Kelly Kaihea has become the 14th contestant from the Top 16 to leave MasterChef New Zealand on TV ONE.
In tonight's show, the Top Three contestants had to replicate two dishes from a six-course menu that they had enjoyed the night before at the French Café.
Given four hours to prepare their dishes, they served them to guests including MasterChef judges Simon Gault and Ray McVinnie and eight culinary heavyweights: chefs who had appeared during the latest MasterChef NZ and MasterClass season.
Working under French Café executive chef Simon Wright, the Top Threes dishes needed to exactly resemble Simon's recipes and presentation.
Aaron Brunet won the challenge, serving roasted quail with pancetta, mushrooms, chestnuts, croissants and truffle butter; and vanilla cream with pear, elderflower, sauternes and lychee.
Kelly Kaihea got off to a shaky start, struggling to make an apple jelly to accompany her dish of marinated snapper with verjus, cucumber, creme fraiche and caviar.
Kelly's apple jelly is going a bit haywire, observed MasterChef judge Josh Emett. "She's let the jelly become oxidised, so it has turned brown. I'm not sure if she knows what she's doing!"
With two attempts at apple jelly down the drain, Simon Wright stepped in to help make a third.
"This bloody jelly! complained Kelly. Instead of making it once and setting it, I've had to do it three times. I could have been doing other things!"
With her snapper dish first on the menu, it was suddenly time for service.
Watching fellow contestants Aaron Brunet and Paula Saengthian-Ngam plating up the dishes, Kelly worried about what was going on the plates.
"The weird thing about this challenge is that it's your personal thing but you have to rely on your other teammates to help you plate it," she said.
"I hope they don't sabotage it!"
Fiddling with quantities of creme fraiche and fighting the clock, Kelly's meals finally went out to the restaurant eight minutes late.
"They look immaculate," said The Groves Ben Bayly, "but there are inconsistencies with the plating".
"It's been an awkward start," observed Aaron.
Next up for Kelly was a venison loin with spiced cherries, beetroot, shallots, parsnip and red wine.
"Kelly, your last dish was late, you don't want this one to be late as well," barked Josh.
"Come on guys, you're not moving fast enough," he told Aaron and Paula.
Cooked to perfection, the venison drew rave reviews from the diners.
"The meat is fantastic," said Toto's executive chef Sergio Maglione while Simon Gault agreed it was "n exceptional dish".
"We've had to nit-pick to find fault in any of your dishes today," Gault told the top three.
"Never in MasterChef history have we been forced to make a decision on such minor details," said Emett.
"You all deserve to be here but we have to send someone home."
"Kelly, you couldn't get that apple jelly to work in the first course, and Simon Wright had to help you get it to the plate," he told her.
"You were unlucky to draw the first dish, but it was eight minutes late. And your second dish was also delayed.
"You doubled the amount of creme fraiche on your first dish which threw it out the balance, so the pop and the saltiness of the caviar was lost," said Simon.
Breaking down in tears, Kelly said she had felt it coming.
"My gut feeling was that I was going home," she sobbed. "But it's fine. I wouldn't change a thing that's happened."
"You've been an asset to this completion," Simon continued.
"You and your family should be very proud of your achievements."
"Your plating skills are second to none," McVinnie told her. "And you've even learned that youre a baker!"
Making her exit, Kelly said she would be going home a different person.
"I've learned so many amazing things here. Everyone I've met along the way has been an inspiration...and I've become so emotional! That cant be a bad thing!"
MasterChef New Zealand continues Sundays at 7.30pm on TV ONE. At stake for the remaining contestants is the MasterChef New Zealand title and more than $100,000 worth of prizes.
The remaining contestants are: Aaron Brunet (Raglan) and Paula Saengthian-Ngam (Nelson).