The West

Amy steps up for food fight
MasterChef top 10. Picture: Martin Philbey

Perth cook Amy Shields has proved she can handle the heat of the MasterChef kitchen after last night being named among the show's top 10 contestants.

Dubbed the "mother hen" and "quiet achiever" of the group, Shields is the only contestant in Ten's reality cooking series left to fly the flag for WA.

Shields has endured her fair share of ups and downs in the competition so far, from battling top chef Jock Zonfrillo for immunity, to surviving the Marco Pierre White and Vikas Khanna pressure tests.

The next few weeks will see the 37-year-old pushed to her culinary limits in a series of demanding cooking challenges that will whittle down the top 10.

Despite being up against some of the "best cooks" MasterChef Australia has ever seen, affable judge George Calombaris has faith that the South African-born Shields will "go far" regardless of whether she makes it to the grand finale.

"I recall early on that she was this very strong character that I had these question marks against, but in a positive way, because I wanted to dig deeper and know what she's about," Calombaris told AAA at his Greek restaurant, Gazi, in Melbourne.

"But once you break that front that she puts on, what you get is a wonderful person and someone who has got an amazing palate. And she listens - I love a person that always wants to be better and she's that type of person. And it's good, especially when you're learning.

"Regardless of whether you win or lose, making it to the top 10 is super- important. They can all become successful in food and she's got that burning desire and passion, and you need that."

Last week saw the return of ousted contestant and model Sarah Todd, who recently courted controversy with her topless magazine photos.

Todd's return to the competition left viewers divided, some slamming the decision by Calombaris and fellow judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan to bring back the 27-year-old beauty amid criticism she was chosen for her "looks" over her culinary ability.

"She cooked the best dish, it's as simple as that," Calombaris said. "I'm the one tasting the food, not the person watching the show.

"She only went out recently and she had an opportunity to get back in, along with all the others.

"It's wonderful Sarah's back in but now she's got to last the pace because you've got to remember the contestants who haven't left are well-trained now.

"MasterChef is like a compressed cooking class, they're in there day in, day out."

The West Australian

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