Lack of wow-factor saw larger-than-life Hawkes Bay couple Monique & Henry sent home by Auckland Foodies William & Zoe, in a tense Semi-Final.
Each team had very different approaches to their three course meals for judges Ben Bayly, Gareth Stewart and the Tasting Panel.
William & Zoe went ‘hell-for-leather’ to impress the judges by showcasing every sort of technique in their repertoire.
Their menu was understated yet ambitious: a cold pasta entrée of beetroot and goat’s cheese; a pork, parsnip and rhubarb main; and caramel tart for dessert - dishes that sounded deceptively simple but had a lot of tricky processes in each.
Working like a well-oiled machine the Auckland duo delivered a cohesive menu that was deemed by the judges as ‘brave’, ‘inspired’ and for Robert Oliver, ‘flawless’.
It was unfamiliar territory for Monique & Henry tonight given it was their first time cooking a three course meal in Kitchen HQ – and tension was high.
The couple surprised all by opting for a simple menu showcasing the best of New Zealand produce, saving their ‘big guns‘ for a potential Grand Final appearance.
While their pumpkin soup entrée and beef eye fillet main were cooked beautifully, the general consensus was that both dishes were ‘too simple’ and lacked the wow-factor and creativity for a Semi-Final.
The star of their menu was Monique’s crème brûlée with caramelised apple dessert. All judges agreed it was ‘perfection on a plate’ with Gareth revealing it was one of the best he had ever tasted. “That was a 10 dessert right there,” he said.
But a perfect dessert wasn’t enough for Monique & Henry to overcome William & Zoe’s powerhouse flavour combinations, flawless presentation and cooking techniques.
Hanging up their aprons Henry said: “It’s been a privilege and a humbling experience to be here,” with Monique adding through tears: “It was a tough day at the office today. We had a lot more to show as far as what we wanted to serve - more Maori kai, more seafood.”
The moment of the night fell to Henry who melted hearts with his words to his wife: “Even if we don’t win 100 thousand dollars my wife is worth a million bucks. You can’t buy that.”