MasterChef – Semi final – Sun, July 23

The stakes are high as the three remaining contestants fight it out for the two places in the finale and the chance of winning the coveted prize.
Who will be eliminated tonight? Vote in the new poll.
The finale is tomorrow night at 7.30pm, on Ten.

We start with Ben pretending to drink coffee while wistfully gazing out over Melbourne from the hotel balcony. He plans to use his Dutch heritage in his cooking for the service challenge and we see his Oma (Nan) briefly.
No Nan for Diana and Karlie.
They arrive at the MC kitchen and the eliminated contestants are up on the gantry to be the cheer squad. Ben’s hair is glued into place and Matt is wearing a teal suit with a white and silver cravat.
George is wearing a dreadful checked travel rug as a woollen blazer.

Ben’s dessert has a Dutch theme and is called pumpkin and spices and – fun fact – people in the Netherlands don’t eat pumpkin, they just feed it to livestock.

Karlie is making crayfish with a ginger broth, because as he know she loves Asian flavours.

Diana’s main has nine elements and her dessert seven. She is doing wagyu two ways – good move given her wagyu dish has highly praised at the Heston restaurant service challenge, even after she had trouble with cutting the meat to the correct size. There’s a lot of stuff on her dishes but Diana always keeps a cool head.

And the first ice cream of the night goes to … Ben! Of course! Vanilla and bay leaf. He manages to slosh half the anglaise out of the mixer and gets a calming back pat from Shannon Bennett – awww.
The edit shows Ben falling behind and looking stressed out – so he must triumph in the end. After an hour of prep he has not started on his main dish. Shannon calls the dish “brave” but Ben doesn’t bite and simply says “thank you”.
Karlie is boiling up some massive crayfish and her dessert is orange and sesame something ice cream.

Diana is making lemon verbena sorbet and rice pudding and the gantry freaks out when her pot starts boiling over.
Who knew you could cook with tulip bulbs? Ben is topping his with onion skins that the waiters will set on fire at the table. The judges will be impressed with this.

Diana is making a whey caramel that she learnt in the challenge set by former contestant Kylie – that dessert that looked like a pile of dried-out leaves. The judges like it when contestants show techniques they have learnt on their “journey”.
Karlie is having prawn oil drama so she’s going to ditch it. She is getting very flustered.

Meanwhile, for more info about the Dutch and their tulip bulb-eating habits go here.
I love that Ben and Karlie are freaking and Diana is just methodically working away. Shannon comes over to turn the screws on Ben. He needs to get his beef in the oven now or it won’t have time to rest – no-one wants blood on their plate.
He turns to a pic of his kids to give him strength. Usually this sort of thing irks me but it’s not like it’s the start of competition and they are using it gratuitously.
How annoying must it be to have Shannon yelling “Stop! Stop!” every few minutes to announce how little time they have left. I want Comforting-Pats-On-Back-Shannon back!
Diana is frying up some massive Wagyu scotch fillets – imagine the cost! (This place sells it for 100 a kilo, although commercial prices would be lower. Check out the butchery here.
Diana is calling for waiters to take her plates while Karlie is still cooking. Diana’s dish looks delicious – love the herb dust.

Gary does the “lifting eyes to the heavens” look when he tastes the meat. Matt praises the sauce and says it’s a MasterChef Top Ten dish – big call! Well done, Diana.

Ben has had to do pickled beetroot as he ran out of time to roast, and he’s worried.

The judges love the theatre of the flaming onion skin and are overjoyed to taste something they’ve never before tried: tulip bulbs.
George says the bulbs are delicious. I wish they would actually tell us what they taste like. They praise the dish but Gary points out it’s not as “multi-sensory” as Diana’s main. Remember the first half of the comp, when it felt as though Gary never had a kind word to say about her – well, none that made the edit anyway.

Karlie is STILL cooking and tearfully wanders almost out of sight, to be hugged by Diana. When her dishes do go out they look really interesting.

The judges say it was worth the wait.
The girls have it over Ben at this stage. We get the obligatory “it’s going to come down to dessert”.

Diana is using someone interesting ingredients in her lemon verbena dessert, including finger limes and buckwheat. She’s put a lot of thought into the textures.

The judges think it’s really pretty, uses new combinations of flavours and is delicious.
Diana is definitely safe. She is a machine! And, yes, teary Diana, I hope your Mum comes over for the final, too!

Poor Ben is having drama with his pumpkin galettes being too mushy to lift outof the pan. Oh, Ben, this is not looking good! Quick – look at the picture of your kids again!
Karlie’s mandarin and black sesame dessert looks really interesting.

The judges love the look of it and the sponge is light BUT the mandarin sauce is bitter and Gary thinks it detracts from the tasty black sesame ice cream. George quickly jumps in with some superlatives to throw us off the scent.

Ben is at it again with setting things on fire, lighting up some cinnamon quills to be placed in a bowl in the table for aroma. It does not look as pretty as the girls’ desserts but they always praise him for his herby ice creams.

Gary loves it – phew – especially the salty finish on the butterscotch sauce. “It’s like the best pumpkin pie,” says George. It’s a “ripper”.

The three semi-finalists get a group hug with Shannon. I wish they would include him in the judging and give him points to allocate to the best worker in the kitchen.

No surprise – Diana is first through. Yay! She has been a rock throughout the comp (apart from those cocktail-inspired dishes for Heston’s water-themed challenge but let’s not talk about that disappointing Heston Week) but did not make the edit for a long time.
And the other semi-finalist is Ben, because Karlie’s mandarin syrup was too bitter. Poor Karlie says it’s not a surprise after seeing the other two work in the kitchen: “I felt like I was lacking a little bit.” Awww.
I can see her going on to have a successful career helping create new dishes or products, rather than a job as a working chef, or perhaps in food styling. Her plating has always been beautiful and inviting.

It’s Diana versus Ben and, unless Ben plans his dishes very carefully, Diana will just steamroll over him with her attention to detail and time management – and delicious flavours.
As with last year’s Elena versus Matt finale, we have two worthy finalists.

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Ben’s made a real mess of his hair😕

brain dead dave

I ‘ll be kind and call it a crewhawk. It’s a spectacular fail. More ice cream karma.


Wow – just dreadful hair cut,hey? Or I’m just too old and conservative,but I do t get trying to look like a wanted poster.


Just two words: go Ben!


YES, We have ice cream


I would like a Ben and Diana grand final then I don’t care who wins.


Terese, you got it


Interesting choice of shirt colours in this cook – Diana looks like she’s wearing elimination blacks. Poor Ben having kitchen disasters already which hopefully means he’ll pull through at the last minute and win the day. His pumpkin dessert sounds really good fingers crossed it comes together!


Agree with you, Stacey. Usual story. Stuggle initially and then cooked the best.
I am afraid Diana bite more than she can chew. She could be in trouble


I think Diana is safe on this one. She is so unbelievably cool headed and controlled it’s hard not to imagine her in the finale. At this point it’s looking like it might come down between Ben and Karlie. Ben really needs to get it together at the moment, though.


Suddenly so much of Ben tonight.


Karlie now in trouble. She is not good with service challenges. Hope for Diana.

Ben definitely going through. Very happy talking to the camera

brain dead dave

Gary’s opening salvo: ” The Ma$terchef mountain”…….of bullshit.

There’s a whole bunch of strangers in the peanut gallery.


Too much hair flicking going on from Ben. Up in the loft there are same crazy hairstyles too. That aside, I like Ben and both the girls. Shannon through karlie off a bit


Wanna swap? 😉

brain dead dave

Ben’s managing to infuse a lot of flavour into those pumpkin galettes after he runs his hand through his hair. What an awesome technique.


Now Ben’s dish get good critiques.

brain dead dave

His appeals to Oma are coming good. Classic tug on the heart strings strategy.

Ben’s haircut reminds me of Elvis, who incidentally is on Autopsy later tonight.

Since I voted for Ben and Diana to make the final, my ego’s got bigger than Tamara’s. The hippo at Adelaide zoo gets fed pumpkin, Ben, maybe not as galettes but…


A good story about you oma, grandma, or nenek in Malay will definitely helps!!!


Ben needs to stop running hands through his hair. ewwww. More gel or something required to keep it from flopping around. Go Diana!

brain dead dave

Ben’s dish is a “showcase of his hairatage”.

brain dead dave

Karlie’s cryfish, I mean crapfish… er crayfish..

Why three huge pieces for the over fed $tooges?. Too much, too soon. In one pan.


So lovely to see Diana’s reaction when they said she is into finale. Made me teary as well. Hope she can win.


No real surprise, I expected Ben to go through. Should be an interesting finale – if I can tear myself away from ninja warrior….

brain dead dave

Feel like we’ve been watching Ice Cream Warrior.


Watching on delay Shannon has just made them all stop, just to tell them they only have 60 minutes left and need to push. I really wish they’d do away with the “Stop so I can tell you how pressed for time you are”. It’s stupid and really doesn’t add the drama they’re looking for.


It has the valuable function of clustering and freaking out contestants. Like so much of Masterchef – pointless contrived drama that ignores the actual drama. Sigh.


Diana just won me over when she stopped her own service to give the struggling Karlie a hug. I’ve always liked her style in not kow-towing to the judges and supporting another contestant when she was under pressure herself showed real class.


Yes. Actually from their SM, Diana, Sarah, Eliza and Karlie seem to be really good friends. Yoy noticed someone is not in the list

brain dead dave

That’d be Ms First Into The Pantry.

Carole Morrissey

She was very vocal up in the gantry.


Only when she knew the camera was focused on her otherwise she looked bored.


Very classy.


Thanks for the recap, Juz. Karlie knew she was going home with the poor performance in the kitchen.
I actually wouldnt like to see Karlie crumbled like Georgia in the finale. Karlie has never wanted to cook in a restaurant. She can work in other parts of the food industry. Creating recipes could be one of them.


Agree totally LP. Masterchef has locked itself into the “you must want a restaurant, so therefore you must be good at service challenges” routine. I actually would like to eat Karlie’s food – I can see her being successful at a Valli Little type role – developing recipes, writing, blogging, etc.


From Gary

Mehigan admits that Ungermann or Chan weren’t on his shortlist for the finale at the start of this year’s season.
“I thought ‘I’m not sure that this guy’s going to go that far’ and he has absolutely proven me wrong,” Mehigan said.
“I always felt Diana was strong and a clever girl but I didn’t have either pegged as the final two.
“I really thought Sarah Tiong was going to take it out.


So Gary had a Sarah and Tamara grand final in mind? And where was Karlie’s black board?

Carole Morrissey

When Diana said she had 9 & 7 elements to her dishes I was worried she had bit more off than she could chew. But she was the only one who didn’t stress out.
Poor Ben was really behind for a while there. After spending so much time on that bloody pumpkin it looked like it wasn’t going to come out, but he got there in the end.
Karlie had difficulties too. It was obvious that Diana would go through & it was between Ben & Karlie. Very sweet of Diana to comfort Karlie when she had a melt down. Bloody Shannon wasn’t helping barking at them. He just made them stress out more.


How nice it is to see two worthy, decent contenders in the final. I’d like Ben to win because I’m a sucker for happy children, and he seems like a good dad and a hard worker.
And it’s time for a male to win, especially after the last two nondescript winners, who didn’t seem to do much, except for returning on MC as guest judges.

But Diana’s a gun who will be hard to beat.


Once again after toying with tedious and favoured contestants we are delivered finalists we all don’t hate. Getting super tired of being manipulated.


Diana will be a deserved winner but very similar to Billie and Elena. Also very unlikely to open a cafe. I could be wrong as her sister is also quite a good baker. They can both run one.

Producers will want a male winner and we have Ben. The fans also like him. The money will help him a lot.

Thus either one can win. The pressure test is a 6 hrs chocolate dessert. If Diana has a slight slip up, the producers will get Ben to win. Hopefully there is no way the producers can manipulate the outcome like the past 2 years


This is what Karlie is doing:

Since leaving the series Verkerk is helping Matt Preston on a new cookbook and will launch her own food and interiors website.

Carole Morrissey

Yeah it was odd they didn’t say what she was doing last night.


I cheered when Diana got through to the grand finale. I chose both Ben & Diana for the final two but Diana is my preference. However I have a feeling the winner will be Ben because we’ve had 2 female winners in a row. Both Ben and Karlie didn’t deal with the pressure well although they did get their dishes out. I am tired of Ben constantly making ice cream and also can’t stand that he rubs his hands through his hair and then touches the food. Diana worked like a machine and produced beautifully presented and delicious (according to stooges) dishes. She didn’t whine, complain, cry or freeze and she had a lot to do with the number of elements she put on each plate. She even stepped away from cooking to comfort Karlie. That was very impressive.


Good riddance to Karlie, too, with her annoying voice, panic-laden cooking, and tears that appear because she forgets that time does pass.

Ben put me off last night, when he kept running his hands through his hair. And apparently Diana double-dipped with her tasting spoon recently. Both actions, when done in a kitchen, make me gag, and now I’m not sure who I will barrack for. Decisions.


Ben could always return to modelling…. I read he was on some other reality show years ago (search for a super-model). Someone sure made a mess of his hair. Hope it grew back quickly!


I think a factor in Karlie’s elimination was the simplicity of her dishes, especially the dessert: cake, icecream and sauce. It really looked very basic beside the complexity of the other two.


Ben putting his hands through his hair constantly and then into the food was most off putting. Diana is the standout this season.


Karlie deserved to go because she just can’t handle service challenges. Don’t mind who wins the finale now because both are deserving finalist.


I prefer the old Masterchefs, when people were allowed a bit of individuality and personality, whether good or bad. The guy who went rogue, the cranky menopausal vegan who had to butcher a carcass, contestants who showed displeasure …

It is a reality show, after all; the cooking is just the vehicle and even there, the judging rules change according to the producers’ whim.
I thought Arum and Eliza showed a glimmer of individuality, but they were soon put back on the conveyor belt.

I don’t want them to be horrible and beat each other up or anything, but the last couple of years, they’ve churned out Super Nice automatons. The over-hugging, over-praising, overkill of fake support.
No one says anything quirky or out of left field anymore. What goes on in that house? Chakra meditation and subliminal messages from producers while they sleep? …”You only hugged someone twice today … you must make up your 5 hug quota tomorrow ..”

And they’re probably given a Platitude List to study, because they all just say the same things over and over: I must motor on, running out of time, will my chicken/beef/pork etc be cooked, I’m in big trouble, I could be going home, I don’t want to go home … and so on.

No wonder the ratings have slipped. No one is interesting or engaging.