A mistake under pressure has cost Cleo Kerameas a place in the MasterChef competition, with the executive assistant being eliminated tonight.
With the losing blue team from the Cronulla Beach challenge all going into a cook-off, the judges told the 10 contestants of the daunting 75 minutes of pressure that lay ahead.
The contestants did battle in a skills race to showcase four pastry skills one at a time – a sponge, custard, toffee and then ganache – and then put them all together and make the dessert of their own choice.
“My first reaction was complete shock to be eliminated,” says Cleo. “What I produced was quite good. I was disappointed in myself and I feel that I’ve let myself down. I wasn’t ready to go home and I reckon my cooking could’ve got me further, but in the end, the pressure got to me.”
The rules for the challenge were clear: you could not start another component without finishing the previous one. Unfortunately for Cleo, she was caught doing two elements at once – the ganache and the toffee.
“I thought I was following the rules but because of the high anxiety of the challenge, none of it sunk in – it was a total brain snap,” says Cleo, who was judged only on her sponge and custard to be fair to other contestants. “I misunderstood the instructions; I obviously heard the rules but I didn’t hear them. If I had focused more and not been in such a ‘zone’ then I would’ve been fine.
“When the judges actually told me I needed to stop the toffee and ganache, I was so perplexed – it was a total misunderstanding – because I didn’t comprehend exactly what they were saying at first.
“As an executive assistant I follow instructions every day of my life – and on this occasion I really needed to and I didn’t. My normal job requires that I multi-task, but that multi-skilling in this pressure test was to my detriment.”
In the end, it was between Cleo, Peter and Kumar and, while her custard was lovely, the sponge just wasn’t enough to enable Cleo to avoid elimination.
“Mum would be very proud of me,” says Cleo, dedicating her time in the series to her mum Eva who died of cancer. “The MasterChef experience has been overwhelmingly good; it’s challenged me on so many different levels and I feel quite privileged to be a part of it all. I’ve made so many great friends.”
Cleo is now back at home in Sydney’s inner west, juggling house renovations, her executive assistant job and dream of pursuing a food career.
“I’ve done a few catering jobs and my long term goal is to open a café providore,” she says.