MasterChef finals: Cooks' nerves reach boiling point
The knives are out as MasterChef reaches the pointy end of the competition.
With the grand final in sight, mentor and 2016 runner-up Matt Sinclair says this is the time the nerves really start to kick in for the contestants.
"You go through a stage where you feel really confident and energised and grateful to be in the top 10 and you start to go for it,” he says. "But when it comes to top 5 you're like 'I'm almost there and there's a lot to lose' and it becomes quite nerve-racking again. You're so close yet so far. You are literally the cream of the crop right now, and there's no such thing as an off day.”
Just five home cooks remain in the competition, including Queenslanders Tessa Boersma and Nicole Scott.
"In every season there are one or two people who run on a trajectory the whole season. They're always in the mix, their food is exceptional and they've definitely found their own style as a cook. That's been Tessa,” Matt says.
"Nicole's been a bit of a quiet achiever. It's not good luck but for the majority of team challenges she's been on the winning team, which helps you avoid the eliminations.
"She's obviously there for a reason. She's been producing the goods, and with the company she's keeping in the top 5 she's been ticking all the boxes.”
Ladbrokes has 22-year-old restaurant manager Larissa Takchi as the favourite tipped to win the show's 11th season.
"She's definitely making a name for herself for pushing the boundaries,” he says. "She's performed well in pressure tests and she's had a few cracks at immunity, so she's experienced the highs and lows which toughens them up a little bit.
"She's so adventurous with flavours. She's really more about throwing herself out there and going a little bit against the grain and trialling things. She's happy to live or die by the sword.
"At this stage it comes down to who wants it more and who has the confidence on the day. In terms of skill level they're going to be pretty even.”
MasterChef's grand final week starts tonight at 7.30pm on Ten/WIN.