Risotto ‘death dish’ brings down Canberra MasterChef star Tash Shan

Master Chef contestant Tash Shan does work experience at Ezard restaurant in Melbourne. Photo: Angela WylieIt’s the end of the road for Canberra MasterChef star Tash Shan, who says cliques in the reality show “messed with her head”, after being eliminated on Thursday night.

It was a shock finish for Ms Shan, who had looked strong in previous rounds and had gained a following in Canberra.

She was eliminated after struggling with an asparagus, lemon and mint risotto – the so-called MasterChef “death dish” – which judges said contained too much wine, overpowering the dish’s delicate flavours.

Speaking after her elimination Ms Shan said it had been a difficult week, hinting that personality clashes and cliques in the MasterChef house, where contestants live together during taping, had hurt her performance.

“The little things in the house just started to get to me and it did start to mess with my head,” she said.

“The house was really tough for me because there are a lot of big personalities and it can be hard to find a little space to yourself or even find people you connect with on a genuine level. The tricky part for me was I felt like I hadn’t necessarily been given the benefit of the doubt and some people took the liberties of telling stories that may not have been true about me.”

But Ms Shan refused to lay blame on specific contestants.

“it’s just the nature of getting a large group of people together and there’s always going to be cliques forming. I have no beef with anyone or any people in particular, I think it was just the nature of living with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.

Ms Shan is currently doing a three-day work experience at Melbourne fine-dining restaurant Ezard and said she is planning an online series about food and Canberra’s producers and chefs.

Looking back at her elimination, she said she had never had problems with risotto before and had written about risotto and gnocchi on her blog, A Kitchen Cat, previously.

Ms Shan said the difficulty with the dish was the wide range of opinions on what constituted “good risotto”.

“I don’t think it was ‘I’ve never done this before’. I’ve done [risotto] before but I think the reason that risotto is known as the death dish is that there’s such a huge spectrum of what’s good on the scale of risotto,” she said.

“For me it’s about the consistency and texture of the rice and not having too many things compete with that. I went with a really simple subtle flavour. For other people it might be about what goes in the rice … and how much parmesan and butter you finish your risotto with.”

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