COOKING GOOD: Billie McKay, of Ballina, has made the top 24 of the 21015 series of MasterChef Australia.
COOKING GOOD: Billie McKay, of Ballina, has made the top 24 of the 21015 series of MasterChef Australia. Contributed Martin Philbey

Ballina cook will make Masterchef final 22

A BALLINA restaurant manager has made it to the final 24 of Channel Ten's new MasterChef season.

Billie McKay, 23, counts a perfect eye fillet steak she delivered to the three picky judges as her saviour, after almost failing the audition round earlier.

Judge George Calombaris gave her a second chance in the audition cook, while Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan turned her down.

"I thought I was a goner, but when George gave me another chance it was brilliant," Ms McKay said.

"I knew I had to deliver, so then hearing that positive feedback was one of the best feelings I've had so far," she said.

Her team won the team challenge on Thursday night and won't be up for elimination on Sunday, so she's actually guaranteed entry to the final 22, after fellow competitor Mario Montecuollo sensationally got the chop after admitting he'd been a paid chef for five months.

"Meat and three veg was what we ate; Dad had beef from the farm and veggies were grown there too," she said.

"Actually, the experience of MasterChef has made me really appreciate my upbringing.

"Having that early connection really made me love food.

"It was food straight from the land and straight into the kitchen."

In the second-chance round for the final 24, she cooked a country meal with a fine dining twist: eye fillet steak, cauliflower cream mushrooms, and a red wine jus.

"I just kept at as simple as possible, and it came naturally," she said.

The challenge is on for her to keep delivering in the reality TV contest.

"I think learning how I perform under these high-pressure situations has been great," Billie said.

"I thought I would be pretty manic, but I actually love that pressure," she said.



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