MasterChef fan favourite Amina Elshafei has been knocked out of the competition in an elimination as shocking as former frontrunner Marion Grasby's exit in 2010.
Last night's tense double elimination cook-off saw the losing team members from Wednesday's restaurant challenge compete for a spot in the top 10 under the watchful eye of British celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White.
Andy Allen and Leederville labourer Wade Drummond - WA's only contestant in the competition- managed to scrape through but the pressure proved all too much for Elshafei and Northern Territory contender Jules Pike.
When AAA spoke to Elshafei yesterday , the 27-year-old said she had an inkling she would be the next to go.
"While we were waiting in the midst of the whole thing, I looked at Jules and said 'I think I'm going home'," she said. "But when they actually announced that Andy was staying back, Jules and I were in pure shock. What I did was pat Andy on the back and say 'I'm proud of you', so I kind of felt I was going home but it was just when the realisation set in that I started sobbing."
Since breaking into the top 24, Elshafei quickly developed a strong fan base, while judges George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan also sang her praises because of her culinary prowess.
But when asked how she felt being touted a "favourite", Elshafei said she was stunned.
"I'm really, really surprised at the amount of support I've been getting from people," she said.
She also laughed off suggestions that her departure would garner the same reaction that followed Grasby's shock elimination.
"Everyone is saying that," she said. "Look, I've had time to process (the elimination) which is good and I was slightly disappointed and upset but it just means that I'm able to start planning things earlier than some of the top 10."
But according to Pike, the shock of Elshafei's elimination was shared by the other contestants.
"We were all shocked but I think it's going to shock a lot of people," the 28-year-old said.
"I always thought through this whole competition that she could really win it.
"She did have her ups and downs in the kitchen but she really consistently put up great food and unfortunately it wasn't her day. And that's what it comes down to - the dish that you cook on that day, and unfortunately Andy just did a way better job."
Since leaving the show, Elshafei has already planned to leave behind her nursing career and pursue her food dreams.
"I want to do some Middle Eastern cooking classes in September. And this is something that I've been wanting to do and I was thinking about while I was on the show."
But if a better offer came along, Elshafei wouldn't let it get away.
"I'd love my own TV show," she said.From next week the show will be based in Italy, where the final 10 contestants will compete in a series of food challenges in Florence, Rome and Parma.
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