Judges Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris decided who to send home

Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of MasterChef Australia. Watch the latest episodes here.

A pair of undercooked pigs’ trotters sent Mexican-born contestant Denise Valdez packing this week, making her the third contestant eliminated from season 10. 

The stay-at-home mum tried to bite off more than she could chew in the 75-minute elimination challenge.

Denise was part of the red team at last week’s team challenge at the MCG. Losing the epic battle to feed the Melbourne Football Club sent the whole team straight into the elimination cook-off.

But while Denise’s sopes canape was a hit with the judges at the MCG, she struggled to repeat that performance when it really mattered. 

For elimination, the contestants were asked to cook something that was inspired by the dish that made them fall in love with food.

For Denise, that was a pork trotter salad that she used to make with her mum and which she has since started cooking with her own daughter.

From the beginning the judges were concerned about the time it would take to do the pork justice, telling her it would all come down to how well the trotters were cooked. 

Eliminated contestant Denise Valdez

At the tasting table, George was concerned with the dish before he’d even taken a bite. The pork looked boiled and the salad was uninspiring.

Both judges thought it was too ambitious a dish for just 75 minutes.

Making up the bottom three with Adele and Jenny, the judges told her that it was the undercooked and gristly pork which ultimately sent her home.

“It’s a sad day for us because we know you’re a great cook,” Gary told her.

“It was an amazing experience,” Denise says. “Every time I entered I would pinch myself because it was unbelievable being here.”

“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve.”

Try one of Denise's best dishes:

Find the recipe for Denise's braised Maryland chicken in an orange, sage and cinnamon sauce with parsnip puree here.

Top recipe of the challenge:

Reece was inspired by his Nan's cake stall, making his version of a lamington. He said he'd finally "created something that I'm really proud of". It was a no-brainer for the judges to send him through to the next round. Find Reece's Lamington recipe here.  

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