stirring and stirring. I needed a lot of time to actually get it down to temperature.
“I think it’s a case where I should have just done more workouts in the gym. My little arms were breaking. That’s one regret, you gotta do the arms,” she said, erupting in laughter.
Unfortunately, her chocolate tempering issues meant that her lollipops were clumsily swirled, her ruby lattice tube was too thick and, in a final error, she attached her screen-printed chocolate the wrong way round so it didn’t adhere to the mousse cake.
Running out of time, Therese also failed to put a glaze over her cake, leaving it looking unfinished compared to some of the other contestants in the challenge.
In the final moments of the challenge the gantry erupted with calls for her to play her pin, the judges watched on with mouths agape as the time ticks down.
“I really wanted to push myself to succeed,” Therese said.
“I didn’t want to waste playing the pin on something that I know I can do, and I didn’t want to regret playing the pin because it was so early on in the competition. If I was to play the pin, I wanted to play it later on in the competition.”
This year Immunity Pins were a bigger advantage than ever before. With only three in the competition, handed out in an earlier episode, they were able to be played at any point during an elimination challenge. Meaning if a contestant was struggling through a challenge, at any point during the cook they could rescue themselves from the chopping block. In the past, pins could only be played before a challenge began.
In her final moments, Therese shouted up to the gantry multiple times for advice if she should use the pin, but regardless of their responses she was steadfast, hoping to plate up a dish that could see her continue on in the competition.
“I did have moments of thinking I should play the pin. I was just gambling on the fact that someone would have done a worse job than I would,” she admitted.
“What happens if someone did tell me to play it, I played it and I didn’t need to play it? That’s a tricky one as well,” she added.
Leaving the competition Therese joked she had ‘done a Dani Venn’, referring to last year’s Back to Win contestant who similarly left the competition with an Immunity Pin.
“I think I one-upped her, honestly. I can take her crown now,” Therese said, laughing.
The big question remains, why did Therese not play her Immunity Pin?
“I was hoping the flavours would pull me through,” she said. “I knew it didn’t look nice at all and it’s not something that I’m proud of because of how much of a perfectionist I am. The look of it really was not up to part but hopefully, the inside flavours would carry through.
“I just thought that I didn’t need to use the pin, I thought I would push on through and that’s the mentality that I had going in there,” she continued. Despite her shocking exit from the kitchen, Therese still managed to plate up some incredibly memorable dishes including one dish for her food idol, Reynold Poernomo.
“Oh my gosh,” she said, giggling. “That was… a massive fingerling moment. Just meeting my old… it was so exciting meeting him and actually cooking for him. Even more exciting when he actually said he loved [the dish]. That was a massive moment for me.”
Though she was heartbroken leaving the kitchen after a devastating cook, Therese said she was viewing the whole experience through a lens of gratitude.
“It was such a phenomenal experience, even just getting an apron. Honestly, every single day was just a blessing to be in the kitchen. I would have loved to go on further but it is what it is.
“I couldn’t be prouder of myself… I can’t be angry with the experience that I’ve had.”
Still hoping to open a cake studio in the future, offering her signature desserts, architectural, sculptured custom cakes and a line of pre-packaged dessert boxes, Therese is currently planning to get some hands-on kitchen experience.
As for tempering chocolate, Therese laughed. "Our relationship… we’re working on that. We’ve been through a few counselling sessions and I think we’re in a good spot."
Watch the new season of MasterChef Australia, Sunday to Thursday at 7.30 on 10 or watch on demand on 10 play