‘The Most Discombobulating Thing’: A Blind Taste Test Ends Lily Davies’ Time In The MasterChef Kitchen

It’s a MasterChef classic, and the blind taste test never gets easier.

During Sunday night’s elimination, our remaining chefs were all blindfolded, led to a plinth and had to try and taste their way through one of the toughest challenges. Foods were cut or smooshed into cubes, and the contestants had to rely on only their sense of taste and smell (and in David’s case… sound) in order to correctly identify ingredients.

“It’s honestly the most discombobulating thing,” Lily told 10 Play, “you don’t have any sense or awareness of where you are, and it makes you realise how much you eat with your eyes. I know people always say that, but it’s so true.

“It’s absolutely impossible, and it throws everything off. Suddenly you feel like you can’t even smell!”

Initially, Lily felt lucky to have picked the first slot in the challenge, but as her fellow contestants started a streak of correct guesses, the anxiety of knowing she had to go again began to creep up. Suddenly she was hoping her friends would get an answer wrong just so she wouldn’t have to make another guess.

“As soon as it was number 17, I remember it was David, being like oh, I love you David but please get it wrong! Fill that sixth spot!”

The six chefs to incorrectly identify an ingredient would have to cook in the second round. With just one spot remaining, Lily faced off against a cube of eggplant.

“I’ve always trusted my palate and, even between friends and family they’re always like, ‘Ask Lil what’s in that’ because I’ll taste random stuff,” she said. “I was excited to do a taste test, I’m pleased I ticked that box off… it was just a bit of a bugger when I got eggplant which has no taste… a bit of a nightmare, but a wicked experience.”

Heading into round two, Lily and the other five chefs were told that they would only be using the ingredients from the first round. In an unexpected twist, there would be no access to the pantry and no staples.

“I just knew, going into that cook, I felt really deflated,” Lily admitted. “I was really struggling to think of what to make with the limited pantry. There were so many ideas in my head I couldn’t do because certain [ingredients] weren’t there.

“I couldn’t seem to get in the zone and I knew, during my cook, that it was just not that great but I couldn’t work out how to level it up,” she continued.

“I said to myself, if you go today it doesn’t matter because you’ve had a lot of fun, you've just had a dish of the day so you should be really proud,” Lily said. “You’ve been yourself, you’ve cared about people… just go in, have fun, and lean in because this has been a wicked opportunity.”

The further she got into the cook, the further she felt her confidence slipping, but at the end of the challenge she had to celebrate getting a completed dish onto the plate.

“In that kitchen, the talent is so high that even getting a dish out there in some of the circumstances is unbelievable. It’s so stressful… I finished plating and I was a bit like, oh at least I’ve got something. I know it’s not my best but at least I’ve got something.

“I just had the gut instinct that I was going at that point,” Lily added.

Looking back at her time in the competition, Lily said there was so much she wanted to show the judges and admitted there’s always more to give.

“I’m never someone who oozes self-confidence in my own ability, I always want to make sure everyone else is okay,” she explained. “I know I can cook, I just wish I had realised that my style is my style and I needed to remember that and not compare to others who don’t cook like me.

“My style is a superpower… yeah, there’s absolutely more I could have done but there are so many more factors in this process that anyone else realises and I think the fact that any of us get through a cook and get a dish up is an amazing achievement for all 22 of us,” she said.

Food has always been a big part of Lily’s life. Growing up, the former nurse’s Mum became one of the youngest to teach at Le Cordon Bleu back in the day when she was just 18. “I guess that’s where I get it from, this longing to bring people together and host as seamlessly as Mum does,” Lily said.

“She’s so chilled and easy that I was never ‘taught’ how to cook, I never had mum looking over my shoulder like, ‘This is what you do’, I just absorbed from being around, helping, and watching her.

“We were always a house that had an open-door policy. I get it from her for sure, this hosting element, longing for conversation over a table,” Lily continued.

“Life is very short and all I want is to have said I’ve had fun, to make people feel good. I’ve done that previously with my work and, I’ve always done it with my food but it was never a focus,” she explained. “Now I’ve shifted that focus away from nursing and into a more hospitality realm with this running theme throughout that I just want people to feel good. If I can do that through food, what that opens up is massive.”

While her time in the MasterChef kitchen may have come to an end, this is just the beginning for Lily and her food dream.

“The wine bar/deli vibe is something I’m still really keen on but in the interim I’m going to try and do some pop-up dinners for charities that mean a lot to me, to lean into my nursing space and that do-good factor I want to keep up,” she said.

“Also, some pop-up dining events, luxury dinner vibes for small parties and groups across Sydney with a friend, and there’s a couple of other ideas in the pipeline.

“It’s really exciting. It’s been cool to have the time to lean into this opportunity and just really enjoy it. To take it for all its worth rather than feeling like I’m doing two things halfheartedly. For that, I’m really grateful.”

MasterChef Australia continues Sunday - Wednesday at 7.30 on 10 and 10 Play