‘There Was No Way I Can Plate This Up’: An Anna Polyviou Pressure Test Sends Snezana Calic Home

The punk princess of pastry, Anna Polyviou, turned brunch on its head with her Sunny Side Up dessert.

Famous for her wildly inventive takes on desserts, Anna had concocted this dish specifically for this challenge, where Snez, Darrsh, David, and Harry would have only three hours to recreate the dish.

Heading into the challenge, Snez was the only chef who had taken part in a Pressure Test before, wowing the judges with her near-perfect take on Jean-Christophe’s Jack In The Box, and while she knew what to expect, she didn’t see her experience in these kinds of challenges as an advantage.

“I knew things can go wring so easily,” Snez told 10 Play, “that pressure, when you know you can easily stuff something up and go home, it creates extra anxiety and it’s really hard to focus on what you’re doing.

“You’re constantly thinking, ‘I don’t want to go home tonight!’ The fact that I had done one Pressure Test, I think, made it worse because I knew how hard it is,” she said.

Seeing Anna enter the kitchen, Snez remembered some of her previous challenges like the Anna’s Mess, an intricate dessert that was then dropped onto the plate when served.

“Anna is fun, she’s mad, and her dishes are too. When you see her personality, her dishes come out exactly like that,” she added.

When the Sunny Side Up dish was revealed, there was a brief moment of relief for Snez, who was worried they’d be constructing some great tower of a dessert. “I do love eggs, bacon, and toast but I knew immediately when you see something that simple from the outside there was so much more happening on the inside.

“And I was just focusing on that yolk. How do you make a yolk? How does it hold its shape and doesn’t leak out? I was freaking out,” she said.

Early on in the challenge, while making a passionfruit curd, she realised she had left out the key ingredient of gelatin. For it to set properly, she had to restart the whole thing, putting her way behind the other chefs.

“That put me back 30 minutes,” she said, “I thought there was no way I’m going to plate this dish up.”

But, shocking herself and the judges, Snez powered on and multitasked throughout the challenge, catching up to the others and getting a completed version of the dish onto the plate.

“I still remember the moment plating up, I was so happy I just wanted to scream,” Snez laughed, “I remember thinking, it doesn’t matter what happens. I have a dish on the plate and it looks cute!”

Feeling confident and relieved that she had managed to get a finished dish onto the plate and served to the judges, it was all down to the flavours and how well she had executed her elements.

“I wasn’t sure about the flavour… I wasn’t sure what was going on inside, but I was so happy that my egg yolk was still there at the end, it looked like an egg! I felt good I had plated it up, but on the inside I felt there might be something off,” she explained. “You never know until you cut into it.”

Unfortunately, as the judges tasted Snez’s dish, they found that the balance of flavours was slightly off, and her mousse was on the verge of splitting. With the competition so close, it was enough to end her time in the MasterChef kitchen.

During the challenge, and the competition as a whole, Snez spoke about wanting to inspire her kids, showing them that it’s never too late to chase dreams.

“I’m happy for them to see me doing something I really enjoy,” she said, “my current job is a 9 to 5 in finance and it’s a great job, but I just can’t wait to get home and cook something, do something more creative and letting my kids know, whatever it is you want to do, you can do it at any point in your life.”

After her time in the MasterChef kitchen, Snez is more hungry than ever to chase her food dream. “If I had never done this I wouldn’t even think about it, but the fact that I’ve done MasterChef and I’ve seen what it’s like when you do something you really love, I’m definitely keen to stay in the food industry.

Looking back, the one regret she has is not being able to showcase more of the dishes from her heritage of Croatia and Serbia.

“I was a little bit taken with all the study I was doing and I didn’t have the chance to cook the traditional homey food that I love, that my friends love, that my family love. I left and I didn’t show my specialities,” she said.

“I cooked a couple of things to show the food from the part of the world I come from, and we have some delicious stuff. That’s something I’d really love to show.”

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