Stephen's nine lives run out on MasterChef
SCOTSMAN Stephen Rooney found himself in a prickly situation on MasterChef last night.
The 31-year-old was one of three amateur cooks faced with recreating acclaimed French chef Guillaume Brahimi's challenging "Jewel of the Sea" dish.
The seafood dish, served inside a hollowed out sea urchin, combines the rich flavours of the urchin, lobster, oysters, mussels and squid.
"It was the first time and has been the last time I've cooked sea urchin," Rooney told APN.
"The sea urchin itself looked very, very daunting but once you got the handle of it then it wasn't as bad as I first thought.
"Guillaume's dish tasted out of this world and I was excited to cook it."
But a lack of sauce needed to tie all of the seafood elements together sent Rooney home.
He narrowly missed out on a spot in the show's Top 10, a milestone coveted by contestants.
"I was gutted that I didn't quite make it," he said.
"But in the competition I had more lives than a Cheshire cat. I came close to elimination a few times."
Rooney said he was in debt to Sunshine Coast cook Ashleigh Bareham who used the Power Apron to save him from elimination last week, allowing him to meet cooking idol Heston Blumenthal on Sunday.
He will be cheering her on tonight as she competes for an immunity pin.
"Ashleigh's got a few more fans in Scotland and England now after that episode," he laughed.
"She could see I'd had a bit of a tough time leading up to that. I'd started to almost fear the competition I suppose because it seemed like everything I was doing wasn't coming off.
"Ashleigh saving me was one of the nicest things that's happened to me. I owe her a big favour."
Rooney, a recruitment specialist, will host a series of dinners at the Short Sheep Winery as part of the upcoming Mudgee Wine and Food Festival.
He is also working on a culinary podcast with fellow MasterChef contestant Jarrod Trigg.
Rooney tips an all-female showdown for the reality cooking show's grand prize.
"To me it's between Billie (McKay) and Jessie (Spiby)," he said.
"Those two are starting to put up some food that's really interesting and quite modern, just next-level sort of stuff."
MasterChef airs Sundays through Thursdays at 7.30pm on Channel 10.