This week on MasterChef South Africa, the Top 8 contestants suddenly found themselves packed off on a surprise trip to Ethiopia!
They had some time for sightseeing in the Ethiopian capital and took in the bustling food markets of Addis Ababa as well as the beautiful Orthodox Church in the city, where Amanda had an emotional epiphany.
'The energy in there, it’s very, very strong,' she confided tearfully. 'You feel so close to that higher energy, that higher spirit...'
That evening the Top 8 were treated to authentic Ethiopian cuisine at a local restaurant with the MasterChef judges, where Andrew introduced them to the traditional 'injera' flatbreads and the different-coloured 'wats', or stews.
'The redder ones have got more spice in, so they’re more hearty and they’ve got a lot more bite to them,' Andrew explained.
'Everything is placed onto your plate with the injeria, and eaten with the right hand,' he instructed the contestants.
Early the next morning the contestants headed out into the mountains outside Addis Ababa, some 3100 meters above sea level, where they were initiated into the mysteries of the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony by local expert, Hanan Abebe.
Coffee was first discovered and cultivated right there in the Ethiopian highlands more than a thousand years ago, so it was only fitting that coffee should be the ingredient in the Mystery Box challenge.
The contestants had 45 minutes in which to produce a fabulous dish using coffee as the main ingredient and Ozzy was nervous. 'I’m not much of a coffee lover,' he confessed reluctantly.
All the contestants were feeling the effects of the high altitude, but none more so than Seline, who was feeling really nauseous and disoriented all through the challenge. So she was genuinely surprised when Pete liked her dish of lamb loin marinated in coffee.
The judges also enjoyed Kamini’s cumin-and-coffee lamb loin. 'The coffee and cumin works superbly!' Andrew praised her.
Tiron impressed with his cinnamon-and-coffee crépe. His inspiration he explained, 'I tried to take the things I like the most about Ethiopia so far and tried to put that into a dish.'
And his and Kamini’s efforts earned them the top spots in this Mystery Box challenge, sending them on their way to a local chef who will impart on them the knowledge of traditional Ethiopian cuisine.
Unfortunately every challenge also has to have losers and this week Leandri missed the mark with her dish of coffee-smoked squash with popcorn. The judges thought Leandri’s brainwave of smoking the pumpkin in a coffee-infused smoke was genius, but too little coffee flavour resulted in a Pressure Test spot.
With the emotional after-effects of her visit to the church the previous day, Amanda struggled to keep her focus. 'Something seems to have changed in me, a paradigm shift in my head,' she sobbed.
'Before I knew it there were only fifteen minutes left and I just couldn’t get it all together and finish it up,' she told the judges tearfully.
As a result Amanda and Leandri are heading into a Pressure Test and one of them will not return to the MasterChef kitchen.
Who do you think will master the pressure and have still have a shot at the MasterChef SA title?