MasterChef Australia
Judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston are back with Season 9 of 'MasterChef Australia.' MasterChef Australia/Facebook

“MasterChef Australia” returned to Channel TEN on May 1, Monday, at 7:30 p.m. with Season 9. All the judges from the previous season returned. They announced the first 20 contestants in the Top 24. Maggie Beer is the guest chef for this week. She will join from second audition.

The highly-popular cooking reality show returned with contestants cooking their signature dish in one hour for an automatic entry to the Top 24. The judges awarded contestants with a “yes” or “no.” Twenty contestants got through to the main competition after they received three “yes” votes. The second-chance contestants will have to cook again in the next episode on Tuesday. Viewers were given a chance to watch an exclusive sneak peek of the first 10 minutes of the season premiere on the show’s official Facebook account.

Names of the 20 contestants who got through to the Top 24 are Ben Ungermann, Benita Orwell, Benjamin Bullock, Bryan Zhu, Callan Smith, Diana Chan, Eloise Praino, Jessica Butler, Josh Clearihan, Karlie Verkerk, Michelle Lukman, Nicole Stevenson, Pete Morgan, Pia Gava, Rashedul Hasan, Ray Silva, Sam Goodwin, Samuel Whitehead, Tamara Graffen and Trent Devincenzo. Regular judges George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston looked excited as they kicked off the ninth season.

Michelle received the first apron of the night. The Golden Ball dessert won a lot of praises from the judges. Pia’s gnocchi out dish made everyone hungry. Benita cooked pork belly with crackling caramel vinegar sauce, which looked delectable. The opening episode of the hit reality show was nothing short of sensational, as the dishes cooked by the contestants were too good to resist. Josh made an inspirational comeback and even secured his place in the Top 24. Jessica’s passion for food seemed undeniable. She prepared The Tea Ceremony and got a “yes.”

Callan’s quenelle was also praiseworthy. His Japanese-inspired salmon tartare left the judges speechless. The show started with a bang last night and a record number of aprons were given out. However, 19-year-old Michelle’s golden chocolate ball was the most-impressive dish for yesterday’s episode. It was definitely one of the most audacious dishes ever created on the show. The milk chocolate ball was coloured with golden dust and hid a mixture of cream, mascarpone and cheese.

It was then peppered with popping candy, fresh raspberries, mint, caramelised white chocolate and biscuit pieces. The dish has already been featured in several promos of the Channel TEN cooking competition, reports Herald Sun.

“I’ve made variations of the golden ball before, but for the audition I wanted to try something a little more special. I think the judges were pretty stoked when they cracked it open, and saw how beautiful it was. I think they were also surprised that I made it because I’m quite young,” Michelle said during the show.

Here are the highlights of “MasterChef Australia” in tweets.